Improbable Fiction: A New Works Series

JULY 29-30, 2023

Join us and see the world premiere performances of three original works!

Buy Tickets

In theatre, a "new work" is an original play that has been previously unpublished and unproduced - these plays are typically developed by an artistic team including actors, a director, a dramaturg, and, of course, the playwright to work toward the goal of a finished, polished product for audiences to enjoy. Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival's mission ties strongly to the power of the written word and individual perspectives, which led to the creation of the Improbable Fiction series; for us, it is much more about celebrating the craft than the man.

Our new works series allows writers and artists from across the region and the country to showcase their talents in the form of original theatrical works.  Playwrights are invited to submit one-act theatre works in one of three categories - Young Voices, Diverse Perspectives, or Shakes-pired - and their plays are evaluated by a panel of adjudicators. The playwrights' identities are initially obscured to allow for complete objectivity in the scoring process -- because it is, after all, all about the words and the story being told.

Once all plays have been evaluated, the winning submissions are workshopped by a team of actors, led by a director, and supported by a stage manager and dramaturg and/or writing coach. The workshopped plays are then produced onstage as world premiere performances for an audience, either as fully-staged productions or staged readings, on our replica of Shakespeare's Globe in the Jamf Theatre!


Young Voices (for playwrights between the ages of 16-24)

Playwright/Winner: Sam Lee Victor (NJ), "A Disorderly House"
Director: Logan Toftness
Dramaturg: Elizabeth Parks
Stage Manager: Aiden Snow

"A Disorderly House" follows a pair of parents inside a dorm room in an extraordinarily expensive liberal arts college. They're packing up the room, as their child has just been killed in an act of hate. They spend the play debating who in fact is the reason for their child's death, and the mother keeps coming back to the same reason-- their child died because they were trans.

Diverse Perspectives
(for playwrights who identify as BIPOC - Black, Indigenous, People of Color)

Playwright/Winner: Phillip Gregory Burke (NY), "He's the First"
Director: Alexis Jefferson
Dramaturg: Elizabeth Parks
Stage Manager: Ally Meyer

Sparks fly in this romantic comedy when two young queer men of the African Diaspora, Zach, a private school attending Black American student and Ernest, a Charter School attending Afro-Latinx student, randomly meet- or did fate set them up? But when insecurity and misunderstandings separate them, their vivacious parental figures-through the aid of a missing library card, catapult them on a discovery of academics, friendship and possible first love.

(open to all, this category is specifically for works inspired by, derived from, or an homage to Shakespeare, his plays, and/or his characters)

Playwright/Winner: Michael Waterson (CA), "The Fool of Elsinore"
Director/Dramaturg: Elizabeth Parks
Stage Manager: MacKenzie Timlin

While King Hamlet is away at war, his brother, Prince Claudius has condemned Yorick, the court jester, to be beheaded for treason. On the eve of his execution, Yorick reveals to his jailer the real reason for his death sentence is because he knows the awful secret of Prince Claudius and Queen Gertrude.

Buy Tickets

Submissions are now closed.


  • Only one-act plays are allowed 
  • Plays must be complete works - not a scene or act from a larger work or work-in-progress
  • Plays should run no fewer than 15 minutes, or more than 45 minutes in length
  • Plays must not have been previously produced or published
  • Plays must be typed in standard play format
  • Playwrights may submit a single work in multiple categories (if they are eligible), but are limited to submitting one individual work (across all categories)
  • Production criteria includes scripts able to be produced with open staging and minimal design/technical support for a 400-seat blackbox theatre. Scripts not fitting this criteria may be considered, but may be given a staged reading versus a full production.
  • Playwrights retain full rights to all works submitted. However, WSF shall be named as "first produced" if selected and workshopped/performed.


We invite you to come experience our world-premiere performances! All three one-act plays will be performed at each show time, followed by a Q&A with the team:
  • Saturday, July 29, 7:30 PM
  • Sunday, July 30, 1:30 PM
All performances are held in the Jamf Theatre at Pablo Center. Tickets are available online or at the door. 

Buy Tickets

Submissions are now CLOSED, and all roles have been filled for the 2023 Improbable Fiction New Works Series. Please keep an eye out for the following roles available in future seasons:

  • Playwright submissions
  • Adjudicators
  • Directors
  • Dramaturgs
  • Stage Managers
  • Actors


The 2023 Improbable Fiction New Works Series is generously supported by the Pablo Foundation. [include logo]
If you'd like to support the Improbable Fiction series, please click here and select "Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival" as the cause you'd like to support. 

Support the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival