Richmond Triangle Players proudly announces the second iteration of its new signature program – the So.Queer Playwriting Festival. The Festival encourages the creation and development of works with an emphasis on southern LGBTQ+ writers and stories.

The competitive, biennial festival of LGBTQ+ works leads to the selection of one work by a playwright, which RTP will then develop further in close collaboration with the chosen playwright through a series of salon readings, staged readings, and minimalized productions, as well as consultations with local artists, mentorship from theatre experts, and the provision of other creative supports.

Submissions for this year’s competitive phase will be accepted beginning October 7 and will close on November 18, 2022. The top five finalists will be announced in mid-December with virtual presentations in January, 2023.

“The So.Queer Playwriting Festival has brought RTP to the forefront in the region to inspire and develop new LGBTQ+ musical and non-musical works,” says RTP artistic director Lucian Restivo, “using a unique process of radical collaboration and supportive engagement with playwrights, actors, and audiences.”

“What really makes this Festival different is the approach we are take,” Restivo continued. “In addition to being one of the few initiatives of its kind in the country, we are committing to developing the work of a new playwright every two years, and to a process that is based on affirmations, dignity, and loving but direct truth-telling. And we hope to find stories rooted in our region, and those that reflect the diversity within the LGBTQ+ community.”

The idea for the Festival sprung several years ago from an endowed fund created by former RTP artistic director John Knapp and his husband Tom Gillham, dedicated to the creation and development of new musical and non-musical work. RTP convened a committee that spent more than a year researching other competitions and festivals across the country and defining how RTP’s could distinguish itself.

The inaugural Festival, held in the midst of the pandemic, attracted submissions from 91 playwrights from across the country. A review committee whittled the field initially down to ten semi-finalists, while an addition group of adjudicators selected five finalists. Those five finalists then created 30-minute virtual readings of their works which were shared online with viewers from all over the country and even Australia.

The winning work, Kari Barclay’s Stonewallin’, worked so well through the year-long developmental process that it received a its full world premiere production at RTP in January 2022. Local critic Julinda Lewis raved, “Stonewallin’ is a whole hoot and a holler of a show. Barclay has found the key to talking about difficult subjects, not only making them palatable, but mining] the humanity and liberally seasoning them with humor.”