Starting 7/18/19, 7:30:00 pm: Newsies

2019 Underground New Play Festival

Out There: Science, Technology, Fantasy and Humanity

TCR’s annual Underground New Play Festival will be held August 8 – 18, 2019. This year’s submissions reflect the theme “Out There: Science, Technology, Fantasy and Humanity” and will feature a year-long work-shopping of Rob Merritt’s Aurora, (a follow-up to The Summerland Project – more info below!).

This year’s festival will be a part of the Corridor summer events scene and – tying into this year’s theme – will feature a “nerd con” vibe with panels, presenters, a cosplay competition, and more!

2019 Official Festival Selections

Thank you to the many playwrights who submitted plays to this year’s Underground Festival. What incredibly fun, inventive and varied takes on this year’s theme. The selection committee read plays blind (author unknown) and scored each on the criteria of originality, thematic focus, professionalism, and overall affinity. Our committee has read, deliberated, and is proud present this year’s official selections. Congrats to the selected playwrights! We will reach out shortly with next steps.

Follow TCR on Facebook and this page for updates on auditions, director selection and more.

  • Again, I’m You by Dylan Cooley
  • Black Box, An Adoption Story by Zhen E. Rammelsberg
  • Classic Cage by Francis Bass
  • Duncan by William “Billo” O’Loughlin
  • Genesis Project by Erica Jo Lloyd
  • The Gerrig Problem by Mike Miersen
  • Hello, Friend by David Scanlon
  • One by Grant Freeman
  • Seasons Don’t Fear the Reaper by Brian Tanner
  • The EULA by Brian Tanner
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Instagrammed by Duane Larson
  • The Battle of Ulunaduhaunal by Mike Miersen
  • We Can Be Heroes by Zachary Johnson


  • Underground actor auditions June 30th and July 1st, 2019
  • See the full list of selected directors HERE.
  • 2019 Underground New Play Festival August 8 – 18, 2019

2018/19 Theme and Play Development Focus

Festival includes one-acts addressing the theme “Out There: Science, Technology, Fantasy and Humanity.” We are most interested in writers’ creative take on the ways technology, science, and the mysterious or fantastical reveal who we are – and who we could be. This can mean something simple and relate-able, a comment about our world today, taking on the big questions about what it means to be human, and more. The key to success is making even the most outrageous, fantastical, galaxial ideas and scenarios ultimately feel like they are about being human. Another way to think about it: “science fiction plays with a heart!”

Part of the festival will also be a focus on development of the script. After script selection, writers receive feedback and assistance in further developing plays for production. The Underground team, with new work development consultant, Cavan Hallman, will provide feedback and resources to help make sure writers’ intentions with the piece come through loud and clear on the page. When it’s clear on the page, it’s ready to grow in the hands of a director and performers. Writers should come ready to grow their pieces.


Aurora: A Year-Long Workshop Endeavor

Rob Merritt’s Aurora will be publicly workshopped at various points throughout the year before headlining the August 2019 Underground New Play Festival. Its first workshop milestone was a public script reading and facilitated feedback session in the Grandon Studio on Sunday, August 12th, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

The reading of Aurora featured Angela Billman returning to the role of Amelia Summerland, which she originally played in both the TCR auditorium production and in the film version, which starred Ed Begley Jr., Eddie Jemison (“Ocean’s 11”) and Kate Vernon (“Battlestar Galactica”). She was joined by veterans of the 2011 and 2013 TCR productions, including Matthew James, Marty Norton, Nathan Nelson, and Tierra Plowden, as well as familiar TCR faces including Akwi Nji, Jessica Link, Joe Link, Tad Paulson, and Noel VanDenBosch. The reading was directed by Rachel Korach Howell and the 2019 festival production will be directed by Katy Hahn.

After its appearance in the Underground Festival, The Summerland Project went on to be produced on the TCR 2013 season. From there, it has been produced by other theaters around the country and was adapted into a film, “Amelia 2.0,” in 2013.

Auditions for Aurora and the other plays yet to be selected for the 2019 Underground New Play Festival will be held in June 2019.

Follow the AURORA Facebook page >>



The TCR Underground Festival: 100 Plays and Beyond!

Rob Merritt produced a wonderful video highlighting the history and significance of the TCR Underground as we look forward to the Underground’s 100th play during the 2018/19 festival.


2018/19 Underground Festival Committee

  • Angie Toomsen, TCR Artistic Director
  • Emma Drtina, Co-Chair
  • Rachel Pothoff, Co-Chair / Festival Production Lead
  • Cavan Hallman, New Work Development Consultant

2018/19 Festival Submission Guidelines

Who can submit?

Playwrights with a strong Iowa connection: born and raised in Iowa, currently residing in Iowa, or having lived in Iowa for at least one year.

Where will the Festival take place?

In Theatre Cedar Rapids’ Grandon Studio, a 90-seat house with a small, thrust stage. Configuration of the space can change based on this season’s piece requirements. Additional festival activities will take place in the lobby of our theater, Linge Lounge, and elsewhere.

Script Submission Guidelines

  • Scripts accepted electronically (doc or pdf) by email to by January 31st, 2019 11:59 p.m.
  • Previously unproduced and unpublished plays, musicals, operas, children’s theatre. No film or television scripts, please.
  • One-acts, 10 – 60 minutes in length
  • Theme: “Out There: Science, Technology, Fantasy and Humanity.” (description above)
  • Can be performed with 10 or fewer actors (due to space constraints) and with low technical requirements.
  • Standard play formatting is not necessary, but authors should follow these basic guidelines:
    • Page numbers and the play’s title should appear in the header on every page. Scripts will be read ‘blind’ so please do not include your name on interior pages.
    • Font: Times New Roman, Courier, or Arial
    • Margins should be 1-1.25 inches all around
    • Stage directions should be italicized
    • Character names should be centered or left-justified and capitalized

Additional Information

  • Each play’s director will be assigned from a pool of volunteer director applicants, to be determined in 2019. If you have a director you would like to work with you may suggest, but the festival committee will make the final decision.
  • Auditions for all plays, including available roles in Aurora, will be help in June 2019.
  • Your level of involvement with the production and  casting will be up to you and the director and should be mutually agreed upon.
  • At this time, no royalties will be paid to playwrights.
  • Due to the high volume of submissions, feedback cannot be provided for all scripts we receive.