Starting 9/20/19, 7:30:00 pm: Hello, Dolly!

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 Rob Merritt’s Aurora, (a follow-up to The Summerland Project – more info below!)

See full event details, including schedule, costume competition, and more here.

2019 Official Festival Selections

  • 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

2019 Theme and Play Development Focus

Festival includes one-acts addressing the theme “Out There: Science, Technology, Fantasy and Humanity.” We put out a call for creative takes on the ways technology, science, and the mysterious or fantastical reveal who we are – and who we could be. This could 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 was 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.


Rob Merritt’s Aurora will be be the festival headline for 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. Aurora also received feedback from a expert playwright and was workshopped in rehearsal by the director, author, and cast.

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.

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 was able to 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.