Water’s Rising

Festival of New Climate Action Plays

Gloucester Stage was built on lifting up new plays through first productions and staged readings. Since our founding, we have had an accessible play submission process for playwrights and have produced 39 world, 7 national, and 35 New England premieres with critical success.

The theater’s home in Gloucester has more than 62 miles of shorelines, with the building itself located in FEMA’s high-risk flood zone. What makes this location a beautiful destination contains an equally foreboding future as we see sea levels rise year after year. Our stage door looks out to Smith’s Cove along Rocky Neck, so we want to celebrate this location while creating avenues for awareness and continued conversation about our future.



Gloucester Stage is seeking full-length plays with themes concerning climate change. Although coastal climate change is at the top of mind here, we are open to all plays tackling any theme of climate action.

Unproduced plays will take priority, but fully-produced work can also be submitted. 3 plays from the submitted pool will be selected by the Literary Team for the weekend of performances. Once selected, we will find a local director who shares a similar interest and aesthetic for the piece. Casting will be decided amongst the director, playwright, and GSC’s Artistic Director.

By pairing art with advocacy, we can deepen our connection to our earth’s future.

Each play will be paired with a climate expert(s) to keynote the talkback after each performance, addressing the themes of the theatrical piece, highlighting organizations that are taking action, and elaborating on how it affects Gloucester and the global landscape.


Play Submission Form

Submissions are due Monday, February 12, 2024. You will be notified by Friday, March 2 as to whether or not your play has been chosen for a reading.

The readings will take place between Thursday, April 25 – Sunday, April 28, 2024. We would love to have the playwrights participate in the festival weekend, either virtually or in-person, so please note your availability when applying.

Gloucester Stage is committed to upholding the work of local authors and stories from under-represented communities. Learn more about our action steps on Equity Diversity and Inclusion.





Play Submissions Closed for 2024

The title of this new play festival, Water’s Rising, emphasizes the urgency of climate action and discussion but also illustrates the lift a festival of this magnitude will provide to playwrights. Uplifting these stories and storytellers feeds a rich national theater ecosystem that Gloucester Stage has contributed to since its founding.

We develop plays at Gloucester Stage how boats have been historically built in Gloucester – to weather the wide ocean of theatre destinations and sail forward to critical success.

New Work Development Communities in which Gloucester Stage participates: