Announcing the 2020 TYA/USA National Festival & Conference

For the first time in 20 years, TYA/USA partners with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC to present the 2020 TYA/USA National Festival & Conference from May 14-17, 2020.

This annual festival offers the largest convening of arts leaders, educators and artists in the field of Theatre for Young Audiences to provide a platform for professional and artistic exchange over four days of performances, rehearsed readings, keynote speakers, master classes and workshops.

The TYA/USA National Festival & Conference theme is The State of the Story, exploring the ways in which new work is developed for family audiences across the country. The programming will offer a variety of conversations investigating the commissioning trends across the industry; the need for more diverse voices and stories developed in the field; and the ways that theatres, publishers, artists, and audiences can more effectively partner to expand the canon of theatre for young audiences.

Curated by TYA/USA, the national organization representing the field of Theatre for Young Audiences, the 2020 TYA/USA National Festival & Conference will be presented in conjunction with New Visions/New Voices 2020, the Kennedy Center’s new play development program focused on work for young audiences. The partnership marks the 20-year anniversary of the joint festival presented at the Kennedy Center in 2000; much of the event will take place in the Kennedy Center’s new REACH space.

Festival Highlights include:  

A concert from PigPen Theatre Co. featuring music from their acclaimed theatre productions, followed by a Master Class focused on their devising process.

A celebration of the music from award-winning  author and playwright Mo Willems & celebrated composer Deborah Wicks La Puma, the most produced artists across the 2019-20 season in the TYA field.

A Keynote Presentation from Dr. Yalda T. Uhls and the Center for Scholars & Storytellers, a UCLA-based non-profit that looks to advance the art of youth-targeted storytelling by grounding its creative process in child development research and social science insight.

A Keynote Conversation led by José Casas, featuring artists and scholars from his recent publication of Palabras del Cielo: An Exploration of Latina/o Theatre for Young Audiences.

Performance of The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus (Metro Theater Company, St. Louis MO).

Performance of Soul Science Lab’s Soundtrack ‘63 (New York NY).

A presentation of works-in-progress and conversation with  New Victory LabWorks, the leading new work development program supporting NYC artists in the creation of innovative and multi-disciplinary work for young audiences.

Additionally, New Visions/New Voices 2020 will present rehearsed readings of eight new works by American playwrights:

  • The Boy Who Kissed the Sky by Idris Goodwin, directed by Tim Bond (Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle, WA)
  • Farewell Opportunity by Georgette Kelly, directed by Julie Ritchey (Filament Theatre, Chicago, IL)
  • Inez Was Perf(ect), The Translation Project, by Simone Spiteri from Malta and directed by Karin Serres
  • Only One Day a Year by Michelle Tyrene Johnson, directed by Nedra Dixon (The Coterie Theatre, Kansas City, MO)
  • Selena Maria Sings by Miriam Gonzales with music by Daniel French, directed by Melissa Crespo (Childsplay,  Tempe, AZ)
  • this is what I chose no I’m not sorry and yes if you’d ask I’d do it again by Daria Miyeko Marinelli, directed by Will Kiley (Jackalope Theatre Company,  Chicago, IL)
  • United We Shout: Queer Youth Revolution!, from Project Pride Players, Omaha, NE and Kansas City, MO, directed by
    Brian Guehring/Carina DuMarce (Omaha, NE) and Amanda Kibler/Aniseto Herrera (Kansas City, MO)
  • What Do You Do With An Idea, the Musical with book and lyrics by Adam Tobin and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, directed by Nina Meehan, and adapted from the book by Kobi Yamada (Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Oakland, CA.

"We will investigate the state of new work development across the TYA landscape, asking important questions about the stories we currently tell, the stories that need to be told, and the way we are creating them.”

—  Jonathan Shmidt Chapman, Executive Director (TYA/USA)

“The field is growing, and we are thrilled to expand the TYA/USA National Festival & Conference in response to the TYA artists, practitioners and leaders from across the country who seek the rare opportunity to convene and gain the inspiration they need to fully serve the children and families in their communities,” says Jonathan Shmidt Chapman, Executive Director of TYA/USA. “We can’t think of a better home for it than The Kennedy Center. Through our partnership with New Visions/New Voices, we will investigate the state of new work development across the TYA landscape, asking important questions about the stories we currently tell, the stories that need to be told, and the way we are creating them.”

“We are delighted to partner with TYA/USA on this year’s festival,” says Mario Rossero, Kennedy Center Senior Vice President of Education. “This impactful collaboration demonstrates not only the Kennedy Center’s support of new work development, but also our strong commitment to the field of theater for young audiences – doubling down on the festival nature of this convening and creating, with TYA/USA, an essential four-day gathering for the field across the campus, including our new REACH expansion.”

Registration is now open. More information can be found HERE at 

Full Press Release HERE.