Each April, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre presents New Noises, the Massachusetts Young Playwrights’ Project festival of 10-minute plays written by Massachusetts high school students. Plays are directed and performed script-in-hand by professional actors and directors in collaboration with the playwrights.

The Massachusetts Young Playwrights’ Project is supported by the Boston University Center for the Humanities.


Beginning in January, participating schools collaborate with a playwriting mentor during a school residency where students write and develop a 10-minute play under the guidance of their professional playwright.

The Festival

New Noises is not a competition, but a celebration of student work.

Featured Plays

Two plays from each school are selected to receive a 90-minute rehearsal. The playwrights get to watch the professional actors and directors at work, and are also active participants in the process, offering insights and concerns and making changes. By the time the play is ready to present to an audience, the playwrights have experienced a workshop development process usually reserved for professional playwrights.

Cold Reading Marathon

While the featured plays are being rehearsed for presentation at New Noises, other participants attend the Cold Reading Marathon. These readings are followed by a group feedback session. The Cold Reading Marathon amounts to an open classroom on playwriting.

Professional Performances

Professional actors, playwrights, directors, and educators from the area may present (monologues, short plays, group exercises, etc.) during the morning session. The presentation concludes with a question and answer session highlighting the joys and pitfalls of creating your own play and performing it.

For the professionals who participate in the event, working at the festival is a chance to rejuvenate—to perform with the kind of dedication and abandon that reminds many of them why they chose to work in theatre in the first place. For the audience, it is a rare look into the hearts and minds of young people—a perspective on youth culture unavailable when filtered through the adult-run media. For the playwrights, production during New Noises may well be the first time their work has been taken seriously by professionals.