Albany, NY (June 1) – Capital Repertory Theatre announces the 12th annual NEXT ACT! showcase of new works June 10-12, will be live for the first time in three years.

A joint venture of Proctors and theREP, the annual three-day event celebrates playwriting and the many facets of new play development with readings and activities highlighting novice and veteran playwrights. Events take place at theREP in Albany and at Proctors in Schenectady.

This year’s top honor goes to “Grief at High Tide” by Richard Willett, the play that rose above 400+ submissions from playwrights across the country. The contemporary drama examines the impact of a published photo on the lives of a young photographer, her husband and the veteran journalist and subjects featured in the original photograph. “Grief at High Tide” will receive a reading on the final day of the summit 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 12 on the MainStage of theREP, 251 N. Pearl St., Albany, 12207.

The summit begins 3 p.m. Saturday, June 10, with two events at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady, with a reading of the winning NextGen play, selected from submissions from playwrights 19-25 years old. “If These Hands Could Sing,” by Jesse Hampsch, follows a young journalist who discovers the real story behind an orchestra conductor’s decision to suddenly retire.

The ever-popular First 15 will follow 5 p.m. Saturday, June 10featuring 15-minute excerpts from five of this year’s top 20 plays. This event is interactive, including input from the attending audience and discussion with the director and actors immediately following.

Young Playwrights: New Voices kicks off 2 p.m. Sunday, June 11 at theREP, with readings of short plays by the eight high school finalists of this year’s Capital Region Young Playwright Contest. The 10-minute plays will be read by an ensemble of professional actors on the MainStage at theREP.

Events continue at the Lauren and Harold Iselin Performing Arts Studio at theREP 5 p.m. Monday, June 12, with a reading of theREP’s newest, in-development On-The-Go! school touring production script. “Henry Johnson: The Lost Hero” by Rachel Lynett. WWI soldier Henry Johnson proved his bravery on the battlefield, but for decades was denied recognition from the United States military. Lynett, with historical and dramaturgical research by Skidmore faculty member, Eunice Ferreira, bring the story to life for young audiences, with text and music from the Jazz and Ragtime era in this one-hour presentation, set to make its school-tour debut in February 2024.

The summit wraps up 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 12 with the reading of the top finalist play, “Grief at High Tide” by Richard Willett on the MainStage at theREP.

NEXT ACT!, a joint venture between theREP and Proctors, seeks to highlight new works that use theatre to provide a voice for unheard and underrepresented artists. To date, the summit has brought more than 400 theatre professionals (including playwrights, actors and directors) and 4,000+ audience members together for the annual series of workshops, readings and discussion. As a result of the NEXT ACT! work, theREP has produced 10 world premieres in 11 years, including “The God Game,” “Red Maple,” “Assisted Loving,” “Paris Time” and this season’s “Secret Hour” to name a few.

The NEXT ACT! New Play Summit 12 is made possible in part by a legacy gift from Samson O.A. Ullmann, professor of English at Union College, 1957-1992.

General seating. Tickets are available through the Box Office at Proctors, in person or via phone at (518) 346-6204 Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m or online at Tickets are $5 for each event. Free to subscribers of theREP or Proctors. Reservations are strongly advised. Box office opens at respective venues one hour prior to curtain. Please note: There is limited seating in the Addy Theatre at Proctors and the Lauren and Harold Iselin Performing Arts Studio at theREP.

For more information on the summit, visit




  • “Grief at High Tide” by Richard Willett, top honor
  • “Henry Johnson: The Lost Hero” (working title) by Rachel Lynett with dramaturgy by Skidmore faculty member, Eunice Ferriera, a new play for young audiences
  • First 15 (excerpts of five of the plays that rose to the top of the reading circles) with fun audience participation
  • NextGen: “If These Hands Could Sing”, by Jesse Hampsch, winning play from the next generation of playwrights ages 19-25
  • NEW VOICES: Young Playwright Contest Reading, eight 10-minute plays by Young
  • Playwrights ages 13-19, finalists in the 2023 Capital Region Young Playwrights Contest


Saturday, June 10, 2023 – Adeline Graham Theatrical Training and Innovation Center Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

o     3 p.m. – NextGen: “If These Hands Could Sing” by Jesse Hampsch

o     5 p.m. – First 15

Sunday, June 11, 2023 – the MainStage at theREP, 251 N. Pearl St., Albany

o     2 p.m. – New Voices: Top eight Young Playwright Contest Readings

Monday, June 12, 2023– theREP, 251 N. Pearl St., Albany

o     5 p.m. – “Henry Johnson: The Lost Hero” by Rachel Lynett (Lauren and Harold Iselin Performing Arts Studio)

o     7:30 p.m. – “Grief at High Tide” by Richard Willett (MainStage at theREP)


Richard Willett (playwright of “Grief at High Tide”) is the author of the plays “Triptych,” “Random Harvest,” “The Flid Show” and “Tiny Bubbles,” which have been presented off-off-Broadway and at theaters across the country. Honors include an Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellowship and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship. His play “A Terminal Event” (Julie Harris Playwriting Award from the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild and finalist for the Woodward/Newman Drama Award) received its world premiere at the Victory Theatre in Los Angeles in June 2022; “9/10” is scheduled for a world premiere in New York in 2023; and he is developing a one-woman show about Ingrid Bergman with actress Annemette Andersen and director Henning Hegland in New York, London, and Copenhagen. Richard is also an optioned screenwriter who has twice been in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowships Top 50 and a finalist for both the Sundance Feature and Episodic Labs. He was also a finalist for the Cynosure Diversity Screenwriting Awards, the Stage 32 Diverse Voices Springboard and won the Lonely Seal Film Festival award for the best script with a disabled lead character. He lives in Los Angeles.

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