Enough! Groundbreaking Plays By Teen Writers to Address Gun Violence, Premiering at The Kennedy Center on November 6, 2023

Zach Dulli Archive

by Zach Dulli, The Scene

ENOUGH! Plays to End Gun Violence, in partnership with The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a roster of eminent Washington D.C.-area theaters, will serve as the linchpin of a nationwide, multi-city reading happening on November 6, 2023. The winning plays, selected by an illustrious panel of renowned playwrights including Idris Goodwin, Lauren Gunderson, Zora Howard, Samuel D. Hunter, David Henry Hwang, Octavio Solis, and Lloyd Suh, are as follows:

  • The Smiles Behind by Niarra C. Bell (Virginia)
  • A Call for Help by Pepper Fox (Kentucky)
  • Lighting Strike by Amanda Fagan (Montana)
  • A Disorderly House by Sam Lee Victor (New Jersey)
  • No Prospering Weapons by Justin Cameron Washington (Michigan)
  • The Matter at Hand by Valentine Wulf (Washington)

Led by its creator and Joaquin Oliver Artistic Producer, Michael Cotey, the ENOUGH! initiative invites the nation’s teens to lend their voices to this critical issue through the power of theater.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Kennedy Center Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact, aptly noted, “Great art allows us to see the human condition in new and unique ways, and these young theater makers are an inspiration for using their distinctive voices to shine a light on the gun violence epidemic.”

Beyond the Kennedy Center: A Nationwide Reading

While the flagship event will occur at the Kennedy Center, the initiative goes far beyond the national capital. A nationwide reading of the plays is scheduled for the same evening, involving a variety of theaters from coast to coast. The nationwide reading aims to mobilize communities around the issue of gun violence, capitalizing on the unique ability of theatre to facilitate nuanced conversations.

In addition to gaining national exposure, the winning playwrights will receive a $500 stipend sponsored by the gun violence prevention organization Change the Ref. They will also have their works published and licensed by Broadway Licensing Global imprint Playscripts, and gain a Guild membership and craft training through The Dramatists Guild.

David Henry Hwang, a returning panelist judge, observed that the “quality of this year’s submissions was truly impressive, in terms of artistic quality as well as the diversity of stories and communities represented.” He underscored that “these exciting and inspiring young dramatists show us once again that our nation needs their voices to say ENOUGH! to the plague of gun violence.”

A Call to Theaters, Schools, and Communities

ENOUGH! is extending an open invitation to schools, theaters, and community organizations to stage local readings of the winning plays. Michael Cotey, ENOUGH!’s creator, emphasized that these plays “provide powerful insight into the perspective of a generation where the threat of gun violence has become ubiquitous with going to school growing up.”

As these plays come to life on stages across the nation exactly one year ahead of the next presidential election, they serve as a compelling and urgent reminder of the need for substantive action on gun violence.

For more details on the winning playwrights, their plays, and how to participate in the Nationwide Reading, visit enoughplays.com/reading.

In a world that so often confronts us with headlines of tragedy and conflict, as it did just this week, the ENOUGH! initiative and its partners are proof that the pen—and the stage—remain mightier than the sword.

For further information, visit enoughplays.com and check out the newly released ENOUGH! 2023 Audience Guide. This 40-page audience guide includes deep dives into each play, writer spotlights, essays on the issues, and resources on gun violence statistics and current gun laws.

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