Appalachian Playwriting Festival

Showing September 8-10, 2023 at Parkway Playhouse. This festival will feature staged readings of 3 new plays written by Appalachian Playwrights that celebrate Appalachian Culture. One script from this festival will be chosen to be produced on our stage in 2024!

2023 Festival Lineup

Friday, September 8th, at 7:30pm: Minister of Sorrow
Saturday, September 9th, at 1pm: Minister of Sorrow
Saturday, September 9th, at 4pm: Clocks Are Like Angels
Saturday, September 9th, at 7:30pm: They Must Be Women Now
Sunday, September 10th, at 1pm: Clocks Are Like Angels

Sunday, September 10th, at 4pm: They Must Be Women Now

Minister of Sorrow

Written by Pam Kingsley
It is 1937. Emma is a pack-saddle librarian who came to her calling by way of a painful route. We learn of her life as she shares some of her favorite people in stories.

They Must Be Women Now

Written by Nedra Pezold Roberts
They Must Be Women Now explores multiple social issues, from gender and race to marriage and class/caste. Like her ancient precursor Antigone, Charleen (alias Sweet Tea) has a big mouth that gets her into trouble—specifically, fired from her high-powered job in Atlanta where she was feeling demeaned by men. Unemployment sends her home to Half Way, Georgia, and to her mother, the feisty owner of Miss Althea’s Bridal Boutique and Bail Bonds; Althea’s black business partner, Olivia; the imperious Lurleen and her daughter Betsy, pregnant by her “passing” fiancé Trey; and Althea’s long-haul trucker husband, Skip.

Clocks Are Like Angels

Written by Kyle R. Thomas
This play takes place in a small town in East Tennessee in 1933, when the
Tennessee Valley Authority rolled in and started buying up land and displacing families. The story opens with a family burying their fifth baby, and later they find out that they have to dig up and rebury their dead as part of their forced move, which is just unthinkable. Twists and turns and betrayals ensue, leading to a tragic ending.

About the Playwrights

Pam Kingsley

Pamela Kingsley: Pamela Kingsley’s plays have been produced by theatres around the U.S., most recently in Boston, Cleveland, Columbia (MO), Kansas City, Los Angeles, Louisville, New Haven, NYC, the State University of New York (Brockport), Richmond, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Spokane. Her play Mother’s Day was a 2019 finalist for the James Stevenson Prize for Short Comedic Plays and won the “Audience Choice Award” at the 31st Playwrights’ Forum Festival in the Pacific Northwest. In October 2021, Pam had three new works selected for Stage Left Theater’s “Masterpiece Monologues” series. Pam was then commissioned to write and subsequently performed a solo piece, Sleepwalking, which was featured in the EMPOWER WOMEN Festival at Stage Left and streamed online. Sleepwalking was also selected for Irondale Ensemble’s 2022 ON WOMEN Festival – New Media Library (NYC). The play was streamed online and received an Audience Pick award. In June 2022, Pam’s plays Finding Mother Courage and Boxes were selected for the 32nd Playwrights’ Forum Festival. Boxes won the “Audience Choice Award.” Both The Sitting and Boxes will be produced as part of TheatreWorks NAPAC 2023 Humanity Festival in greater Louisville. Pam’s most recent work, Minister of Sorrow, was selected to be one of three plays featured in the Appalachian Play Festival in September 2023. Pam holds a BFA in Theatre Performance and MA in Theatre Education. She will be part of the Inland Northwest Playwriting Panel for GET LIT! 2023.

Nedra Pezold Roberts

Nedra Pezold Roberts is a playwright in Atlanta. For several decades she taught English and drama; most of her writing, including two textbooks (one a critical anthology of plays), was in the academic arena. She took early retirement to write her own plays rather than teaching those of others. Her first drama was an O’Neill finalist, and the premiere run at California Stage Company swept seven Elly awards. Since then her plays have had production runs and staged readings coast to coast plus Canada and the UK. Several of the plays have had readings in the Asheville area (SART, ACT, Hendersonville Theatre, Autumn Players). A number of Nedra’s plays have won competitions and received publication. She is a lifetime member of the Dramatists Guild and is represented by Marta Praeger with the Freedman Agency in New York.

Kyle R. Thomas

Kyle R. Thomas is a writer from Tennessee. His passion for theatre began at a young age when he first discovered his father’s cast album of The Phantom of the Opera. He fed that passion as a performer in high school and community theatre productions. His love of history inspired his first screenplay, The First Debate, about the first televised presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. He wrote several more screenplays – being dubbed a “writer to watch” by The Black List – before returning his writing energy to his first love: the stage. He adapted his screenplay Portrait of a Young Man into a monologue, which was selected for the 2022 Rogue Theatre Festival in New York City. After performing the monologue himself at The Players Theatre, it was also produced at The Walnut House in Murfreesboro, Tenn. His play, This House Is Not a Home, received its premiere by Murfreesboro Little Theatre earlier this year, and his most recent play, Clocks Are Likes Angels, is being featured in the 2023 Appalachian Playwriting Festival. “I believe we live in a time where a lot of people feel powerless over their own lives,” Thomas says of Clocks. “This is a story about having everything stripped away, up to and including your family and possessions and world view. The main character in this play, Laura, is tasked with some unspeakable acts. She has to grapple with humiliation and loss and must find the will to carry on. I like to write about things that bother me, questions I can’t answer. I write to make sense of things that scare me. This play is my attempt to find humanity in the chaos.” A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Thomas lives with his wife Collette and children Jacob, Anna Grace, and Jeremiah in Murfreesboro.

Our Mission

When Parkway Playhouse was founded in 1947, it was founded out of a love of theater and dedication to education as college students joined together from around the nation here in our mountain town to produce high-quality productions each summer.

What they found here was not only the knowledge of how to create wonderful theater; but also, farmers harvesting crops at the end of each season, teaching them the value of hard work; potters, quilters, and cloggers showing them the power art can have on a community; and a town thriving in the Blue Ridge Mountains because of the people that cherish it and each other, teaching them how to be good neighbors.

Students from all those years ago and the audiences who pass through our doors today all found a special feeling of community here at Parkway Playhouse. The secret ingredient? Our home. The impact of our people and our location here in the Appalachian Mountains is keenly felt in our theater.

Appalachia is defined as a cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the southern tier of New York State to northern Alabama and Georgia. It’s an area rich in tradition, ideals, and culture. The Appalachian Playwriting Festival is a celebration of Appalachian Culture. It is a preservation of the stories, people and traditions that make our community so wonderful. This festival is an opportunity to give back by offering a microphone to those voices telling the stories of our home and heart.

Each year submitted plays by Appalachian playwrights will be read by a committee of local community members and theater industry professionals, and the favorite select handful will be given staged readings. These previously unpublished works will all celebrate Appalachian Culture. The readings will be adjudicated and the winning script will be fully produced on our stage the following year. Appalachian stories deserve to be told and we’re so excited to provide this opportunity for those with stories to tell.


We’re holding open auditions for our Appalachian Playwriting Festival staged readings at The Mountain Heritage Center on May 6th from 2pm-4pm! 

Support Local Playwrights

Donate Today

Your donations will go towards producing this event and making local stories more accessible.

Join Our Team

We’re looking for festival volunteers, play readers, directors, and actors. Email us at to find out more!

Buy Tickets

Join us for our first annual Appalachian Playwriting Festival on September 8-10, 2023! Grab your tickets here.