Lights Up!

A rehearsal for the 2019 Lights Up! festival.

Lights Up, City Lights’ annual festival of new plays, brings you everything from quirky comedy to unpredictable romance to dark drama. Our up-and-coming playwrights have lots of stories to tell you.

This podcast series emphasizes the most important part of a new play: the words. Each year we ask playwrights to submit fresh, new scripts to be read out loud.

The 2022 festival

Now through April 3, we’re accepting submissions for Lights Up! 2022.

This year, we’re teaming up with City Lights’ online streaming & video series, The Next Stage. Besides experiencing the new plays as a podcast series, you’ll also get to join the playwrights on Zoom for lively discussion, questions and audience feedback about their work.

  • Our theme this year is ESCAPE. Use this word as inspiration for your scripts. Whatever it means to you.
  • We’re looking for a variety of play lengths, which always makes for a great series. Your script could be a five-minute short or a 30-minute one-act. The maximum length is 60 minutes.
  • Please remember that this is a podcast series and therefore will be audio-only. Think of your script as a radio play; it shouldn’t rely on stage directors and visual cues to tell the story.
  • The maximum number of voice actors permitted per script is four (not including stage directions).
  • You may submit more than one piece.
  • To submit your script for consideration, please fill out this form: Lights Up! 2022 Submissions
  • The deadline to submit is 11:59 p.m. on April 3, 2022.

We will let you know either way if your piece will be featured in our festival. If you have any questions, you can always reach us at Thank you for your writing! We look forward to reading your stories.

Past festivals

Lights Up! was originally an in-person festival that also featured local visual artists showing and selling their work at the theater. During the pandemic shutdown in 2020, we moved the festival to a podcast series — and then discovered the all-audio format actually brought the new scripts front and center by focusing on the playwrights’ words.

An extra salute to everyone who was involved in the festival’s pioneering first years as a podcast series! Head to the 2021 and 2020 profiles pages to learn more about the festival playwrights, directors, and actors who were involved.

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