The Playwrights’ Initiative – Staged Reading Series

NextStop Theatre, in Herndon, VA, is proud to announce the second phase of The Playwrights’ Initiative. In this innovative new program announced here, NextStop aims to connect to and strengthen the network of playwrights in the Northern Virginia/DC community by helping to build links directly between artists and providing vital organizational resources needed for cultivating new works of theatre. After hosting 30 local playwrights on March 23, 2019, the playwrights have self-selected four of their peers for a staged reading series. In these developmental readings, the playwrights have the opportunity to work with professional directors and actors. The public readings will be free and allow time for audience feedback and discussion afterward.

The plays and dates for the staged readings:

June 9 – Loneliness was a Pandemic by Olivia Haller

June 30 – Him by Tess Higgins

July 14 – The QoL Mandate by Hope Villanueva

July 28 – MLM is for Murder by John Bavoso

All readings are Sundays at 7pm.


Him by Tess Higgins

About the Play:

Over the course of one night, the final five contestants on a reality television dating show are confused and humiliated after discovering some upsetting truths about the intentions of their suitor (a man never seen on stage and only referred to as “him”.) On a show where women are and are traditionally pitted against each other, they must suddenly come together in a unique way to assert their self-worth and integrity against a duplicitous man and manipulative producers. But does finding life’s ultimate prize—a mating partner—make it easier to turn a blind eye to the dirty truth?

About the Playwright:

Tess Higgins is a proud hyphenate (actor-musician-playwright-comedian) in the DC area. After focusing on performing for a few years, HIM is her first play since college. At The College of William and Mary, her full-length script, Premeditated Perfection,was selected to be produced as part of the theatre department’s season, directed by a faculty member. Through this two-year process, Tess developed her play through readings and rehearsing a full production. Tess is also a two-time recipient of the Stephen Sondheim Young Playwrights Award. Tess has worked as an actor at local companies such as Imagination Stage, Theater Alliance, NextStop Theatre, Constellation Theatre Company, Adventure Theatre MTC, and performs regularly at Washington Improv Theatre.

Free Staged Reading:

Sunday, June 30 at 7pm at NextStop Theatre

269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon, VA

No reservation required. Reading is approximately 75 minutes with a short discussion following.


Loneliness was a Pandemic by Olivia Haller

About the Play:

Robots have finally advanced enough to realize they can do everything better than humans – except make art. The robots have done away with all humans except for a select few artists. When one human is tasked with teaching a robot how to paint, they grapple with the question of whether such a thing is possible, and whether they would want to do it at all. Could robots ever be capable of creating art, and if so, could they also be capable of compassion? Or is the human’s need for companionship more important than their sense of reality?

About the Playwright:

Olivia Haller is a DC-based playwright, actor, and dramaturg. Her plays have been presented at or developed with Convergence Theatre, Spooky Action Theatre, Theater Alliance, Keegan Theatre, Rorschach Theatre, Nu Sass Productions, and the Inkubator New Works Development Laboratory. Her full-length play THIS IS ALL JUST TEMPORARY received its world premiere as a part of the 2018 Women’s Voices Theater Festival in DC. Olivia has completed a residency at the Vermont Studio Center and participated in the Kenyon Playwrights’ Conference. She received her BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University.

Free Staged Reading:

Sunday, June 9 at 7pm at NextStop Theatre

269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon, VA

No reservation required. Reading is approximately 75 minutes with a short discussion following.




The Playwrights’ Initiative is funded in part by a generous project grant from ARTSFAIRFAX.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What does the Playwrights’ Initiative entail?

The Playwrights’ Initiative is NextStop Theatre’s new effort to connect playwrights in the DC Metro community to each other, as well as to provide a new platform for playwrights to workshop their plays with a professional cast and experienced development team. The process will consist of an initial playwright application, the Playwright’s Mixer and Pitch-fest, and subsequent staged readings, produced at NextStop’s theater in Herndon, Virginia.

The idea for this program was first generated through conversations with numerous local playwrights and intended to be about and for them.

NextStop Theatre Company is dedicated to using the power of theatre to build the bonds of community. We have been a staple of the local community for over 30 years and collaborate with local artists from around the DMV region. For playwrights accepted into this program, we have the ability to provide our significant resources; including space, infrastructure, experience, and professional connections to grow and develop our Northern Virginia theatrical and writing communities.

Who is eligible for this opportunity?

Any playwright from Northern Virginia, DC, or Maryland with a play or a developed idea for a play is welcome to apply.

I’m a playwright from the area. How do I apply?

We have completed the first Playwrights’ PitchFest. Stay tuned NextStop’s website and email list for information about future Playwrights’ Initiative mixers.

Where and when will the staged readings be taking place?

All staged readings will be held at NextStop Theatre in Herndon. Each selected play will be given 6-8 hours of rehearsal and performances will be scheduled for select Monday evenings starting in April.

Who will be involved in the staged readings?

Each reading will be assigned a professional director to lead the project. The director will work with NextStop’s program coordinator and the playwright to select a cast for the project. The final presentation will be open to the general public.

I’m an actor or director. How do I get involved?

Actors are invited  to submit their headshot and resume to NextStop’s casting department by emailing, at any point in the year. Directors are also welcome to submit their interest and resumes to and they will be forwarded to our Artistic Director.

Will NextStop produce the scripts that are workshopped?

NextStop has not made any specific commitment to additional development or full productions of any scripts submitted to the New Works program, at this time. (But you never know what could happen!)