Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival

SETC’s Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival is a non-competitive exhibition of theatre produced for young audiences by companies during the annual SETC Convention and is open to all SETC Convention attendees as well as children from schools surrounding the convention’s host city.

2020 Festival

We look forward to announcing the lineup of performances that will make up the Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival at the 71st annual SETC Convention in Louisville, KY.

Festival Date: Thurs., Feb. 27, 2020
Location: Louisville, KY | 71st Annual SETC Convention

Applications Are Closed: We are no longer accepting applications to perform in the 2020 Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival. The deadline passed on Sept. 15, 2019.


For more information, please contact:

Riley Braem

Theatre for Youth Division Chair
Phone: 931-561-8755
Email Riley Braem

Laura Byland

Division Vice-Chair & Festival Chair
Phone: 405-550-1946
Email Laura Byland

More About the Festival

The festival strives to highlight, promote and enhance the quality of theatre for young audiences by presenting professional and/or amateur productions that embrace the broadest possible range of genres and styles, and by subsequent adjudication of those productions.

The festival brings together various forms of theatre for youth, including:

  • Professional theatre companies
  • Young people performing for young audiences
  • College students learning the challenge of performing for young audiences
  • New plays and proven classics

Reaching Out: The festival provides the opportunity for thousands of young people to experience the magic of live theatre, allows the performing companies and playwrights to receive critical feedback, and gives TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) producers and performers a forum in which to share their craft. It is a rare and valuable opportunity to help them continue their growth as artists and producing institutions.

Background: Over the last quarter century, the Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival has showcased more than one hundred works to more than 25,000 young people. As part of the annual SETC Convention, the festival brings together Artist and Audience, Playwright and Publisher, Performer and Producer to explore the infinite world of Theatre for Youth and to work with and get feedback from some of this country’s preeminent figures in the field.

“The festival allows new plays to be performed in a safe and nurturing environment and helps promote the growth of these new works, which eventually touch and enrich the lives of thousands of children across the country.”

 Kenton Yeager, Past Chair, Theatre for Youth Division

What the Children Have to Say

Recap: 2019 Festival

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2019 Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival, held Thurs., Feb. 28, 2019, as part of the 70th annual SETC Convention in Knoxville, TN!

2019 Performance Lineup

Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Theatre Company

“Aladdin, Jr.”

 Presented by Lighthouse Theatre Company (Albertville, AL)

The story you know and love has been given the royal treatment! Aladdin and his three friends, Babkak, Omar, and Kassim, are down on their luck until Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and the Genie who has the power to grant three wishes. Wanting to earn the respect of the princess, Jasmine, Aladdin embarks on an adventure that will test his will and his moral character. With expanded characters, new songs, and more thrills, this new adaptation of the beloved story will open up “a whole new world!” Recommended for K through adult.

Photo by Friedman Wagner-Dobler


Presented by Jumping Jack Theatre (Pittsburgh, PA)

Jumping Jack Theater creates new works for Autistic audiences and the autism community in a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment. When a wily pigeon flies off with M.C.’s most prized treasure, she must leave the comfort of home and cross the big and busy Cityscape to get it back.  From reaching the top of a skyscraper to chasing down a dump truck, audiences help M.C. solve problems and overcome fears as she safely navigates this new environment. “Cityscape” invites the audience to participate in the action via creative movement, music, and sensory play and incorporates social skill and communication supports. Recommended for grades K-5.

“James and the Giant Peach JR.”

Presented by CharACTers Children’s Theatre (Attalla, AL)

Based on one of Roald Dahl’s most poignantly quirky stories, this is a brand new take on a “master peach” of a tale. Featuring a wickedly tuneful score and a witting and charming book, this adventurous musical about courage and self-discovery is destined to be a classic.

2019 Festival Respondents

It was an honor to welcome Tim Webb and Rhonda Wilson as respondents to the 2019 festival. We thank them for their insights and expertise!

Tim Webb

Tim is co-founder and artistic director of Oily Cart which began work in 1981, and specializes in multi-sensory, close-up, highly interactive theatre for very young children and also for young people with severe learning disabilities including autistic spectrum disorders. He has trained and mentored companies around the world including Ireland, Sweden, Hawaii, Japan and most recently at Lincoln Center in New York.

Tim has worked as writer and director at theatres throughout the UK. His scripts have been produced in the UK, at the Leicester Haymarket, the Albany Empire, Contact Theatre, Manchester, by Greenwich, Glasgow and Leeds Theatre-in-Education companies and, internationally, by the Carousel Players, Canada, So-Edineni, Moscow and the Chicago Children’s Theatre.

Rhonda Wilson

Rhonda is the Founder and Executive Director of Star Center Children’s Theatre. She is also a full-time Public Middle School Theater. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of Florida in Community Resource Economics. She is certified in Elementary Education, as a Media Specialist and Secondary Drama. She credits her childhood with her passion to create opportunities for youth. Rhonda founded the Star Center Children’s Theatre, an Arts Education organization, 18 years ago to educate and give performance opportunities to youth and their families. Star Center provides a place to build self-esteem, learn teamwork and gain confidence through the arts. Rhonda expanded her vision to reach families when she founded the Actors’ Warehouse, another non-profit theatre. Rhonda’s work has been recognized Nationally, Regionally and Statewide. Those awards include 2018 Tony Award Nomination for Excellence in Theatre Education, Allstate National Champion for Good, SETC’s Sara Spencer Child Drama Award, Florida Governor’s Award for Community Investment in Youth, Florida Distinguished Career Award, State Diversity and Inclusion Award, National Special Recognition Award from the American Association for Community Theatre and many recognitions. Rhonda continues to follow her passion and turned that small program that started 18 years ago into a year round season of shows, workshops and classes. When she is not directing, she can be found on the stage. She makes her New York off-Broadway debut in a solo performance of GROUNDED during the 2018 United Solo Festival. Her mission is to make sure every child or child at heart, has a place to SPARKLE and SHINE!