Six winning plays about ending gun violence to premiere at Kennedy Center

In partnership with Kennedy Center and a coalition of DC-area theaters, ENOUGH! will present the plays as the cornerstone of a nationwide reading.

ENOUGH! Plays to End Gun Violence proudly announces its selection of six bold new plays about gun violence as the winners of its national short play competition: The Smiles Behind by Niarra C. Bell (Virginia), A Call for Help by Pepper Fox (Kentucky), rOunds by HJ Kennedy (North Carolina), A Disorderly House by Sam Lee Victor (New Jersey), No Prospering Weapons by Justin Cameron Washington (Michigan), and The Matter at Hand by Valentine Wulf (Washington). Led by its creator and Joaquin Oliver Artistic Producer, Michael Cotey, the ENOUGH! initiative calls on teens to confront gun violence by creating new works of theater that will spark critical conversations and inspire meaningful action in communities across the country.

2023 ENOUGH! playwrights: Niarra C. Bell (Virginia), Pepper Fox (Kentucky), HJ Kennedy (North Carolina), Sam Lee Victor (New Jersey), Justin Cameron Washington (Michigan), and Valentine Wulf (Washington).

These six plays will debut on November 6, 2023, in Washington, DC, at The Kennedy Center’s Theater Lab as the cornerstone event to a larger series of readings staged coast-to-coast on the same evening. This collaborative effort between Kennedy Center Social Impact, Kennedy Center Education, and led by Event Producer Shanara Gabrielle, will feature a coalition of professional theaters, including Signature TheatreArena StageRound House TheatreImagination StageOlney Theatre Center1st StageThe Theatre Lab, and Mosaic Theater.

“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,” said Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Kennedy Center Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact.

ENOUGH! received 244 submissions from 36 states this past spring when it called on teens to write 10-minute plays on gun violence. This year’s plays were selected by nationally recognized dramatists Idris Goodwin, Lauren Gunderson, Zora Howard, Samuel D. Hunter, David Henry Hwang, Octavio Solis, and Lloyd Suh. Each winning playwright receives a $500 stipend sponsored by gun violence prevention organization Change the Ref, has their play published and licensed through Playscripts, Inc., and receives a Guild membership and craft training through The Dramatists Guild.

“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.” says returning panelist judge David Henry Hwang, whose work includes the Tony Award-winning M. Butterfly and the 2020 Pulitzer Prize finalist musical Soft Power. “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.”

ENOUGH! is making the plays available for free as part of its Nationwide Reading on November 6. Schools, theaters, and community organizations of all sizes are invited to stage a reading of the plays locally. Producers of these regional readings are encouraged to use the event as an opportunity to seek out meaningful partnerships and pair the plays with a community engagement component that addresses the realities of gun violence specific to their area.

“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,” says ENOUGH! creator Michael Cotey, “Performing them across the country exactly a year from the next presidential election is an urgent reminder that gun violence remains a vital issue for many young voters coming of age next November.”

ENOUGH!’s goal is to have a reading in every state. More details on the winning playwrights, their plays, and how communities can join the Nationwide Reading can be found at

About ENOUGH! Plays to End Gun Violence

Founded in 2019, ENOUGH! Plays to End Gun Violence calls on teens to confront gun violence by creating new works of theater that will spark critical conversations and inspire meaningful action in communities across the country. ENOUGH!’s mission is to promote playwriting as a tool for self-expression and social change, harnessing this generation’s spirit of activism and providing a platform for America’s playwrights of tomorrow to discover and develop their voices today. Now in its third year, ENOUGH! has received more than 500 short plays by teen writers tackling gun violence. More than 100 organizations have participated in ENOUGH!’s two previous Nationwide Readings in 2020 and 2022, involving nearly 2,000 artists and reaching more than 10,000 people. ENOUGH! has been covered by international press outlets PBS NewsHour, NPR, and BBC. ENOUGH! is the recent recipient of the Goldin Foundation Exemplary Project Award.

About The Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, attracting millions of visitors each year to more than 2,000 performances, events, and exhibits. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, the Center is one of the nation’s busiest performing arts centers dedicated to providing world-class art, powerful education, and outstanding memorial experiences to the broadest possible constituency. Across all its offerings, the Kennedy Center is committed to increasing accessible, inclusive opportunities for all people to participate in and learn through the arts, including more than 400 free performances each year and a variety of Specially Priced Ticket programs for students, seniors, persons with disabilities, and others. On September 7, 2019, the Kennedy Center inaugurated the REACH, its first-ever major expansion. Designed by Steven Holl Associates, the REACH provides visitors with new opportunities to interact and engage with the Center as the nation’s premier nexus of arts, learning, and culture. On September 8, 2022, the Kennedy Center unveiled Art and Ideals: President John F. Kennedy, a new 7,500-square-foot permanent exhibit exploring Kennedy’s presidency and his commitment to the arts. To learn more about the Kennedy Center, please visit


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