Little Festival of the Unexpected

Since its debut in 1990, the Little Festival of the Unexpected (LFU) has established a tradition of nurturing artists, invigorating audiences, and exploring new voices, visions, and forms of theater.

Demystifying the Creative Process

Little Festival of the Unexpected is an annual event that furnishes a supportive environment for playwrights to develop their work in rehearsal with professional collaborators, as well as a unique opportunity for audiences to catch a firsthand look at the creative process that brings scripts to the stage through public readings.

A Launchpad for Success

Past LFU scripts have successfully moved on to full productions at Portland Stage and at other professional theaters around the country. Both Almost, Maine by John Cariani (LFU 2003) and Papermaker by Monica Wood (LFU 2014) went on to become the most commercially successful Mainstage productions in Portland Stage’s history. Meanwhile, many other LFU works have gone on to productions across the country, including successful Off-Broadway productions and TV and Film adaptations.


Each year, a cohort of two to four playwrights are in residence at Portland Stage for the festival as they continue to develop their scripts with input from professional actors, directors, and dramaturges in rehearsal and audience members during open discussions held after the public readings of each play. 

Each playwright in residence receives a stipend as well as housing during the festival. Limited support for travel is also available.

Little Festival of the Unexpected Script Submissions

The next time playwrights may submit to Little Festival of the Unexpected will be in 2025.

Submission Guidelines