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Celebrating 20 years of writing and producing, a year-long presentation of new work funded by a Specific Cultural Project grant from the Florida DOS Division of Arts & Culture

A play by Joseph Reed Hayes is a welcome oasis of cultured smarts." - Orlando Weekly

Theatrical experiences begin with reading, improvising on new ideas and new sounds, working the shapes of the words, artists sharing talents and telling personal stories, then putting it on a stage to show the world the result. We're following that path with THE HAYES PROJECT.

It begins in September with an open reading of the script for IF I HAD MY WAY , a tale of life, love and hardship in rural Florida in the 1940s. Occupying the stage of the iconic Timucua Arts Foundation, the actors explore the voices of these characters and discover how they sound released in the wild. This play has been in development for a dozen years; this is the first time it will be produced.

JAZZ SPOKEN HERE , in December, takes some of those words, as well as other pieces written for this show, and presents them unrehearsed with improvised jazz to play with the rhythms and meanings of the words. This innovative work will feature the artistry of nu-jazz pioneers La Lucha.

THE MOCKINGBIRD NEWS , a new play written for this series, unearths the language of fables and stories, accompanied by unaccompanied percussion, in 5 short, distinct but connected acts.

And, finally, those lessons learned during the Project will work its new mythology back into the premiere full production of IF I HAD MY WAY at the end of the series in June, 2022.


    The illogical logic of relationships and the threats of bigotry in wartime in a small citrus town in 1940s Florida.

    Florida, 1945. A young woman, educated in the North, reluctantly returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing mother. Finding herself in the same citrus farm kitchen that her mother toiled in all her life, she resents every aspect of her situation, rejecting friendship and suitors, until her abrasive and bitter attitude is broken by a person she considered invisible; the Italian POW brought to the ranch as replacement help. Steeped in the blues and based on little-known Central Florida history about Italian POW camps in the Orlando/Kissimmee area.


      The first new play at Orlando Fringe since 2004

      Fables and stories. A tale told in 5 parts, accompanied by unaccompanied percussion.

      Returning to the Timucua Arts stage with jazz phenoms La Lucha

      In the grand tradition of eight previous Joseph Hayes/La Lucha collaborations, improvised jazz meets unrevealed spoken word, where the destination of the performance is unknown until it gets there. JAZZ SPOKEN HERE will highlight new music by John O'Leary, Alejandro Arenas and Mark Feinman, and words written for The Hayes Project and more.



    My plays take place on buses and in bars, in hotel rooms and government offices, farmhouse kitchens and jazz stages. 49 productions and readings of my plays from coast to coast and in three countries since 2002; creator of House Theater Project and the year-long 13in13 series of shows. "Best local playwright: Joseph Hayes" - Orlando Sentinel

    food writer

    Florida Magazine Association Award winning food writer and Orlando restaurant critic. James Beard Foundation judge, knowledgable champion of world cuisine and avid advocate of undiscovered chefs. I can write about the front of the house of a restaurant as well as the kitchen with equal expertise. Founding member, goFLA/SunshinePlate Central Florida.

    freelance writer

    As a writer on assignment, I've traveled to Italy, Scotland, England, New Orleans, California and New York City, with a specialty on all things Orlando. Whether it's a story about Arts & Crafts houses in Florida or new styles in computers, a Mounted Police squad or alien abduction insurance, I've written it. Environmental issues, music, movie and theater reviews and in-depth conversations with legends in jazz. Interviews and personality profiles are my specialty.