• AA full-time freelance writer since 1996, Joseph Hayes has worked as a food and travel writer, feature writer, theater and music critic and cultural explorer, available for feature articles and copywriting work, by contract or on assignment. A former James Beard Foundation judge, he has written for national and international publications about food, travel and the arts, and was the Dining Critic for Orlando Magazine  and Orlando Weekly, winning five Florida Magazine Association "Charlie" Awards for his food writing.

    • Joseph celebrated his 20th year as a playwright in 2022, concurrently working as an event producer and advocate for new, original creative work, marking a career that has included 57 productions and readings of his work across the US and in three countries. Two of the four shows he presented in 2022 including The Mockingbird News, the only double Critics' Choice Award-winner in that year's Orlando Fringe Festival; and If I Had My Way, called "A fascinating mix of contemporary issues about class, race, circumstance and relationships against a uniquely Florida historical background" by the Orlando Sentinel, which awarded the show two Best of 2022 awards for Best Actor. His latest work is Tempus, a New York jazz loft 1940s bebop reinterpretation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, to be staged in 2024 and then transformed into the libretto for a new American opera.

    • Winner:
      • Two Orlando Fringe Festival 2022 Critics' Choice Awards
      • Two Orlando Sentinel Best of 2022 Lead Actor Awards
      • BroadwayWorld Orlando Best Lead Actress 2014
      • Two-time United Arts Professional Development Grant
      • Florida DOS Division of Arts & Culture Special Cultural Project
      • Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Individual Artist Fellowship
      • Telly Award for best independent video script
      • Community Foundation of Jacksonville Art Ventures Fund Grant
      • Galati Research Grant
      • Lake County Repertory Theatre "Playing by the Lake" Festival
      • Awesome Foundation grant
      • Five-time Florida Magazine Association "Charlie" Award
    • • Reading panel, 2021 Women's Voices Play Festival, Mad Cow Theatre.• Judge, 2022 and 2024 Artist Projects grant review panel, Florida Division of Arts & Culture.
    • • Spotlighted the best of Central Florida's vibrant and creative jazz scene as producer of the Jazz On Edge series since 2008, and showcased more than 60 amazing artists to date, in a wide varietyof venues.
    • • Live collaborations include spoken-word performances with renown composer and author David Amram; with jazz trumpeter Brian Groder at the legendary Jazz Gallery in New York and the Digital Media Arts Center in Orlando; with jazz ensemble La Lucha at the renowned Timucua White House; and for the Orlando International Fringe Festival
    • • Founder of the "Word Play" reading series and former Chair of Alternative Programming for The Timucua Arts Foundation, presenting more than a dozen diverse events, including theater, live video, film; spoken word and poetry; and five World Premiere plays.
    • • Chosen in 2019 as the only independent producer to participate in an artisitic partnership with the Orlando Science Center for their exhibition, Pompeii: The Immortal City, with a series of dinners, demonstrations and discussions called Pompeii's Table.
    • • Associate Artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts with Samuel R. Delany, Douglas Coupland and Cornelius Eady.
  • "If you follow the arc of the output of writer-producer Joseph Reed Hayes, you start to see a pattern of self-imposed challenges built into his work. When the Orlando playwright won a professional development grant from United Arts, the end product wasn’t just a chance to present some hitherto-too-expensive work. The award seeded his first House Theater Project – a play performed in and streamed live from his own domicile – where he “sat and watched people’s faces more than the actors.” The wall between performer and audience had largely melted – with the space between them often just a couple of feet. The game is to look for a hook in Hayes’ ongoing works – some are transparent, some less obvious and seen only through inference. This year the transparent game was his ambitious 13in13 series, in which Hayes posed himself the challenge of presenting 13 events in various disciplines. Though Hayes is known for his interest in jazz – witness his Jazz on Edge series – in his two-actor play Solos, tackling the issue of class and the role of women as creatives throughout jazz history is the less-obvious engine. “I’ve always seen this sort of corollary between theater and jazz, as possibly the only two art forms where improvisation is so crucial to what happens that every show you see is going to be different, merely by the nature of those human interactions,” the playwright says, explaining that signature hook in action." - Orlando Weekly
  • "It takes a particular mindset to be a Renaissance man, someone willing to wear the hats of playwright, music producer, freelance writer, radio personality, spoken-word performer, photographer and self-promoter. All those descriptions would fit Orlando arts advocate Joseph Hayes, who wants to harness what he has learned from his diverse interests into an impressive, ambitious and exciting schedule of 13 cultural events in 2013. Hayes already has built a reputation for indie-minded events. His Jazz On Edge concert series, for instance, is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2013 as an established forum for highly evolved jazz. His House Theater Project has streamed intimate theatrical productions online to a worldwide audience." - Orlando Sentinel

    "An Orlando playwright using smartphones and a computer tablet is at the forefront of a growing movement to harness the power of the Internet to increase participation in the arts. Encouraging new theater patrons is exactly what Hayes hopes his project can do. About 18 patrons will watch two actors perform "A Little Crazy" in Hayes' living room at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, while the rest of the audience experiences the comedy electronically at housetheaterproject.com and on the event's Facebook page." - Orlando Sentinel
  • “I am thrilled to see a playwright take on the live-streaming mantle. Technology has enabled today's artists, like Joseph, to green-light their own projects and build global audiences for their work rather than sit around and wait for other people to make their dreams come true! At VirtualArts.TV we are committed to reinventing the performing arts for a wired twenty-first century audience and so create new work, new audiences and new revenue streams for artists everywhere. Congratulations Joseph and your cast and crew! I can't wait to see what you do next!” - Kathryn Velvel Jones, CEO/Actor, VirtualArts.TV, “Better Left Unsaid”


  • "Joseph Hayes is one of the new voices that can bring the theater to new audiences. His sense of dialogue and structure, his wit and awareness of the foibles of our society and the humanism that fill the pages of his work make him a true dramatist."

    David Amram

  • "A play by Joseph Reed Hayes is a welcome oasis of cultured smarts at the Fringe."

    Orlando Weekly

  • After a long, unfruitful period as a short story writer, I was given the gift of four words: You Should Write Plays. And even though I had been working on the tech side of theater since I was a teen, it had never occurred to me that the stage was where my tales belonged. I am a synthesizer; I create new stories from the odd, unconnected scraps of information and overheard conversations that I collect every hour of every day, and weave them into what I have learned through years of experience are plays that touch people and make them laugh and cry, often at the same time. I love playwriting because I love playwriting.
  • 57 productions and readings of my work from coast to coast and in three countries since 2000.

    • Creator, The Hayes Project, theater and music series 4 events 2022
    • Creator, Pompeii's Table, arts and dining series 7 events 2020-21
    • Creator, House Theater Project, groundbreaking live-streaming shows from intimate and non-traditional spaces 4 events 2012
    • Creator/curator, 13in13, year-long series of 13 events 2013
    • Founder Word Play writing-based series, Timucua Arts Foundation 9 events
    • Creator/producer, Jazz On Edge music series 14 events 2008
    • Co-founder, Sunshine Plate (Greater Orlando Food Leaders Alliance) advocacy organization for independant restaurants and farmers 2 events 2014


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.


My plays take place on buses and in bars, in hotel rooms and government offices, farmhouse kitchens and jazz stages. 55 productions and readings of my plays from coast to coast and in three countries since 2001.
"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.

EVENT producer

Producer of the Jazz On Edge series, spotlighting new and original jazz from Central Florida since 2008, showcasing the best that Central Florida has to offer in jazz to appreciative audiences, giving creative hometown and nationally-known musicians a place to perform their own music, without boundaries, in person and online. Founder Word Play series, former Chair of Alternative Programming, Timucua Arts Foundation.