The Goodman welcomes four Chicago-based writers to its 2021/2022 Playwrights Unit: Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom, Susan H. Pak, Andrew Rosendorf and Omer Abbas Salem.
Goodman Theatre’s commitment to new work and commissioning emerging artists continues as four Chicago-based writers are announced as the 2021/2022 Playwrights Unit Cohort—Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom, who created the anthology and immersive audio-book series Fairy Tales for Sun-Kissed Women; Susan H. Pak, a 2020 and 2021 finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference; Andrew Rosendorf, a current core writer with the Playwrights’ Center; and Omer Abbas Salem, whose play The Secretaries was developed in part through the Goodman’s Future Labs program.
The Playwrights Unit meets bi-monthly to discuss their commissioned plays-in-progress with the Goodman’s artistic team. The residency culminates in a public staged reading of each new play. Playwrights Unit plays are strongly considered for production in the Goodman’s New Stages Festival and/or mainstage program-ming. In recent years, audiences have seen Playwrights Unit works in the Owen Theatre such as Andrew Hin-deraker’s The Magic Play, Seth Bockley’s Ask Aunt Susan, Kristiana Rae Colón’s florissant & canfield, Martín Zimmerman’s The Solid Sand Below and Ricardo Gamboa’s The Wizards.
The Goodman is grateful for the generosity of its New Work sponsors: Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee New Works Fund, Major Support of New Play Development; Pritzker Pucker Foundation and Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Major Support of New Work; The Glasser and Rosenthal Families and Shaw Family Sup-porting Organization, Support of New Work
Meet the Playwrights
Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom
Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom is a mixed-media artist, writer and intuitive healer. She creates Fairy Tales for Sun-Kissed Women, an anthology and series of immersive audiobooks. She was a finalist for the 2019 National Playwrights Conference at the O’Neill and is the recipient of the Tutterow Fellowship through Chicago Dramatists. Her play A Laying on of Hands was featured in The Story Theatre’s New Play Festival. Her witchy fable, Once in a Bleu Moon, was showcased by Sideshow Theatre. The Bright Light of the Soul was commissioned and workshopped by The New Coordinates. She is also a contributing playwright to The Swell, Refracted Theatre Company’s radio play podcast. Windy City Reviews hailed her as a “craftsman of the English language” for her debut novel, Reasons for Being. She has guest lectured at the University of California-Davis and Illinois Humanities. Her artwork has been exhibited at The Freedom and Movement Gallery and The Breathing Room. MalloryBackstrom.com | @FairyTalesForSunKissedWomen
Susan H. Pak
Susan H. Pak has taught playwriting, screenwriting, television writing and webseries writing at the university level for over a decade, as well as at Chicago Dramatists where she was a resident playwright. Pak received an MFA in writing for the screen and stage at Northwestern University, and received both a BA in English and a JD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her plays center on the myriad ways in which Asian Americans, and in particular Korean American women, resist the seduction of protection through assimilation. Productions and readings of her work include Miguk Saram at Local Lab 2021, Election at Goodman Theatre, The Fixer at the Steppenwolf Theatre, Marabar at Chicago Dramatists, Ghost Girl at the Workshop Theater, T.A.B. at New York’s Downtown Urban Theater Festival and the Manhattan Repertory Theater Festival, Haters at New York’s Midtown International Theater Festival, Baby Shower at New York’s Network One Act Festival, Incredible Invisible at Chicago’s Bailiwick Director’s Fest and The Writers at Theater Unleashed in Los Angeles. Her plays Miguk Saram and The F*ck House were both finalists at the 2020 and 2021 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.
Andrew Rosendorf’s work has been produced or developed at La Jolla, MCC, KC Rep, Signature Theatre, the National New Play Network, American Theater Company, Nashville Rep, City Theatre, Geva Theatre, Ac-tor’s Express, Curious Theatre Company and Local Theater Company. He is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, a Venturous Theater Fund Grant and a MAP Fund Grant for Refuge, which he co-created with Satya Jnani Chávez. He is an alum of NNPN’s Playwright-in-Residence pro-gram, the Ingram New Works program, terraNOVA Collective’s Groundbreakers Playwrights Group, and has been a fellow of SPACE on Ryder Farm, Tofte Lake Center, VCCA and MacDowell Colony. He was a previ-ous McKnight and Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights’ Center. He is a current Core Writer with the Playwrights’ Center and an Associate Artist with Local Theater Company. He is currently in development for a television pilot with Amblin at Peacock.
Omer Abbas Salem
Omer Abbas Salem is a Chicago actor and playwright. As an actor, he’s worked with Jackalope Theatre, Steep Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Griffin Theatre, The New Coordinates, The House, Bailiwick Chicago, Actors Theatre of Louisville and Atlantic Theater. His play Mosque4Mosque was developed through the National Queer Theater in 2020 and then chosen for further development through Steppenwolf Theatre’s SCOUT Program in 2021. The Secretaries was workshopped through The New Coordinates, a semi-finalist in Definition Theatre’s 2021 Amplify Commission and developed through Goodman Theatre’s Future Labs. Pretty Shahid was commissioned as part of Jackalope Theatre’s 2020/21 New Frontier Series and Love in the Time of Jonestown: A Radio Play was commissioned and recorded by The New Coordinates in 2021. He was an 2017/2018 apprentice of the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and is an ensemble member with Steep Theatre and The New Coordinates. He was the recipient of the 2021 Cunningham Commission through DePaul University. He is represented by DDO Artist Agency and the Gersh Agency. omerabbassalem.com.