Dear Audience Member,
Each fall for the last 12 years, the Goodman’s artistic staff has had the opportunity to pull back the curtain and invite audiences to see the new projects we’ve been researching, developing and dreaming about behind the scenes. Featuring a handful of the best new plays we’ve read over the course of the last year, the annual New Stages Festival serves as a testing ground, drawing our audiences into a conversation about the works we’re considering for future seasons. New Stages also functions as a laboratory where accomplished theater artists from Chicago and around the country can experiment with new and ambitious ideas on a larger scale than many new play development processes allow. The goal is to create a pathway for new plays to move to full productions at the Goodman and the work has paid off: each year since its inception, at least one play from New Stages has gone on to be presented as part of the Goodman’s regular season. To further appreciate the impact New Stages has on the Goodman’s programming, one need look no further than the remainder of the 2016/2017 Season, which includes previous New Stages shows The Magic Play, Objects in the Mirror, King of the Yees and Lady in Denmark.
Moving a new play from words on a page to full production is a labor-filled and time-intensive process. The writer often begins in isolation, but by definition a play relies on a group of collaborators–actors, designers, a director–for it to take shape. In spite of the months, sometimes years, of work that goes into the creation of a new play, playwrights often aren’t truly able to see what they’ve created until the moment the play is in front of an audience. With this in mind, the Goodman expanded New Stages in 2011, adding three fully staged developmental productions to its existing lineup of staged readings. These productions, which offer three weeks of rehearsal, modest production values and multiple performances, provide playwrights with all the elements of a full production without some of the pressures of a world premiere–such as the scrutiny of critics.
The New Stages Festival is, to borrow a political metaphor, a big tent – drawing together a diverse group of artists whose divergent life experiences and distinct approaches to storytelling offer a wide and inclusive vision of a changing world. Like our current fractious political climate, the plays in this year’s festival are audacious, sometimes shocking, and grapple with divisive but critical issues. These plays are thoughtful and complex and invite audiences into a conversation about morality, identity, greed and creativity with humor and compassion. Many of the artists included in this year’s festival – playwrights like Ellen Fairey, Abe Koogler, Lindsey Ferrentino and Kirsten Greenidge – are working at the Goodman for the very first time. Others, like playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and directors Henry Wishcamper, Kimberly Senior and Lisa Portes have a long history with our theater. Their stories range from the epic to the intimate, from the heartbreaking to the wildly absurd. They share a curiosity about human nature and how we react to uncertainty, crisis and rapid change.
By taking part in New Stages, you are not only getting a unique glimpse into the long and arduous process of moving an idea from conception to completion – you are also participating in an important conversation about what Goodman Theatre will look like in the years to come. We are truly thrilled to have you here.