Welcome to the New Stages Festival.

Now in its 14th season, New Stages unites artists and audiences to share in the process of creating a new play. The centerpiece of the festival are three “developmental productions,” which run in rotating repertory. While scaled back from the Goodman’s usual production values, each of these plays receives three weeks of rehearsal and a full design team, allowing playwrights to not only hear their words, but to see the world they imagined come to life in three dimension. They also have the opportunity to experience how that work connects with an audience and gather valuable insights from their reactions—all without the pressure of an official opening night. During the final weekend of the festival, October 6-8, the developmental productions are joined by a series of staged readings, giving audiences an opportunity to see eight new plays-in-process in just 48 hours.

Anthony Irons, Keith Kupferer, Ryan Kitley and Dan Lin in the 2016 New Stages developmental production of Support Group for Men. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Each individual member of this community—from the playwright who creates the world, to the artists who help realize it, to the audience members for whom it is made—has an important role to play in shaping how the story is told. Strikingly, each of the plays featured in this year’s New Stages Festival grapples with the benefits and responsibilities of belonging to a community. They examine how a community can shape and support its members, how individuals can transform their communities, but also how a community can limit its members opportunities and disappoint them.

Michael Gomez and Karen Rodriguez in the 2016 New Stages developmental production of Blue Skies Process. Photo by Liz Lauren.
Celeste Den and Wai Yim in the 2016 New Stages developmental production of The King of Hell’s Palace. Photo by Liz Lauren.
Celeste Den and Wai Yim in the 2016 New Stages developmental production of The King of Hell’s Palace. Photo by Liz Lauren.

In Lottery Day by Ike Holter, we meet Mallory, the outspoken matriarch of a family she has helped create from the denizens of her Chicago neighborhood. An unlikely intergenerational group of artists, activists and small business owners, they all make their way to her backyard for a celebration that soon takes an unexpected and explosive turn. Bess Wohl’s Continuity takes us to a movie yet where an undervalued female director is struggling to keep her Hollywood blockbuster about climate change on track. Everyone involved wants to make something that has an impact, but as their understanding of the threats—to their film and to the planet—grow, they must confront the difficulty of taking meaningful action. In Rebecca Gilman’s Twilight Bowl, we are introduced to a group of young women, all from the same small Wisconsin town, who are each about to embark on a new chapter in their lives. What that new chapter holds—be it a college scholarship, a job in the local nursing home, or a prison sentence— depends largely on luck. Yet they all must come to terms with their responsibility to one another, and the place that shaped them.

The sustained burst of creative energy that marks New Stages drives not only our fall programming in the Owen Theatre, but is a substantial part of the overall artistic engine that keeps the Goodman moving forward. Last season alone, three of our nine productions were developed through New Stages, and the current season closes with Support Group for Men by Ellen Fairey, a highlight of last year’s festival.

By joining the New Stages community, you are not only getting a unique glimpse into the long and arduous process of creating a new play—you are participating in an important conversation about what Goodman Theatre will look like in the years to come.

Thank you for being here.


Tanya Palmer
Director of New Play Development