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New Stages festival professionals weekend 2023

December 8 – 10, 2023

You’re invited to Professionals Weekend of our recently announced New Stages Festival! Now in its 19th year, New Stages is a celebration of innovative, raw, risky new work presented for the first time in front of live audiences in our Owen Theatre.

At the heart of this unique celebration of new plays- and musicals-in process are five works from among our most exciting emerging and established writers that are bold, tender, raucous, mysterious, hilarious, strange, funky and eminently relatable. Connect with other industry professions during social events and take in some of the most exciting new works before they premiere on stages across the country.

View the full lineup of the weekend’s events below.

All events are FREE. RSVP’s for Professionals Weekend have now closed. Questions? Send us an email. Send us an email.


Preferred Hotel Partner

Cambria Hotel
32 W. Randolph St. (1 minute from the Goodman)
$179/night, available Friday, 12/8 through Sunday, 12/10
Participants must book through the following link:




Clifford Family Lobby & Baskes Rotunda
Alice Center
Friday, December 8 at 6pm

Launch this weekend of exciting new work at a casual mixer with complimentary beer, wine and light fare.

Music & Lyrics by Bobby Rush
Book by Stephen Helper & Bobby Rush
Directed by Stephen Helper & Arminda Thomas

Concert Reading
Friday, December 8 at 7:30pm

The Blues journey of Bobby Rush takes us from the sharecropped fields and earthy juke joints of the deep south to the hot Chicago Blues scene where he broke the color barrier on Rush Street. In this new musical, created with writer Stephen Helper, the 89-year-old Blues superstar shares his moving and often hilarious story of “slippin’ through the cracks” he found in the walls of prejudice, hardship and loss to arrive at resilience and reconciliation. A celebration of authentic Black culture, over 25 of his great Blues and Funk songs will tell the tale and rock the house.


By Karissa Murrell Myers
Directed by Henry Godinez

Staged Reading 
Saturday, December 9 at 10am

When her estranged childhood sweetheart mysteriously dies, Amitra returns home after a sixteen-year absence to Black Bear Island, which legend says is haunted by a monstrous man-killing bear. As she searches for the truth and her memory starts to unfog, the forest begins to engulf the house and her past collides with the present. In this new gothic thriller, Karissa Murrell Myers explores regret, the unreliableness of our own memories and the paths we choose to become who we are.

By Lucy Thurber
Directed by Thomas Sadoski
Staged Reading
Saturday, December 9 at 2pm

Phil and Maggie live a life of leisure in their handsome West Village brownstone. They indulge in the finer things and find special joy in bringing aspiring artists into their home and making them part of the family, with a few strings attached. But when their daughter, Becca, returns from Brown with her new girlfriend, their comfortable dynamic starts shifting in unsettling ways. Lucy Thurber’s provocative new play on family, class and sex asks: what are you willing to pay for the people and things that you desire most?


Music & Lyrics by Tom Morello
Book by Zayd Ayers Dohrn

Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III
Developmental Musical Reading
Saturday, December 9 at 7:30pm

Soldier and aspiring musician Hampton Weems comes home from Afghanistan to find the South Side of Chicago is also occupied territory – and he’s accidentally joined the resistance. Featuring songs by Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Nightwatchman, Street Sweeper Social Club), Revolution(s) is a punk/metal/hip-hop musical about a young artist finding his voice, why violence is as American as cherry pie and how young radicals, across generations, are still motivated by love.

Patron’s Lounge
Saturday, December 9 at 9:30pm

Join fellow playwrights, dramaturgs, directors, actors and other industry
professionals for relaxed late-night festivity over food, beer and wine.


Clifford Family Lobby
Alice Center
Sunday, December 10 at 9am

Start your day off right with a hearty breakfast before diving into this
final day of readings.

By Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom
Directed by Malkia Stampley
Staged Reading
Sunday, December 10 at 10am

Upon coming of age, the inhabitants of the invisible island of Ma Isle journey into the wilderness, where they are gifted with special abilities. So, it has been for hundreds of years…Until Cephianne, the youngest child of their immortal matriarch, fails her seeking ritual, emerging from the woods unchanged and stumbles upon an enthralling man in her mirror. Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom’s new fairytale is penned in homage to the Gullah dialect and colorful culture found off the coast of Georgia, where the descendants of enslaved peoples turn pain into power.

Music & Lyrics by Tom Morello
Book by Zayd Ayers Dohrn,

Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III
Developmental Musical Reading

Sunday, December 10 at 3pm

An additional opportunity to see this new work if you weren’t able to catch it
on Saturday night.