September 20 - October 8, 2017 in Goodman's Owen Theatre

Founded in 2004, the New Stages Festival is a celebration of innovative new plays designed to give playwrights an opportunity to take risks and experiment.

Since its inception, New Stages has offered theatergoers a first look at adventurous new plays, many of which have gone on to receive successful full productions at the Goodman and elsewhere—including Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined. Please join us for this year’s festival which features an exciting roster of developmental productions and staged readings. See below for a full line-up.




Developmental Productions (Full Stagings of a New Play in Process)

  • Ike Holter

    Lottery Day

    By Ike Holter
    Directed by Lili-Anne Brown

    September 20 - October 7, 2017

    After an act of violence robbed her of family, Mallory created a new one by opening the doors of her rambling home in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood to a wild array of lonely neighbors, hardcore activists and starving artists. Tonight she is determined to banish the ghosts of her past by throwing a raging party and all of her new family is invited. This is a holiday of her own invention—Lottery Day— and anyone could win but everyone has something to lose. In his latest play, award-winning Chicago playwright Ike Holter weaves together characters from past works including Exit StrategySenderThe Wolf at the End of the Block and Prowess, to create a new story about the cost of belonging and the gift of community.


  • Bess Wohl


    By Bess Wohl
    Directed by Annie Tippe

    September 22 - October 8, 2017

    On a soundstage in a desert in New Mexico meant to look like a melting ice sheet in Greenland, things are running way behind schedule. As over-qualified-but-under-recognized director Maria tries to salvage her big-budget thriller about climate change and eco-terrorism, her cast and screenwriter waste precious minutes of daylight with error-ridden mis-takes and behind-the-scenes drama. Bess Wohl’s startlingly funny new play examines what is worth saving and what isn’t—especially when we’re facing the end of the world.


  • Rebecca Gilman

    Twilight Bowl

    By Rebecca Gilman
    Directed by Erica Weiss

    September 24 - October 8, 2017

    Cousins Sam and Jaycee grew up together in a small Wisconsin town. Sam, who sharpened her bowling skills at the local alley, is now heading to college with a bowling scholarship. But Jaycee’s future isn’t looking so bright. As the young women and their friends face adulthood, the alley becomes a place to celebrate, mourn and forge new identities. But can their bonds survive even as their paths diverge? And is success always earned, or is it sometimes a matter of luck?



Staged Readings (Script-in-Hand Concert Readings

  • Christina Anderson

    How to Catch Creation

    By Christina Anderson
    Directed by Jess McLeod

    Friday, October 5 at 10:30am

    In the mid-1960s, a black, queer, feminist writer’s life is changed when her girlfriend tells her some unexpected news. 50 years later, the reverberations of that moment still echo in the lives of four individuals in the rapidly changing city of San Francisco. Christina Anderson’s stunning and complex examination of the universal act of creation—creation of life, of family, of art—spans space and time to inspire a new generation of makers and lovers.


  • Mat Smart

    Eden Prairie, 1971

    By Mat Smart
    Directed by Henry Wishcamper

    Friday, October 6 at 2pm

    On the night Apollo 15 lands on the moon, a draft dodger steals home to Eden Prairie, Minnesota from Canada. He risks arrest to deliver a message to a young woman from his high school class. This beautifully etched play challenges notions of our own bravery and the true cost of freedom.


  • Mikhael Tara Garver


    Conceived and Directed by Mikhael Tara Garver

    Friday, October 6 at 1pm & 4:30pm
    Saturday, October 7 at 11am & 5pm
    Performances begin at the coat check in the Goodman Lobby.

    Immersive theatre artist Mikhael Tara Garver will present sections from her work-in-progress, POSTNATION. This community engaged site-specific commission explores the U.S. postal system—which was built prior to the creation of the federal government, and grew in response to immigration and migration movements—to explore the intersecting languages and cultures of Chicago. POSTNATION asks the question: How do we continue to take leaps of faith in a system we see as broken?


  • José Rivera

    The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona

    Written and Directed by José Rivera

    Saturday, October 7 at 10am

    When Nikki’s twin sister Abril commits suicide, Nikki wishes she could tell Abril just one more thing. She seeks guidance from an organization that arranges for dying people to carry messages to the already dead—satisfaction not guaranteed. Nikki’s messenger, Orlando, promises to try to find Abril, but he has no idea what awaits him once he succumbs to cancer. Whimsical and grotesque, The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona examines grief, regret and our unflagging hope for meaning in our lifetimes—and beyond.


  • David Cale

    We're Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time

    Written and Performed by David Cale
    Songs by David Cale
    Arranged by Matthew Dean Marsh
    Directed by Tony Speciale

    Saturday, October 7 at 2am

    Growing up in an ugly English industrial town, writer and performer David Cale escaped the volatility of his parents’ marriage by singing Petula Clark songs and tending to the tropical birds in the Bird and Animal Hospital he built in a garden shed—until a violent act changed everything. Weaving together original songs and achingly beautiful writing, Cale embodies this vivid tale about learning to live when death is suddenly everywhere.