New Stages Festival

The New Stages Festival returns this year, appearing December 1 – 19 in the Owen Theatre, FREE. Get a sneak-peek at what’s next for the American theater before anyone else. This long-running series, now in its 17th year, has been the Goodman’s primary incubator of new plays, featuring ground-breaking work by some of the nation’s hottest playwrights. Works developed are often the world premieres the Goodman produces on its mainstages—and stages across the country, and beyond—in years to come. Over the last two decades alone, the Goodman has supported in the Festival nearly 100 plays, which have gone on to productions at 130 different theater companies, in 69 cities, in 27 states. NOTE: Though critical reviews are not requested at this point in each play’s process, members of the media are welcome to attend. Contact to make arrangements.

Digital Press Kit

Rehearsal photos by Joe Mazza are now available! Download here.


Full Stagings of New Plays in Process

By Max Yu | Directed by Chay Yew
December 1-19, 2021, running in rotating repertory.

When 20-year-old Leo drops out of college and returns home to San Francisco's Chinatown, he discovers a secret that's been kept from him: his father passed away weeks ago. To try to cope. he delves into his family's untold past in the Chinese Communist Cultural Revolution, redefining everyone and everything he thought was in his bloodline. Winne of the 2019 Relentless Award, Max Yu's thrilling Nightwatch reckons with unknown history and generations of hidden family stories.

By Martin Yousif Zebari | Directed by Sivan Battat
December 5-19, 2021, running in rotating repertory.

 In 2003, newlywed Layal imagines a future with her family as they make plans to immigrate to the U.S. from Baghdad. 17 years later, just outside of Chicago, Layal's life and responsibilities look unimaginably different from what she had envisioned two decades before. Martin Yousif Zebari's surprising new play examines how families maintain their love in the midst of turbulent global and social change.


A Cutting-Edge Virtual Reality Experience

By Jo Cattell | Created by Daria Tsoupikova, Sai Priya Jyothula, Andrew Johnson, Arthur Nishimoto and Lance Long at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory in the University of Illinois of Chicago.
December 3-6, 2021


Script-In-Hand Concert Readings

Fires, Ohio
By Beth Hyland | Directed by Marti Lyons
December 18 at 10:30am

Your Name Means Dream
By José Rivera | Directed by Audrey Francis
December 18 at 3pm

Watching the Watcher
By Dael Orlandersmith | Directed by Neel Keller
December 19 at 10:00am

Press Releases

November 23, 2021: Casting Details for the *New Stages* Festival

October 20, 2021: Announcing 2021 *New Stages* Fest and Artistic Updates at Goodman Theatre


New Stages

  • Layalina_Rehearsal_3

    Layalina_3: (L-R) Layla Bahmanziari (Script Assistant), Gloria Imseih Petrelli (Young Layal/Marwa), Arash Fakhrabadi (Sahir/Amin) and Louis Sallan (Yasir/Mazin)

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  • Layalina_Rehearsal_2

    Layalina_2: Director of New Works and New Stages Festival Director Jonathan L. Green with Layalina director Sivan Battat

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  • Layalina_Rehearsal_1

    Layalina_1: (L-R) Jonathan L. Green (New Stages Festival Director), Robert Falls (Artistic Director), Sivan Battat (Director of Layalina) and Martin Yousif Zebari (Layalina Playwright).

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  • Layalina_Rehearsal_4

    Layalina_4: (L-R) Shadee Vossoughi (Karima/Layal) and Jonathan L. Green (New Stages Festival Director)

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  • Layalina_Rehearsal_7

    Layalina_7: (L-R) Gloria Imseih Petrelli (Young Layal/Marwa), Robert Falls (Artistic Director), Salar Ardebili (Young Mazin/Yousif) and Arash Fakhrabadi (Sahir/Amin)

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  • Layalina_Rehearsal_6

    Layalina_6: (L-R) Louis Sallan (Yasir/Mazin) and Jonathan L. Green (New StagesFestival Director)

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  • Layalina_Rehearsal_5

    Layalina_5: (L-R) Gloria Imseih Petrelli (Young Layal/Marwa) and Arash Fakhrabadi (Sahir/Amin)

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  • Nightwatch_Rehearsal_8

    Nightwatch_8: Wai Ching Ho (Nainai) views renderings by Costume Designer Izumi Inaba

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  • Nightwatch_Rehearsal_3

    Nightwatch_3: Playwright Max Yu and Director Chay Yew.

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  • Nightwatch_Rehearsal_2

    Nightwatch_2: AuroraAdachi-Winter (Bonnie)

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  • Nightwatch_Rehearsal_1

    Nightwatch_1Matthew C. Yee (Ba) with Playwright Max Yu (standing)

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  • Nightwatch_Rehearsal_4

    Nightwatch_4: Director Chay Yew (center) with the Company of Nightwatch and Goodman Staff.

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  • Nightwatch_Rehearsal_7

    Nightwatch_7: (L-R) Alec Silver (Leo) and Matthew C. Yee (Ba)

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  • Nightwatch_Rehearsal_6

    Nightwatch_6: (L-R) Wai Ching Ho (Nainai) and Stan Egi (Yeye)

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  • Nightwatch_Rehearsal_5

    Nightwatch_5: (L-R) Chay Yew (Nightwatch Director), Max Yu (Nightwatch Playwright), Jonathan L.Green (New Stages Festival Director) and Robert Falls (Artistic Director)

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  • Max Yu
    Max Yu

    Max Yu (Playwright, Nightwatch) is a Chinese-American writer and performer from the San Francisco Bay Area. He won the 2019 Relentless Award for his original play Nightwatch, for which he was featured in The New York Times. Max is a member of Page 73’s 2021-2022 Interstate 73 Writers Group, and his plays have been developed at Horizon Theatre and Shaking the Tree Theater. His poetry and prose have been published in Spittoon and Babel. Max is currently based in Shanghai, China. He graduated with a degree in Playwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2019.

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  • Chay Yew
    Chay Yew

    Chay Yew (Director, Nightwatch) previously collaborated with the Goodman on Lady in Denmark, Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men and Dartmoor Prison. Other Chicago credits include Po Boy Tango (Northlight Theatre); Where Did We Sit on the Bus? (Teatro Vista); Packing (About Face Theatre); Lettie, A Wonder in My Soul, Hillary and Clinton, The House That Will Not Stand, Oedipus el Rey, Death and the Maiden, An Issue of Blood, The Gospel of Lovingkindness, Mojada, and Universes’ Ameriville (Victory Gardens Theater). In New York, he has directed at the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Signature Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Rattlestick, Playwrights Theatre, Playwrights Realm, Ensemble Studio Theatre and National Asian American Theatre Company. Regionally, he has directed at the American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Theatre Group, Denver Center Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Singapore Repertory Theatre, amongst others. For his direction, he has been awarded an Obie Award. From 2011-2020, he was the artistic director of Victory Gardens Theater.

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  • Martin Yousif Zebari
    Martin Yousif Zebari

    Martin Yousif Zebari (Playwright, Layalina; he/they) is an Iraqi-born, Assyrian-American actor and playwright based in Chicago. His play Layalina has received two workshops and staged readings as part of Goodman Theatre's Future Labs and National Queer Theatre's Criminal Queerness Festival. As an actor, they have appeared in Yasmina’s Necklace and The Winter’s Tale (Goodman Theatre); For the Right Reasons (Atlantic Theatre Company); Close to Home (Amphibian Stage); Mosque4Mosque (National Queer Theatre); Unpitied/Lost and Guided (The Angle Project); Guards at the Taj (Steppenwolf Theatre); Mary Stuart (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); The Hard Problem (Court Theatre); Human Terrain  (Broken Nose Theatre); A Christmas Carol (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); Macbeth, Comedy of Errors, Failure: A Love Story and The Magical Mind of Billy Shakespeare (Illinois Shakespeare Festival); and has appeared on NBC’s Chicago Med. He holds a BFA in Acting from the Arts University of Bournemouth, England and is represented by Stewart Talent Chicago.

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  • Sivan Battat
    Sivan Battat

    Sivan Battat (Director, Layalina) is a director whose New York credits include assistant directing Trouble in Mind on Broadway, Who the Fuck is Ahmed (Lincoln Performing Arts Centre); She He Me (National Queer Theater); Baba Karam &McArabia (Atlantic Middle Eastern Mixfest); Pie Shop Play (Corkscrew Theater Festival); and East o’, West o’!, (ANTFest, Ars Nova). Regional credits include Edessa of Baghdad (B-Street Theatre); His Majesty, Herself (Adventure Theatre MTC); The Night Traveller (Cutting Ball Theater); Close to Home (Uprising Theatre); and Coexistence My Ass (Harvard University/Tour). They are the Associate Artistic Director of Noor Theatre, the Roundabout Directing Fellow, the Musical Directing Fellow with the Drama League and a member of Theatre Communications Group’s Rising Leaders of Color.

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  • Jo Cattell
    Jo Cattell

    Jo Cattell (Playwright/Director, Hummingbird) is a leading voice in the convergence of live theater and immersive technologies. Her work has appeared at Sundance Film Festival, the BBC, Sky Television, Cirque du Soleil, and many theaters in the U.S. and London. Cattell is a member of the LightPoets digital and immersive theater collective, whose immersive graphic novel, Particle, is being developed for live performance and as an augmented reality mobile game. She is also under commission with San Francisco State University's Fabula(b) to adapt Shakespeare’s King Lear into an augmented reality immersive theatrical experience. She is a 3Arts awardee, a Joan Mitchell Center Fellow, a 2021 Illinois Artist Fellow and a Perkins Coie awardee. Cattell is a former Maggio Directing Fellow with Goodman Theatre.

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  • Beth Hyland
    Beth Hyland

    Beth Hyland (Playwright, Fires, Ohio) is a playwright and screenwriter based in Chicago. Her plays and musicals, which include Seagulls, Killed a Man (Joking), Clearing, Red Bowl at the Jeffs and For Annie, have been produced and developed around Chicago as part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series; with The Sound, Jackalope Theatre, The Story Theatre, First Floor Theater, The Passage Theatre, Broken Nose Theatre and others; regionally at Octagon Theatre Bolton; and in New York at The Hearth and Dixon Place. Her first short film, Clambake, directed by Sammy Zeisel, is currently in post-production. She is a proud co-founder of The Sound.

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  • Marti Lyons
    Marti Lyons

    Marti Lyons (Director, Fires, Ohio) most recently directed Cymbeline at American Players Theatre. She also recently directed I, Banquo at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the audio production of Kings for Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. Next, she will direct the world premiere of John Proctor is the Villain at Studio Theatre. Other directing credits include How to Defend Yourself (Victory Gardens Theater, co-production with Actors Theatre of Louisville); Native Gardens (Victory Gardens Theater); Cambodian Rock Band (Victory Gardens Theater, City Theatre in Pittsburgh, Merrimack Repertory Theatre); Witch (LA Drama Critic's Circle Award for Best Direction and Best Production, Saturn Award for Best Production; Geffen Playhouse, Writers Theatre); The Niceties (Writers Theatre); Botticelli In The Fire (Woolly Mammoth Theatre); The Wolves and Kings (Studio Theater); Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (Court Theatre); The Merry Wives of Windsor (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks); Short Shakes! Macbeth and Short Shakes! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Wit (The Hypocrites); The City of Conversation (Northlight Theatre Company); Wondrous Strange (2016 Humana Festival); and Title And Deed (Lookingglass Theatre). Other projects include Bethany, Mine and Body and Blood (The Gift Theatre); Hot Georgia Sunday and Seminar (Haven Theatre); Prowess, The Peacock and The Last Duck (Jackalope Theatre); The Play About My Dad (Raven Theatre); Give it all Back, Mai Dang Lao, 9 Circles, Maria/ Stuart and the co-direction of The Golden Dragon (Sideshow Theatre). She is the Artistic Director of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, an Ensemble Member at The Gift Theatre, an Artistic Associate with Sideshow Theatre and a proud member of SDC.

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  • José Rivera
    José Rivera

    José Rivera (Playwright, Your Name Means Dream) is a recipient of two Obie Awards for Marisol and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, both produced by the Public Theater. Plays seen at the Goodman include Cloud Tectonics, Boleros for the Disenchanted, Massacre (Sing to Your Children), Another Word for Beauty, Sueño and The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona, which appeared as part of New Stages. Other plays include Sonnets for an Old Century (Nuyorican Poet’s Café, Steppenwolf Theatre); School of the Americas (Public Theater); Brainpeople (ACT/San Francisco); Adoration of the Old Woman (Sundance Theatre Lab, INTAR, La Jolla Playhouse); The Maids (INTAR); The Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Menier Chocolate Factory, London); Each Day Dies with Sleep (Circle Rep, Berkeley Rep, Orange Tree Theatre, London); Lovesong (Imperfect) (14th Street Y, directed by the author); The Street of the Sun (Mark Taper Forum); and The House of Ramon Iglesia (Ensemble Studio Theatre). His screenplay The Motorcycle Diaries was nominated for 2005 Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar—making him the first Puerto Rican writer ever nominated for an Academy Award—as well as a BAFTA and Writers Guild Award and received top screenwriting awards in Argentina and Spain. Other films include On the Road, Trade and The 33. Rivera co-created and produced Eerie, Indiana (NBC) and was a consultant and staff writer on Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Showtime). He has written 18 episodes of the Netflix series based on One Hundred Years of Solitude.  Rivera wrote and directed the short films The Fall of a Sparrow and The Civet. His latest screenplay is A Song for the Recycled Orchestra. He has served on the boards of TCG and the Sundance Institute and was a Creative Advisor at Sundance Screenwriting Labs in Utah, Jordan and India.  Rivera recently completed directing a zoom film production of Sonnets for an Old Century for Paula Vogel’s Bard at the Gate.

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  • Audrey Francis
    Audrey Francis

    Audrey Francis (Director, Your Name Means Dream) is an actor, director, teaching artist and ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre where she currently serves as Co-Artistic Director. In 2009, Francis co-founded the Black Box Acting which started with 12 students and within three years, served more than 1,000 Chicago artists. She created the original curriculum, The Black Box Method, which is based on and inspired by the Meisner and Viewpoints techniques. Her recent acting credits include nearly a dozen shows at Steppenwolf Theatre, many acclaimed independent films and web/miniseries. Her recent directing credits include Plano (First Floor Theatre, debuting in Steppenwolf's 1700 Theater) and the audio play of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Steppenwolf Theatre). Francis also works as a professional acting coach for Showtime, NBC, Fox and Amazon. She has taught at The University of Chicago, DePaul Theatre School, Black Box Acting and The School at Steppenwolf, as well as workshops in Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.

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  • Dael Orlandersmith
    Dael Orlandersmith

    Dael Orlandersmith (Playwright and Performer, Watching the Watcher) first performed Stoop Stories in 2008 at The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and Apollo Theater’s Salon Series; Washington, D.C.’s Studio Theatre produced its world premiere in 2009. Her play Monster premiered at New York Theatre Workshop in 1996. The Gimmick, commissioned by McCarter Theatre, premiered in their Second Stage OnStage series in 1998 and went on to Long Wharf Theatre and New York Theatre Workshop. Orlandersmith won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for The Gimmick in 1999. Yellowman was commissioned by and premiered at McCarter Theatre in a co-production with The Wilma Theater and Long Wharf Theatre. Orlandersmith was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Drama Desk Award nominee for Outstanding Play and Outstanding Actress in a Play for Yellowman in 2002. The Blue Album, in collaboration with David Cale, premiered at Long Wharf Theatre in 2007. Bones was commissioned by the Mark Taper Forum, where it premiered in 2010. She wrote and performed the solo memoir play Forever at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, the Long Wharf, New York Theatre Workshop, Portland Center Stage in 2016 and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. In 2016, Orlandersmith wrote and performed Until the Flood, commissioned by St. Louis Repertory Theatre. It was later produced at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, ACT Seattle and Goodman Theatre. Orlandersmith has toured extensively with the Nuyorican Poets Café (Real Live Poetry) throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. Yellowman and a collection of her earlier works have been published by Vintage Books and Dramatists Play Service. She attended Sundance Institute Theatre Lab for four summers and is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, The Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, a Guggenheim and the 2005 PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award for a playwright in mid-career. She is the recipient of a Lucille Lortel Foundation Playwrights Fellowship and an Obie Award for Beauty’s Daughter. She is currently working on two commissions.

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  • Neel Keller
    Neel Keller

    Neel Keller (Director, Watching the Watcher) has enjoyed a long and happy collaboration with Dael Orlandersmith. They met almost 30 years ago, on a production of Romeo and Juliet. Over the last decade they have worked closely on creating Orlandersmith’s acclaimed plays Until the Flood and Forever, presenting them at theaters across the U.S., as well as Ireland, Scotland and England. Other recent productions include the world premieres of Julia Cho’s Office Hour, Eliza Clark’s Quack, Jennifer Haley’s The Nether, Kimber Lee’s different words for the same thing and Lucy Alibar’s Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up. Keller has directed at many theaters, including the Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, Kirk Douglas Theater, Goodman Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Denver Center Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, ACT Seattle and Portland Center Stage. He is an Associate Artistic Director at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles.

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