New Works Now

Jenni Putney & Gordon Clapp in Trick or Treat. Copyright 2016 Rob Strong

NEW WORKS NOW: nurturing new plays for the American theater at Northern Stage

In 2013, the new leadership team of Northern Stage made a commitment to the development of new work for the American theater by instituting New Work Now. Initially established as an annual festival of new play workshops that culminate in public readings, New Works Now was designed to enrich the theater experiences of our audiences and artists. Northern Stage’s Leadership Team recognized that theaters that help to nurture and create new work while simultaneously producing a breadth of already-produced theater can make a profound difference in the power of theater to change lives. Northern Stage, as the major LORT regional theater in the states of Vermont and New Hampshire, is committed to ushering in new work to the American stage with the involvement of our audiences who are hungry for daring and impactful theater. New Works Now, held each January, has served as a guiding light for our company and has helped rebrand Northern Stage as a bold and visionary theater for our complicated times.

Inaugurated in January of 2014, the first festival attracted small audiences, but post-show responses proved that our unique audiences were willing to try out new work in a collaborative environment. After five years of engaging artists and audiences in the development process, NWN now attracts submissions from all over the country, sees talented performers, directors, and dramaturgs lending their expertise to the process,  and plays to packed houses.

In 2016, Northern Stage added Thirsty Theater to the New Works Now festival. A guerilla-theater, community outreach project, Thirsty Theater brings new 10-minute plays into area restaurants and businesses in order to bring theater into the lives of our community members. Playwrights Marisa Smith and Elisabeth Gordon were featured during NWN Thirsty Theater in 2016 and 2017; Jack Neary premiered his first Thirsty Theater play in January of 2018.

Since 2014, the New Works Now mission has grown to include providing additional workshopping opportunities, producing NWN nurtured plays as part of our mainstage season when possible, and making a concerted effort to shepherd these plays into a bright future on the American stage. Orwell in America, Joe Sutton’s intellectually stimulating play progressed through the first New Works play reading process in 2014, to Northern Stage’s mainstage in 2015, and then to an Off-Broadway run at 59E59 Theaters in 2016 where it garnered acclaim in the New York Times from theater critic Ken Jaworoski: “As the title character, (Jamie) Horton delivers perhaps the finest performance I’ve seen Off Broadway this year.”

Mad Love by Marisa Smith enjoyed its world premiere on Northern Stage’s main stage in January 2016, followed by a run at New Jersey Repertory Company in the fall of 2016. Trick or Treat, by Jack Neary, was first presented in New Works Now 2016, will be seen Off- Broadway in 2019. Only Yesterday (initially workshopped during NWN 2015 and subsequently in December 2016 and September 2017) premiered on our main stage in February 2018. On the docket for our 2018-19 Season is another NWN world premiere; keep an eye out for our 22nd Season announcement in the spring of 2018.

All readings are free and open to the public, creating a vibrant festival of theater accessible to everyone and anyone. It is thanks to our family of donors that this unique program is possible. With your support, we are able to seek out and nurture artists whose voices should be heard. We cannot wait to discover the next story that will change lives…


“How wonderful that Northern Stage is a research and development lab for the next generation of classics!” – Alex Trow, Actor


A Note to Playwrights

Thank you for your interest in Northern Stage and New Works Now. Submissions for NWN is by invitation only. If you would like to be added to our invitation list, please email your request and a resume to Associate Director Amanda Rafuse.

The NWN submission process begins in June of each year; at that time, invited playwrights will receive an email with instructions for submitting a new/previously unproduced play. If your work is in alignment with Northern Stage’s vision and mission, we will (at the discretion of the review committee) consider including it as a possible selection for our New Works Now festival.

Selections for our January festival are announced in December. Only plays selected (3-4 per year) will be given a workshop/reading and the possible opportunity for further development or a full production. We see more than 100 submissions per year — this is a very competitive process.

Please, do not mail physical copies of manuscripts and do not submit on behalf of a playwright without their express permission. Finally, do not hesitate to contact Amanda if you have any questions.


New Works Now 5.0
January 19-21, 2018

Made possible by the Pussycat Foundation, Mike and Barbara Gerling, The Joyful Living Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, The Norwich Inn, The Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm, Residence Inn by Marriott, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn & Suites Express, and the entire Northern Stage family of supporters.
Friday, January 19, 7:30 PM
It’s Fine, I’m Fine.

by Stephanie Everett
Directed by Akiba Abaka

“What could be more futile, more insane, than creating inner resistance to something that already is?”
– Eckhart Tolle

“To really love something, it’s hard to do. Especially something that doesn’t give you the feelings that make you want to love it. When you love your brain, it’s not like when you love your girlfriend. You don’t get the same thing back.”
– Kevin Pearce (Vermont native, former pro snowboarder, and founder of the Love Your Brain foundation)

In 2016, a young soccer player was knocked in the head for the third time in as many years. The consequence: chronic traumatic brain injury and the resulting isolation, pain, and confusion. This brave, vulnerable, and timely one-woman show is a window into the tumult of modern-day adolescence, made increasingly difficult by the unseen repercussions of concussions. For the first time in the history of New Works Now, Northern Stage is proudly featuring the work of one of our students: Stephanie Everett is a Dartmouth ’19 and a Northern Stage Fall ’17 E-term Student. This workshop and reading is made possible by the Pussycat Foundation’s BOLD Women’s Leadership grant and all of Northern Stage’s family of donors.

Run time: Approximately 45 minutes, no intermission.


Saturday, January 20, 7:30 PM
The Coup

Libretto by Rebekah Greer Melocik
Music by Jacob Yandura
Libretto by Rebekah Greer Melocik, Story by Rebekah Greer Melocik and Victor Lesniewski, Music by Jacob Yandura
Directed by Stephen Brackett

“Maybe music will save the world. I think that all people who love art, who teach art, and all of you, should burn with the obligation to save the world.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

“I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”

– Kurt Vonnegut

The creative minds that brought you The Last Queen of Canaan (NWN 2014, NAMT 2015) now offer The Coup, a new musical which brings terrifying possibilities before our eyes and ears. When he was young, Gabriel dreamt of a revolution that would turn his post-climate change wasteland into a thriving utopia. But Gabriel’s rise to power failed to bring change and now it’s his blood that the people want. A lush rock fable about the disconnects in our political system, The Coup features the largest cast seen at New Works Now and includes live music. Made possible by the generous support of the Pussycat Foundation’s BOLD Women’s Leadership grant and Northern Stage’s donors.

Run time: Approximately 90 minutes, no intermission.


Sunday, January 21, 2:00 PM
Jane Burgoyne

by Robert Moulthrop
Directed by Stephen Brown-Fried

“There’s resonance in the history of this house, this room. And if I choose to sit another moment and wallow in the verdant ooze of my own past at this particular waterhole that’s now being forsaken, then that’s what I am going to do.”

– Jane in Jane Burgoyne

Jane Burgoyne, her daughter Katherine, and granddaughter Allison are packing up the last of Jane’s belongings before she moves to an independent living facility. Jane’s own past allows her a sympathetic and nuanced understanding of Allison’s illness and depression, an understanding that is viewed with suspicion and envy by Katherine, whose relationships with both women are both complex and adversarial. As Jane’s material life is dismantled, she begins to move toward an independent, clear-eyed decision about her future, about what kind of person she might be when everything else is removed. Jane Burgoyne, a moving exploration of the intergenerational relationship between three women, is revelatory, empathetic, and gracious. This workshop and reading is made possible by the generous support of Mike and Barbara Gerling, The Joyful Living Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, and Northern Stage’s family of donors.

Run time: Approximately 90 minutes, no intermission.


The Dual

by Jack Neary

Accompanying the staged readings is the third annual Thirsty Theater, a pop-up theater experience in White River Junction. This year, the world premiere of the ten-minute play The Dual by Jack Neary (Northern Stage: Trick or Treat) will be performed by Emmy winner Gordon Clapp and Northern Stage favorite Susan Haefner. No tickets are required for this event, which is scheduled for the following times:

The Filling Station: Friday, January 19, 9:00 PM (arrival to the Filling Station at 8:45 PM recommended)

Thyme : Saturday, January 20 at 6:30 PM (dinner reservations no later than 6:00 PM recommended)


Past New Works Now plays

New Works Now 5.0:  January 2018

It’s Fine, I’m Fine. by Stephanie Everett
The Coup, Libretto by Rebekah Greer Melocik, Story by Rebekah Greer Melocik and Victor Lesniewski, Music by Jacob Yandura
Jane Burgoyne by Robert Mouthrop
Thirsty Theater: The Dual by Jack Neary

New Works Now 4.0: December 2016 – January 2017

Yesterday (later titled Only Yesterday) by Bob Stevens (World Premiere: Northern Stage 2018)
Portugal by Elizabeth Heffron
She Exits, Laughing by Marisa Smith
Piece Of by Tasha Gordon-Solmon
Thirsty Theater: Runway Lounge by Elisabeth Gordon
Thirsty Theater: Polar Bear Swim by Marisa Smith

New Works Now 3.0: January 2016

Letting Go by Joe Sutton
The Standby Lear by John W. Lowell
The Calamity by Christopher Wall
Trick or Treat by Jack Neary (World Premiere: Northern Stage 2017; Off-Broadway Transfer, 2019)
Thirsty Theater: Welcome to the Beekman Arms by Marisa Smith
Thirsty Theater: The Dog Walker by Elisabeth Gordon

New Works Now 2.0: January 2015

Here Today (later titled Only Yesterday) by Bob Stevens (World Premiere: Northern Stage 2018)
The Land Where the King is a Child by Henri De Montherlant, adapted by Wayne Lawson and Julian Sancton
The Last Queen of Canaan, book by Harrison Rivers, lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik, music by Jacob Yandura

New Works Now 1.0: January 2014

Mad Love by Marisa Smith Krauss (World Premiere: Northern Stage January 2016; NJ Repertory Production, fall 2016)
The Reluctant Lesbian by Kate Mulley
Orwell in America by Joe Sutton (World Premiere: Northern Stage 2015; Off-Broadway Transfer: 59E59 Theaters, 2016)