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New Works Now: Nurturing New Plays for the American Stage

An annual festival of workshops that culminate in free public readings, New Works Now is designed to enrich the theater experience of our audiences and artists who are hungry for daring and impactful stories. Post-show responses are valuable to the play development process and have shown that our unique audiences are willing to engage with new work in a collaborative environment. The festival, held each January, has served as a guiding light for our company and has helped rebrand Northern Stage as a bold and visionary theater.

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

New Works Now 2020 Schedule

Friday, January 10, 7:30 PM: Machine Learning by Francisco Mendoza 
Saturday, January 11, 2:00 PM: Poor Clare by Chiara Atik
Saturday, January 11, 7:30 PM: I Hope She’ll Be Okay by Amy Staats
A post-show conversation will follow each reading. 

Admission is free, but seats are reserved, so contact the box office to book tickets.
Call (802) 296-7000 or email

Machine Learning
By Francisco Mendoza
Directed by Gabriel Vega Weissman
Approximate Run Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
When a cancer diagnosis thrusts his estranged, alcoholic father back into his life, computer scientist Jorge dreams up a nursing app to manage the disease in his stead. As the machine’s capabilities grow, it goes from caretaker to part of the family, and Jorge must grapple with his responsibilities as a son—and as a creator. Machine Learning is the winner of the 2019 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Playwriting. The Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards are annual awards issued by the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College.

Francisco Mendoza is an Argentinian writer currently living in Brooklyn, NY after spending several years in Brazil. His work has been developed or presented at The Lark, The New Group, the MacDowell Colony, and Northern Stage, among others. His scripts include stage plays Machine Learning (Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Playwriting), Tooth for Tooth (Finalist, Sundance Theater Lab; Finalist, Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship; Semifinalist, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference), and Patriarch (Semifinalist, 2019 Headwaters New Play Festival); TV pilot Land Most Loved (Finalist, Sundance Lab; Winner, Ivy Film Festival); and podcast Hairy Legs Hannah’s Feminist Quarter-Hour (official selection, Austin Film Festival), which he co-wrote and directed after a successful Kickstarter campaign. MFA – Tisch School of the Arts.

Poor Clare
By Chiara Atik
Directed by Carol Dunne
Featuring Northern Stage Alumni Monique St. Cyr, Jenni Putney, Ashton Heyl, Todd Cerveris, & Virginia Ogden
Approximate Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Clare is just a regular noblewoman living in medieval Italy, trying out hairstyles and waiting to get married. Until a man named Francis starts ranting in the courtyard. Chiara Atik’s breathlessly funny & powerful new play tells a tale of what happens when your eyes are opened to the injustice of the world around you, and you can’t look away. A modern spin on the Middle Ages that couldn’t be more timely. 

Chiara Atik’s plays include Five Times in One Night, BUMP, Poor Clare, and WOMEN, a mashup of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and HBO’s Girls. Chiara’s writing has been featured in The Atlantic, Glamour Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine,, and Refinery29. Other writing credits include “Paris is Lovely/Lonely When You’re Alone” (Amazon Kindle) and “Modern Dating: A Field Guide,” (Harlequin, 2013). Her feature film script, Fairy Godmother, was on the 2016 Black List.

I Hope She’ll Be Okay
By Amy Staats
Directed by Jess Chayes
Featuring Northern Stage Alumni Gordon Clapp, Dominic Comperatore, & Todd Cerveris
Approximate Run Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Two old school Senators from opposite parties struggle to have lunch together during the rise of the Tea Party and the demise of the Senator’s Dining Room. Meanwhile, a conservative woman and a member of Occupy Wall Street embark on an impromptu road trip. Set in 2010, Amy Staats’ smart and warmhearted political comedy about friendship and food asks: when did we stop eating lunch together?

Amy Staats is an actor and writer. She was a 2018-2019 Tow-Playwright-in-Residence through the Atlantic Theater Company, and played the role of Eddie Van Halen in Atlantic’s Off-Broadway production of her play Eddie and Dave (directed by Margot Bordelon, developed at Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor and SPACE on Ryder Farm). Other plays include Hands (Naked Angel’s First Mondays, SPACE on Ryder Farm with EST); Throws of Love (Samuel French Festival, winner, directed by Jess Chayes); I Hope She’ll Be Okay (Launch Commission, developed at Williamstown Theater Festival with Jess Chayes); and Bat Kitty. Her TV pilot Defected is in development with Olivia Wingate at MO Studios. Her screenplay Mary and Louise won best script at the LA Comedy Shorts FF. Select acting credits: Miles for Mary (Playwrights Horizons, Bushwick Starr, directed by Lila Neugebauer, developed with The Mad Ones); The Last Class: A Jazzercize Play (TheaterLab, ACT Seattle, directed by Margot Bordelon); The Providence of Neighboring Bodies (Dutch Kills, Edinburgh Festival, directed by Jess Chayes) and Trevor (Lesser America, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel). Select TV acting credits: FBI, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Bull (recurring). Film: Mary and Louise, Monsura is Waiting. She is thrilled to be part of New Works Now.

Thirsty Theater

Thirsty Theater is an off-site pop-up theater experience where short plays are read at local businesses in White River Junction. 


Friday, January 10, 6:30 PM at Wolf Tree:  Dinosaur Woman by Marisa Smith
Directed by Jess Chayes
Starring Carol Dunne

Clarissa, a woman of a certain age, drowning in small talk, escapes a stifling cocktail party and sees her life flash by as she searches for a reason to go back to the party.

Friday, January 10, 7:00 PM at Piecemeal Pies:  Outside Time, Without Extension by Ben Beckley
Directed by Virginia Ogden

Ben Beckley (Northern Stage Acting Credits: Jordan & King Lear) takes a couple through a lifetime of joy, anxiety, pain, hope, and literature — over the course of 10 minutes.

Admission is free and no reservations required. 

History & Successes of New Works Now

In 2014, the leadership team of Northern Stage made a commitment to develop new work for the American theater by instituting New Works Now. Since then, the New Works Now mission has grown to include providing additional workshopping opportunities, producing New Works Now-nurtured plays as part of our main stage season when possible, and making a concerted effort to shepherd these plays into a bright future on the American stage.
New Works Now attracts submissions from playwrights all over the country, sees talented actors, directors, and dramaturgs lending their expertise to the process, and plays to sold-out houses. 
For the first time in the company’s history, Northern Stage will present two world premieres in one year during its 2019-20 Season.
New Works Now-Nurtured Main Stage Productions:
Orwell in America by Joe Sutton (2014)
Mad Love by Marisa Smith (2016)
Trick or Treat by Jack Neary (2017)
Only Yesterday by Bob Stevens (2018)
Venus Rising by Marisa Smith (2019)
Jordan by Brenda Withers (Premiering Fall 2019)
Citrus by Celeste Jennings (Premiering Winter 2020)
New Works Now-Nurtured Off-Broadway Productions:
Orwell in America by Joe Sutton (2016, 59E59 Theaters)
Trick or Treat by Jack Neary (2019, 59E59 Theaters)
Only Yesterday by Bob Stevens (2019, 59E59 Theaters)
Click here for a full list of past New Works Now plays.
“As the title character, (Jamie) Horton delivers perhaps the finest performance I’ve seen Off-Broadway this year.” –  The New York Times

A Note to Playwrights

Thank you for your interest in Northern Stage and New Works Now. At this time, submissions of full-length plays for Northern Stage’s New Works Now festival are by invitation only. We invite you to introduce us to your work by sending a resume along with a synopsis and a 10-page selection from one of your plays to We will get in touch if we would like to request a full script copy. The deadline for consideration for New Works Now 2020 has passed. The deadline for consideration for New Works Now 2021 is June 15, 2020.
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.

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