Skip to content

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

The Below Readings for New Works Now 9.0 have been postponed to the Summer of 2022. Stay tuned for more information.

‘Bov Water
By Celeste Jennings
Directed by Tyler Thomas
After the civil war, a mother and a daughter search for family members who were sold or lost. In 1964, two friends lose touch when one abruptly moves North to avoid trouble. In the mid 70s, another pair of friends struggle to connect when one of them moves away to college and life changes both of them. Today, an artist tries to piece together her family’s stories through the silence. How can you honor your family’s history if you don’t know much about it? A poetic journey, following four generations of Black women wrestling to unearth a family’s past and build resilience for the future. 
Jar of Fat
By Seayoung Yiim
Directed by Aileen McGroddy

In a fantastical fairytale world, two Korean American sisters are deemed too fat to fit in their family grave. Will the sisters’ close bond survive under the pressure of their fretful parents, who will spare no effort to get them tinier? Jar of Fat is an absurdist comedy that celebrates and explores notions of desire, ugliness, and beauty through the eyes of a family who hides from and in the stuff of fat. 
Meet You at the Galaxy Diner
By Gina Fermia
Directed by Rebecca Martinez

Bill is in Alaska and AG is in NY. They’re old High School pals who have nearly forgotten about one another. When they reconnect over AIM after not speaking for 20 years, they find that looking back might help them remember who they are. A quirky comedy about mental health, love and instant messenger.

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. 
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 (2019)
Citrus by Celeste Jennings (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, on Horton’s performance in 2016’s Orwell in America

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 newworksnow@northernstage.org. We will get in touch if we would like to request a full script copy. The deadline for consideration for New Works Now 2021 has passed. The deadline for consideration for New Works Now 2022 is June 15, 2021.
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 Sarah Wansley (swansley@northernstage.org) if you have any questions.