Skip to content

New Works Now: Nurturing New Plays for the American Stage

Northern Stage is committed to developing new work for the American theater. As part of this commitment, we offer New Works Now, an annual festival of new play workshops that is designed to enrich the theater experiences of our audiences and artists. Theaters that 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.

New play readings are held in January each year and are free and open to the public. Seats are reserved for New Works Now, and we often see full houses, so we recommend calling the Box Office at (802) 296-7000 to reserve seats today.

New Works Now 6.0 Schedule

Friday, January 18, 7:30 PM: Choices People Make by Jessica Andrewartha
Saturday, January 19, 2:00 PM: Where Are We Going? by Kate Benson
Saturday, January 19, 7:30 PM: Citrus by Celeste Jennings

A post-show conversation will follow each reading.

Choices People Make

By Jessica Andrewartha
Directed by Daniela Varon

Dr. Rosalinda Tamayo and her research partner Dr. Harold Cooper have created one of history’s greatest scientific breakthroughs – her name is Athena. Now Dr. Roz and Athena have a problem. Athena and her body may be cutting-edge technology, but they’re subject to the same questions women have been grappling with for centuries. Choices People Make won the inaugural Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Playwriting and continues its development at Northern Stage.

About the playwright: Jessica Andrewartha is a Seattle-based writer of more than 6 full length plays. Choices People Make won the inaugural Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Playwriting and received a workshop in Dartmouth’s VoxFest as part of the award. Light Delay recently received a staged reading at the Ground and Field Theatre Festival at UC Davis and a workshop at Parley Productions in Seattle. Other full length plays include Enter Starlighter and W.H.I.P., which have both received staged readings at Theatre Battery, Where Do We Start?, which was read at Seattle Playwrights Circle, and Ready to Start, which was read at Southern Methodist University. Her short plays have been produced in Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, and London. Jessica is an Associate Playwright at Parley Productions and an alumnus of SMU.

Where Are We Going?

By Kate Benson
Directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh

Seven people are rolling through the rural South in a passenger van. An acting company on a non-union tour, they experience the joys and frustrations of the American highway: stopping as necessary at Cracker Barrel, breaking down with car trouble, and pulling up at a theater to discover respite from the road. Along the way, petty arguments and deeper philosophical discussions ensue about the America they’re traveling through. Obie-winning playwright Kate Benson brings to Northern Stage a brand new play about the roles we play, the roads we travel, and who is in charge of getting us there.

About the playwright: Kate Benson’s plays include [Porto], produced by the Bushwick Starr in 2017 and the WP Theater and the Bushwick Starr in 2018, A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes (Obie-winner), produced by New Georges with the WP Theater in 2015, Desert (for Now), Super Magic Wild Forest, and Lee Miller. With the Assembly, she worked on home/sick and I Will Look Forward to This Later. She was the recipient of the 2014 Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission, a member of the Usual Suspects at NYTW, and was in the 2014-15 Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. She has an MFA from the Brooklyn College Playwrighting program.

Citrus

By Celeste Jennings
Directed by JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell

An original choreopoem that follows the emotional journeys of tribulation, struggle, and resilience among Black women from 1840 to present day. 178 years of American history are explored through movement, costume, and original poetry in an homage to Black women of the past, present, and future. Citrus was developed in the Dartmouth Theater Department and presented in Spring 2018 as Celeste Jennings’ senior fellowship project. She was awarded the prestigious Sudler Prize in the Arts.

About the playwright: Celeste Jennings graduated from Dartmouth in 2018 and is currently pursuing a career as a playwright and costume designer. She was a senior fellow at Dartmouth where she spent her last year writing, researching, and further developing Citrus, which she wrote her sophomore year. Thanks to support from the Undergraduate Office of Advising and Research as well as the Department of Theater, the choreopoem was produced in the Bentley Theatre last May. Celeste is passionate about creating art that challenges social norms and accurately represents minority characters and their stories. She considers her work to be a form of activism that intends to make theatre that serves as more than entertainment. She is thrilled to be a part of New Works Now and have such an amazing environment to further develop the show. Celeste currently works as the costume design fellow at Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.

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. At this time, submissions for Northern Stage’s New Works Now festival are by invitation only. To be considered for our invite list, please email an invitation request and resume to BOLD Associate Artistic Director Jess Chayes (jchayes@northernstage.org). Please title your email “Northern Stage NWN Invite Request.”

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.

Click here to read more about the history of New Works Now and past readings.