Goodman Theatre’s commitment to new work and emerging artists continues as dates are set for in-person readings of seven new works produced by Playwrights Unit members from the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 cohorts.
The reading of The Madness of Mary Todd is by Terry Guest and directed by Lili-Anne Brown (Saturday, October 9 at 7:30pm); La Fuente De Cascabeles is by Exal Iraheta and directed by Denise Yvette Serna (Thursday, October 14 at 7:30pm); Expatriate is by Steve Pickering and directed by Sandra Marquez (Friday, October 15 at 7:30pm); Rust is by Nancy García Loza and directed by Laura Alcalá Baker (Thursday, October 21 at 7:30pm); You Deserve To Be Here is by Alex Lubischer and directed by Jess McLeod (Saturday, October 23 at 7:30pm); Boxing Play is by Marisa Carr and directed by Steph Paul (Thursday, October 28 at 7:30pm); and Rack Up is by Eliza Bent and directed by Jessica Fisch (Thursday, November 4 at 7:30pm). In addition, the Goodman names four new Chicago-based writers to its 2021/2022 Playwrights Unit cohort: Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom, who created the anthology and immersive audiobook series Fairy Tales for Sun-Kissed Women; Susan H. Pak, a 2020 and 2021 finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference; Andrew Rosendorf, a current core writer with the Playwrights’ Center; and Omer Abbas Salem, whose play The Secretaries was developed in part through the Goodman’s Future Labs program.
The Playwrights Unit readings run October 9-November 4 in the Goodman’s Alice Center. Tickets are FREE, but reservations are required. For more information, visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Playwrights. Please Note: Proof of full vaccination with an FDA-authorized vaccine is required for all guests over 12 and a recent negative test must be presented for children under 12. Patrons must wear face coverings at all times while inside Goodman Theatre. Please review details before your performance at GoodmanTheatre.org/Protocols.
The Playwrights Unit meets bi-monthly to discuss their commissioned plays-in-progress with the Goodman’s artistic team. The residency culminates in a public staged reading of each new play. Playwrights Unit plays are strongly considered for production in the Goodman’s New Stages Festival and/or mainstage programming. In recent years, audiences have seen Playwrights Unit works in the Owen Theatre such as Andrew Hinderaker’s The Magic Play, Seth Bockley's Ask Aunt Susan, Kristiana Rae Colón's florissant & canfield, Martín Zimmerman's The Solid Sand Below and Ricardo Gamboa’s The Wizards.
The Goodman is grateful for the generosity of its New Work sponsors: Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee New Works Fund, Major Support of New Play Development; Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation and Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Major Support of New Work; The Glasser and Rosenthal Families and Shaw Family Supporting Organization, Support of New Work; and Anne Van Wart and Michael Keable, Playwrights Unit Sponsors.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS UNIT READINGS
The Madness of Mary Todd
- By Terry Guest
- Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
It has been a decade since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and Mary Todd Lincoln is NOT. DOING. WELL. Not only is she high on opium and torturing her wait staff (like usual); now she is being haunted by a specter of Nancy Reagan who lives within her walls. Terry Guest’s new play is violent, romantic, macabre, and altogether unbelievable. It is a play about America, after all.
La Fuente De Cascabeles
- By Exal Iraheta
- Directed by Denise Yvette Serna
When their eldest sister helps them to migrate from El Salvador to the U.S., Olga and Iris unexpectedly find themselves at her mercy as her desire for financial security stands in the way of their freedom. Exal Iraheta’s new play examines the darker side of pursuing the American dream, as inflicted on some of society’s most vulnerable.
- By Steve Pickering
- Directed by Sandra Marquez
An historical thriller weaving fact and fable. Spain, 1936: General Francisco Franco and a cabal of military officers revolt against the duly elected Madrid government, and set off the Spanish Civil War. Fourteen years later, FBI agents interrogate a decorated WWII veteran who may have illegally joined the anti-Franco resistance.
- By Nancy García Loza
- Directed by Laura Alcalá Baker
Güera, a young pocha, is trying very hard to be a perfect Mexican daughter and contain her glaring imperfections. The hot Chicago summer has her climbing trees, fighting with her brothers, and melting like a paleta under her parents’ searing gaze. Suddenly, when Abuelo moves in, Güera wonders if she really has to be perfect at all. Why be perfect when you can be free?
You Deserve To Be Here
- By Alex Lubischer
- Directed by Jess McLeod
Meet the “Tragedy Cohort”: Memo’s a veteran. Oona lost her sister. And Chase? Well, he must have tragedy somewhere. Only one can win their grad school’s top prize: the Otto Frank Award for Bravery in Drama. But as Oona, the newbie, advances through the school year, she can’t shake the feeling that something is off. Her writing is better, so why is she worse? And did that mural of Anne Frank just move? A horror comedy about artistic tragedy.
- By Marisa Carr
- Directed by Steph Paul
In a rust belt city boxing gym, Coach instructs a group of amateurs how to throw straight rights and left hooks and block in between timer bells. Told in twelve rounds, Marisa Carr’s new play investigates why we fight and what we fight for.
- By Eliza Bent
- Directed by Jessica Fisch
Elsie’s taking tennis lessons. Actually, “Elsie” isn’t her real name, but it’s who she is when she rallies, volleys and hits. As Elsie, her classmates, and instructor look for the meaning of life during water breaks on and off the courts, an exploration about the elasticity of time and the nature of identity emerges.
ABOUT THE 2021/2022 PLAYWRIGHTS UNIT MEMBERS
Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom is a mixed-media artist, writer and intuitive healer. She creates Fairy Tales for Sun-Kissed Women, an anthology and series of immersive audiobooks. She was a finalist for the 2019 National Playwrights Conference at the O’Neill and is the recipient of the Tutterow Fellowship through Chicago Dramatists. Her play A Laying on of Hands was featured in The Story Theatre’s New Play Festival. Her witchy fable, Once in a Bleu Moon, was showcased by Sideshow Theatre. The Bright Light of the Soul was commissioned and workshopped by The New Coordinates. She is also a contributing playwright to The Swell, Refracted Theatre Company’s radio play podcast. Windy City Reviews hailed her as a “craftsman of the English language” for her debut novel, Reasons for Being. She has guest lectured at the University of California-Davis and Illinois Humanities. Her artwork has been exhibited at The Freedom and Movement Gallery and The Breathing Room. MalloryBackstrom.com | @FairyTalesForSunKissedWomen.
Susan H. Pak has taught playwriting, screenwriting, television writing and webseries writing at the university level for over a decade, as well as at Chicago Dramatists where she was a resident playwright. Pak received an MFA in writing for the screen and stage at Northwestern University, and received both a BA in English and a JD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her plays center on the myriad ways in which Asian Americans, and in particular Korean American women, resist the seduction of protection through assimilation. Productions and readings of her work include Miguk Saram at Local Lab 2021, Election at Goodman Theatre, The Fixer at the Steppenwolf Theatre, Marabar at Chicago Dramatists, Ghost Girl at the Workshop Theater, T.A.B. at New York’s Downtown Urban Theater Festival and the Manhattan Repertory Theater Festival, Haters at New York’s Midtown International Theater Festival, Baby Shower at New York’s Network One Act Festival, Incredible Invisible at Chicago’s Bailiwick Director’s Fest and The Writers at Theater Unleashed in Los Angeles. Her plays Miguk Saram and The F*ck House were both finalists at the 2020 and 2021 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference.
Andrew Rosendorf's work has been produced or developed at La Jolla, MCC, KC Rep, Signature Theatre, the National New Play Network, American Theater Company, Nashville Rep, City Theatre, Geva Theatre, Actor’s Express, Curious Theatre Company and Local Theater Company. He is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, a Venturous Theater Fund Grant and a MAP Fund Grant for Refuge, which he co-created with Satya Jnani Chávez. He is an alum of NNPN’s Playwright-in-Residence program, the Ingram New Works program, terraNOVA Collective’s Groundbreakers Playwrights Group, and has been a fellow of SPACE on Ryder Farm, Tofte Lake Center, VCCA and MacDowell Colony. He was a previous McKnight and Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights’ Center. He is a current Core Writer with the Playwrights’ Center and an Associate Artist with Local Theater Company. He is currently in development for a television pilot with Amblin at Peacock.
Omer Abbas Salem is a Chicago actor and playwright. As an actor, he's worked with Jackalope Theatre, Steep Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Griffin Theatre, The New Coordinates, The House, Bailiwick Chicago, Actors Theatre of Louisville and Atlantic Theater. His play Mosque4Mosque was developed through the National Queer Theater in 2020 and then chosen for further development through Steppenwolf Theatre's SCOUT Program in 2021. The Secretaries was workshopped through The New Coordinates, a semi-finalist in Definition Theatre's 2021 Amplify Commission and developed through Goodman Theatre's Future Labs. Pretty Shahid was commissioned as part of Jackalope Theatre's 2020/21 New Frontier Series and Love in the Time of Jonestown: A Radio Play was commissioned and recorded by The New Coordinates in 2021. He was an 2017/2018 apprentice of the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and is an ensemble member with Steep Theatre and The New Coordinates. He was the recipient of the 2021 Cunningham Commission through DePaul University. He is represented by DDO Artist Agency and the Gersh Agency. omerabbassalem.com
ABOUT THE GOODMAN
Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement.
Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” It’s longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fifth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.
Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home to these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.
As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Goodman Theatre’s Action Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) was born out of the belief that progress means action, which includes building on the decades-long commitment to using art, assets and resources to contribute to a more just, equitable and anti-racist society.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Dael Orlandersmith, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.