Goodman Theatre announces two Future Labs FREE virtual readings for February and March—The Secretaries by Omer Abbas Salem, directed by Audrey Francis and Tokens of Promise by Ada A., directed by Sydney Chatman. Future Labs develops works authored and directed by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander), SWANA (South West Asian/North African) and other artists of color; the series is curated by Quenna L. Barrett (Associate Director of Education and Engagement), Jonathan L. Green (Literary and New Works Manager), Ken-Matt Martin (Associate Producer) and a Goodman Staff Evaluation Team composed of individuals of intersectional identities in areas across the theater. The virtual readings of The Secretaries (February 27 at 7pm) and Tokens of Promise (March 20 at 7pm) are free, but registration is required; visit GoodmanTheatre.org/TheSecretaries and GoodmanTheatre.org/Token.
The Goodman is grateful for the generosity of its New Work sponsors, including: Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation and the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Major Support of New Work; Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee New Works Fund, Major Support of New Play Development; The Glasser and Rosenthal Family, Mayer Brown LLP, and Shaw Family Supporting Organization, Support of New Work.
The Secretaries is set in Berlin, 1944. Four women in Aryan drag vie to be the Führer's personal secretary as he heads into a bunker with his girlfriend. It's a rough time to be a German, but this is a chance to search for greater importance in a national capacity. Omer Abbas Salem's fearsome, absurd new work examines complicity and the lies we tell ourselves as we mistake self-interest and supremacy for patriotism.
In Tokens of Promise, there's only one open "diversity" analyst position at a start-up. And the minorities must duke it out to access the sweet privilege of employment. A wicked satire about the modern-day job search and scarcity mentality, Ada A.'s new play exposes the inherent competition in employment that leads to forsaking our humanity out of necessity and survival.
In Layalina, newly wed Layal plans a future with her family as they prepare to immigrate to the U.S. from Baghdad in 2003. Living just outside of Chicago 18 years later, Layal’s life and responsibilities look unimaginably different from what she had envisioned two decades before. Martin Yousif Zebari's play examines how families maintain their love in the midst of turbulent global and social change.
Designed primarily for Chicago-based writers who have not had a play produced at the Goodman, Future Labs will feature up to nine workshops and presentations this season. Selected projects receive rehearsal time, artistic, dramaturgical and casting support and an optional free public reading. This new development series is the latest effort among the Goodman’s programs that support living writers and develop new plays—including New Stages, Playwrights Unit and more than two dozen individual artist commissions.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Omer Abbas Salem (he/him) is a Chicago actor, playwright and activist. As an actor, Abbas has worked with Steep Theatre, The House Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, The New Colony, Silk Road Rising, Bailiwick, Griffin Theatre, Eclipse Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Atlantic Theater and Roundabout Theater. As a playwright, he has been produced by the Actors Theatre of Louisville, The New Colony, Jackalope Theatre, Theatre Viscera, Means of Production, National Queer Theater, Definition Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre. His play Mosque4Mosque is Steppenwolf Theatre's SCOUT Program's 20/21 development. His play Being Julia Roberts was commissioned by Jackalope Theatre for their 20/21 New Frontier Series. The Secretaries is also a semi-finalist in Definition Theatre's 20/21 Amplify Commission. He was an Actors Theatre of Louisville acting apprentice and is also a proud ensemble member of The New Colony and Steep Theatre. OmerAbbasSalem.com
Audrey Francis (she/her) is an actor, director and teaching artist. She is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre and co-founder of Black Box Acting. She returns to the Goodman where she previously appeared in Talking Pictures. Theatre credits include Dance Nation, The Doppelgänger, You Got Older, The Fundamentals, Between Riverside and Crazy and The Herd (Steppenwolf Theatre); Witch (Writers Theatre) and Kill Floor (American Theatre Company). Television credits include Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Empire. Film credits include indie films Knives and Skin, Signature Move, Medal of Victory and the upcoming feature Later Days. Recent directing credits include Plano (First Floor Theatre) and The Invisible Hand (Steep Theatre). Audrey also works as an acting coach for NBC, Fox, FX and Showtime.
Ada A. (she/her) is an early-career playwright and director who graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A in anthropology. She was previously the assistant director for The Ridiculous Darkness (Sideshow Theatre) and Titus Andronicus (Haven Theatre). As a playwright, her ten-minute play United Separatism had a reading at the 2020 Fade to Black Festival. Her one-act play The Reverend Dr. Paul(i) Murray had its world premiere at Valiant Theatre through its New Works Festival earlier this year.
Sydney Chatman (she/her) uses theater as her medium to conjure hope, justice, freedom and joy. Led by ancestral guidance and intergenerational wisdoms, she directs, educates, produces and writes work that heals her community. Chatman is an African-American Arts Alliance Award and 3Arts Make a Wave winner. Her theater credits include New York fellowships with SDC and Lincoln Center's Director’s Lab, and the Goodman Theatre Maggio Directing Fellowship. Chicago theatre credits include Goodman Theatre, TimeLine Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Congo Square Theatre Company and eta Creative Arts. Regional credits include StageOne Family Theatre and Indiana University Northwest. She has created theatrical performances and collaborations with the MCA of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Hyde Park Jazz Festival/Back Alley Jazz, The Reva and David Logan Center, Court Theatre and Victory Gardens Theater. In 2008 she founded The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit and created innovative programming A La Carte and the Tuxedo Junction. She is a featured artist in Black Theater is Black Life: An Oral History of Black Theater in Chicago 1997-2000. She recently directed the virtual play festival Statesville Voices.
Martin Yousif Zebari (he/him) is an Iraqi-born, Assyrian-American multidisciplinary artist based in Chicago. In 2018, he directed Michael Allen Harris’ For the Culture as part of the same festival and costume designed Broken Nose Theatre’s production of The Opportunities of Extinction. As an actor, he has worked with Goodman Theatre (Yasmina’s Necklace and The Winter’s Tale), National Queer Theatre (Mosque4Mosque), The Angle Project (Unpitied/Lost and Guided), Steppenwolf Theatre (Guards at the Taj), Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Mary Stuart), Court Theatre (The Hard Problem), Broken Nose Theatre (Human Terrain), Milwaukee Repertory Theatre (A Christmas Carol), Illinois Shakespeare Festival (Macbeth, Comedy of Errors, Failure: A Love Story and The Magical Mind of Billy Shakespeare) and has appeared on NBC’s Chicago Med. Martin holds a BFA in Acting from the Arts University of Bournemouth, England and is represented by Stewart Talent Chicago.
Azar Kazemi (she/her) is first generation Persian-American and the Founding Artistic Director at The Blind Owl, a socially-charged theatre where the political and personal collide. She is thrilled to be working on another new play at the Goodman after directing The Wizards by Ricardo Gamboa as part of the New Stages Festival. Some of Azar’s Chicago directing credits include: the U.S. premiere of debbie tucker green's dirty butterfly; the Midwest premiere of Jack's Precious Moment by Samuel D. Hunter, Crave by Sarah Kane and The Coming World by Christopher Shinn. Azar currently serves as the Associate Diversity Advisor at The Theatre School at DePaul where she also teaches classes in Theatre Studies. She is a graduate of DePaul University's MFA Directing program. Along with the Goodman, Azar has worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Victory Gardens, Jackalope Theatre, Silk Road Rising, American Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. In New York City, Azar worked at The New Group where she assistant directed three Off-Broadway productions, two under the direction of her mentor Ethan Hawke.
ABOUT GOODMAN THEATRE
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.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fourth 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.
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. 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 of these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.
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, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, 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.