December 1 - 19, 2021

A Free Celebration of New Work

Goodman Theatre presents its New Stages Festival, now in its 17th year–an annual celebration of innovative, risky new work by some of the country's most singular and ambitious playwrights.

Since New Stages’ 2004 inception, nearly 100 plays have been produced as developmental productions and staged readings. Join us for a first look at these exciting new works. Full line-up below.

Please note: Proof of vaccination (fourteen days after second dose for ages 12+; fourteen days after first dose for children 5 – 11) with an FDA or WHO-authorized vaccine is required for all guests. For unvaccinated children under 12 and other exceptions, a recent negative COVID-19 test will be accepted. Masks are required at all times while inside Goodman Theatre. Learn more

The 2021 New Stages Ticket Info

All workshop productions, special events and staged readings are FREE with reservations!

Are you a theater professional interested in attending our Professionals Weekend? Click Here to learn more.


Contact the box office at 312.443.3800 (12noon - 5pm, daily).

Developmental Productions
Full stagings of new plays in process
  • Nightwatch


    By Max Yu
    Directed by Chay Yew

    December 1 - 19, 2021, running in rotating repertory

    When 20-year-old Leo drops out of college and returns home to San Francisco’s Chinatown, he discovers a secret that’s been kept from him: his father passed away weeks ago. To try to cope, he delves into his family’s untold past in the Chinese Communist Cultural Revolution, redefining everyone and everything he thought was in his bloodline. Winner of the 2019 Relentless Award, Max Yu’s thrilling Nightwatch reckons with unknown history and generations of hidden family stories.


  • Layalina


    By Martin Yousif Zebari
    Directed by Sivan Battat

    December 5 - 19, 2021, running in rotating repertory

    In 2003, newlywed Layal imagines a future with her family as they make plans to immigrate to the U.S. from Baghdad. 17 years later, just outside of Chicago, Layal’s life and responsibilities look unimaginably different from what she had envisioned two decades before. Martin Yousif Zebari’s surprising new play examines how families maintain their love in the midst of turbulent global and social change.


Special Event
A Cutting-edge virtual reality experience
  • Hummingbird


    By Jo Cattell
    Created by Daria Tsoupikova, Sai Priya Jyothula, Andrew Johnson, Arthur Nishimoto and Lance Long at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory in the University of Illinois of Chicago.

    December 3 - 6, 2021

    A gutsy teen has to outsmart her mother’s narcissistic boss and survive dangerous new technology in Hummingbird, a live, immersive adventure that transforms theatrical storytelling utilizing cutting-edge, virtual reality technology. Tickets are extremely limited.


Staged Readings
Script-in-Hand Concert Readings
  • Fires, Ohio

    Fires, Ohio

    By Beth Hyland
    Directed by Marti Lyons

    Saturday, December 18 at 10:30am

    As a climate crisis threatens a small Ohio college town, the mopey grown children and third wife of a sort-of-mediocre professor must choose: stay and smolder, or leave and burn. When a visiting scholar comes to stay for a few days, love and hatred flare and jeopardize the family’s fragile equilibrium. Chekhovian and totally modern, Fires, Ohio brings an old story into our painfully funny present.

  • Your Name Means Dream

    Your Name Means Dream

    By José Rivera
    Directed by Audrey Francis

    Saturday, December 18 at 3pm

    Aislin is getting older and her body is breaking down. Her caregiver Stacy has a perfectly toned body that doesn’t age–because she’s a robot. While Aislin suffers the inevitable indignities of being human, Stacy wonders what she’s missing out on. Acclaimed playwright José Rivera examines how we live, die, and form our sense of self in a world that’s increasingly saturated with technology.

  • Watching the Watcher

    Watching the Watcher

    By Dael Orlandersmith
    Directed by Neel Keller

    Sunday, December 19 at 10am

    What is it that we look for when we first see another person? In that moment, what do we know and what do we assume? And what happens when we realize they are seeing us for the first time as well? Pulitzer Prize finalist and Goodman Artistic Associate Dael Orlandersmith presents a virtuosic mosaic of memories and dashed futures that form a unique look at humanity—at ours and at everyone else’s.