2017 Chicago New Work Festival

The Chicago New Work Festival is development oriented. Each invited playwright is be paired with a director, and the playwright-director team will be assigned a week of the festival to workshop the play, with a staged reading at the end of the week. The 2017 festival will be held from Jan. 9 to Feb. 4, 2016 with public readings held on Saturdays at 12pm and 3pm at the Berger Park Coach House Theater.

Tickets: $10

Visit here purchase tickets: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/11079

January 14, 2017 at 12pm
“The Bride Can’t Decide” by Laura Lewis-Barr
Directed by Kristina McCloskey

Karen’s love life is a disaster. She’s finally ready to settle for gorgeous-but-dull Nick when she meets a strange, melancholy astrologer. Meanwhile, Karen’s sister, Laurie struggles to choose the right paint color. A comedy about fate, destiny, and bad choices.

About Laura Lewis-Barr
Laura Lewis-Barr has been writing, directing, performing and teaching theatre for over 15 years.  Her play, Cloistered Honey was recently made into a low budget film through Inspirare Productions.  Cloistered Honey has been an official selection at the Red Dirt International Film Festival (nominated for Best Writing – Drama) and the Eugene International Film Festival (Awarded Best Screenplay – Feature.) Chernobyl’s Fire won the Playwrights First Award and was a finalist in the O’Neill Theatre Center National Playwrights Conference Competition and Steppenwolf Theatre’s “First Look.” Marvelous Tales is published by YouthPlays and The Vase is published with Heartland Plays. Doug Needs a Vacation was received a staged reading with Three Cat last year. Thank you to Jason and the cast for this new staged reading!

January 14, 2017 at 3pm
“The Whitmores” by Ben Ducoff
Directed by Scott Ozaroski

An awkward dinner party descends into madness when the hosts offer a cash prize to the help in exchange for murdering their guests.

About Ben Ducoff
Ben Ducoff is a playwright & comedian based in Chicago. A graduate of the Boston University School of Theatre, Ben’s plays have been seen around New England and his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio–most notably Nelson Saves Dinner, which holds the distinction of being the only play to correctly predict the time and place of Nelson Mandela’s death.

January 21, 2017 at 12pm
“Sunflowers” by Alexander Utz
Directed by Bec Willett

Sunflowers is a play about the nine weeks Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin spent together in the south of France, culminating in the moment van Gogh cuts off his own ear. Their friendship and rivalry is chronicled through scenes of painting, discussing art, and Arlesian life, as well as their letters to Theo van Gogh. As Gauguin is beginning his ascent to recognition in the Parisian art circle, he is paralleled by Vincent beginning his descent into madness. This descent is brought on by the voices of four victims of Jack the Ripper, who speak to each other and comment on the action of the play, slipping unconsciously into moments where they speak uncontrollably to Vincent. These four women serve as the voices in Vincent’s head, the townspeople of Arles, and the spirit of the Yellow House in which the artists stay. The voices of these four women bring the audience into the world which Gauguin and van Gogh inhabited, and give us insight into the common ground between the violence and vulnerability in creating art.

About Alexander Utz
Alexander Utz is an actor and playwright. Acting credits in Chicago include: History Boys (Eclectic Theatre) and Cosmic Events Are Upon Us (Waltzing Mechanics), and past roles include Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, and Antipholus of Ephesus in the Comedy of Errors. He has studied comedy with the Second City in Chicago. He received his BFA in Theatre Performance from Niagara University, where he produced and contributed to the Got A Minute? festival of one-minute plays, as well as a staged reading of his original musical The Most Hated Man in America.

January 21, 2017 at 3pm
We Are All Foreigners Here” by Helen Valenta
Directed by Pat Henderson

When two disparate strangers– an older urbane European immigrant and a slacker– get trapped in an elevator together, they wonder which is worse: the fear of immending death or the time they spend together.

About Helen Valenta
Helen Valenta is a Network Playwright at Chicago Dramatists. Her work has been seen in many theatres in Chicago, including two plays in Polarity Ensemble Theatre’s Dionysos Cup Festival. One of her plays was produced in 2016 at The Starlite Room in Sarasota.
The radio version of ‘We are all foreigners here’ was on the BBC’s Commended list.


January 28, 2017 at 12pm
Blue Fish in Tall Clear Glass” by Fouad Teymour
Directed by Bec Willett

While confined in a suffocatingly tight container, Blue Fish ponders about the state of the universe and his quest for freedom, and tries to concoct a plan for escape. This play is inspired by a painting by Maryam Gaber. It includes live sketching by one of the main characters (the painter) and requires casting of an artistically gifted actor in this role.

About Fouad Teymour

Fouad Teymour is a Chicago-based Egyptian American playwright. He was born in Cairo, Egypt. He came to Madison, WI, in 1982 to pursue a doctoral degree in engineering at UW, and has subsequently lived in Racine, WI and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia before relocating to Chicago in 1993. He is a Network Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and a member of the Advisory Board for International Voices Project (IVP). He has collaborated with IVP in bringing 4 Egyptian plays, including his translation of The Castle and The Sparrow, to Chicago audiences. He has written 6 full length plays, which have been read and discussed at the Chicago Dramatists First Draft series, and are at various stages of development. His play, The Night Jesus Joined the Revolution, received a series of staged reading performances at Silk Road Rising in December 2012, and his play, An Afternoon with My Mother, was performed in the 2015 Chicago New Work Festival at Three Cat productions. Fouad Teymour is a Professor of Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology.


January 28, 2017 at 3pm
What Does a Question Weigh?” by Wes Payton
Directed by Scott Ozaroski

What Does a Question Weigh? tells the story of Tralf, a self-described time-travelling anthropologist who is studying the people of our time in hopes of finding a cure for the enervating ennui that plagues his time. Of course few believe his claims, but his amusing observations about the disparity between his culture and ours cause him to become something of an Internet celebrity. The largesse of Chicago luminaries allows him the means to pursue his “studies.” However, when the wife of a wealthy industrialist is abducted, Tralf becomes embroiled in the investigation, and CPD officers are less than amused by his involvement.

About Wes Payton

Wes Payton has a B.A. in Rhetoric/Philosophy and an M.A. in English, having written a play for his master’s thesis. His last play, Way Station, was selected for a Next Draft reading. He has also been a short story presenter at the Illinois Philological Association. He completed his first novel, Lead Tears, in 2016. Wes lives with his wife and daughter in Oak Park, Illinois.

February 4, 2017 at 12pm
“His/Her Escapades; or, The Aquarius Play” by Christopher vanDer Ark
Directed by Kristina McCloskey

The biggest lie told to Catherine Bailey growing up was in The Reading Rainbow theme song. When following the advice to “Go Anywhere” and “Be Anything,” she ended up with a useless degree, a windowless apartment, and a shitty waitressing job in Chicago. Pressured by the expectations to follow the ‘Millennial Brick Road,’ Catherine strives to live as scripted a life as her parents- while at the same time, wondering how much more spare change she needs to find in her apartment to afford a fucking gram of weed. At its core, His/Her Escapades; or, The Aquarius Play is about two proposals, one divorce, and a confident woman who forgets just how confident she really is. 

About Christopher vanDer Ark
Christopher is a playwright currently living in Chicago. Most recently his play minutes&seconds was given a staged reading in Three Cat Production’s 2016 Next Draft Series. His shorter plays A Kindergarten Graduation and A Wedding Reception were both produced in Dandelion Theatre’s The Coat Check and The Hot Dog Stand. In February, Christopher’s play Collage of a Dystopian Midwest: will be presented in the Lake Effect Fringe Festival in Grand Rapids, MI. In June, minutes&seconds will be given a staged reading in NY as a part of IATI’s Cimientos 2017. Christopher would love to thank his friends, and thank his cat.

February 4, 2017 at 3pm
THE YELLOW ROOM MURDERS: A Radio Play” by Hope Hommersand
Directed by Pat Henderson

The play opens with a rehearsal of Oscar Wilde’s, An Ideal Husband, in a room that has recently been painted yellow.  What does the color yellow have to do with murders most foul?  Tune in and judge for yourself if you will ever paint a room yellow again.

About Hope Hommersand

Hope has had a most creative and fulfilling relationship with Three Cat Productions.  She is thrilled to have The Yellow Room Murders be part of this festival.  Her drama, Penumbra, was included in the 2014 Chicago New Work Festival and she has contributed to the last three Holiday Shows.  Why Good Things Happen to Bad People was part of the 2016 Next Draft series.

Hope’s full-length and short plays have had readings and productions throughout the Chicago area and the United States from Bangor, Maine to Las Vegas, NV. She was the artistic director of Theatre Classics, an ensemble that presented adaptations of literary works for high school audiences.  Hope belongs to the Dramatists Guild of America, Actors’ Equity, Network Playwrights at Chicago Dramatists and the Oak Park Writers Group.