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Goodman Theatre announces 2016 New Stages lineup

Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's "The King of Hell's Palace" will be presented in repertory at this year's New Stages festival. | COURTESY OF THE GOODMAN THEATRE

Goodman Theatre today announced the lineup for its 2016 New Stages festival.

Celebrating the works of established and emerging playwrights, the 13th annual festival will offer the first look at six new plays. Admission is free.

The fest includes three fully staged developmental productions in repertory: “Blue Skies Process,” by Abe Koogler; “Support Group for Men” by Ellen Fairey, and “The King of Hell’s Palace” by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig.

Three staged readings appear during the festival’s special “Profesionals Weekend” (Oct. 7-9) including: “Florissant & Canfield” by Kristiana Rae Colón, “Amy and the Orphans” by Lindsey Ferrentino and “And Moira Spins” by Kirsten Greenidge.

The fest will run Sept. 21-Oct. 9 at the Goodman’s Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. Tickets are free, but reservations are required by calling (312) 443 -3800, at the theater box office or online at GoodmanTheatre.org/NewStagesFestival.

Here’s the lineup of the festival, as provided by the Goodman Theatre:

Blue Skies Process, by Abe Koogler, directed by Henry Wishcamper.

A Developmental Production; appears in repertory (September 21 – October 8)

To make something new. That’s the task facing co-workers Amy, Peter and Kenny. To bolster their efforts, the team’s visionary leader has mandated a “blue skies process”: no hierarchy, everything is on the table and everyone is equal. Except they’re not. Underneath the veneer of workplace civility, an epic power struggle is taking place. Hilarious, absurd and sometimes menacing, Blue Skies Process pokes fun at office politics but takes the process of creation very, very seriously.

Support Group for Men, by Ellen Fairey, directed by Kimberly Senior

A Developmental Production; appears in repertory (September 23 – October 9)

Four men meet every Thursday night in an apartment on the border of Wrigleyville and Boystown. Instead of letting off steam at a Cubs game, they’ve formed a make-shift support group—complete with invented Native American nicknames, a baseball bat/talking stick, and most importantly a ‘no women’ policy that is strictly enforced. When a gender non-conforming visitor abruptly crashes their party, the guys’ notions of masculinity are upended. This topical comedy examines the many ways gender functions in an increasingly non-binary world—and proves help can sometimes be found in the most unlikely places.

The King of Hell’s Palace, by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, directed by Tea Alagić

A Developmental Production; appears in repertory (September 25 – October 9)

When the Henan Ministry of Health begins paying citizens for blood plasma, impoverished farmers in the province’s remote villages sell blood to buy fertilizer, mend their houses and create new opportunities for their children. As corrupt health officials cut costs to maximize the plasma products sold to pharmaceutical companies, safety standards are ignored, bringing catastrophic health implications to China’s most vulnerable population. Inspired by true events, this new drama by the author of The World of Extreme Happiness (2014) explores the conflicts that arise when a community’s greatest source of capital becomes their own bodies.

And Moira Spins, by Kirsten Greenidge (director TBA)

A Staged Reading: October 8 at 10:30 a.m.

Determined to have a perfect vacation with her sisters. Lavinia has dropped off her kids at camp and rented a summer house. Her siblings, however, bring along their own baggage that threatens to ruin Lavinia’s meticulously planned week. And when their long-estranged stepmother shows up out of the blue, dormant tensions boil to the surface, forcing the women to face their cherished notions of family and how far they will go to preserve those beliefs.

Florissant & Canfield (developed as part of the 2015/2016 Playwrights Unit), by Kristiana Rae Colón (director TBA)

A Staged Reading: October 8 at 2 p.m.

Colliding in the unlikely arena of a civil rights renaissance, a newly formed alliance of protesters is forced to put their nascent ideologies to the test in the quest for new visions of justice. Located at the intersection of tear gas and teddy bear memorials, police officer Darren Wilson and teenager Michael Brown, looting and liberation, Florissant & Canfield refracts the realities of Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Amy and the Orphans, by Lindsey Ferrentino, directed by Scott Ellis

A Staged Reading: October 9 at 10 a.m.

When their 85-year-old father dies, sparring siblings Maggie and Jake must break the news to their sister Amy, who has Down syndrome and lives in a state care facility. As they travel to their father’s memorial service with Amy and her straight-talking caregiver in tow, Jake and Maggie try to save the family by reintegrating Amy back into their lives. But they are forced to confront the truth about how truly far apart they’ve all grown.