The National New Play Network, a consortium of theaters devoted to developing and producing new work, presents its second biennial festival. These plays–some previously seen elsewhere, others slated for future production, yet others just waiting for a chance to reach an audience–are performed in concert readings or staged readings. The fest is a joint effort of two local troupes, Prop Thtr and Chicago Dramatists, and two other midwestern companies, Ann Arbor’s Performance Network and the Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis. But the entries come from cities around the U.S., including Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Bloomington, Indiana, offering audiences a rare opportunity to sample a lot of regional work in a short time frame.

National Showcase of New Plays 2004 runs through July 23 at the Chicago Cultural Center’s studio theater, 77 E. Randolph, and Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago. Admission is $5 per reading. For more information, call Chicago Dramatists at 312-633-0630 or log on to


The Age of Cynicism, or Karaoke Night at the Hog

Chicago Dramatists resident playwright Keith Huff penned this comedy about romantic complications at a karaoke bar. Ann Filmer, who directs this workshop, will also stage the play’s world premiere at Chicago Dramatists in September. Chicago Dramatists, 12:30 PM.

The Playgoer

Christopher Bomba’s comedy, submitted by Prop Thtr, concerns a theatergoer who returns to the same bad play night after night. Scott Vehill directs. Chicago Dramatists, 4 PM.

Hazard County

The attraction between a Kentucky widow and a reality-TV producer fuels this “dangerous tale of murder, moonshine, and The Dukes of Hazzard.” Penned by Allison Moore and directed by Kimberly Senior, it’s submitted by Dallas’s Kitchen Dog Theater. Chicago Cultural Center studio theater, 8 PM.

Patty Red Pants

Trista Baldwin’s suspense drama juxtaposes the tale of Little Red Riding Hood with a real-life murder case. The play, directed by Tania Kirkman, is submitted by the Bloomington Playwrights Project. Chicago Dramatists, 8 PM.


Devil Dog Six

This drama by Mary Fengar Gail, about the recovery of a strong-willed woman jockey who fell off her horse, is submitted by Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre. Seth Rozin, InterAct’s producing artistic director and president of the National New Play Network, directs. Chicago Dramatists, 12:30 PM.

The Katydid

A woman coping with her ungrateful family and an unwelcome preacher is visited by her dead husband. That’s the premise of Michael Davis Sutton’s comedy, submitted by Indianapolis’s Phoenix Theatre and staged by Phoenix’s producing director, Bryan Fonseca. Chicago Dramatists, 4 PM.

Running With Scissors

Submitted by West Palm Beach’s Florida Stage, this drama by Michael McKeever concerns a guy who encounters death–a guy named Wally–in an out-of-the-way motel. Lee Sankowich directs. Chicago Cultural Center studio theater, 8 PM.


A budding filmmaker and his girlfriend encourage their brilliant bipolar friend to attempt a “reality film” with life-or-death stakes in this drama by Neena Beber. Submitted by the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., it’s directed by Charles Goad. Chicago Dramatists, 8 PM.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Candy Decker.