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Goodman’s 2012 New Stages thinks globally

Updated: January 13, 2013 11:06AM

Since its inception in 2004, the Goodman Theatre’s New Stages program has given audiences a first look at more than 50 new works by American playwrights. Though often still in the development stage, many of these plays (including notable works by Lynn Nottage and Henry David Hwang), go on to receive full-scale productions.

The 2012 edition of the New Stages project, running through Dec. 23 in rotating rep, will feature two fully-staged workshop productions (plays by Tanya Saracho and Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig) and four staged readings, with stories that range from Chile, to Mexico to China and beyond.

Among the readings will be a special five-hour undertaking, “2666” (Dec. 17 at 6 p.m.), a stage adaptation of Chilean-born writer Roberto Bolano’s epic novel about the horrors of the 20th century. Co-adapted and co-directed by Goodman artistic director Robert Falls and the new Goodman playwright-in-residence, Seth Bockley, the work spans 100 years of history, and moves from Spain, to Mexico, to Germany and beyond as it deals with the nature of evil, and the power of literature to reflect and transform the world.

The two fully-staged workshop productions include:

— “Song for the Disappeared,” part of Chicago playwright Tanya Saracho’s continuing examination of life on the U.S./Mexican border, to be directed by Laurie Woolery. The story homes in on the Cantu family of McAllen, Texas, whose patriarch, Leo, is a successful businessman with a young trophy wife and children from two marriages. The kidnapping of Leo’s youngest son, Javi, forces a family reunion at which they try to figure out how to get him back.

— “The World of Extreme Happiness,” Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s play, directed by Jonathan Berry, and described as a “savage and desperately funny” examination of China, a country in the midst of rapid change, and a place where courageous individuals struggle to control their own destiny. The play begins in 1992 with the birth of an unwanted girl, Sunny, who at age 14 leaves her rural village for the factories in Shenzhen.

The staged readings include:

—“The Solid Sand Below,” Martin Zimmerman’s play, directed by Henry Wishcamper, about a young man who narrowly escapes a prison sentence and then finds himself as a soldier in Iraq where a close call with an improvised explosive device leaves him forever altered.

— “Buzzer,” by Tracey Scott Wilson (replacing the previously-announced Keith Reddin play, “Acquainted with the Night,” which was canceled as a result of a scheduling conflict). Wilson’s play about race and sex, directed by Jessica Thebus, homes in on a young, successful African-American attorney determined to build a life in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of his youth.

— “Stutter,” a play by Philip Dawkins (whose “Failure: A Love Story” is now at Victory Gardens Theatre), directed by Stuart Carden. It tells the story of a quiet, unassuming piano teacher in a small Iowa town whose world is turned upside down when she discovers she was involved in a terrible injustice during her childhood.

NOTE: An Artist Encounter discussion with playwrights Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Philip Dawkins and Martin Zimmerman (to be moderated by Tanya Palmer, director of New Play Development at the Goodman), is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

Tickets to all events are free, but reservations are required. For a complete schedule call (312) 443-3800 or visit

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