Welcome to The Room, a reading series that brings original work, plays in-development, and new stories to Chicago audiences.  In addition to live, in-person readings, many readings are accessible on Zoom. Following the event, stay in our space for an in-depth discussion and opportunity to meet the artists.


written by Sharifa Yasmin & directed by Ali-Reza Mirsajadi

June 30, 2023

In a small town, a closeted young man tries to keep his late father’s business running, only to be faced with a ghost from his youth.


written by Mardee Bennett & directed by Ensemble member Manny Buckley

May 21, 2023

Set in an upscale, Black-owned Philadelphia restaurant, Cane is fresh, funny take on what it means to be of service.

17 Minutes

written by Scott Organ & directed by Michael Cotey

June 27, 2022

In the aftermath of a school shooting, Sheriff’s Deputy Andy Rubens must come to terms with the choices he made during the tragedy. Talkin’ Broadway wrote, “[17 Minutes] accomplishes what the theatre does best; it presents this issue not as an emotionally fraught intellectual argument, but as a complicated and compassionate human drama.”

Origin Story

written by Blue Ink Award winner Nathan Alan Davis & directed by Ensemble member Manny Buckley

February 25, 2022

Margaret is working two jobs to pay down her debt. During the day, she’s wading through office triviality at The Services Corporation, and by night, she’s working the drive-through of The Burg, a 24/7 fast food restaurant. Funny and heartfelt, this is a contemporary look at the quarter-life crisis and connecting in an impersonal world.

The Thanksgiving Play

written by MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship recipient Larissa FastHorse & directed by Associate Producer / Ensemble Member Elyse Dolan

November 5, 2021

Good intentions collide with absurd assumptions in Larissa FastHorse’s wickedly funny satire, as a troupe of terminally “woke” teaching artists scrambles to create a pageant that somehow manages to celebrate both Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month. Featuring an all-star cast of American Blues artists, including two-time Tony Award nominee Lindsay Jones.

Loving Across Borders

written and performed by Artistic Affiliate Ada Cheng

June 25, 2021

Solo performer Ada Cheng explores how one learns womanhood, love, and abuse in different sociopolitical and cultural contexts through personal stories. An intense personal journey and autobiographical, this solo show weaves tales of breaking rules and broken hearts across borders. This performance is relevant to current debates about gender equality and women’s status in American society and across the globe.

There’s a Clown in my Bubble

written and performed by Ensemble Member Philip Earl Johnson 

May 14, 2021

Our physical, social network – or “bubble” – isn’t a new concept, but it certainly has been more relentless lately. Inspired by the idea of being inside the bubble – comedian, storyteller, and award-winning Ensemble Member Philip Earl Johnson turns to stories about the original bubble: family. Whether it’s with the family we came from of the one we helped create, life in the bubble is filled with certain moments of adaptation. And that’s when it gets ridiculous.

On the Greenbelt

written by Karissa Murrell Myers, 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Award semi-finalist
directed by Andrew Coopman

April 30, 2021

Jules saw something in the Idaho hospital the night her mom died, but she’ll never say what it was. Not to her ex, Olivia, and especially not to her brother, Jake, who keeps trying to convince her to go with him to the Greenbelt to spread their mom’s ashes with their father, Alan. But try as she might, Jules can’t shake the memories of the past that haunt her like a gin-soaked hangover as the day unravels the past events surrounding her mother’s death come to light. A serio-comic play that jumps between past and present, On the Greenbelt, explores family, love, memory, and the question of “how do we process grief?”

Sanctuary City

created & directed by Ensemble Member Ian Paul Custer
written by Shannon Pritchard

March 26, 2021

It’s the last city in the country where you can become an American. Sanctuary City opens its gates to hopeful immigrants from around the world, who work and live in the city in order to gain citizenship. Anyone can get in, it’s just hard to get out. This is the pilot episode of a neo-noir podcast in development.

Football Football Football Football (Or I Love Lave Dash)

written and directed by Kristoffer Diaz

featuring Lora Lee Gayer, Suli Holum, Marin Ireland, Maria-Christina Oliveras, and Maureen Sebastian

February 5, 2021

One professional football team must choose between two potential top draft picks: Charismatic multiethnic finesse machine Lave Dash and salt-of-the-earth muscle monster Mervin Gufflinson the First. But when these two young legends join forces, it not only changes the game, but also all sports, and also the whole world, and maybe the entire universe. An insane comedy about masculinity, featuring an all-female cast.

The Lion

written and performed by Ensemble Member Manny Buckley

January 15, 2021

The Lion tells the compelling story of arguably the nineteenth century’s most famous African- American civil rights activist, Frederick Douglass. Douglass rose from beginnings as a slave in Maryland to become a self-taught writer, publisher, orator, abolitionist, and politician.

Red Bike

written by Caridad Svich
directed by Lavina Jadhwani
starring August Forman 

December 9, 2020

What kind of future will you have living in these here United States? Remember when you were eleven years old and you had a bike, one that made you dream about a world bigger than the one in which you live? This is that memory. Except it is now.

Days of Decision – The Music of Phil Ochs

devised and performed by Artistic Affiliate Zachary Stevenson 

November 1 & 2, 2020

A virtual Phil Ochs tribute concert performed by award-winning Artistic Affiliate Zachary Stevenson (Buddy in The Buddy Holly Story). Featuring powerful songs and incredible stories, Zach reveals his personal journey into the music of this legendary folk singer who stood for freedom, equality, and social justice.


written by Benjamin Benne
directed by Ana Velazquez
featuring Jazmín Corona and Keren Diaz de Leon

October 18 & 19, 2020

Working mom Alma has single-handedly raised her daughter, Angel, on tough love, home-cooked comida, and lots of prayers. But on the eve of the all-important SAT, Alma discovers her daughter isn’t at home studying. A sacrifice from Alma’s past weighs heavy on their present. Will the American Dream cost them a life together?

Yes… My Name Is Lucy!

written by Ensemble Member Wandachristine
directed by Ensemble Member Chuck Smith
featuring Deanna Dunagan and Camille Robinson

September 18, 2020

To earn extra cash, Sarah James, a young, struggling Black filmmaker, decorates the set for an upcoming documentary on the life of deceased Chicagoan and Civil Rights activist, Lucy Hassell Montgomery. While busily making last minute changes, Sarah has an unexpected visitor…Lucy herself.

A Shot: #A Love Story Inspired By Black Lives Matter

written by Gloria Bond Clunie
directed by Ensemble Member Chuck Smith
featuring Ensemble Members Ian Paul Custer and Wandachristine

August 7, 2020

When Mrs. Nettie Morris goes to the storefront campaign office of congressional hopeful Jeffrey Talbott determined to save her grandson from Chicago’s violent streets and incarceration with an ingenious plan – a very personal life and death struggle takes a surprising turn.


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