New Play Development

Every play in the world was once a new play.

We are proud to boast that since 1958, we have produced more than 150 world premiere productions on our stages. As such, the Rep has created the John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program, named in honor of past Milwaukee Rep Board member John D. Lewis for his passionate belief in the transformational power of the theater. Our goal is to produce new works – both commissioned by The Rep and works by emerging playwrights that have been commissioned by other theaters but not yet performed – that appeal to modern audiences and have the potential to transfer to cities across the nation, reinforcing The Rep as a leader in new play development. Learn more about New Play Development.

Some of the new works commissioned by The Rep include:

  • The Nerd, 1981
  • The Foreigner, 1983 
  • Hula Hoop Sha-Boop, 1991
  • Work Song, 2000
  • Grafton City Blues, 2008
  • Liberace!, 2010
  • Five Presidents, 2015
  • American Song, 2016

You can’t have a titanic classic, you can’t have a groundbreaking work that pushes society forward, and you certainly can’t have a well-loved favorite—unless you have a new play first.

See Your Impact

$10,000 – Commission a new work in the Stiemke Studio

$5,000 – Support the full developmental workshop for a new work in the Stackner Cabaret

$2,500 – Provide travel and housing for a playwright during one week of rehearsal

$1,000 – Research and develop one new play for the Quadracci Powerhouse

$500 – Allow Rep staff to travel to national new work festivals to scout emerging playwrights

$250 – Provide a stipend and transportation for an actor during one week of a developmental workshop

$100 – Purchase enough paper to print 120 new play scripts for consideration