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New Play Development

Since 1958, Milwaukee Rep has premiered over 150 plays and musicals. In 2016, Milwaukee Rep rededicated and increased our commitment to New Plays with the creation of the John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program.

Our Vision
We believe theater is the most immediate and intimate public forum for society to imagine its future through storytelling. Playwrights have the unique position to translate, challenge, and examine the most pressing and urgent societal and political changes of our epoch.

As a producer of compelling new works, we are committed to championing the stories from new and established artists alike.  New Play Development projects range in scope, size, and genre, but they all exhibit the following criteria:

  • Skillfully-wrought theatrical works, plays, or musicals that demonstrate a high level of craftsmanship in story, structure, dialogue, and character  development.
  • Theatrical works that offer a rarely seen perspective and expand the representation of people, class, culture, ethnicity, abilities, and stories on the American stage.
  • Theatrical works that address significant and urgent issues of our time and have the capacity to make an impact and initiate conversation with audiences and the community at large.
  • Innovative and ambitious works that have a strong point of view, push the theatrical form in either content or aesthetic or both, or deal with unusual subject matter or handle subject matter in an unusual and unique way.
  • Works that contain universal themes which appeal to a broad section of our community and contributes to the health and vitality of the American Theater.

Our Process
We support each playwright’s full creative development and nurture their unique voice. We offer a customized, fully-resourced, and flexible process, tailored to each individual artist’s needs. Each Milwaukee Rep commission is seriously considered for production.

Our Productions
We serve as an artistic home for writers to work on their plays in production. Through the title of “New Play Development,” we support world premieres, American premieres, and second productions with writers in residence. We invest fully in living playwrights by producing new work in each of our three spaces -- the 720 seat flagship Quadracci Powerhouse, the 205 seat black box Stiemke Studio and 186 seat Stackner Cabaret. In order to further the life of each new play, we aim to launch new plays into the American repertoire by actively seeking co-productions and co-commissions, and promoting subsequent productions with other regional theaters.