TheatreWorks Silicon Valley to Present 19th Annual New Works Festival in November

Playwrights and composers can revise and refine their shows during the festival, allowing audiences to view the exciting evolution of new pieces of theatre.

By: Sep. 29, 2022
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley to Present 19th Annual New Works Festival in November

This Fall, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley will present the 19th Annual New Works Festival, providing Bay Area theatre lovers an advance look at tomorrow's hits. The Tony Award recipient theatre company will partner with Montalvo Arts Center and its Lucas Artists Residency Program to stage this wildly popular festival that offers audiences an extraordinary opportunity to experience new plays and musicals in their early stages of development and to meet the artists behind these exhilarating works. With multiple performances of each work, playwrights and composers can revise and refine their shows during the festival, allowing audiences to view the exciting evolution of brand new pieces of theatre. The festival runs November 6-13, 2022 at Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga. Festival passes ($48 for all three shows) and single event tickets ($20) can be purchased online at or by calling (877)-662-8978.

The 2022 New Works Festival will include readings of Jonathan Larson Grant winners Danny Haengil Larsen and Michelle Elliott's stunning new musical about unlikely connection in the face of tragedy, seen in the 2020 National Alliance of Musical Theatre Festival. The Festival's two plays include an incendiary new play exploring values and belief systems by Obie Award-winning Bay Area playwright Christopher Chen and a powerful examination of fractured community by Kleban Award winner Rehana Lew Mirza. "I'm thrilled to return to our first in-person festival since 2019 and to do it in partnership with Montalvo just makes the occasion all that more special," said TheatreWorks' Artistic Associate and Director of New Works Giovanna Sardelli of the program. "These plays are exhilarating in their explorations of the human condition and their examining of the things that divide us and those that connect us to one another. I can't wait to share this journey with audiences at Montalvo's Carriage House Theater."

The New Works Festival resumes its in-person format following digital streamed festivals New Works Festival Online and New Works Next Generation. "Developing new works is in TheatreWorks' DNA," said Artistic Director Tim Bond. "An integral part of our mission is to foster and build community around artists as they create works that will engage theatre audiences of the future. I'm so excited for the in-person return of this beloved and vital TheatreWorks tradition."

TheatreWorks and Montalvo previously partnered to present a developmental reading of the new musical Alice Bliss, which is scheduled to receive its World Premiere at TheatreWorks July 12 - August 6, 2023. The artists in the 2022 program will be supported by Montalvo's Lucas Artist Program, a creative incubator that supports artists across many disciplines in their process to develop new work.

"We're thrilled to join forces once more with Montalvo Arts Center," said Sardelli. "Our initial foray into a partnership with Alice Bliss was so fruitful that we knew we wanted to team up with them again. This partnership enables support for the artists, providing them housing and space to create their works, and allows both organizations to connect with new audiences, exposing more arts lovers to exciting new theatre."

"We at Montalvo Arts Center are excited to share these experiences with TheatreWorks," said Kelly Sicat, Director of Lucas Artist Program. "We hope that this continued partnership not only leads to many more opportunities to build art with our shared community, but that it also highlights for Silicon Valley a model for more organizations to collaborate together to create and inspire community. We look forward to very successful events and anticipate a bold future of making and supporting art together."

The lineup is as follows:


Music and Lyrics by Daniel Haengil Larsen

Book and Lyrics by Michelle Elliot

Directed by Tim Bond and Marcela Lorca

11/6 @ 7pm • 11/10 @ 7pm • 11/13 @ 7pm

Over one million bodies are buried on Hart Island in New York City's East River. The poor, the unclaimed, and the unknown are laid to rest in rudimentary pine boxes and unmarked graves. In this inspiring and hauntingly beautiful new musical, an immigrant woman looking for her child discovers the unexpected compassion of a disillusioned inmate on the burial crew. These two people on the edge of society change each other's lives forever as they begin to grieve and learn to appreciate each other's humanity.

Danny Haengil Larsen (Composer & Co-lyricist) and Michelle Elliott (Bookwriter & Co-lyricist) have been collaborating since meeting at New York University's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program 18 years ago. Their latest work, Hart Island, was presented as part of the 2020 NAMT Festival of New Musicals; previously it received a Beta Series production at Village Theatre, a series of staged readings at Playwrights Horizons in 2018 (co-produced by Musical Theatre Factory and Village Theatre) and was featured in the 2017 Village Originals Festival of New Musicals. Michelle and Danny are working on a new musical entitled Country Radio with Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. They are also translating their musical, Cloaked, for a digital platform. The writers received a Jonathan Larson Award for Cloaked, and Michelle received the Kleban Award for Most Promising Librettist for the show. Maiden Voyage, their passionate, musical exploration of the lives of women aboard a notorious pirate ship, is being developed for a 2024 premiere in Denmark. Danny and Michelle wrote, filmed, and produced a seven-part online musical for teens entitled The Hinterlands in response to the spate of suicides by gay youth. The web series can be seen at and on YouTube. Their first musical, The Yellow Wood, was presented in the New York Musical Theatre Festival (directed by B.D. Wong), where Danny won the award for Best Music. In 2008 the show was part of the Village Originals and the National Alliance of Musical Theatre Festival (directed by Brian Yorkey).

Tim Bond (Co-director) is the Artistic Director of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Recent credits include the acclaimed productions of How I Learned What I Learned (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Gem of the Ocean (TheatreWorks), The Children (Seattle Repertory Theatre), and Pass Over (A Contemporary Theatre). He is an internationally known director and educator with past leadership roles as Producing Artistic Director at Syracuse Stage, Associate Artistic Director at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Artistic Director at Seattle Group Theatre, and full Professor and Head of the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of Washington School of Drama. Tim has directed nationally and internationally at Market Theatre, Baxter Theatre Centre, Guthrie Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Wilma Theater, Arena Stage, GEVA Theatre Center, Cleveland Play House, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Pacific Conservatory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage, Dallas Theater Center, A Contemporary Theatre, Empty Space Theatre, Paul Robeson Theatre, and Seattle Children's Theatre. He is the recipient of two Backstage West Garland Awards, two Syracuse Area Live Theatre (SALT) Awards, and a Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Forum Award. Bond will direct Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer at TheatreWorks in its 52nd season, scheduled to perform March 8 - April 2, 2023.

Marcela Lorca (Co-director) is a director, choreographer, and master teacher. She currently serves as the Artistic Director for Ten Thousand Things Theatre Company. She became Movement Director for the Guthrie Theater in 1991, and has since coached more than 100 plays. As a director/choreographer her work has been seen at Guthrie Theater, Syracuse Stage, Mixed Blood Theater, Missouri Repertory Theater, Juilliard Drama, University of Minnesota, and Southern Theater. Lorca has also choreographed productions for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Washington Shakespeare Theater, Goodman Theatre, and Brooklyn Academy of Music. She has also worked at the National Actor's Theater and Signature Theater in New York City, Long Wharf Theatre, National Opera of the Dominican Republic, and Grupo del Centro-Chilean dance company. In addition to working as Head of Movement for the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater's BFA Actor Training program, she has also taught at New York University, Juilliard Drama School, the London International School of Performing Arts, US conferences and the Guthrie Experience for Actors in Training.



By Christopher Chen
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli

11/6 @ 3pm • 11/13 @ 3pm

How do we value a meaningful life? What does it mean to be human? This fiercely intelligent play takes audiences on a visceral exploration and collective examination of these questions when four eminent scholars gather before a live audience in what appears to be a straight-forward debate about animal rights. But as their arguments turn progressively more personal, the debate itself takes a series of shocking and unexpected turns sending them on an epic, kaleidoscopic journey into the heart of what we truly believe.

The Motion was originally a Manhattan Theatre Club Sloan Commission.

Christopher Chen (Playwright) is a San Francisco native whose plays include The Headlands (World Premiere: Lincoln Center Theatre's LCT3, upcoming: American Conservatory Theater), Passage (World Premiere: Wilma Theater; New York premiere: Soho Repertory Theater), Caught (NYT Critic's Pick, World Premiere: InterAct Theatre, NY premiere: The Play Company), You Mean To Do Me Harm (World Premiere: San Francisco Playhouse), The Late Wedding (World Premiere: Crowded Fire), The Hundred Flowers Project (World Premiere: Crowded Fire), and The Podcaster (Audible audio play). His honors include an OBIE Award for Playwriting (for Caught), USA Fellow, Steinberg Award (co-winner), Lanford Wilson Award (co-winner), Sundance Institute/Time Warner Foundation Fellowship, Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, Glickman Award (for The Hundred Flowers Project), and the inaugural Ollie Award. Chris is currently under commission at Playwrights Horizons and Portland Center Stage. He also has an overall deal at Amazon TV.

TheatreWorks Artistic Associate and Director of New Works Giovanna Sardelli's (Director)

many directing credits at TheatreWorks include last season's World Premiere of Nan and the Lower Body and It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and the March 2020 Northern California Premiere of They Promised Her the Moon, as well as Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph's Archduke (2019), FINKS (2018), The Velocity of Autumn and Crimes of the Heart (2016), Joseph's The Lake Effect (2015), Somewhere by Matthew Lopez (2013), and the World Premiere of Joseph's The North Pool (2011). She is an award-winning director who has worked on numerous plays by Rajiv Joseph including the world premiere of Archduke (Mark Taper Forum) and Guards at the Taj (Geffen Playhouse; 2016 Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play) and the World Premiere of the Obie Award winning play Describe The Night (2014 New Works Festival, Alley Theatre, Atlantic Theater Company in NYC). She has directed world premieres of plays by Theresa Rebeck, Lynn Rosen, Joe Gilford, Jeff Augustine, Lauren Yee, Zayd Dohrn, Melissa Ross, Lila Rose Kaplan, Matthew Lopez, and Zoe Kazan among others. Sardelli recently directed "Marvel's Squirrel Girl: The Unbeatable Radio Show!," a podcast series by Marvel Entertainment and Sirius XM. She will direct TheatreWorks' World Premiere of Kareem Fahmy's A Distinct Society, presented in association with Pioneer Theatre Company-a favorite from the 2021 New Works Festival Online, this new play is scheduled to perform on the company's main stage April 5-30, 2023.


By Rehana Lew Mirza

11/9 @ 7pm • 11/13 @ 12pm

Orange County, California. Today.

When 17-year-old Fitri goes missing, her best friend Ayan goes looking for the truth of how and why she disappeared. She confronts Elaine, an older white woman who just might be the mother of the boy Fitri ran away with... the boy who might have sent threatening voicemails to her mosque. When Elaine's friend Sally inserts herself into the situation, what started as an interrogation of facts becomes an interrogation of friendship. Between what everyone believes, will they be able to piece together the truth?

Rehana Lew Mirza's (Playwright) plays include Hatefuck (WP Theater/Colt Coeur); Soldier X (Ma-Yi Theater); Tomorrow, Inshallah (Living Room Theater; Storyworks/HuffPost commission); Neighborhood Watch (NNPN/InterAct commission) and Barriers (Desipina, Asian American Theater Company.) With her husband Mike Lew, she shares a Mellon Foundation National Playwright residency administered in partnership with Howlround at Ma-Yi Theater, where they've co-written The Colonialism Project (La Jolla Playhouse commission) and the musical Bhangin' It, with composer/lyricist Sam Willmott (Upcoming: Huntington Theatre Company; La Jolla Playhouse 2022; Richard Rodgers Award; Rhinebeck Writers Retreat; Project Springboard.) Additional honors include Kleban Award, NYFA Fellow, HBO Access Fellow, Lilly Award (Stacey Mindich "Go Write A Play"), CCTP Artist Residency, and a TCG/New Georges Fellowship. She received an MFA from Columbia University and BFA from NYU Tisch.



11/6 (following the 7pm reading of Hart Island)

11/9 (following the 7pm reading of Words We Believe)

TheatreWorks and Montalvo toast the beginning of the New Works Festival following the first readings in the festival-Hart Island and The Motion on Sunday, November 6 and Words We Believe on Wednesday, November 9. Audiences for these readings are invited to join the cast and crew in celebrating the artists' work creating brave new shows for the American Theatre as the New Works Festival begins.


With Executive Director Debbie Chinn

11/13 @ 10:30am

Veteran arts leader Debbie Chinn will join TheatreWorks as its new Executive Director this November. TheatreWorks welcomes her to the Tony-winning company in an informal gathering with artists and audiences before the 12pm reading of Words We Believe.

The 2022 New Works Festival is presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's New Works at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. The program seeks out new material and serves as a collaborative matchmaker for writers and composers. The Festival has launched many new works onto TheatreWorks' main stage and to national productions, including Broadway's Tony Award-winning Best Musical Memphis. The Festival has given playgoers their first looks at new works by such luminaries as Stephen Schwartz, Andrew Lippa, Joe DiPietro, David Hein & Irene Sankoff, Kimber Lee, Marsha Norman, Paul Gordon, Rajiv Joseph, and Beth Henley.

Montalvo Arts Center's Sally and Don Lucas Artists Program (LAP) is a creative incubator and cultural producer dedicated to investing in artists and their work. It supports visual artists, composers, writers, performers, scholars, and others from around the world to undertake critical investigations of contemporary issues, and to create and present new and experimental works.

Montalvo Arts Center is a donor-supported nonprofit institution whose mission is to engage the public in the creative process, acting as a catalyst for exploring the arts, unleashing creativity, and advancing different cultural perspectives. Located in Silicon Valley's Saratoga Hills, Montalvo occupies 175 stunning acres and is home to the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Program, the Carriage House Concert Series, and a robust arts education program.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, led by Artistic Director Tim Bond, presents a wide variety of contemporary plays and musicals, revitalizes great works of the past, and serves more than 100,000 patrons per year. Founded in 1970 by Robert Kelley, TheatreWorks has grown from a truly original Silicon Valley start-up to become one of the nation's leading professional non-profit theatre companies. TheatreWorks was recently honored as the recipient of the 2019 Regional Theatre Tony Award. TheatreWorks also champions new work, offering artists support and a creative home as they develop new stories for the American theatre. Offstage, TheatreWorks' arts education programs in local schools and arts engagement programs in Silicon Valley neighborhoods uplift its audiences and strengthen community bonds. Whether onstage or off, TheatreWorks welcomes the mosaic of people that embody the Bay Area and beyond, celebrating the transformative power of theatre to ignite imagination, inspire conversation, and interconnect our human spirits.

Media sponsor for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's 2022/2023 season is the San Francisco Chronicle.

Photo credit: Peter Chenot