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Northern Stage Announces New Readings Festival

This year’s lineup consists of a 2020 Dartmouth College Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award winner, a new commissioned work by Citrus writer Celeste Jennings & more.

Northern Stage Announces New Readings Festival

Now in its eighth year, Northern Stage's New Works Now festival will feature three new works, January 16, 23 and 30, all performed live on Zoom. The Northern Stage Artistic team, including Producing Artistic Director Carol Dunne and BOLD Associate Artistic Director & New Works Now Producer Jess Chayes, has curated three new works to be presented by professional actors and directors for one week, culminating in free staged readings live on Zoom.

This year's lineup consists of a 2020 Dartmouth College Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award winner, a new commissioned work by Citrus writer Celeste Jennings, and a sneak peek at Northern Stage's first-ever commissioned musical. Of the works, Chayes says, "During this period of difficulty and relative hibernation, Northern Stage was able to put more of our focus on commissioning new works from artists we love. This initiative is an exciting step forward for Northern Stage, allowing us to nurture original plays from inception to our main stage."

Readings are as follows:

Saturday, January 16, 7:30 PM - Drive by Deborah Yarchun

Directed by Michael Legg

A community of truckers in a small town in Iowa are forced to shift gears when they lose their jobs to self-driving vehicles. When Gloria becomes the only trucker in town still employed, resentments surface and tensions escalate. Set in a time not far down the road, Drive explores our collective fears for the future, and what happens when individuals who are fiercely defined by their work are forced to reevaluate what drives them. Drive is the winner of the 2020 Dartmouth College Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Playwriting.

Chayes says, "Deborah Yarchun's Drive feels like a new spin on the classic American play. With great compassion and insight, she tells the story of a community with national reverberations. It's a stunning play and an exciting third collaboration with the Neukom Institute."

Saturday, January 23, 7:30 PM - Enough by Celeste Jennings

Directed by Tyler Thomas

How do you define yourself if you don't know your history? In this piece, a family discovers beauty and strength in things not remembered. They realize that some things are meant to be forgotten, and that the relics of resilience occupy their veins and teach them that what they have has always been enough. A brand new work by Celeste Jennings, writer of Citrus (New Works Now 2019, Mainstage premiere 2020).

Of the play Chayes says, "After the success of Citrus, we are so excited to support the brilliant Celeste Jennings' next play. Her poetic voice coupled with a meditation on memory and identity is a thrilling prospect, and Northern Stage audiences who witness this first reading will get to be a key part of its development."

Saturday, January 30, 7:30 PM - Shook

Music and Lyrics by Zoe Sarnak

Book by Alexis Sheer

Directed by Maggie Burrows

Join us for a sneak peek into the original songs and artistic process behind Northern Stage's first-ever commissioned musical work: Shook. High school thespians have been preparing for the highly anticipated National Shakespeare Competition for months, and Mia, always second fiddle, is ready to take first place by storm. Shook takes us on a rollercoaster ride through song and sonnet, foes turned friends, kingdoms lost and won...and at least one good showmance. Don't miss our first look into the deeply human world of Shook, and a chance to meet its award-winning creative team: Zoe Sarnak, Alexis Scheer, and Maggie Burrows (director of The Sound of Music).

Chayes says, "Shook was our very first commission through the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation, and it centers around a topic very dear to Northern Stage: the power of Shakespeare to transform the lives of young people. We feel so lucky to be able to host this team in Vermont as they embark on the writing of this original musical, and we can't wait for our audiences to meet them and hear a few sneak peeks."

Tickets are free, with a $10 suggested donation. Reservations can be made at, or by calling the Northern Stage box office at (802) 296-7000. New Works Now is sponsored by the BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle, La Valleys Building Supply, and The Norwich Inn, located in Norwich, Vermont.

Northern Stage is currently streaming the timeless holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life A Radio Play, now through January 3rd. This beloved American classic comes to life as a radio broadcast starring an ensemble cast of Northern Stage favorites as "Radio Actors" playing multiple roles (sound effects included). Based on the 1946 film starring Jimmy Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play is adapted by Joe Landry, with special permission for adaptation for Northern Stage audiences, and recorded at the Barrette Center for the Arts in downtown White River Junction, Vermont. In the age of social distancing, Northern Stage is thrilled to offer a message of hope and love that can reach the homes of every family in the Upper Valley and beyond this holiday season. Tickets are $15 for individuals and $25 for families and household listening. For tickets and information, call (802) 296-7000 or visit

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