Studio lab

Studio supports new writing from inception to first production: commissioning new work, giving writers time and resources to develop their work, and hosting them in residence during the rehearsal process. Our intimate spaces are uniquely suited to the immediacy of new work—they’re small, and they provide a direct relationship between the actor and audience. Building on its 36-year history of producing powerful contemporary, Artistic Director David Muse came to Studio in 2010 with a vision for expanding substantially its new work production.  

Muse inaugurated the Studio Lab in the 2011-2012 Season. Studio Lab presented stripped-down productions of world premiere plays, giving playwrights in residence the ability to work in an environment of experimentation, collaboration, and discovery. The first three plays produced in Studio Lab's plays were nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. Studio also premiered plays in its Subscription Series and Special Events programming arm during Muse’s first five seasons. Starting in the 2011-2012 Season, Studio published all of its world premiere plays, broadening the reach of these new works, and launching them onto the international stage.

In the 2015-2016 Season, Muse announced the creation of Studio X, which absorbed the work of Studio Lab.

Studio x

Studio X is a new producing arm at Studio Theatre designed to support work that breaks new ground in its style or content. Complementing the subscribed work of the Main Series, Studio X will be a home for three or four innovative productions outside of the Main Series each season, including out-of-the-box immersive productions, groundbreaking work by international artists and ensembles, and bold world premiere projects.  Studio X ensures the aesthetic range of the theatre’s programming, bringing exciting work to the theatre’s uniquely intimate stages.


Studio Lab world premieres


Duncan Macmillan


Bryony Lavery

Red Speedo

Lucas Hnath

the wolfe twins

Rachel Bonds


other recent world premieres

a history of kisses

David Cale


Beth Henley


Clare Lizzimore

*denotes Studio-commissioned work


commissioned writers


Mary Elizabeth Hamilton has developed work with Page 73, New Georges, and Ensemble Studio Theater. The recipient of the Iowa Arts Fellowship and the Provost's Writing Fellowship, she has participated in Play Penn, Youngblood, I-73, and New Georges’ The Jam. Her plays have been finalists for The O'Neill, The Lark Pony Fellowship, The Yale Drama Series, The Princess Grace Award, and New Dramatists. Mary holds her MFA in Playwriting from The University of Iowa and is currently attending the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard.



Ike Holter’s plays have been produced at The Steppenwolf Garage, LiveWire Chicago, Theater 7, Nothing Without a Company, Route 66, Theater on The Lake and The Inconvenience, where he is a founding member and resident writer.  He's received commissions from The Goodman Theater, The Playwrights Center (MN), Writer’s Theater, and Teatro Vista.  Ike is the winner of three awards from The Kennedy Center's ACTF.  His show Hit the Wall played Off Broadway at The Barrow Street Theater after a critically acclaimed four-month run in Chicago.  His new play Exit Strategy recently enjoyed two sold-out runs at the Jackalope Theatre and will premiere in New York at Primary Stages in 2016.  Holter was named Best Emerging Playwright by Chicago Magazine and the 2014 Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune.



Aaron Posner was the founding Artistic Director of Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre and is an Associate Artist at the Folger Theatre and Milwaukee Rep. He has won numerous awards as a director and playwright including a Theatre Bay Area Award, three Barrymore Awards, an Outer Critics Circle Award, The John Gassner Award, and Helen Hayes Awards as a director or playwright four of the last ten years. His plays include My Name is Asher Lev; The Chosen; Stupid Fucking Bird; Life Sucks (or the Present Ridiculous); Who Am I This Time? (And Other Conundrums of Love); Sometimes a Great Notion; A Murder, A Mystery & A Marriage (with James Sugg); and many others. Posner has directed more than 150 productions at major regional theatres across the country. Posner, from Eugene, Oregon, is an Eisenhower Fellow, a graduate of Northwestern University, and lives in the area with his wife, actress Erin Weaver, and his daughter Maisie. 


past Commissions


Rachel Bonds is a playwright and performer currently living in Brooklyn. Her plays have been developed by New Georges, Ars Nova, Ensemble Studio Theatre, LaMaMa, The Flea, Playwrights Horizons, The Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Williamstown Theater Festival, Gotham Stage Company, Chicago’s American Theater Company, McCarter Theatre, Roundabout Underground, The Arden, and Manhattan Theatre Club. She is an Affiliated Artist with New Georges, a member of EST’s Youngblood, a 2010-12 member of Ars Nova’s Play Group, and a Playwriting Mentor in the PEN American Center’s Prison Writing Program. She was an Associate Artist in Residence at The Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Father William Ralston Fellow at the 2011 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Rachel is a graduate of Brown University.


Vivienne Franzmann was a drama teacher in London for twelve years. She left teaching in 2009 to pursue writing after winning the 2008 Bruntwood Playwriting Competition for Mogadishu. Mogadishu was also winner of the George Devine Award in 2010 and opened at the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester in January 2011. She is currently under commission to Clean Break, Channel 4, and Radio 4. She was awarded the Pearson Playwright Bursary for the Royal Court, which started in 2012. Her latest play, The Witness, premiered at the Royal Court in 2012.


Stew wrote the book and co-wrote the music and lyrics to Passing Strange, for which he received the 2008 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, and four other Tony nominations including Best Musical. He is also a two-time Obie Award winner for Passing Strange (Best New Theater Piece and Best Ensemble). Stew leads a band called The Negro Problem (TNP), which created the song cycles “Making It” (St. Ann’s Warehouse) and “Brooklyn Omnibus” (Brooklyn Academy of Music). Stew is a member of The Sundance Institute Alumni Advisory Board and was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.


Heidi Rodewald was co-composer of the musical Passing Strange, which transferred from The Public Theater to Broadway in 2008 where it was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Orchestrations. Passing Strange won a Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, the 2008 Obie Award for Best New American Theater Piece and Best Ensemble, and was made into a film by Spike Lee. Rodewald joined The Negro Problem in 1997 and since then has worked alongside Stew, performing, producing, arranging, and composing. She is currently working on a new musical, Against You, a free adaptation of Antigone set in the 1960’s with librettist, Donna Di Novelli. 


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