New Play Development

Announcing our next phase of new play development, forging the next generation of new plays, new artists and new audiences.

Forge: to form or bring into being especially by an expenditure of effort.

Our 30th season marks the conclusion of our WISCONSIN CYCLE, but also the beginning of THE FOUNDRY. We chose the word Foundry not only to honor the effort that it takes to forge new plays and programs, to help mold young artists, and to listen to the voices of our community, but also to pay homage to the work ethic and manufacturing traditions of Milwaukee. The Wisconsin Cycle sought to share local stories, and we will continue to tell those stories and provide opportunities for local playwrights, but we will also look globally for stories and for the tellers of those new tales. As we discover stories of  our shared humanity, we build awareness and understanding, fostering empathy and promoting unity.

Through a series of four new play readings each season, we will engage the community in conversations about the work and the process of creation while also providing additional training/performance opportunities for youth and adult actors, writers and directors. Step into The Foundry and help us forge the future of theater!

New play readings take place at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, and admission is free.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 7 p.m.
Adapted by Marie Kohler
From the novel by Gene Stratton-Porter
Growing up at the edge of the wetlands, young Lenora endures turn of the century hardships, but finds comfort in the beauty of nature.


Mark your calendars for new play readings happening in our 2017-2018 season!
Details to follow.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.


A play adapted from the books by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Play written by John Olive
Eight sisters. One big mystery. Let the fun begin!

By Alan Ayckbourn 
Musical Adaptation and Lyrics by Paul James
Music by Cathy Shostak and Eric Angus
Ten-year-old Kevin Carter falls into his book and meets his fictional hero, tough hard-bitten Private Investigator, RockfistSlim – 220 pounds of solid muscle and now only too real. Together the gallant, incongruous pair, pursued by arch-enemy Monique, set out on the most exciting journey of their lives on a quest to save the world!

An Original Play by Finegan Kruckemeyer
Young Lenny sees things other people can't. Traveling around his beloved city, he is troubled by some of the things he sees, so he decides to make a difference by sharing his unique insights with his community - and magical things start to happen.  Inspired by conversations with young people and families of Milwaukee, internationally renowned playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer (THE SNOW) explores the challenges of growing up in a world that is increasingly difficult through which to navigate.


Throughout its history, First Stage has remained committed to new play development, finding innovative ways to tell beloved stories old and new.

The Wisconsin CycleContinuing this focus, First Stage launched The Wisconsin Cycle in 2011, which is a series of six new plays over six seasons that celebrate the rich heritage of our state. With these plays and associated workshops, special events and educational initiatives, we hope to celebrate the history and people of Wisconsin. 

The Wisconsin Cycle was nominated for the PNC Trail Blazer Award (part of the 2016 MANDI Awards), recognizing an innovative approach to a community problem. THIS VIDEO developed by LISC, illustrates some of the impact the initiative has had since it began. Welcome to Bronzeville, concluded this six play series and was included as part of First Stage's 30th Anniversary Season.