The O'Neill announced the appointment of Chris Jones, longtime chicago area theater critic & columnist as Director of the O’Neill’s National Critics Institute (NCI), effective immediately.     

Chris JonesFew figures in criticism command such respect as Chris Jones,” remarks Executive Director Preston Whiteway. “At the intersection of fifty years of new play development at the O’Neill and a fast-paced media age, Chris stands to chart a path for a new generation of theater writers. I am thrilled to welcome him to the O’Neill family, as he ushers in a new era of the National Critics Institute.”

A “boot camp for theater writers,” NCI is an intensive two-week workshop, designed for arts journalists, bloggers, and critics looking to strengthen their skills in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced industry. The Institute convenes annually at the O’Neill’s Waterford campus alongside the National Playwrights Conference and National Music Theater Conference.

Selected after a national search, Dr. Jones is a familiar voice to millions. Aside from his hundreds of reviews and columns a year for the Tribune, he appears weekly on Chicago’s CBS-2 news and on WGN Radio. His critical work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and American Theatre Magazine. Prior to his post at the Tribune, he wrote for many years for Variety and Daily Variety, where he was known for his coverage of the Broadway road. He has twice served on the drama committee for the Pulitzer Prize, is frequently heard on NPR, the BBC, and CBC, and teaches as an adjunct professor at DePaul University.

I’m thrilled to be associated with a program, run with such care by the remarkable Dan Sullivan, that has trained so many great arts writers and critics," says Dr. Jones. "I hope to expand the scope of the program to include all kinds of arts criticism and entertainment reporting (everything from theater to movies to food), reflecting the reality of the range now required of writers who specialize in culture, entertainment and the arts. But the honored traditions of the O’Neill will remain.” 

Dr. Jones succeeds Dan Sullivan, a co-founder of NCI, who served as Director from 1999 to 2013. Mr. Sullivan, a former critic for the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, will continue with NCI as a faculty member. Mark Charney will also continue as Associate Director of the program.

The 2014 National Critics Institute will convene June 28 to July 12. NCI, founded in 1968 to offer training and professional development for theater critics, is unique in that it runs alongside the professional new work, playwrights, and artists who are also under development as part of the O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference and National Music Theater Conference. Offering a window into artistic creation and development, critic fellows at NCI gain necessary tools for their craft, and artsits gain a deeper understanding of the role, responsibilities, and value of informed criticism.

For more information about the Institute and to apply for the 2014 session, visit

National Puppetry Conference Announces 24th Season at the O'Neill

Posted by Communications on January 23, 2014

National Puppetry Conference Announces
24th Season at the O'Neill 

Applications Now Accepted Through March 7th

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center is proud to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 24th Annual National Puppetry Conference, which will take place during June of 2014, the O’Neill’s fiftieth anniversary summer. The Conference begins June 11, 2014 and culminates with public performances June 20 & 21. Pre-Conference intensive workshops run June 11 – 13.

Over the course of eight days, conference participants collaborate with nationally and internationally renowned puppet artists, and each other, to produce innovative plays and productions that push the boundaries of puppetry’s definitions and dare participants to challenge themselves and their audience. The conference is open to puppeteers, musicians, artists, actors, playwrights, and students as an ideal venue to experiment and develop new work.

Puppets on strings dominate at this year’s conference with our internationally renowned guest artists Germany-based Alice Theresa Gotschalk, Raphael Mürle, and Frank Soehnle, and Canada-based Ronnie Burkett.

Alice Theresa Gotschalk, Raphael Mürle, and Frank Soehnle will lead Wunderkammer Vol. 2: Improv Strings with Bradley Kemp. In this strand, participants will train in marionette manipulation, improvisation, and develop ensemble pieces. The strand will doubly challenge participants as it endeavors to incorporate music and poetry into these dynamic new works.

Text Creation and Interpretation will be lead by master puppeteer and story-teller Ronnie Burkett. Participants will work with Ronnie on the interpretation and acting of artist-created work, exploring the development of the piece into a well-performed theatrical event. Various forms of puppetry are welcome and encouraged in this strand.

The Conference will also feature returning marionette masters Phillip Huber and Jim Rose, who will lead the marionette building and performing strands of the conference. Additional opportunities for participants include Writing for the Puppet Theater with Martin KettlingMusic for Puppet Theater with Melissa Dunphy, the Emerging Artist strand for returning participants, and Resident Company, also for returning participants.

Not to be overshadowed by the marionette-heavy main conference, the Pre-Conference intensive workshops will feature Hua Hua Zhang: Chinese Rod Puppetry, Jim Kroupa: Everything You Want to Know about Mechs and Then Some!, Paul Vincent Davis and Brad Shur: Hand Puppet Manipulation, and Ronnie Burkett's Writing the Puppet Narrative.

Artists-in-Residence include Hua Mulan: Holding Half the Sky by Chinese Theater Workshop with Kuang-Yu Fong, Stephen Kaplin, and Shasha Li, and The Body Lautrec with Aaron Cromie and Mary Tuomanen.

Applications will be accepted until March 7th at 11:59 PST. There is a $35.00 USD application fee. To apply online and for information on financial assistance and scholarships, please visit

Artist Bios:

Click to view full National Puppetry Conference staff list.

Recognized as one of the foremost theatre artists on the international stage, RONNIE BURKETT has been credited with creating some of the world’s most elaborate and provocative puppetry. Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes was formed in 1986 and has stimulated an unprecedented adult audience for puppet theatre, continuously playing to great critical and public acclaim on Canada’s major stages, and as a guest company on numerous international tours abroad.

ALICE THERESE GOTTSCHALK (nee Böhm) was born 1978 in Stuttgart and created her first puppet at the age of 16. She has participated and taught in many workshops including those of Prof. Albrecht Roser. 2000 – 2004, attendance at the Ernst- Busch School of Theatre Studies in Berlin to study puppet theatre and also at the University of Music and the Performing Arts in Stuttgart. She achieved her diploma in October 2004. That same year, she founded the FAB-Theater, an independent travelling theatre co-operating with various musicians, narrators and puppeteers who vary depending on the theatre production in question. She is a tutor at the Heidelberg University of Education, is with the O’Neill Puppetry Conference in Connecticut, USA, is a guest tutor at the University of Music and the Performing Arts in Stuttgart and at the Karlsruhe University of Education and she is also a member of the German-French Forum Bayreuth. She presents her plays and scenes for marionettes in Germany, Austria, Poland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Lettland, the Netherlands and the USA. She works co-operatively as an actress and a puppeteer, puppet-maker and stage director.

RAPHAEL MÜRLE was born in 1960 in Pforzheim, studied Puppet Theatre from 1983 – 1987 at the State University of Music and the Performing Arts in Stuttgart under tutors who included Prof. Albrecht Roser. He was the winner of the TERPSI Prize for cabaret in 1983 with his “Scenes for Marionettes.” In 1987, he was awarded a Baden Württemberg Arts Foundation stipendium. Since 1987, he has staged regular performances at his own theatre venue in Pforzheim- Brötzingen where remarkable literary material, the implementation of musical themes and distinctive imagery distinguished the repertoire. Between 1987 and 2012, fifteen evening theatre productions were created there to include three performances with marionettes, five plays for children and five short performance programmes. He has worked in direction at puppet theatres in Germany and Switzerland, and has made guest appearances in Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Croatia, Austria, Poland, Scotland, Switzerland and Spain. He initiated and organized the International Puppet Theatre Street Festival in Pforzheim. He works/has worked as a tutor at the University of Music and the Performing Arts in Stuttgart, at the College of Puppet Theatre in Bochum and at the Hof Lebherz College in Warmsen.

FRANK SOEHNLE was born in 1963 in Stuttgart, studied Puppet Theatre from 1983-87 at the State University of Music and the Performing Arts in Stuttgart (graduated as Master of Puppet Theatre). 1987-90, Director of the “Figurentheater Karlsruhe”. 1991, founded the independent figuren theater tübingen. 1993, first Southeast Asia tour for the Goethe Institute. 1995, the production location was transferred to Reutlingen-Betzingen. Since 2002 artistic director of the Figuren@RT festival in Reutlingen. Soehnle is guest lecturer at the “Hochschule für Music und Darstellende Kunst”, Stuttgart the “Figurentheaterkolleg Bochum”, the “Ècole Superieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières” (France), the “Hochschule für Schauspielkunst Ernst-Busch”, Berlin, the “School for Visual Theatre in Jerusalem” and the Université Francois Rabelais, Tours, among others. His work has been performed in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Israel, India, South America, Russia and the USA. Soehnle works as an actor and puppeteer, puppet maker and director, conception, and graphics.

Join us for NTI's Fall '17 Company Debut

Posted by on December 10, 2017

2017 NPC Cast and Creative Teams

Posted by NTI on September 15, 2016

Casts and creative teams for 

2017 National Playwrights Conference

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center announces casting and creative teams for the eight new plays selected for development at the 53rd annual National Playwrights Conference July 5-29, 2017.  Among the actors premiering new work are: Kate Bornstein, Amy Landecker, Frank Wood, Ana Reeder, Cassie Beck, and Jill Eikenberry. Creative teams feature directors Doug Hughes, David Auburn, Wendy C. Goldberg, and Daniella Topol.

The O’Neill’s founding program, the National Playwrights Conference will present eight new works this summer season by a broad mix of brand new and mid-career artists. Led by Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg, each play will undergo the O’Neill’s signature development process employing professional creative and support staff, including acclaimed directors, dramaturgs, actors, and designers to bring new plays to life. Public, staged readings of each play will be presented at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, recipient of two Tony Awards and the National Medal of Arts. The eight new works, with casting and creative teams are:

We Are Among Us

By Stephen Belber

Director: Doug Hughes

Dramaturg: John Baker

Cast: Nilanjana Bose, Jimonn Cole. Amy Landecker, Teresa Lim,and Noah Robbins.

Synopsis: War; love; deceit; omission. A 20-year-old son still living with his mother; a daughter and her dead father.  We Are Among Us tells the story of a younger generation grappling with the actions and inactions of those who came before it.

Readings: July 5 & 6 at 8:15pm


The Quiet Ones

By Mary Hamilton

Director: Portia Krieger

Dramaturg: Sarah Lunnie,

Cast: Kate Bornstein, Deonna Bouye, Reyna de Courcy, April Matthis, Maryann Plunkett, and David Ross

Synopsis: Katherine’s old-school methods as a kindergarten teacher have come under new scrutiny. She struggles to handle a disturbing event between two of her students; her only son is getting married and she can’t decide on a pair of shoes; and she is still working to recover from the breakup of her family 17 years ago after her husband transitioned genders. As Katherine attempts to navigate a new culture using all the old rules, the fragility of her world-view becomes painfully clear. The Quiet Ones explores what is lost or gained as we evolve as people and as a society.

Readings: July 7 & 8 at 7:15pm



By Martyna Majok

Director: Danya Taymor

Dramaturg: John Baker

Cast: Mia Barron, Cassie Beck, Marjan Neshat, Ana Reeder, Andrea Syglowski, and Nicole Villamil.

Synopsis: The lives of two generations of immigrant women from Poland, Ukraine, Honduras, and Afghanistan haunt a basement apartment in the borough of Queens. In 2017, Inna comes looking for the mother who abandoned her as a child in Ukraine, and Renia is assaulted by the memories of the women who occupied the building wherein she once sought refuge and now owns. Spanning 2001 to 2017, queens looks at the choices these women made for security, family, dignity, and desire in a country that plays favorites with its fortune. What are you forced to leave behind when working so hard to move forward?

Readings: July 12 & 13 at 8:15pm



By Steve DiUbaldo

Director: Wendy C. Goldberg

Dramaturg: Abigail Katz

Cast: Chris Berry, Marcus Callender, Michael Galligan, Sam Kebede, Hugh Kennedy, Postell Pringle, and David Zheng.

Synopsis: A play about the world of AAU basketball and the dark side of NCAA Division-1 recruiting. When Eli Gamble grows seven inches the summer after his junior year of high school, he becomes a major college recruit with NBA potential. On the murky path to realizing his newfound potential, Eli must navigate who he can and cannot trust while he attempts to differentiate the game of basketball from the game of life.

Readings: July 14 & 15 at 7:15pm


Title IX

By Elaine Romero  

Director: Daniella Topol

Dramaturg: Kristin Leahey

Cast:Sean Carvajal, Jill Eikenberry, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Liz Ramos Makela Spielman, and Frank Wood.

Synopsis: The third play of Elaine Romero’s U.S./Mexican border trilogy, Title IX follows a border family of Latina educators from 1972 to the present. Has sexism in the U.S. been eradicated, or has it just found new forms? Does the right to equal treatment lead to that equal treatment, or is it an insidious path to something else?

Readings: July 19 & 20 at 8:15pm


The One ATM in Antarctica

By Adam Esquenazi Douglas

Director: David Auburn

Dramaturg: Anne G. Morgan

Cast: Allison Mack and David Ross

Synopsis: Sobriety is hard. Like, really hard. I'm talking Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle hard. Everyone thinks Sunday is the hardest, but the Sunday puzzle has a theme which makes it slightly easier. Saturday has no theme, so you're just flying solo. It's way harder. Almost as hard as sobriety.

Readings: July 21 at 7:15pm & July 22 at 3:15pm


Black Super Hero Magic Mama

By  Inda Craig-Galván

Director: Deena Selenow

Dramaturg: Carrie Chapter

Cast: Harron Atkins, Jessica Francis Dukes, Shelia Irving, Sam Kebede, Hugh Kennedy, Keith Powell, Kate Rigg, and Terrell Donnell Sledge.

Synopsis: Sabrina Jackson cannot cope with the death of her son by a white cop. Rather than herald the Black Lives Matter movement, she retreats inward, living out a comic book superhero fantasy. Will Sabrina stay in this dream world or return to reality and mourn her loss?

Readings:  July 26 & 27 at 8:15pm


Assisted Living

By Michael Tucker

Director: Carolyn Cantor

Dramaturg: Anne G. Morgan

Cast: Dominic Chianese, Jill Eikenberry, Daniel Geroll, Patricia Kalember, Jodi Long, and John Pankow.

Synopsis: Three couples in their golden years, thick as thieves, are gathered together at Sunny and Jer’s farmhouse to celebrate milestone birthdays that span three decades.  The foundation of their long-lasting friendship is honesty and support—as well as a mutual commitment to the enjoyment of food, wine, and laughter.  They’re so close that Sunny even suggests that they all move in together—to live and work and assist one another as they grow older.  Their companionship is put to the test, however, when a marital betrayal is discovered.  The bonds of loyalty and truth are explored in this mature comedy.

Readings:  July 28 & 29 at 7:15pm

All eight plays to be workshopped were chosen from 1,350 plays received through the O’Neill’s open submissions process. Additionally Devlin Elliott joins the 2017 National Playwrights Conference as a Writer-in-Residence.

Tickets are on sale. More information is available by calling (860) 443-1238 or

2017 NMTC Cast and Creative Teams

Posted by NTI on September 15, 2016

Casts and creative teams for 

2017 National Music Theater Conference

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center announces casting and creative teams for the three new musicals selected for development at the 40th annual National Music Theater Conference June 24- July 14, 2017.  Among the actors premiering new work are: Kelli O’Hara, James Snyder, Mitchell Jarvis, Lisa Brescia, Billy Lewis Jr., Allie Trimm, Andrew Bancroft, Marva Hicks, and John Herrera. Creative teams feature Jason Moore, Ian Eisendrath, and J Kyle Manzay.

Public, staged readings of each musical will be be presented at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, recipient of two Tony Awards and the National Medal of Arts. The three new works, with casting and creative teams are:

Home Street Home

Book by Soma Snakeoil & Fat Mike with David Goldsmith

Music by Fat Mike

Lyrics by Fat Mike, Jeff Marx, & Soma Snakeoil

Directed by: Richard Israel

Music Direction by: David O

Cast includes: Lisa Brescia, Brandon Espinoza, Mitchell Jarvis, Tyler Jent, Billy Lewis Jr., Mary Kate Morrissey, Ryan O’Connor, MJ Rodriguez, Allie Trimm, Akron Watson, Chelsea Zeno

Synopsis: A new musical about survival and self-realization among teenagers living on the street. Based on true stories of the authors’ experiences of homelessness and punk culture, the story revolves around a 16-year-old runaway who plunges headfirst into the subculture of life on the streets.

Readings: Sat., June 24 at 7pm; Sun, June 25 at 3pm; Wed., June 28 at 8pm; & Fri., June 30 at 7pm

iLLA! A Hip Hop Musical

Book, Music, Lyrics by  Ronvé O'Daniel

Music by Jevares C. Myrick

Director/Story Consultant: J Kyle Manzay

Music Direction by: Annastasia Victory

Music Consultant/ Co-Vocal Arranger: Will Stone

Cast includes:Andrew Bancroft, Kyle Carter, Jamal Crowelle, Marva Hicks, Avionce Hoyles,Emily Koch, Stephen Michael Langton, Kingsley Leggs, Bianca Madison, Michael Stiggers, Nyseli Vega, George Vickers, Naomi Walley, Jalise Wilson, Perry Young

Synopsis: As the 2008 U.S. financial crisis threatens to unravel his family, Prince, a classically trained dancer, dreams of becoming a hip hop star. Along the way, he falls hard for his competition’s girlfriend and is forced to confront the shattered dreams of his community. It’s a journey of struggle, swagger, and search for self.
Readings: Sat., July 1 at 7pm; Sun, July 2 at 3pm; Wed., July 5 at 8pm; & Fri., July 7 at 7pm



Book by John Logan

Music & Lyrics by Tom Kitt

Directed by: Jason Moore

Music Direction by: Ian Eisendrath

Cast includes: Erik Altemus, Phoenix Best, Kasie Gasparini, Francisco Gonzalez, Danielle Lee Greaves, John Herrera, Kyle McArthur, Mary Mattison, Dimitri Moise, Kelli O’Hara, James Snyder

Synopsis: A new musical telling the story of Charlotte and her teenage son Simon. They have been struggling with grief, and each other, since the death of Charlotte's husband and Simon's father a year before. Through their unlikely friendship with a mysterious man in their building, Jim, they move toward reconciliation and renewed hope.
Readings: Sat., July 8 at 7pm; Sun, July 9 at 3pm; Wed., July 12 at 8pm; Fri., July 14 at 7pm