Goodman Theatre Launches Free Insider Initiative to Build Audiences

by Jacob Coakley
Goodman Theatre’s Discover What’s Now initiative is free
Goodman Theatre’s Discover What’s Now initiative is free

The “Discover What’s Now” program is designed to bring audience members into the process of creating a play. Free membership to the program includes invitations to special events, behind-the-scenes access and discounts on performances.


(Chicago, IL) Insights, opportunities and exclusive offers await members of “Discover What’s NOW,” Goodman Theatre’s free new initiative designed to bring its patrons inside the process of creating the relevant and topical plays of today. Free membership includes behind-the-scenes access, invitations to special events with artists and discounts on performances. The program acquaints audiences with new plays, which represent more than half of the total plays produced at the Goodman each year. “Discover What’s NOW” was developed through research during the first phase of the Goodman’s grant from the Wallace Foundation’s “Building Audiences for Sustainability” effort. The Goodman was one of only 26 U.S. arts organizations chosen to participate in the New York-based foundation’s six-year, $52-million initiative aimed at developing practical insights into how exemplary performing arts organizations can expand their audiences. The new plays of “Discover What’s NOW” include three world premieres and one second production of a new play: Another Word for Beauty by José Rivera (through February 21); 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, adapted and directed by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley (February 6 – March 13); Carlyle by Thomas Bradshaw (April 2 – May 1); and Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976 by Rebecca Gilman (May 21 – June 19).


“Thanks to the Wallace Foundation and our 'Discover What’s NOW' program, we can give audiences the chance to hear, directly from the artists, the inspiration behind new works—and what it takes to bring a work from the page to the stage,” said Goodman Director of Marketing and PR Lori Kleinerman. “It’s a fascinating process that leads to relevant, vibrant and incredibly topical theater. And now we get to share it fully.”


“Discover What’s NOW” emerged through a series of focus groups and audience surveys in which Goodman patrons expressed curiosity about the development of new plays by contemporary American playwrights. Unlike a classic play with its known pedigree, a new play has less history (no or few previous productions) and less familiarity (fewer critical reviews) among audiences. However, “Discover What’s NOW” delivers what is often impossible with a classic work: interaction with a living playwright. Audiences can learn more and sign up to receive Goodman Theatre’s monthly "Discover What’s NOW"  e-mail at


About The Wallace Foundation


The Wallace Foundation is an independent national philanthropy dedicated to fostering improvements in learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children and the vitality of the arts for everyone. It seeks to catalyze broad impact by supporting the development, testing, and sharing of new solutions and effective practices. At , the Foundation maintains an online library about what it has learned, including knowledge from its current efforts aimed at: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement, helping selected cities make good afterschool programs available to more children, expanding arts learning opportunities for children and teens, providing high-quality  summer learning programs to disadvantaged children and enriching and expanding the school day in ways that benefit students, and helping arts organizations build their audiences.


About Goodman Theatre


Called America’s “Best Regional Theatre” by Time magazine, Goodman Theatre has won international recognition for its artists, productions and programs, and is a major cultural, educational and economic pillar in Chicago. Founded in 1925 by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth (an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s), Goodman Theatre has garnered hundreds of awards for artistic achievement and community engagement, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards (including “Outstanding Regional Theatre” in 1992), nearly 160 Joseph Jefferson Awards and more. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the Goodman’s artistic priorities include new plays (more than 150 world or American premieres in the past 30 years), reimagined classics (including Falls’ nationally and internationally celebrated productions of Death of a Salesman, Long’s Day’s Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy), culturally specific work, musical theater (26 major productions in 20 years, including 10 world premieres) and international collaborations. Diversity and inclusion have been primary cornerstones of the Goodman’s mission for 30 years; over the past decade, 68% of the Goodman’s 35 world premieres were authored by women and/or playwrights of color, and the Goodman was the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Each year the Goodman’s numerous education and community engagement programs—including the innovative Student Subscription Series, now in its 30th year—serve thousands of students, teachers, life-long learners and special constituencies. In addition, for nearly four decades the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has led to the creation of a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. Goodman Theatre’s leadership includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Joan Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Swati Mehta is Women’s Board President and Gordon C.C. Liao is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.