Thursday, March 24, 2022

FREE With RSVP Goodman Theatre's Future Labs reading: Cephianne’s Reflection March 26 at 7pm


Goodman Theatre announces its next Future Labs reading: Cephianne’s Reflection by Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom, directed by Wardell Julius Clark. The second offering (of six workshops and presentations anticipated) of Future Labs’ second season, Backstrom’s new play is penned in homage to an American dialect and colorful culture found on the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia—where the descendants of slaves learned how to turn pain into power. Future Labs develops works authored and directed by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander), SWANA (Southwest Asian/North African) and other artists of color; the series is curated by Associate Director of Education & Engagement Quenna L. Barrett, Director of New Works Jonathan L. Green, Video Producer Alberto Mendoza, Producer Malkia Stampley and a cross-departmental team of Goodman staff holding intersectional identities. The reading of Cephianne’s Reflection takes place on March 26 at 7pm at Goodman Theatre (170 N. Dearborn). Tickets are free, but registration is required; visit

The Goodman is grateful for the generosity of its New Work sponsors, including: Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation and the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Major Support of New Work; Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee New Works Fund, Major Support of New Play Development; The Glasser and Rosenthal Family, Mayer Brown LLP, and Shaw Family Supporting Organization, Support of New Work.

In Cephianne’s Reflection, no one has left the invisible island of Ma Isle in over three hundred years; both a blessing and a curse. Endowed with divine power, ruler Queen Aimee sends all her subjects into the wilderness in their twenty-second year to be gifted with incredible abilities. So it has been for generations, as the world has turned without any of them in mind—until Queen Aimee's youngest child emerges from the woods, seemingly unchanged, and stumbles upon an ancient man in her mirror.

The Future Labs development series is the latest effort among the Goodman ’s programs that support living writers and develop new plays—including New Stages, Playwrights Unit and more than two dozen individual artist commissions. Designed primarily for Chicago-based writers who have not had a play produced at the Goodman, Future Labs projects receive rehearsal time, artistic, dramaturgical and casting support and an optional free public reading. In its inaugural season, Future Labs workshopped and developed seven plays. Two of those plays, Martin Yousif Zebari’s Layalina and Max Yu’s Nightwatch, went on to debut as developmental productions in Goodman’s 17th annual New Stages Festival—an annual celebration of innovative new work by some of the country's most singular and ambitious playwrights. Now in its second season, Future Labs welcomes project proposals on an ongoing basis, exclusively seeking bold, imaginative works from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, SWANA and other playwrights of color for development and public presentation. Visit for submission details.


Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom is a mixed-media artist, writer and intuitive healer who creates Fairy Tales for Sun-Kissed Women, a whimsical anthology of short stories and immersive audiobooks. She is a member of The Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit and the recipient of the Chicago Dramatists Tutterow Fellowship. Mallory’s play, Cephianne’s Reflection, was a finalist for the National Playwrights Conference. A Laying on of Hands was featured in The Story Theatre’s New Play Festival. Her witchy fable, Once in a Bleu Moon, was showcased by Sideshow Theatre in the House Party series and by The Athena Project as a part of the Read and Rant series. The Bright Light of the Soul was workshopped by The New Coordinates Theatre. Mallory is a contributing playwright to The Refracted Theatre Company’s podcast, The Swell. She is an artistic associate of Sideshow Theatre. Mallory was hailed as a “craftsman of the English language” by Windy City Reviews for her debut novel, Reasons for Being. She has guest lectured at the University of California-Davis and Illinois Humanities. Her artwork has been exhibited at The Freedom and Movement Gallery and The Breathing Room. For more information about this multifaceted artist visit her at or @FairyTalesForSunKissedWomen.

Wardell Julius Clark is an award-winning actor, director, producer and activist who hails from Fairfield, Alabama but now calls Chicago home. He earned his BFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Wardell is a company member with TimeLine Theatre and an ensemble member at Sideshow Theatre. Wardell recently returned from Williamstown Theatre Festival where he directed the world premieres of "Black Moon Lilith"; "A Ghost in Satin" and "don’t get got" as part of the Solo Play Festival Celebrating the Black Radical Imagination. Select Chicago directing credits include Michael Jackson and the Devil's Book; Whitney Houston and the Devil's Book (Jackalope Theatre Company); Kill Move Paradise (TimeLine Theatre, 2020 Jeff Award winner for direction); Sheepdog (Shattered Globe); His Shadow (16th Street); The Shipment (Red Tape) and Dutch Masters (Jackalope). Select acting credits include The Whisperer's Apprentice; Once in a Bleu Moon (Sideshow Theatre); Flyin’ West (American Blues); Suddenly Last Summer (Raven); Silent Sky (First Folio); Othello (Theater at Monmouth) and The Gospel According to James (Victory Gardens). His television and film credits include Proven Innocent; Shameless and Chicago Fire Seasons 1 & 4.

Please note: In compliance with the City of Chicago vaccine requirement, proof of vaccination with an FDA or WHO-authorized vaccine is required for all guests. Masks are required at all times in the theater and patrons under 5 are not permitted. Learn more


Chicago ’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement.

Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earner two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fifth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.

Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.

As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Goodman Theatre’s Action Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) was born out of the belief that progress means action, which includes building on the decades-long commitment to using art, assets and resources to contribute to a more just, equitable and anti-racist society.

Goodman Theatre was founded 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. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation on the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Dael Orlandersmith, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor and Mary Zimmerman. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Craig McCaw is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

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