The Paper Trail

Kingdom  , 2018. Written by Michael Allen Harris, directed by Kanome Jones. (Devon Green)

Kingdom, 2018. Written by Michael Allen Harris, directed by Kanome Jones. (Devon Green)

Playwriting can be a lonely process. Often it involves a single writer sitting at their computer, telling a story with no idea where it might eventually produced… if it’s ever staged at all. And when you are lucky enough to land a staged reading, you tend to get into a room with a group of actors, rehearse for a few days, present it in front of an audience for one or two nights and… that’s it. You’re now holding the latest draft of your script, with no clue what the next step might be for it.

Enter THE PAPER TRAIL, a new-play development program created in 2016 and co-led by Director of Programming Spenser Davis and Company Dramaturg David Weiss. Each year, we partner with local playwrights to provide them with institutional support, under which we develop their newest idea from seed to script and, hopefully, to stage. It’s a two-season process. In the first season, we develop the play from the ground up through dramaturgical sessions and private table readings, all culminating in a public staged reading attended by leadership from other companies in hopes of peaking their interest in producing it. The second season, we become this play’s literary agent of sorts, sending it out to theaters across the country and providing a level of advocacy for the material that would not be possible were it the playwright going out into the world alone. We don’t just leave the playwrights with completed scripts; we then use them as tools to introduce their unique voice to arts organizations.

Here are the plays that have gone through the process previously…


KINGDOM centers around an entirely LGBTQ+ African-American family ruminating on love, life, and loss in the shadow of Orlando’s Magic Kingdom. Written by now- Resident Playwright Michael Allen Harris, this play had its World Premiere with BNT in Spring 2018. The play received the 2018 Lorraine Hansberry Award for Best New Play from the Black Theater Alliance and was nominated for the 2018 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play. It is published by Stage Rights and available for purchase here.


OPTIONS is the debut play by movement artist and actor Michele Stine. Centering around two women from very different economic and societal backgrounds who fatefully cross paths in the waiting room of an abortion clinic, BNT sent this play to companies large and small across the country, introducing them all to this exciting new voice.


EXPOSURE is the first full-length play by Chicago-based actor Cynthia Hines. It tells the story of a combat photographer who returns home from Iraq to the South Side of Chicago stricken with PTSD… which is embodied by as a rifle-wielding and abusive alter ego. The play was named a finalist for the Bridge Award from Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization aimed to celebrate and support veterans in the arts.


PEG is a hilarious, honest two-hander, one that illustrates what happens when a seemingly average Chicago couple on a seemingly average evening decide to try “pegging” for the first time, leading them down a path that forces them to face their own kinks, quirks and societal conditioning. It is slated for a World Premiere co-production between BNT and The New Colony in the Winter of 2019.


Playwrights are selected for The Paper Trail by Broken Nose Theatre company members, and the scripts are built from the ground up within the program. Please do not submit plays that already exist for consideration. Instead, should you be a Chicago-based playwright interested in developing something with us in the future, please email us letting us know about any upcoming projects or readings you have, so that we can familiarize ourselves with you and your body of work as a whole. Thank you!