New Works Initiative

Department of Theatre and Dance

‌‌New Works Initiative main image

The New Works Initiative at Montclair State University

THE NEW WORKS INITIATIVE (NWI) is an Artist-in-Residence program and development platform in Montclair State University’s College of the Arts.  NWI is designed as a near-New York City incubator for new plays and musicals and re-explored theatrical works.  
NWI’s mission is to bring together established and emerging playwrights, composers, choreographers, theatre-makers, and directors with MSU theatre students to explore adventurous theatrical works. 
A professional creative team, creator and selected work are chosen annually as the official “NWI Artist, or Artists, in Residence” project. The piece is given a 2-semester residency. Collaboration with faculty and a design team support the project through a workshop phase, a 4-week rehearsal process, tech, and a fully produced production on one of Montclair’s theatrical stages during the Spring semester. 
Through NWI, students have the stimulating opportunity to collaborate with theatre professionals. Professional artists have the freedom to take new risks in developing and launching work. Montclair State is committed to expanding its network of artistic relationships in the professional arena, further establishing the College of the Arts as a vibrant theatrical training destination, exposing students to bold new voices, courageous material, and esteemed talent. 
The New Works Initiative is made possible through the generous support of Bob and Holly Gregory.


Artists-in-Residence and University Premiere:

Michigan Murders (Working Title)

Created by Meghan Finn & Julia May Jonas
Directed by Meghan Finn
Text by Julia May Jonas
Music by Brian Cavanagh-Strong

From 1966 to 1969, at the dawn of second-wave feminism, several young college women were murdered in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor Michigan area by a fellow student. Theater artists Meghan Finn (The Offending Gesture) and Julia May Jonas (Nellie Tinder) create a multi-disciplinary play with music based on real events surrounding the crime. Michigan Murders (Working Title) celebrates the exuberant chaos and quickly won freedom of the 60’s, pits that against the real and palpable terror of victimization facing women at that time, and reflects on the state of feminism today.

NWI workshops and productions feature student actors and designers who work in collaboration with professionals in the ongoing development of original work.

Michigan Murders Staged Reading in NYC: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 

Michigan Murders
Full Production at MSU
Howard L Fox Theatre
March 23rd - 26th, 2017

NWI 2016 Julia May Jonas Meghan Finn

Julia May Jonas’s recent plays include Emily Climbs (Machine Méchant), Evelyn, For Artists Only, BG1987RECEP, Lake Coordination and All Long True American Stories (a play cycle). Her work has been presented/developed at venues including The Bushwick Starr, Incubator Arts Center, The International Revolutions Festival in New Mexico, The Brick, Dixon Place, PS122 (with TerraNova) and the International Theater Society of Vietnam. She has held residencies with The Invisible Dog, BAX, IAC, Chashama et al. Founder and Artistic Director of Nellie Tinder, she has been granted support by The Mental Insight Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation. 2016 New Georges Audrey Resident, 2016/17 member of The Jam. MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University, BFA in drama from NYU Tisch. She teaches playwriting at Skidmore College and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and her daughter.

Meghan Finn Upcoming: Doomocracy by Pedro Reyes for Creative Time. Recent: The Offending Gesture by Mac Wellman (Connelly Theater, The Tank/3LD Productions), American Power by Mitch Epstein and Erik Friedlander (V&A London, Wexner Center), Daredevil by Gary Winter (The Brick), The Downtown Loop by Ben Gassman (3LD/3D+ Productions/Teeth of Tooth Atelier) and Take Me Home by Alexandra Collier set in a taxi cab (Incubator Arts Project/LPR), The Service Road by Erin Courtney (Adhesive Theater Project), Motel Cherry by Peggy Stafford (Summerworks Clubbed Thumb/New Georges HERE) and 3 2's; or AFAR by Mac Wellman (Dixon Place) MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College and a BA in Theater from the University of Southern California. 2016 New Georges Audrey Resident and co-founder of the longest lunch (2002-present).

NMI 2016 Brian Cavanagh-Strong

Brian Cavanagh-Strong is a composer, teacher, musical director, and pianist living in Brooklyn, NY. He recently composed original music for Sesame Street on HBO. He is the music director and co-composer of Saints Rest, a full-length musical film, currently in post-production. His short opera, A Gardener (libretto by Ben Bonnema) was performed in conjunction with American Opera Projects and the Fort Greene Park Conservancy in Spring, 2016. He wrote the score for a revival of Jean Anouilh's Becket, which had a run at the Gene Frankel Theater in Spring, 2014. His vocal arrangements and orchestrations of The Disappearing Man, with music, book & lyrics by Jahn Sood, were last heard at the TheatreWorks New Works Festival in Summer, 2014. His musical Objects of Affection, with lyrics by Christie Baugher, was performed at NYU in April, 2012. He wrote music and lyrics for two other shows, Travelers and The Comedy Show, which were produced at Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA. He has worked with TV/film composer Pat Irwin on numerous projects, including HBO's Bored To Death and Showtime's Nurse Jackie.

NWI Submission Announcement:

2017/ 2018 NWI Artist-in-Residence: Seeking a playwright, theatre maker/deviser, composer/ lyricist or choreographer for a new full-length work in progress that has been partially developed but not yet fully produced. Potential commissions will also be considered. Artistic collaborators may apply as a team.

  • Fall 2017 Developmental Workshop culminating in a staged reading at a New York City theatre (2 - 4 week rehearsal period).
  • Spring 2018 Full Production in the main stage department season, venue and budget appropriate for the demands of the piece (minimum 4 week rehearsal period).

Venues include:

  • Alexander Kasser Theatre, a state of the art 500-seat proscenium theatre
  • Memorial Auditorium, a 988-seat proscenium theatre
  • L. Howard Fox Theatre, a flexible black box

              Artist(s) Fee to be determined by the scope of the project.


  • Preferable minimum of 10 performers.
  • Age appropriate roles for undergraduate actors.
  • Innovative form and content.

Submissions of complete or in-progress works:

Please submit proposal, artist's statement, resume and/or CV, project description, cast breakdown, and a sample of the work (video, text, or other format). All submissions will be curated by the NWI Committee.

Submissions for commissioned works:

Please submit an artist’s statement, resume and/or CV, detailed project concept and description for the proposed work including projected cast size, and a representative complete work (text or video). Evidence of other produced work or work in development appreciated but not required.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: November 15, 2016

Send submissions to Andi Stover: