Unexpect the Expected

Forward Theater Company's 2019-2020 Season

Welcome to our eleventh season of bringing dynamic new plays to Madison-area audiences! We're excited to produce four plays that go beyond expectations, while continuing in our tradition of presenting contemporary stories that are entertaining, thought-provoking and relevant to our lives right now.

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Our 2019-20 Season Sponsors: Madison Community Foundation, Evjue Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Wisconsin Arts Board - with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, The Madison Concourse Hotel, ARTIS Reit, Distillery Design, Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television




Mary Jane

by Amy Herzog
September 12 - 29, 2019

Wisconsin Premiere

Directed by Mary MacDonald Kerr

Mary Jane is a single mother and tireless force. Armed with prescriptions, feeding tubes, and medical equipment, she fully embraces the daily grind of caring for her young, sick child. Mary Jane finds laughter and camaraderie within her community, and her grace and optimism fend off the persistently looming undertow.

Unexpected humor and exuberant warmth illuminate this beautifully detailed and moving story of one woman’s commitment to finding the light in a very dark world.

“But 'Mary Jane' is nevertheless a very big drama, even if its conflicts are almost never between people. They are instead between Mary Jane and her unspoken ideas about life — that is, God. To me, this makes Mary Jane the most profound and harrowing of Ms. Herzog’s many fine plays.”
– The New York Times

Sponsored by: MG&E, Steve & Jacqui Suleski, CUNA Mutual Group, Dane Arts, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, Madison365




For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday

by Sarah Ruhl
November 7 - 24, 2019

Wisconsin Premiere

Directed by Jennifer Uphoff Gray

Ann and her four siblings gather at their childhood home to crack jokes, argue politics, and share stories. For Ann, each reminiscence brings her back to a favorite childhood memory: her star turn as Peter Pan on their hometown stage.

Soon, these brothers and sisters hear the call of Neverland, a magical place where the refusal to grow up does battle with the inevitability of growing old. A loving mixture of deathbed vigils, marching bands, the aches and pains of aging and the miracle of flight, For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday celebrates all the magic that theater – and life – have to offer.

“Sarah Ruhl imbues the fantastical with a singular logic that is only hers but becomes yours during the course of the evening. She gives a map to a kind of preternatural joy; only when the curtain comes down do you remember that we cannot fly, time travel, or conjure our departed loved ones.”
– Mary Louise-Parker

Sponsored by: Evjue Foundation, Nancy Ciezki & Diane Kostecke, CUNA Mutual Group, Boardman Clark, Custer Plumb Financial Services, Findorff, Hausmann & Johnson, The Cap Times





Every Brilliant Thing

by Duncan Macmillan
with Jonny Donahoe
January 23 - February 9, 2020

A One-Actor Play Featuring David Daniel

Directed by Tyler Marchant

You’re seven years old. Mum’s in hospital. Dad says she’s ‘done something stupid’. She finds it hard to be happy. So you start to make a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything that’s worth living for.

#1. Ice cream.
#2. Water fights.
#3. Staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch TV.

You leave it on her pillow, hoping. And you add to the list throughout your life.

An immersive storytelling experience blends comedy, improv, and audience interaction to tell the story of a boy growing up in the shadow of mental illness, and learning to grapple with his own adult experiences with love, loss and depression. Every Brilliant Thing provides a life-affirming jolt of humanism, reminding us that hope comes from the miracles of life’s minutiae.

“[A] heart-wrenching, hilarious play...One of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression—and possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see, full stop...” – The Guardian (UK)

Sponsored by: National Guardian Life, Sybil & Maurice Better, CUNA Mutual, Dane Arts, Stafford Rosenbaum, Our Lives Magazine




The Amateurs

March 19 - April 5, 2020

Regional Premiere

Directed by Jennifer Uphoff Gray

Hollis is a performer in an itinerant troupe of actors attempting to outrun the Black Plague in this 14th century-set comedy by the author of Marjorie Prime. The Renaissance is still in the future, and so is the concept of self-determination. So when Hollis stops a performance to wonder why Mrs. Noah would get on that ark, she throws her castmates into chaos.

This thought-provoking and centuries-spanning play delights in the imaginations of theater-makers and theater-goers everywhere. And in a tale as inventive and hilarious as its characters, The Amateurs ponders the purpose of art in turbulent times.

“...a rollicking tragicomedy in which pratfalls and death throes are tumbled together...”
- The New York Times

Sponsored by: DeWitt, CUNA Mutual, Isthmus


Wisconsin Wrights New Play Festival

June 2020

One Weekend Only!

Forward Theater Company’s biennial Wisconsin Wrights New Play Festival is an investment in new works that awards Wisconsin playwrights the rare opportunity to develop their plays in a professional public reading series. Three full-length plays will be chosen to receive a week-long rehearsal process with professional directors and actors. These plays will be read before the public over a three-day weekend, giving audience members the chance to peek behind the scenes of the play development process.

Sponsored by: First Business Bank, Marcus Promotions, Promega, Steve Brown Apartments