• Jacob C. Shuler

Introducing Momentary's New Play Expedition: a journey to find new plays


Human history is rich with myth surrounding the sea. From Homer’s Odyssey to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, literature has long sought to capture the elusive and uncertain reality of what lies beneath the surface.

With New Play Expedition, Momentary will bring light to a world almost as dark and unexplored as our deep seas. We’ve assembled a team of talented artists to document the new play process. For the program’s inaugural season, we are excited to have playwrights Caroline Macon Fleischer and Nahal Navidar aboard to share their work with us.

Caroline is a 2016 graduate from The Theatre School at DePaul University’s BFA Playwriting program where her play The Women Eat Chocolate was selected for the New Playwrights’ Series. She was also a 2017-2019 Tutterow Fellow at Chicago Dramatists.

Nahal is an Iranian-born, Upstate New York-raised dramatist with an MFA from USC’s School of Dramatic Arts. Her play My Dear Hussein will premier at Chicago’s Silk Road Rising in March of 2020.

We’ve asked Caroline and Nahal to explore our mission and find their own shared mythologies along the path of human progress. As they work to fulfill their commissions, Momentary will be bringing your inside the minds and methods behind the scripts on our website and social media. 

Our playwrights have left the comfort of dry land and are navigating the open waters of new play development. As they dive deeper into their processes, unexpected life forms will emerge from the abyss around them to color a complex world where first there appeared only emptiness. When they reach the sea floor and once again find solid ground beneath their feet, the expedition will culminate in public readings of each world premiere play.

Read more about the playwrights below and check back with us weekly as we track their journeys to find new plays.


Caroline Macon Fleischer


Q: Was there a specific play or piece of writing that made you want to be a writer?


A: The first play I remember being like, "damn," was Wedekind's Spring Awakening. I thought it was heartbreaking and beautiful and funny. I read it in high school and remember admiring how the adolescent characters in the play are so serious and going through such serious things. It was one of the first times I got to read teenager characters that were that fleshed out. Structurally, also, the play is sort of bizarre. I didn't know what genre to put it in and that excited me. It didn't feel immature to me. I still think about that play all the time and return to it again and again.

Q: What stories do you feel yourself drawn to tell? What inspires your work?


A: I'm basically a huge geek and I love poetry and I love fiction and I love memoirs. To me, it's never REALLY about the plot but about how the author puts us there. I like language that is intriguing and vivid and happy-making and frustrating all at once. And since I do love so many genres I try to give little nods to all those genres in my playwriting--like including poetic moments or random moments of memoir or whatever.


Q: For whom do you write? Who do you hope will be in the audience?


A: I write for me and my feelings and pray that other people with similar feelings will hear it and receive it as if it were only meant for them.


Q: What is your ideal writing environment?


A: My favorite place to write is at Surge Coffee Bar & Billiards by my house in Albany Park. It's, um, the best.


Q: What advice would you give to a young writer just starting out?


A: Someone told me this and I don't remember who it was or if I'm even saying it right. But! The general idea is, "Don't be afraid of the birth before you are even pregnant." It meant a lot to me and my writing. Because sometimes, I worry about how something will be received or understood before I even take the risk and try it. The hard work is the important thing. The reception is the less important thing. But most importantly, the birth will never happen if you don't get pregnant. So, re: writing, just get the thing on paper and let the other stuff turn out how it may.



Nahal Navidar


Q: Was there a specific play or piece of writing that made you want to be a writer?


A: I was compelled by experience to write my first play. I was a freshman in college when 9/11 happened, and as a resident alien and Iranian citizen, my voice was not welcome in the conversations that ensued in the aftermath. This experience of isolation and alienation compelled me write my first play, 110 Flights. My identity in this country grows more complex and nuanced, but there continues to be little authentic representation for Middle Eastern and immigrant voices in the American theatre landscape.


Q: What stories do you feel yourself drawn to tell? What inspires your work?


A: I am compelled to tell stories of characters who are alienated and yearn for belonging, and my writing takes the form of magical realism. I am inspired by spectacular surreal events which capture the enormity of feelings and complexity of human experience.


Q: For whom do you write? Who do you hope ​will be in the audience?


A: I write for racists and white supremacists, but sadly they do not often frequent the theatre.


Q: What is your ideal writing environment?

A: My ideal writing environment is a small nook flooded with warm sunlight and the view of a tree or sky, partnered with a hot cup of tea and a writing playlist curated for the world of the play.


Q: What advice would you give to a young writer just starting out?


A: Read everything, see everything you can of the world, trust your instincts, and never let anyone tell you what's good.





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Through our investigation of shared mythologies, we curate works of live performance that record, reveal, and react to human progress over time.

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