The Emerging Playwright Residency

At The Story Theatre

About The Residency

The Story Theatre is committed to cultivating the next generation of artists at the forefront of Chicago theatre. Our Emerging Playwright Residency Program fosters the growth of playwright at the beginnings of an exciting career. After an intensive application and interview process, the Artistic Governing Ensemble chooses one playwright-in-residence and offers them: a fully-produced run of a completed full-length play; the development of a new script through our unique inquiry-based workshop process; a free public staged reading of this new script; and our trusted advocacy with industry professionals every step of the way.

The Story is committed to the production of thoughtful and thought-provoking plays that speak to our mission of posing questions, rather than providing answers. We are interested in playwrights whose work explores the possibilities of the human imagination and the cathartic potentials of storytelling from specific, exciting, and well-considered perspectives.

If you are a Chicago-based playwright searching for an artistic home, we want to hear from you. We are compelled by stories from a variety of lived experiences and strongly encourage playwrights from historically marginalized groups to apply. To ask questions or express interest, email We look forward to growing together!

Season IV

Justine Gelfman

Seasons IV Resident Playwright

Justine Gelfman

Justine Gelfman is a Brooklyn-based playwright, who found and fell in love with playwriting by way of Chicago. Her work has been developed or produced at Williamstown Theatre Festival, IRT Theater, Theater Masters’ Take Ten, ESPA/Primary Stages, Dixon Place, Crashbox, The Flea, Pete's Candy Store, New Women Space, New York Fringe Festival, UT Austin, Northwestern University, and Kenyon College. She has been a resident at SPACE on Ryder Farm, Sewanee Writers' Conference, and Kenyon Playwrights Conference. Her writing has been published by Concord Theatricals. Her plays include In Sisters We Trust or My Fucked Up American Girl Doll Play, (2023 Kennedy Center NAPAT Award finalist, 2019/20 DVRF Playwrights Program Winner, 2020 Leah Ryan’s FEWW Prize finalist, 2020 New Harmony Project finalist, Playwrights Realm's 2020 Scratchpad Series semi-finalist, 2021 Eugene O'Neill Theater Center semi-finalist), The Technicians, (2019 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference finalist, 2019 Blue Ink Playwriting Award finalist, 2019 Bay Area Playwrights Festival semi-finalist, 2019 Eugene O'Neill Theater Center semi-finalist), Doormat, (2021 Theater Masters’ Take Ten MFA Festival), and The Thing That Never Happened, (FringeFAVE at the New York Fringe Festival). MFA: The University of Texas at Austin. BA: Northwestern University.

Season II & III

Terry Guest

Seasons II & III Resident Playwright

Terry Guest

Terry Guest is honored and excited to be joining The Story Theatre as this season's resident playwright. He is an actor and playwright from Atlanta, Georgia where he won an Atlanta Suzi Award for the original Robert Lopez musical 1001 Nights. Other regional credits include: One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and A Child's Garden of Verses at the Tony Award winning Alliance Theatre, Wolves, Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (Suzi Award nominee), A Chorus Line, Fences, and I and You. Terry hopes to explore his curiosity through writing complicated pieces that place queer people and people of color at the center of the action. "I want to write a play you can dance to." Keep up with Terry via Instagram @terryexplainsitall.

Season I

Paul Michael Thomson

Season I Resident Playwright

Paul Michael Thomson

Paul Michael Thomson thought winning the Mesa Public Schools district writing contest ten times before the age of eighteen would be his ticket to literary success, but, shockingly, it seems that no one cared. Undeterred, he began his formal training as a playwright under the direction of Susan Merson and The Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City just before his senior year at The University of Arizona. Since graduating summa cum laude with a BFA in Acting and a BA in Africana Studies, he has been blessed enough to receive the following productions: Same Sects! (Other Theatre Company); What's the Name of That Psychologist Who Believed Free Will Was an Illusion? (Arc Theatre); Mainstream (Arizona Repertory Theatre 2015 Showcase of Talent). His play Lucas & Joy was featured in The Neologian early this year. Paul Michael's work seeks to illuminate the poetry in hyperrealist vernacular and often explores themes of emotional intimacy, shifting identity, the ambiguity of morality, and Catholicism. Also, gay people. He is so grateful to the people who support him while demanding continual growth, specifically Brenna DiStasio—who has worked on every play Paul Michael has written.