Alley Stage Reading Series

Share Your Play-in-Progress for the 2024 Alley Stage Reading Series

Playwrights who are current residents of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota are invited to share their works-in-progress for a staged reading and talkback at our intimate outdoor amphitheater, Alley Stage. We’re looking forward to the fourth year of this series that provides playwrights and their works in development an opportunity to be read with a cast, for an audience. For the performance, Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts provides a venue (with rain space) and post-performance reception.

Submit an original full-length play (60-120 pages) that has not been produced. Scripts considered will be limited to four actors; if the play has more than four characters indicate how roles will be divided among the actors. If selected, playwrights will receive a stipend and a free one-night stay in our charming accommodations.

Alley Stage Reading Series Dates

  • June 8
  • September 7
  • October 12

For consideration, submissions are due January 31, 2024. As one of the performance dates coincides with the celebration of Pride, we are interested in reading plays that celebrate LGBTQIA+ stories and voices for the June performance date, although that is not a requirement. For more information and submission details, see here.

Under the artistic direction of playwright Marcia Jablonski, the Alley Stage Reading Series provides space for Midwestern playwrights to share their work, gather meaningful feedback, and for actors from the region to engage with new works. This helps Shake Rag Alley fulfill a key part of its mission: cultivating the creativity that thrives in our rural community.

Our Alley Stage is a magical space carved out of an old quarry; the sunlight through the trees on summer afternoons provides a unique background as the staged readings come to life. For more information about the series, our stage, and how you can be a part of the literary programming at Shake Rag Alley, please contact executive director Christina Kubasta at

If you’d like to join a cast, or perform music at a future Alley Stage event, please share your information here.

2023 Alley Stage Reading Series Performances

Our third season of the Alley Stage Reading Series garnered our largest submission pool from four states, and we were pleased to be a part of the World Premier Wisconsin Festival with a featured play by artistic director Marcia Jablonski. Thank you to the playwrights, actors, and supporters who made this years such a success! Thank you also to our sponsors Hooks Cheese and The Cider Farm

Marcia Jablonski

The Last Hotel

4 pm Friday, May 26

Followed by a talkback session & reception as part of the World Premiere Wisconsin festival

Synopsis: While waiting out a blizzard in a luxury hotel, an art student, her professor, and a hotel employee are trying to determine how much intervention they should act on with the street artist they are trying to keep safe from the storm.

Bio: Marcia Jablonski lives in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Her produced works include The Front Steps, Rumors of Truth, The Great Jimmy Boyle, and A New Voice in Politics. Her awards include Wisconsin Wrights New Play Project, New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest, NYC; Elizabeth George Foundation Grant for Emerging Playwrights; and New Works Development Residency, Madison. She is currently an artistic director at Shake Rag Alley, where she conceived of and helps produce the annual Alley Stage Reading Series. Marcia is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Her children’s book, All of You, is being published in 2023.

Scott Strom

And a Belle’s Merry Reign

4 pm Saturday, June 24

Followed by a talkback session & reception

Synopsis: Mary and Raine are twins who have switched places so many times that they can no longer remember who is who. When a young woman named Annabelle arrives claiming to be Mary’s daughter, the twins must discover who is the true mother.

Bio: Scott Strom (they/them) is a queer writer from Chicago with a BA in Writing for Performance (Playwriting) and Creative Writing (Poetry) from Columbia College Chicago. They are the author of the chapbook god’s afterdrips (published by Fjords), and their work has been featured in Barrow Street, peculiar: a queer literary journal, Sleet Magazine, Rattle, A-Minor Magazine, SAND, and Into the Void.


Instagram: @scotty.strom

Brian James Polak

News for the Deaf Man

4 pm Saturday, July 29

Followed by a talkback session & reception

Synopsis: Having reached rock bottom, Harry reconnects with his estranged artist father. When the old man’s health appears in decline, Harry is caught between cashing in his famous father’s art in order to save himself, and reconciling their long-ago destroyed relationship.

Bio: Brian James Polak lives in Madison and is an award-winning playwright born and raised in New Hampshire. His plays have been presented at venues around the country, and have been published by Smith & Kraus, Talon Review, Commonplace Books, NoPassport Press, Next Stage Press, and Canyon Voices. Brian is the producer and host of American Theatre magazine’s “The Subtext,” a podcast about what makes playwrights tick. He earned his MFA in Dramatic Writing from the University of Southern California.

Twitter & Instagram: @bejaypea

Nina Kissinger

This Is Government

4 pm Saturday, Sept. 16

Followed by a talkback session & reception

Synopsis: After a bomb threat places all congressional buildings on lockdown, three summer interns find themselves stuck in the one place no one has ever wanted to work overtime: the U.S. government. As the crisis unfolds and their snack supply runs out, they question what power, if any, they have in this increasingly unstable system. Nina Kissinger’s new dark comedy, This Is Government, grapples with the real-time consequences of political disarray.

Bio: Nina Kissinger is a playwright originally from San Francisco and now based in Chicago. Her short play The Exit Interview was a winner of Vertigo Production’s 2022 10-Minute Play Festival and the Over Our Head Players’ 2023 Snowdance 10-Minute Comedy Festival. Her full-length work, This Is Government, was a winner of the 2022 Agnes Nixon Playwriting Festival. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied playwriting under Laura Schellhardt and Julie Marie Myatt.

Instagram: @ninakissinger 

New Play Exchange 

2022 Season Performances

Our second season of staged readings was made possible in part by a grant from the Mineral Point Community Foundation and featured Afternoon Tea with homemade Cornish tea biscuits made by Dodge Baker of Mineral Point. Many thanks to the playwrights, cast members, musicians, and volunteers who participated in 2022!

Greg Minster

Charlie, Chastening Darwin

Marnie Bullock Dresser

Western Swing

with Afternoon Tea music by Nath Dresser

Deb Meyer

The Whole Shebang

with Afternoon Tea music by Shekinah King

Deanna Strasse

Write You Down

with Afternoon Tea music by Amanda Zasada

2021 Season Performances

Our inaugural season of staged readings, A Picnic & A Play, was made possible in part by a grant from the Mineral Point Community Foundation. Many thanks to the playwrights, cast members, musicians, volunteers, and Mineral Point restaurants who participated in 2021!

Marcia Jablonski

Occam’s Razor

with picnic music by

Driftless Standard Time

Brendon Smith

Step Two

with picnic music by

Kurt Kieffer

Jan Levine Thal

Cassandra’s Gift

with picnic music by

The Firesides

Kurt McGinnis Brown

Love or Forever?

with picnic music by

Libby Dunn

Bob Curry


with picnic music by

Don Greenwood

Jeff Pfeiffer

Magnolia Star

with picnic music by

Backyard Yukes