Premiere Stages at Kean University is committed to serving the cultural needs of northern and central New Jersey through the development and production of high-quality Equity theatre premieres, professional development and educational initiatives for the local and campus communities, and the support and cultivation of emerging playwrights and theatre artists.
As the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, Premiere Stages actively engages and enhances the specialized training programs at Kean, while embracing and serving a culturally diverse audience, underserved local youth, and a broad pool of gifted regionally-based artists.
About the Theatre
Created in 2004, Premiere Stages is the professional Equity theatre in residence at Kean University. Through our unique partnership with Kean, our play development programs, educational initiatives, and professional development opportunities actively embrace the university's academic curriculum while expanding the scope, accessibility, and prestige of the professional programming on campus.
“Without organizations like Premiere Stages, new playwrights who bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the art form would rarely have their work see the light of day - much less get an opportunity to have fully staged, Equity production ...”
- Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
Through our play development program, the Premiere Play Festival, Premiere Stages has developed over 60 new plays through readings, workshops and full productions. Many of our past productions have gone on to win awards, be published, and have subsequent productions in New York and regional theaters throughout the country. Some of the writers whose work we have developed include Dominique Morisseau, Tammy Ryan, George Brant, Kimber Lee, Rogelio Martinez, and Keith Josef Adkins. Premiere Stages has also produced many critically acclaimed New Jersey Premieres, bringing the best contemporary plays to our local audiences in Union County.
Each summer, Premiere Stages produces a staged reading and two mainstage plays, one of which is always an original work that has never before been produced. We invite our audience to participate in the development process through discussions and feedback sessions with the cast and playwright. As we program our season, the Premiere Stages Staff searches for plays that tell compelling stories and address contemporary issues.
“We often cite the partnership between Premiere Stages and Kean University as a model of the ways in which a university and a professional theatre can work together to the benefit of all.”
- Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
Premiere Stages' education programs, under the umbrella of the Premiere Play Factory, have introduced theatre to thousands of children across New Jersey, particularly those children in underserved and underfunded school districts. Through our playwriting residencies, Play Factory Performance Series of professional theatre for young audiences, and Camp Premiere for middle and high school students, we introduce students to theatre with an eye towards increasing literacy, supporting English language learners, modeling the collaborative process, and encouraging self-expression.
In partnership with the Kean University Theatre Conservatory, our training programs, known collectively as Premiere Artists, provide Kean University students with professional development opportunities, credits toward AEA union affiliation, paid positions as actors, and internships on Equity productions. By offering the opportunity to work with a professional theatre, we hope to give Kean students a leg up in preparing for a career in the arts and encourage the next generation of theatre artists.
As Premiere Stages looks to the future, we plan to continue our work developing and producing new plays, searching out talented emerging playwrights, and introducing students to the magic of theatre. We also hope to expand our work to include the development of original plays for young audiences, and to enlarge our network of partners, collaborators, and affiliated artists.
Cultural Access Network Leadership Award, 2017
New Jersey Theatre Alliance Curtain Call Award of Excellence, 2015