ST. CHARLES – Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is preventing Kane Repertory Theatre of St. Charles from putting on live productions, the professional theater company is giving audiences the opportunity to experience new theater works.

The New Play Lab is a weekly virtual program with professional playwrights from across the country. Audiences get a look at the development of the works and can join the post-read discussions.

The program will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, on YouTube Live with "Sputnik in Suburbia" by Adam Kraar. The livestreams are free, but donations are welcomed at or through a Venmo account, @KaneRep.

Daniil Krimer, artistic director for Kane Repertory Theatre, hopes that great art can emerge from these challenging times.

"The most famous theater in the Great Depression was the Group Theatre," Krimer said. "Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Harold Clurman and Elia Kazan were probably the five most famous names that came out of the Group Theatre and they ended up teaching that next generation of actors, like Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

"Basically, the Group Theatre created the artists that trained the next two or three generations of great actors in America," Krimer said. "The Group Theatre was actually capable of having a successful Broadway career during the Great Depression. I think part of the reason they were so successful is because they had such a commitment to artistic integrity and the collaboration of new work."

Kane Repertory Theatre has a similar goal.

"Our goal is to further the integrity of the American theater by working with great playwrights and trying to help develop their work," Krimer said.

Kane Repertory Theatre staged its first production last year and was planning to put on its second production, "Seminar," in June. The plays in The New Play Lab are truly works in progress.

"These are drafts of plays that have not been produced yet," Kane Repertory Theatre Managing Director Avery Bowne said. "It really is a chance to take a glimpse at some brand new American theater."

Actors – from both the Kane Repertory Theatre and from around the country – will be reading the plays. Both Krimer and Bowne will be featured in the first workshop reading.

"What we're really going to give the playwrights is the chance to hear the words of their plays in the mouths of real actors," Bowne said. "It's a live reading. People can tune in through YouTube Live and then that gives the playwright the feeling of an audience."

Streaming at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays going forward will be "Midwest Porn" by Quincy Long, June 3; "Ghost Stories" by Lia Romeo, June 10; and "Invasions and Penetrations" by Mike Solomonson, June 17.

More information is available by going to or the website,