Chicago Performance Lab emerged from a desire to extend the nurturing environment of TAPS to Chicago’s professional performance community. Recognizing the importance of hospitality, particularly in a moment when the arts are faced with acute economic challenges, we invite companies into our artistic home. The work that we support demonstrates the boldness of Chicago’s artistic output and reflects the University’s commitment to interdisciplinary collaborations.  Read more about the Performance Lab in UChicago News.

A CPL residency is best suited to a production company (be it emerging or established) looking to develop new work or to further develop an existing piece that has an intended performance date. Artists receive a small stipend as well as access to a dedicated performance lab (which includes scene, costume, and media shops with technical, administrative, and student assistance). As much as possible we try to provide beyond what is needed, to shift away from a scarcity model and toward a model that asks “how many projectors is too many?”   

Recent work incubated at CPL:


AJ Ware: UNTITLED (Image Not Found)
A documentary film exploring our evolving definitions of Identity and Family, and the ways in which carrying a secret affects both the keeper and the people in their life.

Growing Concerns Poetry Collective: #poemsforthepeople
McKenzie Chinn, Mykele Deville, and Jeff Allen
A glimpse into the nature of Origin from the perspective of musically backed poets utilizing dramatization, dynamic light, and honesty of lyrical expression.

Matthew Sherbach and Maggie Kubley in Rep
Two solo performers come together to bring their unique, personal stories to life.


The Persephone Project: Burned/Root
A pantheon of gods transform Chicago as uprooted people reclaim their connection to the Earth in this outdoor spectacle performance.

Summer Training Intensive
A week long investigation into actor research, performance generation, and laboratory training.


Past Present
Leslie Buxbaum Danzig and Amanda Crockett
In association with 500 Clown & American Theatre Company
Gertrude Stein's insistence on presence in written form gets worked into a stage experience through circus arts and everyday circumstances.


Hatfield and McCoy
Shawn Pfautsch and Matt Hawkins    
Shawn Pfautsch’s love letter to R and J in a philosophically polarized America inspired by the true story of the famous families at war.

Ellen Bond, Union Spy
enni Lamb, Jess McLeod, and Tanji Harper   
Freed slave Mary Bowser uses her intelligence to steal the Confederacy’s secrets by working as a maid in the Confederate White House.

Nova to Lodestar
Nathan Allen, Sandor Weisz, and Lee Keena    
A live, asymmetric, cooperative game played by two teams in two separate rooms.

Brett Neveu, Jason Narducci, and Nathan Allen    
The story of how punk rock saved Dave Grohl's life.

Ben Lobpries and Joey Steakley    
In this new adaptation, Pinocchio’s struggle to become a “real boy” has very contemporary implications

Start Me Up
Peter Sagal, Nolan Gasser, Clark Sterling    
A musical about Silicon Valley.

Little Girl Don't Fall
Jesse Roth, Matt Muniz    
An adaptation of the Bluebeard fairytale, Little Girl, Don’t Fall is a heroine’s journey, a gothic ghost-story, and a fairytale mash-up musical for young women who don’t know how to fall in love—and are too chippy to listen to those who try to tell them.

Thatcher Woods
Monty Cole    
Thatcher Woods tells the story of Riley Walters' adventure to reverse the town's paranormal curse and prevent her girlfriend from spending the rest of eternity as an apparition. Moving the audience around the space like a Disneyland dark ride, the play is a powerful and entertaining journey through grief.

Saved By The Bell
Marika Mashburn    
A mashup of The Big Chill and Saved by the Bell exploring nostalgia and loss.

Calamity West and Seth Bockley    
New York City, 1986. As a young playwright begins the biggest challenge of his life, the ghosts of characters-to-be collide with the real lives of a changing and dangerous metropolis almost a decade before history cracked open.

October 31st, 1938
Frank Maugeri    
A meditation on war, an investigation in trauma and memory, and an homage to early special effects and monster movies through an adaptation of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds.

Billy The Kid Plays Croquet
Blake Montgomery    
This absurd portrait of America, inspired by a tintype photograph of disputed and possibly fantastical provenance, explores our enduring national myths amid the ever-present threat of violence.

The Violet Sequence
John Henry Roberts    
A near-future sci-fi comedic thriller with music: a failed rock musician whose life goes off the rails when a mixup with her application to a dead-end office job lands her in the role of a top advertising exec … and/or a black ops assassin assigned to contain the deadly side effects of a new subliminal ad technology.