First Read 2019

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First Read is a week-long festival of new play readings and community events that center trans and non-binary theater artists and connect the queer theater community.

The Syndicate, with lead producers Hal Cosentino, Denise Yvette Serna of Pop Magic Productions, and Ellenor Riley-Condit, will host First Read at The Martin, 2515 W. North Avenue, Chicago, the week of June 10th – June 16th, 2019.

All events for the festival are pay-what-you-can and some tickets are available at the door. If you’d like to make a reservation in advance, you can do so here.

First Read launched in NYC in 2018 as part of Syndicated at IRT Theater.


Quemado by Lucas Garcia

Wednesday 6/12 7:30PM

How do you stay soft when the world is full of thorns? How do you stay rooted when the rain comes after a lifetime of drought? QUEMADO explores how a group of queer family, friends and lovers grapple with the secrets of the past, the pain of the present, and the uncertainty of the future. All the while the cosmic and terrestrial forces that move the world watch enraptured. A play about drought, dreams and fierce love.


Ashana (A Native Play) by June Thiele

FRIDAY 6/14 7:30PM

Relationships are important in any culture, and in most Native American culture, relationships are everything. This is the case for Ashana; a modern Native scrimshaw artist making her way through life in an urban setting. Until something unimaginable happens, her relationships with her family and chosen family were solid pillars.


prefer not to answer, or other by Gavin D. Pak

Saturday 6/15 7:30PM

Florence is a trans girl living in the complicated closet of her Asian immigrant parents' humble, quiet lives. Seeing college as her chance to start a new, out life, Florence writes a college application in secret about her queerness. A story of mothers and daughters, queer love, and the distance we manufacture between us and our loved ones.


Dig by Theo Germaine

SUnday 6/16 5:00 PM

Nick and Zuli want answers and retribution. On the night before their deceased lover's apartment gets turned over for new tenants, the two trespass, trying to solve the mystery of how their partner died.  



These events will be facilitated by Elon Sloan (they/them) a local artist and facilitator committed to the practice of popular education with a post-colonial framework, and Hal Cosentino (he/him) is a trans actor, writer, & creator making plays for right now.

Monday June 10 7:ooPM

Visioning Our Futures: A Space for TGNC Theater Makers

This event will be a space for trans, non-binary, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and questioning theatre makers and artists to come together and talk about their experiences and hopes. This event will be largely discussion based and hopefully produce some meaningful ways of considering and address the needs of T/NB/GQ/GNC people in theatre moving forward. In this event there will be space to share positive and negative experiences, and think about the needs of our community. This event will ask attending T/NB/GQ/GNC theatre artists and professionals to envision an inclusive and affirming future theatre industry, and identify some of the steps we can take to get there. This will also be a space to have fun and build community.

Sunday june 16 1:00PM

Trans Inclusion - Resources for Theater Makers

This will continue the conversation from First Read’s first Inclusion Event, “Trans/NB/GNC Theatre Makers and Artists Visioning Our Futures”. At this event, theatre makers and artists are invited to come together, regardless of their familiarity, to learn about and discuss trans inclusion in the theater community. We'll go over some of the basics of trans history, and everyday trans inclusion. In understanding these basics we'll go over how to put cissexism in context with a wider post-colonial and anti-racist framework. We'll also discuss challenges to inclusion attendees have faced in the past, and address one another's questions as a group. This event will give attendees a chance to share experiences, ask questions, and ask how theatre can become more T/NB/GQ/GNC inclusive.