Goodman Theater to Present CEPHIANNE’S REFLECTION as Upcoming “Future Labs” Reading

Goodman Theater announces upcoming reading Future Labs: Cephianne’s Reflection by Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom, directed by Wardell Julius Clark. The second offering (of six planned workshops and presentations) in the second season of Future Labs, Backstrom’s new piece is written in homage to an American dialect and colorful culture found on the sea islands off the coast of Georgia, where descendants of slaves learned how to turn pain into power.

Future Labs develops works written and directed by artists of Black, Indigenous, Latino, AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander), SWANA (Southwest Asian/North African) and other artists of color; the series is curated by Associate Director of Education and Engagement Quenna L. Barrett, Director of New Works Jonathan L. Green, video producer Alberto Mendoza, producer Malkia Stampley, and a cross-departmental team of Goodman employees holding intersectional identities. The reading of Cephianne’s Reflection is March 26 at 7 p.m. at the Goodman Theater (170 N. Dearborn). Tickets are free, but registration is required; visit

In Cephianne’s Reflection, no one has left the invisible island of Ma Isle for over three hundred years; both a blessing and a curse. Endowed with divine power, the sovereign Queen Aimee sends all her subjects into the desert in their twenty-second year to be equipped with incredible abilities. It has been so for generations, as the world has turned without thinking of any of them, until Queen Aimee’s youngest child emerges from the woods, seemingly unchanged, and stumbles upon an ancient man in his mirror.

The Future Labs development series is the latest effort among Goodman’s programs that support living writers and develop new pieces, including New Stages, Playwrights Unit and over two dozen commissions from individual artists. Designed primarily for Chicago-based writers who have not produced a play at The Goodman, Future Labs projects benefit from rehearsal time, artistic, dramaturgical and casting support and an optional free public reading . In its inaugural season, Future Labs curated and developed seven coins. Two of these plays, Martin Yousif Zebari’s Layalina and Max Yu’s Nightwatch, debuted as development productions as part of Goodman’s 17th annual New Stages Festival, an annual celebration of innovative new work by some of the world’s most famous playwrights. most unique and ambitious in the country. Now in its second season, Future Labs welcomes project proposals on a rolling basis, exclusively seeking bold and imaginative works by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, SWANA and other playwrights of color for development and public presentation. To visit for submission details.

Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom is a multimedia artist, writer, and intuitive healer who creates Fairy Tales for Sun-Kissed Women, a whimsical anthology of short stories and immersive audiobooks. She is a member of The Goodman Theater Playwrights Unit and the recipient of the Chicago playwrights Tutterow Scholarship. Mallory’s play Cephianne’s Reflection was a National Playwrights Conference finalist. A laying on of hands was performed at the Story Theatre’s New Play Festival. Her witch fable, Once in a Bleu Moon, has been featured by Sideshow Theater in the House Party series and by The Athena Project as part of the Read and Rant series. The Bright Light of the Soul was created by The New Coordinates Theatre. Mallory is a contributing playwright on The Refracted Theater Company’s podcast, The Swell. She is an artistic associate of the Sideshow Theatre. Mallory has been hailed as an “English language craftsman” by Windy City Reviews for her debut novel, Reasons for Being. She has been invited to lecture at the University of California-Davis and Illinois Humanities. His works have been exhibited at the Freedom and Movement Gallery and the Breathing Room. For more information on this multifaceted artist, go to or @FairyTalesForSunKissedWomen.

Wardell Julius Clark is an award-winning actor, director, producer, and activist originally from Fairfield, Alabama, but now residing in Chicago. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from DePaul University School of Theater. Wardell is a company member of the TimeLine Theater and a member of the Sideshow Theater ensemble. Wardell recently returned from the Williamstown Theater Festival where he directed the world premieres of “Black Moon Lilith”; “A Ghost in Satin” and “don’t get got” as part of the Solo Play Festival Celebrating the Black Radical Imagination. Some Chicago achievement credits include michael jackson and the devil’s book; whitney houston and The Devil’s Book (Jackalope Theater Company); Kill Move Paradise (TimeLine Theatre, winner of the 2020 Jeff Award for Directing); Sheepdog (Broken Globe); His Shadow (16th Street); The Shipment (Red Tape) and Dutch Masters (Jackalope). Some acting credits include The Whisperer’s Apprentice; Once in a Blue Moon (Sideshow Theatre); Flyin’ West (American blues); Suddenly Last Summer (Raven); Silent Sky (First Folio); Othello (Monmouth Theatre) and The Gospel According to James (Victory Gardens). His television and film credits include Proven Innocent; Shameless and Chicago Fire Seasons 1 & 4.

Note: Per City of Chicago vaccine requirements, proof of vaccination with an FDA or WHO cleared vaccine is required for all guests. Masks are required at all times in the theater and patrons under 5 are not permitted. Learn more