Our Mission

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

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.

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.

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.


Premiere Stages is determined to create an environment that respects and promotes the value of diversity.

We are committed to supporting a diverse group of individuals from all ethnic and racial backgrounds, national origins, nationalities, ancestry, religious groups, gender expression or identities, sexual orientation, political beliefs, ages, abilities and disabilities.

At Premiere, we believe that issues of diversity, equity, access and inclusion are strengthened and reinforced through partnerships and collaboration with our artists and patrons. We are committed to partnering with schools, organizations, businesses and individuals that share our dedication to creating and maintaining an inclusive environment with equitable treatment for all.

Premiere Stages is a program of Kean University. Kean University is a State of New Jersey entity and an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability Employer. Our statements on DEAI are promoted on our website, in our social media platforms and on our printed materials.


Out in Jersey2023
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Satellites is funny and poignant, but above all else, it is a romance grounded in reality, and it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen this year.”
Broadway World2022
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Scab is the perfect example of why we go to the theatre, to be informed and entertained.”
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Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It is a beautiful bounce back for local theater. The experience at Premiere Stages may look and feel different than theater as we remember it or hope it to be again, but it is a wonderful testament to the social value and emotional power of live performance.
At the 2023 Curtain Call Awards, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance honored Producing Artistic Director John J. Wooten with the Star Award for his years of inspiring leadership, dedication and outstanding service to the State and region’s professional theater community.
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