Second Stage

Second Stage

2021/22 :

Second Stage Season

Every year, Burning Coal Theatre uses its theatre space in Raleigh, NC to foster young and emerging innovative theatre talent in a series of  new works and plays in the summer months. For more, see below.  

* COVID Precautions for indoor events Beginning with our June, 2022 performances, we will require audience members to wear a high-quality mask (3-ply surgical, KN95, N95) in lieu of checking vaccination status, and we will offer 3-ply surgical or KN95 masks to audience members as needed. We are continuing to limit our audience capacity to 50%.

Burning Coal is honored to produce a repertory production of two new plays by world-renowned playwright Caryl Churchill for its 2021-22 Second Stage season.

WHAT IF IF ONLY will be a United States premiere, and AIR will be a world premiere. Both short pieces were published together in September 2021.  The pieces will be shown one directly following the other on all performance dates.


Performances are June 9 – 26, 2022, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $30 for the series, and includes both plays (individual tickets per play are not available).


by Caryl Churchill

directed by Ana Radulescu

Your partner’s gone, could things have been different? Churchill’s new 25-minute one-act play delves deeply into the possibilities that lie behind grief and mourning. When your dearest love leaves this earth, all you can do is wish to see them again. But what happens when you do? 

Caryl Churchill’s short play What If If Only premiered in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in September 2021, directed by James Macdonald. Burning Coal Theatre Company will present the United States premiere production. 

Press Quotes from the Original U.K. Production:

“A truly uncompromising theatrical voice at the top of her game… [Churchill] packs more into this 20-minute piece about death, grief and the multiverse than many writers manage at seven times the length…” – Evening Standard

“Packs many an emotional punch, traumatic and claustrophobic while laugh-out-loud funny” – Independent


by Caryl Churchill

directed by Ana Radulescu

This short stream-of-consciousness piece was included as an addendum in the publication of WHAT IF IF ONLY. It is written with no characters or planned narrative, just a writer at her peak expression putting words together as they come.

Burning Coal Theatre Company aims to stage this ephemeral piece in a world premier production, which will perform in repertory alongside WHAT IF IF ONLY. The director, Ana Radulescu, and the company of actors will together craft their own interpretation to embody Churchill’s newest piece.

Caryl Churchill’s Air was first produced online as part of The Lockdown Plays in May 2020. It was performed by Tom Mothersdale and Lydia Wilson, and directed by Wilf Scolding.