Wednesday, April 17, 2019

OPENING: The World Premiere of Augie March at Court Theatre May 9 – June 9, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Court Theatre concludes 64th Season with
The World Premiere of
The Adventures of Augie March
a play by David Auburn, adapted from the novel by Saul Bellow
directed by Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director

May 9 – June 9, 2019

Court Theatre, under the leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and Executive Director Angel Ysaguirre, concludes its 2018/19 season with the World Premiere of The Adventures of Augie March, a play by David Auburn, based on the novel by Saul Bellow, and directed by Charles Newell. The Adventures of Augie March runs May 9 – June 9, 2019 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. 

Young Augie March is a product of the Great Depression: plucky, resourceful, searching for love, and striving to grow up and away from home. Through odd jobs and encounters with unique characters, Augie explores what it takes to succeed in the world as a true individual.

A novel, written by Nobel Prize-winner Saul Bellow, is adapted for the stage by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn. Bellow was a University of Chicago faculty member for three decades, and his experiences in the city of Chicago and at the University are at the heart of his writing. The Adventures of Augie March is an epic coming-of-age story that bridges continents and stages of life, exuding the endearing confidence of a boy taking in a complex world.

“Staging an epic story such as The Adventures of Augie March is a thrilling challenge that has called upon the insight and diverse talents of a team of designers and collaborators that includes ambitious playwright David Auburn, artistic collective Manual Cinema, and Thusnelda Mercy and Pascal Merighi, former dancers in Pina Bauch’s internationally-acclaimed dance company and founders of the dance company merighi / merci,” comments Charlie Newell. “Having such an accomplished patchwork of creatives involved is heightening the picaresque qualities of Bellow’s novel in truly exciting ways.”

The cast of The Adventures of Augie March features Patrick Mulvey as Augie March with ensemble members Sebastian Arboleda, Aurora Real de Asua, Chaon Cross, Kai Ealy, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Neil Friedman, John Judd, Abby Pierce, Brittney Love Smith, Luigi Sottile, Stef Tovar, and Travis Turner.

The creative team includes John Culbert (scenic and lighting design), Sally Dolembo (costume design), Andre Pluess (sound design), Drew Dir and Manual Cinema (puppet design), Erin Kilmurray (movement consultant), Eva Breneman (dialect design), Nora Titone (resident dramaturg), Erin Albrecht (production stage manager), and Kate Ocker (assistant stage manager).

Tickets, priced $50-$74 ($38-$52 for previews), are available at the Court Theatre box office (5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago), by calling (773) 753-4472, or online at

About the Artists

SAUL BELLOW (1915-2005) was a Nobel laureate in literature and one of the most influential American novelists of the 20th Century. A member of the University of Chicago faculty for more than 30 years, Bellow centered his fictional universe in Chicago, his hometown. Bellow, the Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of English at UChicago authored more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and works of nonfiction, including Herzog, Humboldt’s Gift, Mr. Sammler’s Planet and The Adventures of Augie March. One of the most honored American writers of his era, Bellow won the 1976 Nobel Prize for literature, a Pulitzer Prize, three National Book Awards, and a Presidential medal. Bellow taught at UChicago from 1962 to 1993 in the Committee on Social Thought and attended the College in the 1930s.

DAVID AUBURN (Playwright) Plays include The Adventures of Augie March, based on the Saul Bellow novel (Court Theatre 2019); Lost Lake (Manhattan Theatre Club 2014); The Columnist (MTC/Broadway 2012); and Proof (2001 Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, New York Drama Critics Circle Award). Films include The Girl in the Park (writer/director), Georgetown, and The Lake House. Stage directing credits include Long Day's Journey into Night (Court Theatre, Chicago); The Petrified Forest, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Anna Christie, A Delicate Balance,Period of Adjustment, Sick (all Berkshire Theatre Group); and the Off-Broadway world premiere of Michael Weller’s Side Effects (MCC). A former Guggenheim Fellow, he lives in New York City.

CHARLES NEWELL (Director / Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director) has been Artistic Director of Court Theatre since 1994, where he has directed over fifty productions. Recent Court highlights include All My Sons; The Hard Problem; Man in the Ring; and Satchmo at the Waldorf. Charlie has also directed at Goodman, Guthrie Theater, Arena Stage, John Houseman’s The Acting Company, Lyric Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Glimmerglass, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Awards received include the SDCF Zelda Fichandler Award, the TCG Alan Schneider Award, and the League of Chicago Theatres’ Artistic Achievement Award. Charlie has been nominated for sixteen Jeff Awards, winning four times.

SEBASTIAN ARBOLEDA (Talavera) is a Colombian-American actor, writer, and director. Recent credits include: Curve of Departure (Studio Theatre); Amy and the Orphans, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Blood Wedding (Yale School of Drama) and directing Teatro Vista’s Community Outreach production of Romeo and Juliet. He is making his Chicago debut with Court Theatre. He received his MFA from Yale School of Drama MFA.

AURORA REAL DE ASUA (Mimi/Esperanza) is making her Court Theatre debut. Other Chicago credits include: Pipeline (Victory Gardens); The Wolves (Goodman); Dracula, You on the Moors Now (Hypocrites); The Firebirds Take the Field (Rivendell); and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (MPAC). She has also worked with Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Lookingglass. Film credits include: Knives and Skin; Working Man. She graduated with a BA in Theatre from Northwestern University and is proudly represented by Gray Talent.

CHAON CROSS (Rebecca/Thea/Tillie/Charlotte) has previously appeared at Court Theatre in Photograph 51, The Hard Problem, One Man Two Guvnors, Proof, Uncle Vanya, The Glass Menagerie, Scapin, The Romance Cycle, and Phèdre (Court Theatre). Other Chicago credits include: Sweat (Goodman Theatre); Macbeth, Red Velvet, As You Like It, Private Lives, Cymbeline, Troilus and Cressida, The Two Noble Kinsmen, The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare); Macbeth (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Life Sucks, Brothers Karamazov (Lookingglass Theatre); Cyrano (Court Theatre and Redmoon Theatre); Grace (Northlight Theatre); The Wheel, The Cherry Orchard (Steppenwolf Theatre Company). TV credits include: The Exorcist (FOX), Chicago Fire (NBC), Boss (Starz), Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC). Film credits include: Widows, My Dog Skip (Warner Bros).

MARILYN DODDS FRANK (Grandma Lausch/Italian Woman/Caligula/Mrs. Magnus) previously worked with Court Theatre on Electra by Sophocles, directed by Nicholas Rudall. Other Chicago productions include work with Goodman, Lookingglass, Steppenwolf, Teatro Vista, Latino Chicago, A Red Orchid, Next, Piven, Remains, Rivendell, Victory Gardens, New Criminals, Shaw Chicago. New York credits include Superior Donuts on Broadway, and The Clean House at Lincoln Center. She appeared in the original productions of Conduct of Life, The Mothers, Hunger, and What of the Night. Recent movies include Knives and Skin, Slice, and Mom and Dad.

KAI EALY (Padilla/FiveProperties/Jacinto) is working with Court Theater for the first time. He studied acting in Alabama before moving to Chicago to pursue his career. Kai was last seen in Cardboard Piano (Timeline Theater). Other Chicago credits include: Shiller’s Mary Stuart (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Franklinland (Jackalope Theater); Two Mile Hollow (First Floor Theater') 30th Annual Young Playwrights Festival (Pegasus Theater Chicago); Migration (eta Creative Arts Foundation). Television credits include Chicago Fire (NBC). Kai is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.

NEIL FRIEDMAN (Kreindle/Moulton/Bulba/Mr. Magnus) returns to Court Theatre. Chicago credits include: Goodman Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Court Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf, and Peninsula Players. Regional credits include: The People’s Light Theatre; The Fulton Theatre; Utah Shakespeare Festival; Capitol Repertory; The New Victory Theater; Flat Rock Playhouse; Coconut Grove Playhouse; The Clarence Brown Theatre; Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis; Austria’s Vienna English Theatre, Adirondack Theatre Festival; Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, and The Arts Garage. Neil is a proud recipient of a Joseph Jefferson Award.

JOHN JUDD (Basteshaw/Einhorn) returns to Court Theatre where he previously appeared in Gross Indecency, Lettice and Lovage, and All My Sons. He's also been seen at Steppenwolf, Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass, Victory Gardens, A Red Orchid, About Face, Writer’s Theatre, Northlight, and others in Chicago. Off-Broadway credits include Barrow Street Theatre, 59E59th, and BAM. Regional credits include Berkeley Rep, The Old Globe, Beaver Creek Colorado Theatre Festival, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, City Theatre Pittsburgh, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Westport Country Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Huntington Theatre, and Town Hall Theatre in Galway, Ireland.

PATRICK MULVEY (Augie) makes his Court Theatre debut. Originally from Illinois, he received his Bachelor's degree from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. While in the UK, he starred on the BBC series River City and worked with the National Theatre of Scotland and the Globe Theatre in London. Chicago credits include: TimeLine Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and Broadway in Chicago. He made his Broadway debut as Tony in the nine-time Tony award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical. Other theatre credits include Cirque de Soleil's production of Baz Luhrmann: For the Record. Recent television credits include Empire, Chicago Fire, The Girlfriend Experience, and Fox’s Proven Innocent.

ABBY PIERCE (Stella/Lucy/Esther/Polish Woman) recently performed at Court Theatre in All My Sons. Abby recently directed Hopelessly Devoted at Piven Theatre and directed and co-wrote the award-winning short film Eat Your Heart Out. She is a teacher with Piven's EPIC program at Cook County Jail, which is going into its fourth year of classes. As an actor she has performed at Steppenwolf, Goodman, Ricardo Montalban, Lyric, Del Rey, Jackalope, Strawdog, and TimeLine Theatre. Film/TV credits include Proven Innocent, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Dreaming Grand Avenue, The Exquisite Corpse, and Workingman.

BRITTNEYLOVE SMITH (Stoney/Dingbat) is delighted to make her Court Theatre debut. She recently played Oddsee in Goodman’s critically acclaimed production of Father Comes Home From the Wars. BrittneyLove was Prix in Eclipse Theatre's production of Breath Boom (BTAA Best leading actress Nomination). She was Victoria in the Jeff winning production of Charm with Northlight Theatre. BrittneyLove played Salima in the Jeff nominated production of Ruined with Eclipse Theatre company (BTAA nomination Best Supporting Actor). She was in the feature film Gringo and is the lead of Web series Velvet. She is a voice over artist for several different podcast and audio books.

LUIGI SOTTILE (Simon/Jaworski) makes his Court debut. Luigi's Chicago credits include Familiar, Buena Vista (Steppenwolf); Hundreds and Hundreds of Stars (Goodman); Book Of Will (Northlight); Shakespeare in Love, Othello, The Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Some Regional Credits include: The Way of the World (Folger Theatre); Zombie the American (Woolly Mammoth); Sex with Strangers (Signature Theatre DC); A Christmas Carol (Milwaukee Rep); Three Sisters, Cyrano (Arden Theatre); Seminar (Philadelphia Theatre Co.); An Ideal Husband (Walnut Street Theatre); Angels in America, The Vibrator Play (Wilma Theater), The Cherry Orchard, Nathan the Wise (People's Light and Theatre). TV credits include: Chicago PD (NBC); It's A Man's World (YouTube Red).

STEF TOVAR (Clem/Oliver/Kellerman/Nails) is making his Court debut. Chicago credits include: Franz in Appropriate for Victory Gardens; Harold Hill in Paramount Theatre's The Music Man; Luther Billis in South Pacific for Marriott Theatre (Jeff nomination); and Noah in A Twist of Water for Route 66 Theatre Company, where he is the founder and co-artistic director. Film and television credits include: Proven Innocent (CBS); Chicago Fire (NBC); Contagion, directed by Steven Soderbergh, and Widows directed by Steve McQueen. Stef can be seen in TimeLine Theatre's upcoming production of Oslo this fall.

TRAVIS TURNER (Georgie/Frazer/Iggy) returns to Court Theatre after having previously appeared in Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, Porgy & Bess, Carousel, and Raisin. Recent Chicago: Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare); The Mystery of Love and Sex (Writer’s Theatre); Bootycandy (Windy City Playhouse); Thaddeus and Slocum (Lookingglass); The Flick (Steppenwolf); The Art of Falling (The Second City and Hubbard Street Dance); and The Upstairs Concierge (Goodman). Recent regional credits include: Goodnight, Tyler, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Alliance Theatre); Macbeth (Denver Center); and the upcoming production of East Texas Hot Links (Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company). He is a Northwestern University graduate.

Featuring: Patrick Mulvey as Augie March with ensemble members Sebastian Arboleda, Aurora Real de Asua, Chaon Cross, Kai Ealy, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Neil Friedman, John Judd, Abby Pierce, Brittney Love Smith, Luigi Sottile, Stef Tovar, and Travis Turner

Creative Team: John Culbert (Scenic and Lighting Design), Sally Dolembo (costume design), Andre Pluess (sound design), Drew Dir and Manual Cinema (puppet design), Erin Kilmurray (movement consultant), Eva Breneman (dialect design), Nora Titone (resident dramaturg), Erin Albrecht (production stage manager), and Kate Ocker (assistant stage manager)

Dates: Previews:  May 9 – May 17, 2019
Press Opening: Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 7:30pm
Regular Run: May 19 – June 9, 2019

Open Captioned Performance: Sunday, June 2 at 2:00pm
Audio Described Performance / Touch Tour: Saturday, June 1 at 2:00pm, Touch Tour 12:30pm

Wednesdays: 10:30 a.m. (except May 15) and 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays: 7:30 p.m.
Fridays: 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 2:00 p.m. (except May 11 & 15) and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays: 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Location: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.

Tickets: $38-$52 previews
$50-$74 regular run

Box Office: Located at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago; (773) 753-4472

The Adventures of Augie March is sponsored by William D. and Diane S. Anderson, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Lorna Ferguson and Terry Clark, and Michael Charles Litt. This production is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In support of Center for Classic Theatre research for this adaptation and production, the University of Chicago Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society has appointed David Auburn a Visiting Fellow, resulting in collaboration with University faculty and scholars to enhance and inform the production.

Court Theatre’s 2018/19 season is dedicated to Court’s late Executive Director, Stephen J. Albert.

Court Theatre is the professional theatre of the University of Chicago, dedicated to innovation, inquiry, intellectual engagement, and community service. Functioning as the University’s Center for Classic Theatre, Court and its artists mount theatrical productions and audience enrichment programs in collaboration with faculty. These collaborations enable a re-examination of classic texts that pose the enduring and provocative questions that define the human experience. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to classic American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. The theatre revives lost masterpieces; illuminates familiar texts; explores the African American theatrical canon; and discovers fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.



Lucky Plush Productions present​ Rooming House​ alongside P​lucky Lush​ benefit bash at Venue West Chicago. ​Rooming House ​is to be presented one night only on May 23rd at 7:00pm. 

Rooming House​ is co-created by founder and artistic director Julia Rhoads and collaborating director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (formerly of 500 Clown). ​Rooming House​ premiered in 2017 at the Steppenwolf 1700 Theatre to 12 sold out shows. Lucky Plush returns from a spring tour across the East Coast–including shows at the ​Kennedy Center ​in Washington D.C.–for this final presentation of Rooming House on our home turf. We could not be more thrilled to hold this year's Plucky Lush bash at​ Venue West​, a chic industrial space in Chicago's West Town neighborhood, with heavy apps provided by J&L Catering, beer provided by Revolution Brewing and Lagunitas, wine and alcohol. Drinks at the Plucky Lush fundraising bash will be bottomless and there will be a variety of fun activities and games.

Rooming House​ begins with an intimate conversation among friends, slipping easily between Spanish and English, as they recall stories of people who’ve taken actions with potentially devastating costs. When the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is mentioned, varied interpretations propel the group into a physically and psychologically complex game of whodunit, taking them down a rabbit hole into the lives of everyday people who do extraordinary things—from life endangering rescues, to defecting from Cuba, to letting go of someone you love. Playful and personal, the work synthesizes contemporary dance and theater to create a dynamic blueprint for exploring the question: what makes a person do something that could have life-changing consequences?

In ​Rooming House​, the myth and game structure offer familiar anchors that allow the audience to form expectations, which then can be broken as performers follow their idiosyncratic preoccupations and wrestle with the conditions of the performance – often being a source of comedy and delight for the audience.
“Lucky Plush Productions deeply values creating a welcoming relationship between stage and audience, delivering relatable content without compromising complexity. Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre is an ideal venue to create this intimate relationship, and we are incredibly excited to being one of the first dance events on its intimate stage as part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut series,” said Lucky Plush Artistic Director and Rooming House​ co-creator Julia Rhoads.

“Lucky Plush also values laughter and finds that it functions as an important release, a non-precious way to tackle difficult issues and a generator of excellent energy between performers and audience,” added Rhoads’s frequent collaborator Leslie Buxbaum Danzig.

TIckets for just the performance of Rooming House are $15-$40. Student tickets are $15. Industry tickets are $25. Seniors 62+ are $30. Regular performances are $40. Tickets to attend both the ​Plucky Lush benefit bash and ​Rooming House a​ re $100. For ticket information, please visit​.

Venue West Chicago, 221 N. Paulina St, Chicago, IL 60612, is a chic, modern, industrial space located in the heart of the west town neighborhood of Chicago. Venue West boasts over 12,000 square feet of entertainment space with a state-of-the-art on-site kitchen provided by J&L Catering. Beyond catering, J&L supports many parts of the Chicago community. From education, homeless support, recycling, food donations, theater groups and the LGBT community among others, J&L Catering is proud to take part in the experiences of local groups and organizations that help Chicago thrive as a city.

Rooming House​ features Lucky Plush ensemble members Kara Brody, Michel Rodriguez Cintra, Elizabeth Luse, Rodolfo Sánchez Sarracino, A. Raheim. White and Meghann Wilkinson. ​Original music is by Michael Caskey. Lighting design by Alexander Ridgers. Stage management by Rachel Damon.

About the Creators
Julia Rhoads​ is the founding artistic director of Lucky Plush Productions. She has created more than 25 original works with Lucky Plush, several of which have toured extensively throughout the U.S. Additional directing and choreography credits include projects with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Lookingglass Theatre, Walkabout Theater, River North Dance Chicago, and Redmoon, among others. Rhoads is the recipient of an Alpert Award in Dance and fellowships/awards from Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Cliff Dwellers Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, and the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, and she received a Fractured Atlas Arts Entrepreneurship Award for spearheading Creative Partners, an innovative nonprofit financial model. Rhoads is a former member of San Francisco Ballet and ensemble member of XSIGHT! Performance Group. She received her BA in History from Northwestern University, her MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and she has taught in the dance and theater programs of several Chicago-area colleges and universities. She is currently Director of Dance and Lecturer at University of Chicago’s Department of Theater and Performance Studies.

Leslie Buxbaum Danzig ​is a collaborating director with Julia Rhoads/Lucky Plush Productions where she co-created​ The Better Half​,​The Queue ​and Rooming House,​and is currently collaborating on​ Rink Life​.For over a decade, Leslie was co-founder and resident director of the Chicago-based physical theater company 500 Clown, whose shows performed in Chicago and throughout the US. Other directing credits include Third Coast Percussion’s ​Paddle to the Sea​ and ​Wild Sound​, composed by Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, with performances at MCA Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), National Forum of Music (Wroclaw)

Lucky Plush presents ​Rooming House​ May 23, 2019 and De Doelen (Rotterdam), and a number of productions in Chicago at The Actors Gymnasium, House Theatre, Redmoon, Chicago Children’s Theater, About Face Theater, and in New York, at New Victory Theater and PS 122, among others. Prior to turning to directing, Leslie toured nationally and internationally as an actor with NYC’s Elevator Repair Service. Leslie is Assistant Professor of Practice in Theater and Performance Studies, University of Chicago. She is currently developing a circus-puppet-theater adaptation of the myth of Atalanta with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

About Lucky Plush Productions
Now entering its 19th season, Lucky Plush Productions (​​) is a Chicago-based dance theater company led by founder and artistic director Julia Rhoads. Lucky Plush is committed to provoking and supporting an immediacy of presence – a palpable liveness – shared by performers in real-time with audiences. A unique hybrid of high-level dance and theater, Lucky Plush’s work is well-known for carefully crafting dramatic and rhythmic arcs, pushing its artists to move beyond the predictable by earning the exciting slippage between – and surprising coherence of – pedestrian action, realistic dialogue, abstract choreography and humor. Though rigorously composed, much of the company’s work feels like it is generated spontaneously.

Since 2000, Lucky Plush has created 30+ original dance-theater works. In addition to regularly performing in the Chicago area, the company has presented work in 50+ US cities from Maine to Hawaii, and its international partners span from New Zealand to Cuba. Commissioning and development partners include the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Krannert Center at University of Illinois, The Yard (MA), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), Door Kinetic Arts Festival (WI), and Links Hall Chicago. Presenting partners include the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (MA), Joyce Theater (NYC), ODC (CA), TITAS (TX), Spoleto Festival/USA (SC), NC State LIVE (NC), Portland Ovations (ME), and Skirball Center (NYC), among others, and the company will have its debut performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this season.
Lucky Plush Productions is the first and only dance company to receive the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, a recognition of the company’s exceptional creativity and impact. Other awards include creation, residency, and touring awards from National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, and National Performance Network; exchange awards from the MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund; a presentation award from MetLife Foundation; and an achievement award from the Lester and Hope Abelson Fund for the Performing Arts at The Chicago Community Trust.

Press features include the ​Boston Globe's​ "10 Best Dance Performances of 2013," ​Chicago Public Radio's "Best of 2011"; the ​Chicago Reader's​ "Best of Chicago 2010"; ​Time Out Chicago's​ "The Decade's 10 Best Original Dance Works"; the ​Chicago Tribune's​ "Best of Dance 2008"; ​Chicago Sun Times'​ "Lasting memories in Dance" for 2005 and 2007, and a ​Time Out Chicago​ cover story "5 reasons to love dance in Chicago," among others.

Lucky Plush managing director Kim Goldman ​works in tandem with artistic director Julia Rhoads to carry out the company’s mission. ​The current ensemble includes ​Kara Brody, Michel Rodriguez Cintra, Elizabeth Luse, Jacina Ratcliffe, Rodolfo Sánchez Sarracino, A. Raheim White and Meghann Wilkinson​.

OPENING: World Premiere of ETHIOPIANAMERICA Via Definition Theatre Company at Victory Gardens Theater May 10 – June 9, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Definition Theatre Company Presents the World Premiere of
By Sam Kebede, Directed by Sophiyaa Nayar
May 10 – June 9, 2019

I'll be out for the press opening May 14th, so check back soon for my full review. I can't wait to catch Definition Theatre Company's latest production ETHIOPIANAMERICA. When my younger sister was in 1st grade in the mid 70's in Cincinnati, she came home one day and announced she had a new friend in her class, a boy from Ethiopia. We looked up the country on our globe, and found out where they were staying with sponsors till they could get settled, which happened to be on our street! We became close childhood friends with this refugee family of 7 and spent lots of time together over the years. These kids who walked out of their war torn country with nothing grew up to become doctors, lawyers and world travelers, and we are still in touch today.

Interestingly enough, decades later, one of my son's best friends since 7th grade, at Lane Tech College Prep, is also Ethiopian (Eritrean actually), and their family is related to friends and classmates of my kids from their public Montessori elementary school. Small world indeed.

Multicultural dinners with our Ethiopian friends, our Japanese physician friend and his family, and our midwestern American family in 1970's/80's Cincinnati 

Definition Theatre Company opens the world premiere of ETHIOPIANAMERICA by Sam Kebede and directed by Sophiyaa Nayar. ETHIOPIANAMERICA will run from May 10 – June 9, 2019, with a press opening on Tuesday, May 14 at 7:30pm. Definition Theatre Company presents ETHIOPIANAMERICA in the Richard Christiansen Theater at Victory Gardens as part of its Resident Theater Company program. Tickets for ETHIOPIANAMERICA are on sale and can be purchased online at or by calling 773.871.3000. Victory Gardens Theater is located at 2433 N Lincoln Avenue.

If the American dream is a privilege, not a right, then Girma and Elizabeth Kifle have truly earned it. After emigrating from Ethiopia to the United States with nothing, the couple is poised to send their eldest son to college. But everything behind Girma and Elizabeth’s white picket fence is not as it appears to be. The ghosts of the life they left in Ethiopia threaten to destroy their American dream before it starts, and the Kifle sons, Jonathan and Daniel, reckon with being American in Ethiopian bodies. In this tense and sharply-drawn family drama, playwright Sam Kebede mines the immigrant experience and asks how far each of us will go to find a place we can call home.

Artistic Director Tyrone Phillips notes, “Definition Theatre continues to add new voices to the American theater cannon. Sam Kebede and Sophiyaa Nayar are incredible first-generation artists that aren’t afraid to ask hard questions. I am elated to conclude Definition’s residency at Victory Gardens with a play as grounded in Definition’s mission and artistic aesthetic as ETHIOPIANAMERICA.”

The cast of ETHIOPIANAMERICA includes Simon Gebremedhin, Gabrielle Lott-Rogers, Freedom Martin and Joseph Primes.

The creative team for ETHIOPIANAMERICA includes Eleanor Kahn (Set Designer), Paul Kim (Costume Designer), Eric Watkins (Lighting Designer), Joshua Wilcox (Sound Designer), Therese Ritchie (Properties Designer), Sana Selemon (Dialect Coach), Rebecca Ross (Production Stage Manager), Ariel Beller (Assistant Stage Manager) Ebony Chuukwu (Assistant Director), Athanasia Giannetos (Dramaturg), Neel McNeill (Production Manager) and Alex Oparka (Assistant Production Manager).

As a first-generation Ethiopian immigrant himself, playwright Sam Kebede explains that the decision to write ETHIOPIANAMERICA was fueled by a lack of Ethiopian representation in American theater. “In my entire life as a theater maker, I've never encountered a play about an Ethiopian family,” notes Kebede. “More than anything, I want Ethiopians and other first-generation immigrants to see themselves in this story. And I want everyone who sees ETHIOPIANAMERICA to know that we are here. Our lives are just as complicated, just as full of hunger, pain, love, joy, and strife as anyone else’s. Our stories are worthy of a place on the American stage.

Director Sophiyaa Nayar was motivated to work on ETHIOPIANAMERICA because the play’s complex characters intrigued her. “Sam has beautifully interwoven the American and Ethiopian experiences to create a family that is painfully relatable,” Nayar elaborates.  “Having been raised in India, I find so much of myself and my experience in America in the intricacies of the Kifle family’s life and I am excited to share that with the audience." 

Simon Gebremedhin, Gabrielle Lott-Rogers, Freedom Martin, and Joseph Primes.

Creative Team: 
Eleanor Kahn (Set Designer), Paul Kim (Costume Designer), Eric Watkins (Lighting Designer), Joshua Wilcox (Sound Designer), Therese Ritchie (Properties Designer), Sana Selemon (Dialect Coach), Rebecca Ross (Production Stage Manager), Ariel Beller (Assistant Stage Manager) Ebony Chuukwu (Assistant Director), Athanasia Giannetos (Dramaturg), Neel McNeill (Production Manager) and Alex Oparka (Assistant Production Manager).

The Richard Christiansen Theater at Victory Gardens (2433 N Lincoln Ave)
Previews: May 10 – 12, 2019, Pay-what-you-can pricing for all preview tickets.

Regular run:                
May 16 – June 9, 2019

Preview ticket prices: Pay-what-you-can

Regular run ticket prices: $15-$25

Box Office: The Box Office is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, 773.871.3000;

Thursdays: 8 p.m.
Fridays: 8 p.m.
Saturdays: 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sundays: 2:30 p.m.

About Definition Theatre Company
Definition Theatre Company is an ensemble-based Chicago theater founded by graduates of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Definition Theatre Company prides itself on leading the way as an anti-racist multicultural organization that gives a voice to underrepresented communities. Our mission is to tell language-driven, relationship-oriented, socially relevant stories.

Definition has built its reputation on work that reflects its unique voice. It shared the words of Academy Award-Winner Tarell Alvin McCraney in The Brothers Size; it grooved with Amiri Baraka’s whirlwind story of a chance meeting on a train in Dutchman; and staged its first world premiere production, Genesis, written by ensemble member Mercedes White and inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s iconic masterwork A Raisin in the Sun. In partnership with, The New Colony staged the world premiere of Byhalia, Mississippi, which starred Academy Award nominee Kiki Layne. In association with the Goodman Theatre, Definition staged the Chicago premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon, a subversive take on race in America that captivated audiences. Most recently, Definition sent us all to the moon with James Ijames’s Moon Man Walk and explored the challenges of America’s public school system through Nilaja Sun’s No Child…

Ensemble members include Owais Ahmed, Carley Cornelius, Martasia Jones, Kiki Layne, Kelson Michael McAuliffe, Julian Parker, Tyrone Phillips, Christopher Sheard and Mercedes White. Artistic Advisory Board members include director May Adrales, Steppenwolf ensemble member Alana Arenas, actress Shannon Cochran, Victory Gardens Theater Managing Director Erica Daniels, actor Brandon Dirden, actor Jason Dirden, Writers Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam, director Pam Mackinnon, professor JW Morrissette, director Ron OJ Parson, professor/lighting designer Kathy Perkins, Tony Award-winning actress and stage director Phylicia Rashad, and Goodman Theatre director in residence Chuck Smith. Tyrone Phillips is the Artistic Director and Neel McNeill is the Managing Director. For additional information, visit and

OPENING: THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH Via AstonRep Theatre Company at The Raven Theatre May 16 – June 16, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

AstonRep Theatre Company Announces Casting for
By Rebecca Gilman
 Directed by Co-Artistic Director Derek Bertelsen
May 16 – June 16, 2019 at The Raven Theatre

AstonRep Theatre Company is pleased to announce casting for
Rebecca Gilman’s drama THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH, directed by Co-Artistic Director Derek Bertelsen*

The cast of AstonRep Theatre Company’s THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH includes (top, l to r) Co-Artistic Director Sara Pavlak McGuire with Maggie Antonijevic, Lynne Baker (bottom, l to r) Javier Carmona, Martin Diaz-Valdes, Nick Freed and Erin O’Brien.

THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH plays May 16 – June 16, 2019 at The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (773) 828-9129. 

A backyard barbeque is the perfect place to tackle life's big questions: Is the chicken done? Does the band need a new tune? Is this the right time to have a baby? Gilman's fresh and moving play takes an intimate look at modern families, friendships and the ins and outs of love.

The cast includes AstonRep Co-Artistic Director Sara Pavlak McGuire* with Maggie Antonijevic, Lynne Baker, Javier Carmona, Martin Diaz-Valdes, Nick Freed and Erin O’Brien.

The production team for THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH includes Jeremiah Barr* (scenic/props design), Uriel Gomez (costume design), Samantha Barr* (lighting design), Melanie Thompson* (sound design), Aja Wiltshire* (assistant director) and Melanie Kulas (stage manager).

*Denotes AstonRep Company Members.

Cast (in alphabetical order): Maggie Antonijevic (Windsong), Lynne Baker (Karen), Javier Carmona (Tom), Martin Diaz-Valdes (Jasper), Nick Freed (Dan), Erin O’Brien (Darcy) and Sara Pavlak McGuire* (Melinda).

Understudies: Lara Caprini* and David Coupe

Location: The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Thursday, May 16 at 8 pm and Friday, May 17 at 8 pm
Press performance: Saturday, May 18 at 8 pm
Regular run: Sunday, May 19 – Sunday, June 16, 2019
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3:30 pm
Tickets: Previews: $12; Regular run: $25. Student/seniors $15. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (773) 828-9129.

About the Artists
Rebecca Gilman (Playwright) is an artistic associate at Goodman Theatre. Her plays include Luna Gale, A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Dollhouse, Boy Gets Girl, Spinning Into Butter, Blue Surge (all of which were originally produced by the Goodman), Soups, Stews, and Casseroles, 1976 and The Crowd You’re in With (also at the Goodman), The Glory of Living; The Sweetest Swing in Baseball and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Boy Gets Girl received an Olivier nomination for Best New Play. Gilman was named a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for The Glory of Living. She is a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild of America and a board member of the ACLU of Illinois. A graduate of the MFA in playwriting program from the University of Iowa, Gilman is now a professor of playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University as part of its MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage program. In 2016, she was inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame.

Derek Bertelsen (Director) joined AstonRep in 2013 and he currently serves as Co-Artistic Director. Previous directing credits with AstonRep include Doubt, Next Fall, Wit, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Lyons, the world premiere of The Black Slot, The Laramie Project, and co-directing Eleemosynary with Jeremiah Barr. He produced the sold-out run of Four By Tenn, a festival of one-act plays by Tennessee Williams. He serves as Artistic Director of The Comrades. He's also directed for BrightSide Theatre, Wilmette Center for the Arts, Pride Films & Plays and assistant directed at Goodman, Bailiwick Chicago and Steppenwolf Garage. Regional credits include Festival 56, Shawnee Summer Playhouse, New Ground Theatre and five seasons at Timber Lake Playhouse.

About AstonRep Theatre Company:
AstonRep Theatre Company was formed in the summer of 2008. Since then, the company has produced 22 full-length productions and nine annual Writers' Series. AstonRep Theatre Company is an ensemble of artists committed to creating exciting, intimate theatrical experiences that go beyond the front door to challenge audiences and spark discussion where the show is not the end of the experience: it is just the beginning.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING: HER SMELL Opens at he Music Box Theatre on April 19, 2019


Writer/director Alex Ross Perry’s 
opens at the Music Box Theatre on April 19, 2019. 

***Writer/director Alex Ross Perry will be in attendance at the Music Box Theatre for post-film Q&As following the Saturday, April 20, 8pm & Sunday, April 21, 1:45pm screenings. Both of these shows are on sale now!***

“[Elizabeth] Moss’ oscillating, energy-devouring performance and the real-time composition of Perry's scenes make it almost impossible to look away.” — Vulture

“Perry’s kinetic style and Moss’ explosive performance transform [the film] into something that feels more authentic than actual history.” — Consequence of Sound

Becky Something is a ’90s punk rock superstar who once filled arenas with her grungy, all-female trio Something She. Now she plays smaller venues while grappling with motherhood, exhausted band mates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom. When Becky's chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success. Also starring Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens, Eric Stolz, Dylan Gelula, and Virginia Madsen.

Anchored by a towering, unflinching performance from Golden Globe and Emmy winner Moss, and supported by a stellar ensemble cast, HER SMELL examines the grit, grace and gravitas of an unforgettable fictional rock star crashing down to earth into the harsh realities of mid-life. With his incendiary and deeply humane sixth feature, writer-director Alex Ross Perry (LISTEN UP PHILIP, GOLDEN EXITS) pumps up the volume and shines a light on the terrifying moment when superstardom wanes —and quiet becomes the new loud.

Production Year: 2018
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Run Time: 135 mins

Format: DCP

Pricing & Scheduling:
Tickets are $12 ($9 for Music Box Members)
Click here to find out how to become a member

About Music Box Theatre:

For the last two decades, the Music Box Theatre has been the premier venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films. It currently has the largest theater space operated full time in the city. The Music Box Theatre is independently owned and operated by the Southport Music Box Corporation. SMBC, through its Music Box Films division, also distributes foreign and independent films in the theatrical, DVD, and television markets throughout the United States.

Follow the Music Box Theatre on Facebook, Twitter (@musicboxtheatre), and Instagram (@musicboxchicago)

Friday, April 12, 2019

OPENING: Dark Comedy BELOW THE BELT at Red Twist May 17 through June 16, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

By Richard Dresser Directed by Jon Dambacher

Redtwist Theatre announces an upcoming production of a bizarre dark comedy BELOW THE BELT, running May 17 through June 16. This Off-Broadway hit has been compared to NBC’s The Office as if written by Samuel Beckett and was named “Best American Play of 1996” by the Wall Street Journal. Since its debut it has found especially high popularity in Europe, with over 40 productions in Germany alone.

BELOW THE BELT takes place within the guts of an industrial compound sitting far off in an unknown location. Three men, a power-obsessed boss (played by David McNulty), an emotional middle manager (played by Michael Lomenick) and an eager newcomer (played by John Hundrieser) are isolated from their wives and the other unseen people occupying the factory. They must form a bond out of necessity, while battling sabotage, one-upmanship, and secret alliances among each other. But their need to compete is as strong as their need to connect. The play is about trust, betrayal, and the deep existential pettiness of people attempting to co-exist. Someone always wins and someone always retreats or loses.

Richard Dresser (Playwright) plays have been produced in New York, regional theater, and Europe. They include Rounding Third, which started in Chicago, appeared off-Broadway and has had hundreds of productions and BELOW THE BELT premiered at Actors Theatre of Louisville, moved Off-Broadway, then was made into the film “Human Error” which premiered at Sundance.

From May 17 through June 16 the performances are Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Individual tickets are $20 at the door and are available online at, or over the phone at (847) 906-3209.

About Redtwist Theatre  
Redtwist is located at 1044 W. Bryn Mawr – 2 blocks West of Lake Shore Drive & 2 blocks East of the Red Line station. Valet parking for Redtwist is available across the street in front of Francesca’s – Dining is not required.

Thursday, April 11, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar



Black Lives, Black Words International Project, in partnership with Goodman Theatre and Artistic Directors of the Future, is proud to announce the festival line-up for “I AM…FEST: A Celebration of Women of Color in Arts, Activism and Leadership.” Curated by Black Lives, Black Words Co-founders Reginald Edmund and Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, “I AM…FEST” is a first-of-its-kind international festival that shines a spotlights on female voices across the globe through three days of innovative and inspiring events. “I AM…FEST: A Celebration of Women of Color in Arts, Activism and Leadership” takes place at Goodman Theatre (170 North Dearborn), April 27 – 29. 

Admission for many events are FREE (first come, first served reservations required); reservations and tickets ($10 – 25) for the 10-minute play showcase on Monday, April 29, which includes The Interrogation of Sandra Bland can be purchased at

"It felt fitting that this year's program celebrated women of color that are artists, activists and leaders in a bold and historic way, proactively opening the door for the discussion revolving around the arts about equity through our programming” said Reginald Edmund, Black Lives Black Words International Project Co-Founder and Managing Curating Producer. “Every program in this festival is entirely led by, produced by, directed and written and facilitated by women of color. Our hope is to encourage art organizations large and small across the globe to provide more artistic and decision-making opportunities to women of color both onstage and off-stage."

“It has been a joy to shape and design the festival and program some of the most talented women of color artists, leaders and activists to take part in this international celebration of voices, minds and experiences. I hope that this festival will continue to inspire as many people who encounter it and ignite a new approach to art, activism as well as increase the personal libraries and awareness of the richness of talent that exists within our community both locally and internationally,” said Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, Co-Founder of Black Lives Black Words International Project and Executive Director and Creative Producer. “I am honored to be directing 100 Women of Color on the Goodman’s stage for the U.S. premiere of The Interrogation of Sandra Bland. At a time where we desperately need solidarity, healing and hope, this closing performance will not only pay homage to Sandra Bland and the many female victims of police brutality, but will showcase the strength that we possess when we come together to stand up to social and political injustice.”

Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls added “We are proud to host I AM... Fest, a fantastically ambitious event that will serve activists and artists alike as it culminates in an Owen Theatre performance that highlights Black artistry, locally and globally. Reginald Edmund and Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway's work as leaders of Black Lives, Black Words has produced what I think will be a momentous occasion for Chicago's theater community and the city at large.”

*all events take place at Goodman Theatre (170 N. Dearborn); unless otherwise noted


Film Screening | The Feeling of Being Watched
3 – 5pm

In the Arab-American suburban Chicago neighborhood where director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Boundaoui uncovers FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest pre-9/11 counterterrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S.--code-named "Operation Vulgar Betrayal." With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker's examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian-American journalist and filmmaker based in Chicago who has reported for the BBC, NPR, PRI, Al Jazeera, VICE and CNN. Her debut short film about hijabi hair salons for the HBO Lenny documentary series premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Her feature length debut, The Feeling of Being Watched, had its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

Workshop | Making the Artivist 
3 - 4:15pm

Hosted by Red Clay Dance Company, Making the Artivist trains community-minded participants in the practice of “Artivism,” which helps participants discover, develop and use their artistic voice to become a change agent in their community. Through movement and storytelling, participants begin to understand their identity, agency and power within societal frameworks and systems. Red Clay Dance Company lives to awaken “glocal” change through creating, performing and teaching dances of the African Diaspora–change that transforms cultural and socio-economic inequities in the local and global community.

Workshop | Surviving the Mic: Brave Space Making
4:30 - 6:30pm

What began as a 10-week workshop series for spoken word artists who identified as black, female and survivors of sexual violence, “Surviving the Mic” evolved into a groundbreaking survivor-led open mic and workshop series, led by Nikki Patin. Brave Space Making highlights the differences between holding safe space and brave space, “Surviving the Mic” community agreements, the impact of the series on the 2018 National Poetry Slam, and a discussion about how to center survivors and their work. Featured in The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, HBO's Def Poetry Jam and on international television and radio, multidisciplinary artist Nikki Patin has been writing, performing and educating for almost 15 years. She has performed at EXPO Chicago, the National Black Theater in Harlem, Brooklyn Museum, Black Artists Retreat, Arie Crown Theater, UIC Pavilion and many other spaces throughout the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.

Reading | Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress (United States), directed by Lili-Anne Brown
7 – 9pm | VIP reception to follow

Broadway, 1957. An integrated theater company gathers to rehearse a new play—the one they hope will be the next big hit on the Great White Way. Against the backdrop of misperceptions and stereotypes within the company, veteran actress Wiletta Mayer grapples with the choice between an once-in-a-lifetime chance to play the lead role in a Broadway show, and the cost of compromising her principles. Trouble in Mind is a groundbreaking backstage story of egos and attitudes, and an insightful look at who we are and who we want to be. American novelist/playwright/actress Alice Childress (1916-1994) described her work as "attempt(ing) to interpret the 'ordinary' because they are not ordinary. Each human is uniquely different. Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice. We are uncommonly and marvelously intricate in thought and action, our problems are most complex and, too often, silently borne." Childress formed an off-Broadway union for actors, and her paper archive is at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY.


Film Screening | Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed
12:30 – 2pm

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm, a brilliant black congresswoman from Brooklyn, became the first woman to boldly bid for the presidency--and demand that the body politic represent all Americans. Shola Lynch is an award-winning American filmmaker best known for the feature documentary, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners and the Peabody Award winning documentary, Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed.

Workshop | Playwriting as Activism
Led by Mojisola Adebayo
11am – 12 Noon

Led by UK-based Playwright Mojisola Adebayo, who transcribed Sandra Bland's arrest to create The Interrogation of Sandra Bland which will premiere during the closing of the “I AM…FEST,” her bespoke workshop, inspired by her expertise in Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed, will provide participants with a tangible insight into how best to use their voice and writing talent to create activist-driven artistic work. Adebayo is one of the UK's most prolific activist playwright and will share her experience of the impact that her work has had on her personal life, career and audiences across the world.

Panel Discussion | Women Leaders of Color
12:30 – 2pm

Some of the most inspiring Black Female Artistic Leaders within the Chicago Art Community gather to share their journey, experiences, challenges and successes. This panel discussion will provide audiences with an insight into leadership as well as, provide tips and advice on how best to reach goals and achieve a sustainable trajectory in the arts industry.   

Reading | So What’s New? by Fatima Dike (South Africa), directed by Andrea Dymond
3 – 5pm | Panel discussion to follow

So What’s New? is a domestic South African comedy about four township women who work in and outside of the legal system. While revolution brews outside, the women watch soap operas, and their private lives acting as an increasingly powerful counterpoint to the forces of darkness at work beyond their garden wall.

Reading | Chiaroscuro by Jackie Kay (United Kingdom), directed by Kemati Porter
7 – 9pm | Panel discussion to follow

‘If you’re white, you’re alright, if you’re brown stick around, if you’re black stay back’. Beth and Opal are a couple, and Aisha and Yomi are very close friends. Aisha hosts a dinner--and as more wine gets poured, discussions get heated. The definition of “chiaroscuro” is “the treatment of light and shade in a drawing or painting.” Centering on four women of color (mixed race, Asian decent and black), Chiaroscuro explores issues around shadism, loss of the mother tongue and homosexuality within the black community.


Black Lives Black Words International Project– 10-minute Play Showcase and The Interrogation of Sandra Bland

- Jezelle the Gazelle by Dominique Morrisseau, directed by Patrese McClain
- Yet to Be by Nambi E. Kelley, directed by Chika Ike
- #SuiteReality by TS Hawkins, directed by Nicole Michelle Haskins
- Revolt.Ing by Lisa Langford, Directed by Sydney Chatman
- Principles of Cartography by Winsome Pinnock, Directed by Veronda Carey
- His Life Matters by Yolanda Mercy, Directed by Melanie Thompson
- I Am Woman by Loy Webb, Directed by Am'Ber Montgomery

In addition to the 10-minute play showcase, the festival will conclude with the U.S. premiere of The Interrogation of Sandra Bland, by Mojisola Adebayo, directed by Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway.

“The Interrogation of Sandra Bland, performed by 100 women of color, is a righteous uprising and a solemn requiem; both testimony and witnessing, theatre art and activism, a memorial imagined through the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Playwright Mojisola Adebayo. “All 100 women speak the words of Sandra Bland, together, recalling the arrest that lead to her death in police custody. In this moment she is an ‘everyblackwoman’. We elevate her status and all those who have faced such racist atrocities, through the amplification of the voice, a magnification of the struggle.”


Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway (Founder and CEO of Artistic Directors of the Future ( and Co-founder, Executive Producer and Creative Director at Black Lives, Black Words International Project), has been listed three consecutive years in the Stage Top 100 Power List and last year was named in the London Evening Standard The Progress 1000: London's most influential people 2018 - Performance: Theatre. She is also the Founder/CEO of Beyond The Canon (, former troubleshooter and Manager of the National Theatre's Black Play Archive, Editor of the first monologue anthology for Black Plays inspired by black British Plays: The Oberon Book of Monologues for Black Actors: Classical and Contemporary Speeches from Black British Plays which was followed by a second monologue anthology published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama: Audition Speeches for Black, South Asian and Middle Eastern Actors, interim Associate Producer at Theatre Royal Stratford East and former Trustee at the Directors Guild of Great Britain and Company of Angels Theatre Company. She also worked nationally and internationally as a theatre director, producer, dramaturg, teacher/guest lecturer, audience development consultant. Hodge-Dallaway is currently a member of the editorial team for the Backpages Selection of the Contemporary Theatre Review (Routledge/UK). 

Reginald Edmund (Co-Founder and Managing Curating Producer for Black Lives Black Words International Project) is a Resident Playwright at Tamasha Theatre in London, England and an Alumni Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists Theatre, an Artistic Associate at Pegasus Theatre-Chicago, and an Artistic Patriot at Merrimack Repertory Theatre and a ‘10-‘11 Many Voice Fellow with the Playwrights’ Center. His play Southbridge was runner up for the Kennedy Center’s Lorraine Hansberry and Rosa Parks National Playwriting Awards, and most recently named winner of the Southern Playwrights’ Competition, the Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best New Play, and the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. His nine play series titled The City of the Bayou Collection, which includes Southbridge, Juneteenth Street, The Last Cadillac, and All the Dying Voices were developed at esteemed theaters including Pegasus Theatre-Chicago, Deluxe Theatre, Actors Theatre of Charlotte, Bush Theatre (UK), Boston Court @ Theatre, the Landing Theatre, the Playwrights’ Center, and The National Theatre (UK). Edmund received his BFA in Theatre-Performance from Texas Southern University and his MFA in Playwriting from Ohio University. 


Black Lives, Black Words is an international initiative that provides local creatives with an artistic platform across various art forms to respond to social injustices that impact on underrepresented communities, in particular- people of color and women. BLBW uniquely merges arts and activism to empower artists of color and women to view themselves as leaders, global citizens and ambassadors for change. By working in partnership with leading theatres, culturally diverse organizations and academia, BLBW has provided opportunities to artists and leaders from a wide range of ages, ethnicities, experiences and socio-economic backgrounds. Since its inception in 2015, our work has spread both nationally and internationally through forging strong relationships with organizations, such as; The Guthrie (Minneapolis), Buddies in Bad Times (Canada), Obsidian Theatre (Canada), Victory Gardens (Chicago), Bush Theatre (London), Black Ensemble (Chicago), as well as academia, including; Rose Bruford (London), Northwestern University (Chicago) and Western Michigan (Kalamazoo). Black Lives, Black Words International Project premiered at the Greenhouse Theatre in Chicago in 2015 and was heralded as “It’s a hopeful performance that comes from a place of love and optimism” by The Resident Magazine (UK).


AMERICA’S “BEST REGIONAL THEATRE” (Time magazine), Goodman Theatre is a premier not-for-profit organization distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics (celebrated revivals include Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh). Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, over 160 Jeff Awards and many more accolades. In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle;” and its annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, which recently marked its 41st production, has created a new generation of theatergoers. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production partner with local off-Loop theaters and national and international companies by providing financial support or physical space for a variety of artistic endeavors.

Committed to three core values of Quality, Diversity and Community, the Goodman proactively makes inclusion the fabric of the institution and develops education and community engagement programs that support arts as education. This practice uses the process of artistic creation to inspire and empower youth, lifelong learners and audiences to find and/or enhance their voices, stories and abilities. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of such programming, most offered free of charge, and has vastly expanded the theater’s ability to touch the lives of Chicagoland citizens (with 85% of youth participants coming from underserved communities) since its 2016 opening.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. David W. Fox, Jr. is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Denise Stefan Ginascol is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

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