Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SAVE THE DATES: American Theater Company (ATC) Announces Season 32 Led By New Artistic Director Will Davis

2016-17 SEASON

World premiere of T. by Dan Aibel
World premiere of We’re Gonna Be Okay by Basil Kreimendahl
Regional premiere of acclaimed Men On Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus
Reimagined classic Picnic by William Inge

Plus a new season-long partnership with the Chicago Inclusion Project


American Theater Company (ATC) proudly announces Season 32, led by its newly appointed Artistic Director Will Davis and continuing the theater’s dedication to developing new works. The 2016-17 season kicks off this September with the world premiere of Dan Aibel’s T., an exploration of the competitive ice skating saga between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, directed by Margot Bordelon, Sept. 23-Oct. 30, 2016. In the New Year, ATC presents Jaclyn BackhausMen On Boats, making its regional premiere at ATC Jan. 6-Feb. 12, 2017, under Will Davis’ direction after he remounts his acclaimed New York production Off Broadway at Playwrights Horizons this summer. Next spring brings another world premiere at ATC, Basil Kreimendahl’s We’re Gonna Be Okay, March 17-April 23, 2017. The production is directed by Bonnie Metzgar and was originally developed at ATC in collaboration with The Araca Group during AracaWorks: Chicago 2015. The final production of ATC’s 2016-17 Season is a reimagined classic, Pulitzer Prize winner Picnic by William Inge, under Davis’ direction May 19-June 25, 2017. Season subscriptions are on sale now and range from $60-$150, with special pricing available for advance purchases before July 31, 2016. To purchase a subscription or for more information, visit or call the ATC Box Office at 773-409-4125.

With Season 32, ATC is opening up a dialogue with theatricality and style. I want ATC to become a home for wild new plays and old plays done in new ways that experiment with form. We're deepening our commitment to the mission question ‘What does it mean to be an American?’ by using it as a spring board to ask identity questions not just about the plays we curate and produce, but also how those works get made and who brings them to life,” says Artistic Director Will Davis. “As one of the first trans identified artists to run a professional theater, I feel both responsible and honored to make ATC an organization dedicated to access and inclusion, and to move our company towards a place of openness and curiosity about how we champion and celebrate truly new work for the American theater.”

ATC also announces a new season-long partnership with Chicago Inclusion Project, whose work creates inclusive theater experiences that bring together Chicago artists and audiences normally separated by physical ability, gender identity and/or ethnic background. The two companies will partner around casting for ATC's Season 32, giving diverse theater artists access to roles they might traditionally have been excluded from. Together with the Chicago Inclusion Project, ATC will continue its commitment to presenting works that boldly reflect the diversity of stories and experiences in America today.


The American Membership                                     $150 (available until Oct. 31)
Includes reserved seating

Early Bird 4-Ticket Membership                             $120 (before July 31)
4-Ticket Membership                                                 $135 (Aug. 1-Oct. 31)

Early Bird 3-Ticket Membership                             $90 (before July 31)
3-Ticket Membership                                                 $105 (Aug. 1-Oct. 31)

Under-35 Membership
4-Ticket Membership                                                  $80 (available until Oct. 31)
3-Ticket Membership                                                  $60 (available until Oct. 31)

ATC is offering the new American Membership in Season 32 for $150, which offers the member a reserved seat at each production in the season. ATC is transitioning to general admission seating in Season 32. Under 35 Memberships range in price from $60-80. Early Bird 3- and 4-ticket subscriptions range in price from $90-$120 and are available until July 31, 2016. Regular subscriptions range in price from $105-$135 and are available Aug. 1-Oct. 31, 2016. All Memberships allow you to choose your performance dates upon purchase. To purchase a subscription or for more information, please contact the ATC Box Office at 773-409-4125 or visit

Past world premiere productions at ATC include Stephen Karam’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-nominated The Humans and Ayad Akhtar's Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced, both of which enjoyed acclaimed Broadway runs. Last spring ATC presented the world premiere of The Project(s), a documentary play about Chicago’s public housing residents written by late Artistic Director PJ Paparelli and Joshua Jaeger. In the 2015-16 Season, ATC produced the co-world premiere of Thomas Bradshaw’s Fulfillment with The Flea Theater in New York and the world premiere of Bruise Easy by Dan LeFranc, playwright of ATC’s blockbuster world premiere The Big Meal, which went on to an acclaimed Off Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons.


World Premiere
Written by Dan Aibel
Directed by Margot Bordelon
September 23–October 30, 2016

“Ice Follies” read the cover of Time Magazine on January 24, 1994, after ice skating medalist favorite Nancy Kerrigan was struck in the leg with a police baton by Shane Stant. In his darkly funny and unrelenting play, Dan Aibel explores the lengths one will go to for fame. Margot Bordelon returns to Chicago to direct this world premiere play named for Tonya Harding, the first woman ever to complete a triple axel jump in competition. Nancy Kerrigan never saw her coming.

Regional Premiere
Men On Boats
Written by Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Will Davis
January 6–February 12, 2017

Ten explorers set out on four boats to map the raging rapids of the Green and Colorado Rivers on the government’s first sanctioned expedition in the American West. Playwright Jaclyn Backhaus and director Will Davis team up again on this play, originally produced by Clubbed Thumb and returning to Playwrights Horizons in New York this summer, in Davis’ first production as ATC’s artistic director. Performed by a genderfluid cast of women and folks otherwise defined, Men On Boats takes back 1869.

World Premiere
We’re Gonna Be Okay
Written by Basil Kreimendahl
Directed by Bonnie Metzgar
March 17–April 23, 2017

Mag has a horse inside her, the spirit of a horse anyway. It’s the Cuban Missile Crisis, and President Kennedy said that “…the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing” so Efran and Leena and Mag and Sul are thinking about doing something big. Two families wrestle with macrame, female empowerment and a shared property line in Basil Kreimendahl’s We’re Gonna Be Okay.  Bonnie Metzgar directs this world premiere play first workshopped through ATC’s partnership with The Araca Group (Disgraced).

Written by William Inge
Directed by Will Davis
May 19–June 25, 2017

Closeted and dogged by an acute sense of failure for most of his life until he ended it, William Inge wrote some of the great lyrical plays of the American mid-century, and Picnic was his masterpiece, his playground and, quite possibly, his fantasy. In this loving reimagining, ATC Artistic Director Will Davis puts Inge at the center of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play and animates what is both sacred and profane about small town life against the backdrop of dust bowl hymns and love songs. Part séance, part love letter to a ghost, this Picnic explores a life lived at the periphery of one’s own desire.

Dan Aibel's plays have been developed and/or produced by the Detroit Rep, the Sundance Institute, Syracuse Stage, the Blank Theater (Los Angeles), Flashpoint Theatre Co. (Philadelphia), the Source Theatre (Washington, D.C.) and Outsider's Inn Collective (Seattle). In New York he has worked with Page 73, Rattlestick and The New Group. His play The Meaning of Lunch was seen in Chicago at Stage Left as part of Leapfest 7. A 2014 Sundance Theatre Lab fellow, Dan's plays have been published by Smith & Kraus and Playscripts. He lives in New York.

Jaclyn Backhaus is an Indian-American playwright and co-founder of Fresh Ground Pepper. Recent New York productions include Men On Boats (NYT Critics’ Pick, Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks, The Kilroys' 2015 List), People Doing Math Live! (Under The Radar Festival's INCOMING! Series at The Public Theater), The Incredible Fox Sisters (Live Source, The New Ohio), and You On the Moors Now (Theater Reconstruction Ensemble, upcoming with The Hypocrites in Fall 2016). She has received commissions from Playwrights Horizons and Ars Nova and is the 2016 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Clubbed Thumb. Her work has been developed and showcased with the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Playwrights Horizons, The Public and Joe’s Pub, The Ice Factory Festival, (not just) 3 New Plays, The Civilians R&D Group, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Ars Nova’s ANTFest, and The Falcons. She hails from Phoenix, Arizona.

Margot Bordelon is a freelance director who specializes in new work. Recent projects include Jiehae Park's peerless at Yale Repertory Theater, Anna Ziegler's A Delicate Ship for Playwrights Realm (NYT's Critics' Pick), and Joshua Conkel's Okay, Bye at Steppenwolf Theater. In New York, she's directed for Atlantic Theater, NYTW, Clubbed Thumb, Ars Nova, Dodo Theater Collective, Target Margin, The Lark, Juilliard, The Bushwick Starr, Theater Masters, and Stella Adler Institute, among others. Margot moved to the East Coast after spending six years in Chicago working as a director, writer, and performer. She is a founding member of Theatre Seven of Chicago, where she conceived and directed We Live Here; Lies & Liars; and Yes, This Really Happened to Me (all with Cassy Sanders). Margot spent four seasons working at Lookingglass Theatre, where she served as Literary Manager and Company Dramaturg. In Chicago she also worked for Collaboraction, Timeline, Pavement Group, Live Bait, Around the Coyote, Bailiwick, Hell in a Handbag, and Steppenwolf Theatre. She spent three years as a storyteller for 2nd Story, and her autobiographical work has been seen numerous times on the Victory Gardens stage. Theater BFA, Cornish College of the Arts. Directing MFA, Yale School of Drama.

Will Davis is a director and choreographer focused on physically adventurous new work, and the newly appointed artistic director of American Theater Company. Recent projects include: an upcoming production of Evita for the Olney Theatre Center remade and reconsidered; Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus for Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks, receiving a remount at Playwrights Horizons in August; Orange Julius by Basil Kreimendahl; Mike Iveson’s Sorry Robot for PS122’s COIL Festival; and two productions of Colossal by Andrew Hinderaker for Mixed Blood Theater and the Olney Theatre Center, for which he won a Helen Hayes award for outstanding direction. Davis has developed, directed and performed his work with New York Theatre Workshop, Clubbed Thumb, the New Museum, the Olney Theatre Center, the Alliance Theatre, the Playwright's Realm, the Fusebox Festival, New Harmony Project, the Orchard Project, the Ground Floor Residency at Berkeley Rep, Performance Studies International at Stanford University, and the Kennedy Center. He is an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the NYTW 2050 Directing Fellowship and the BAX (Brooklyn Art Exchange) artist in residence program. He holds a BFA in Theatre Studies from DePaul University and an MFA in Directing from UT Austin.

William Inge (1913-1973), a playwright, teacher, and novelist born in Independence, Kansas, wrote a string of successful plays throughout the 40s and 50s. His play Come Back, Little Sheba earned him the title of most promising playwright of the 1950 Broadway season. This success was followed in 1953 by Picnic (winner of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize) and again in 1955 by the highly revered Bus Stop. Inge’s fame continued to grow as The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, a reworking of his first play Farther Off from Heaven opened on Broadway in 1957. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, considered to be Inge’s finest play, is one in which he draws most directly from his own past. He spent the final years of his life writing two novels: Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff in 1970 and My Son Is a Splendid Driver in 1971. Inge committed suicide on June 10, 1973 at the age of 60.

Basil Kreimendahl is a resident playwright at New Dramatists. Basil’s plays have won the Rella Lossy Playwright’s Award and a National Science Award at The Kennedy Center. Basil has had a Jerome Fellowship and a McKnight Fellowship from the Minneapolis Playwright’s Center, and an Arts Meets Activism grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women for theatre work with the trans community. Orange Julius was developed at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, included in La Jolla Playhouse’s DNA new work series and The Kilroy’s List. Basil was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville for Remix 38 in the 2014 Humana Festival of New Plays. Basil's plays have also been developed or produced by New York Theatre Workshop, The LARK, ATC, The Playwright’s Center, Victory Gardens, About Face Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Inkwell, Rattlestick Theater, Labrynth Theater, and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Basil’s work has been published by Howlround, Dramatic Publishing, Playscripts, Inc., and included in Xlibria’s Becoming: Young Ideas on Gender and Identity. MFA University of Iowa, 2013.

Bonnie Metzgar is a Chicago-based playwright, director, dramaturg and producer. Recent directing credits include American Theater Company’s production of Let Me Down Easy by Anna Deavere Smith, The Secretaries by the Five Lesbian Brothers at About Face and Walk Across America for Mother Earth by Taylor Mac for Red Tape as part of the 2015 Garage Rep at Steppenwolf. She is currently writing a commission for Sideshow Theater’s Freshness Initiative and was a member of the Goodman's 2014-15 Playwrights Unit. From 2008-2013, Metzgar served as Artistic Director of About Face Theatre and was proud to work on behalf of LGBTQ artists at a theater dedicated to advancing the national dialogue on sexuality and gender. In 2013-2014, Metzgar was awarded the Carl Djerassi Fellowship in Playwriting at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her plays have been finalists for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Festival, and selected for the Great Plains Theater Conference in Omaha.  Previously, Metzgar produced the 365 Festival with Suzan-Lori Parks and was Associate Producer at the Public Theater where she founded Joe’s Pub. Metzgar is on the National Advisory Committee for Howlround and has taught at a number of universities including Brown, University of Chicago and currently at Purdue and DePaul. She received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Iowa and her BA from Brown.

About American Theater Company
American Theater Company (ATC) challenges and inspires its community by exploring stories that ask the question, "What does it mean to be an American?" ATC’s Ensemble includes Patrick Andrews, Kareem Bandealy, Jaime Castañeda, Kelly O’Sullivan, Tyler Ravelson, and Sadieh Rifai.

American Theater Company is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and CityArts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, and the Shubert Foundation.

About the Chicago Inclusion Project
The Chicago Inclusion Project is a collective of artists, committed to creating inclusive theater experiences by bringing together Chicago artists and audiences often separated by ethnic background, economic status, gender identity, physical ability and countless other barriers. By deliberately choosing the unexpected, both in play choices and non-traditional casting, cultivating a diverse audience by bringing new combinations of artists to as many communities in Chicago (and its surrounding suburbs) as possible, choosing facilities for the multiple projects that are handicap accessible and keeping price of tickets affordable, The Chicago Inclusion Project programming aims to unite diverse collections of Chicagoans. For more information, visit

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