Monday, October 30, 2017

REVIEW: Art Imitates Life at Gift Theatre's World Premiere of A Swell In The Ground

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

The Gift Theatre Presents the World Premiere of
By Janine Nabers
Directed by Ensemble Member Chika Ike
Through December 10, 2017

All Photos by Claire Demos

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we've long enjoyed the tiny but mighty Gift Theatre. With just 45 seats, the smallest equity theatre in town is a great local for intimate dramas, and they excel at maximizing their minuscule performance space. The staging for A Swell In The Ground is no exception. They play up, with two tiers, for an effective illusion of extra room, and they have a clever swinging stage wall that opens up another space. Even the audience seating is rearranged for this one, to wrap around the stage in an L shape.

(left to right)  Keith Neagle and Andrew Muwonge
Photo by Claire Demos

(left to right)  Darci Nalepa and Keith Neagle
Photo by Claire Demos

The acting is compelling, though the script jumps back and forth through time in a dizzying, non linear fashion that comes across as unnecessarily confusing. The Gift has done a helpful job of projecting the dates on the wall, to help orient the audience, yet it's still a bit jolting and difficult to follow at times. 

(left to right) Andrew Muwonge and Sydney Charles
Photo by Claire Demos

This is not one of my favorites, of many excellent choices I've seen at The Gift for years. It's still worth a look, but the piece comes across more like keeping up with friends on Facebook for decades, with mundane predictability and without much plot. Sure there were some untimely parental deaths, new love, disillusion, infidelity, divorce, and eventually parenthood, but it's all fairly standard stuff. The actors do a fine job with the material, but none of the characters are written in quirky and interesting enough ways to be standouts, or have much of a story arc, growth or change.

(left to right)  Sydney Charles and Keith Neagle 
Photos by Claire Demos

About the Play:
In intimate rooms throughout New York and Michigan, four friends from college fight through 17 years of love affairs, shattered dreams and compromised lives. Flipping back and forth through time like a photobook, this play – whose title is from a line of Emily Dickinson poetry – is equally breathtaking and heartbreakingly spare as Olivia, Nate, Abigail and Charles try to reconcile the lives they imagined with the lives they live.

The Gift Theatre concludes its 2017 season with the world premiere of Janine Nabers’ time-hopping love story A SWELL IN THE GROUND directed by ensemble member Chika Ike, playing October 13 – December 10, 2017 at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting

About The Gift Theatre

Conceived while students at The University of Iowa in 1997 by Michael Patrick Thornton and William Nedved, the idea for The Gift was to grow and nurture an ensemble and lay roots in an artistically underserved Chicago neighborhood. Heavily influenced by a class called “Alternative Approaches To Acting” taught by Dr. Eric Forsythe, the name of the theatre came from Jerzy Grotowski’s Towards A Poor Theatre:

“Acting is a particularly thankless art. It dies with the actor. Nothing survives him but the reviews, which do not usually do him justice anyway, whether he is good or bad. So the only source of satisfaction left to him is the audience’s reactions. The actor, in this special process of discipline and self-sacrifice, self-penetration and molding, is not afraid to go beyond all normally acceptable limits…The actor makes a total gift of himself.”

The ensemble is composed of actors, directors, writers, and improvisers. For over ten years, The Gift has earned and deepened its reputation as an ensemble dedicated to acting of the highest caliber and a welcome home for new plays. Natural Gas, giftED., giftLIT. and giftFILM offer, respectively, improvisation performances steeped in the Chicago “long form” tradition of montage, a two year high school training apprenticeship rich in the ensemble approach toward making theatre, a literature department offering readings and workshops, and a film company featuring the talents of the ensemble.

The open hand logo is a representation of an approach for building a character called “Three Parts of the Body.” The hand represents body (wrist), heart (palm), and mind (fingers). The three lines represent love, life, and the ability to overcome obstacles. The colors of The Gift are a nod to both The University of Iowa and the original cover design of Towards A Poor Theatre, both of which feature yellow & black.

Mission Statement
The mission of The Gift is to tell great stories onstage with honesty and simplicity.

The Gift believes a play never closes until everyone who saw it stops thinking about it and that art is, at its best, a sacred conversation between actor and audience, revealing the joy and pain of being human. In other words, a gift.

A SWELL IN THE GROUND features ensemble members Keith Neagle as Nate and Darci Nalepa as Abigail with guest artists Sydney Charles as Olivia and Andrew Muwonge as Charles.

The production team for A SWELL IN THE GROUND includes: Eleanor Kahn (scenic design), Rachel Lambert (costume design), Eric Watkins (lighting design), Christopher Kriz (sound design), Ellie Terrell (props design), Gaby Labotka (violence/intimacy design), Smooch Medina (video/projections design) and Corine James (stage manager).

(left to right)  Sydney Charles and Keith Neagle in The Gift Theatre’s world premiere of A SWELL IN THE GROUND by Janine Nabers, directed by ensemble member Chika Ike. 
Photo by Claire Demos.


Regular run: Friday, October 20 – Sunday, December 10, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving) or Friday, December 1.

Tickets: $30 – $40 Tickets are currently available at or by calling the box office at (773) 283-7071.

About the Artists:
Janine Nabers (Playwright) is a native of Houston, Texas and a 2013 graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship at Juilliard and winner of the 2014 Yale Drama Series Prize for her play Serial Black Face. She currently writes for Lifetime’s Unreal and Bravo’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce under Marti Noxon. Her play Annie Bosh is Missing premiered in August 2013 at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Janine won the 2013 NYFA Playwriting fellowship and was the 2013-2014 AETNA Playwriting Fellow at Hartford Stage, a 2012-2013 New York Theatre Workshop Playwriting Fellow, and Page 73’s 2011 Playwriting Fellow. Janine is working on commissions from Primary Stages, the Alley Theatre, and Hartford Stage. Her new musical Mrs. Hughes was developed as the 2012 Williamstown Theatre Festival fellowship musical and was part of the 2013 Yale Institute for Musical Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club’s 7@7 series, and the Theatreworks New Works Now Festival.

Chika Ike (Director) is a Gift ensemble member, where she also served as the​ assistant director of The Royal Society of Antarctica. Ike has worked artistically with many Chicago and regional theatre companies, including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Victory Gardens, American Blues Theatre Company, Eclipse Theatre, and Prologue Theatre Company. Upcoming directing projects include Lloyd Suh’s Franklinland for Jackalope Theatre Company and Dontrell who Kissed the Sea by Nathan Alan Davis for First Floor Theatre Company, as well as reading of Tori Sampson’s This Land was Made for Victory Garden’s Ignition Festival of New Plays. She is a former SDCF Gielgud Fellow, a member of the inaugural Victory Garden’s Directors Inclusion Initiative class, and the 2016-2017 Berkeley Repertory Theatre Bret C. Harte Directing Fellow.

More About The Gift Theatre:

The Gift’s 16th season consists of three world premieres and kicked off in February with Mona Mansour’s war-torn drama Unseen, directed by ensemble member Maureen Payne-Hahner, followed by Claire Kiechel’s Pilgrims, co-directed by ensemble member Michael Patrick Thornton and guest artist Jessica Thebus. The season closes with Janine Nabers’ time-hopping love story A Swell in the Ground, directed by ensemble member Chika Ike. Season subscriptions are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at or by calling (773) 283-7071. 


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Federico García Lorca's 
The House of Bernarda Alba

This short run is the 2nd Federico García Lorca currently running in Chicago. Make it a Lorca fest and catch this short run and the stunning YERMA at Red Tape Theatre/Theatre Y through December 10th.

The Theatre School at DePaul University will present The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca, translated by Jo Clifford, directed by Jeremy Aluma. Performances run November 7 through November 12, 2017. Press opening is Wednesday, November 8 at 7:30 PM at The Theatre School, Room 403, 2350 N Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60614.


Lorca’s final play set in the provincial Andalusia, Spain, ignites with the funeral service of Bernarda Alba’s second husband. Ever determined that her five grown daughters maintain a house of honor, Bernarda declares they will have an eight-year mourning period of absolute seclusion. When the eldest daughter receives a large inheritance, potentially sweeping her away from this fate and into an engagement with a handsome bachelor, conflict brews among the sisters repressed by Bernarda’s rule. Set in a time of tumultuous political climate, this story explores the underbelly of what happens when a tyrant seizes power.

TICKETS: Free tickets can be reserved on October 27, 2017 at noon at the box office, by calling 773-325-7900, or emailing

The House of Bernarda Alba runs Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM November 7, through November 12, 2017. Free tickets can be reserved on October 27, 2017 at noon at the box office, by calling 773-325-7900, or emailing Press Opening is Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM. **Preview is Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM. The House of Bernarda Alba will be performed in Room 403 of The Theatre School at DePaul University at 2350 N Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60614.

Federico García Lorca (born June 5, 1898, died August 18 or 19, 1936), was a Spanish poet and playwright who, in a career that spanned just 19 years, resurrected and revitalized the most basic strains of Spanish poetry and theatre. He is known primarily for his Andalusian works, including the poetry collections Romancero gitano (1928; Gypsy Ballads) and Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías (1935; “Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías,” Eng. trans. Lament for a Bullfighter), and the tragedies Bodas de sangre (1933; Blood Wedding), Yerma (1934; Eng. trans. Yerma), and La casa de Bernarda Alba (1936; The House of Bernarda Alba). In the early 1930s Lorca helped inaugurate a second Golden Age of the Spanish theatre. He was executed by a Nationalist firing squad in the first months of the Spanish Civil War.

Jeremy Aluma is an award-winning, Jewish-American theatre director and producer of Iraqi descent. He founded the internationally touring clown troupe, Four Clowns and served as Artistic Director during their first seven years. Credits include: Abraham & Isaac (MuBe Cultural Theatre, São Paulo, Brazil); Four Clowns (La MaMa, NYC); Pinocchio and Robin Hood (South Coast Repertory); The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Red Theater, Chicago); Sublimity (Theatre Row, NYC); Lunatics & Actors (Shakespeare Center, LA); Henry’s Potato (REDCAT, LA); Beyond Dark (Odyssey Theater, LA); Jonah (Annenberg, Santa Monica); Crumble, (Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake) (Sacred Fools, LA); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Urban Theatre Movement, LA); and In Arabia We’d All Be Kings (Alive Theatre, Long Beach). He is the recipient of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Cultural Exchange International Grant, the City of Santa Monica, Annenberg Community Beach House Residency, and the Long Beach Arts Council Community Project Grant. Since graduating Cum Laude from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Directing, Aluma has attended prestigious training programs such as, the Master Conservatory program in Bali, Indonesia; Director’s Lab West; and The Actor’s Center in NYC. He continues to teach and take classes at The Clown School and is currently pursuing his MFA in Directing at The Theatre School at DePaul University. He is a member of Red Theater and SDC.

The cast features Kya Brickhouse (ADELA), Kayla Forde (AMELIA), Tia Jemison (BERNARDA), Jessica Morison (MARÍA JOSEFA), Deyki Ronge (MAGDALENA), Maddy Stark (LA PONCIA), Kiah Stern (MARTIRIO), Ashlea Woodley (MAID & PRUDENCIA) and Harmony Zhang (ANGUSTIAS).

The artistic team includes Jill Cutro (Assistant Director), Erin Wilborn (Assistant Director), Trisha Mahoney (Dramaturg), Katherine Coyl (Fight Choreographer), Lindsay Mummert (Set Designer), Isabelle Laursen (Costume Designer), Gabriela Cordovi (Sound Designer), Madeline Doyle (Assistant Sound Designer) Nic McNulty (Technical Director), Kyle Cunningham (Lighting Designer), Andrei Borges (Master Electrician), Liv Hancock (Stage Manager), Hannah Smith (Assistant Stage Manager), Natalie Lawrence (Marketing Manager), and Lisa Portes (Advisor).

The Theatre School trains students to the highest level of professional skill and artistry in an inclusive and diverse conservatory setting.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

FEST ALERT: The Music Box Theatre's Debut Year of CINEPOCALYPSE Launches Nov 2nd-9th, 2017

Chi, IL Films On Our Radar:

November 2 - 9 at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre

Debut year of genre festival to award director Larry Cohen and actor Antonio Fargas,
 opens with SWEET VIRGINIA, closes with BEYOND SKYLINE!

The Music Box Theatre is proud to announce their full wave of programming and guests for the debut year of CINEPOCALYPSE (an evolution to the program design of Bruce Campbell's Horror Film Festival), which will take place November 2 - 9 at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre. The Midwest’s largest gathering of genre films and fans, the festival’s organizers are proud to announce dozens of new features, shorts, and premieres, alongside their juries, repertory, and secret screenings.

This year’s Cinepocalypse, November 2-9, will features scary-good world, U.S., and regional premieres, repertory screenings, special guests, parties, and much more. For more information, visit 

To purchase early bird badges, please visit

Of the over 60 films selected, highlights include the World Premiere of PRIMAL RAGE; North American Premieres of RENDEL, SNOWFLAKE, and THE TERROR OF HALLOW’S EVE; and U.S. Premieres of BEYOND SKYLINE, LOWLIFE, DOWNRANGE, and MOTORRAD! Among the guests at this year’s festival are writer/director Larry Cohen, filmmaker Joe Carnahan, actor Antonio Fargas, actor Eric Roberts, screenwriter/guest host Simon Barrett, actress Barbara Crampton, and Suspiria star Jessica Harper - with many more to be announced!

Says Cinepocalypse founder Josh Goldbloom, “This lineup represents the most twisted, hilarious, intelligent, horrifying, and no holds barred badass cinema on this planet. It’s a pummeling collection of international genre films from the world’s most creative and audacious artists. It was a pleasure for us to curate and discover these films and we’re thrilled to unleash it all in a fury of festivities unlike Chicago has ever seen!”

Cinepocalypse is made possible by sponsors IFC Midnight, Bloody Disgusting, and The Onion’s A.V. Club.


Larry Cohen is the sort of filmmaker who creates movie geeks. Upon discovering discover Black Caesar, It’s Alive, Q: The Winged Serpent, or The Stuff, you’re immediately tempted to see all of the director’s other movies. Between his directorial work and his (non-stop) screenplays, it’s safe to say you’ve seen and loved a few Larry Cohen movies without even knowing it. And this year, he’s here to hang out with the audience at Cinepocalypse and watch some movies!

with director Larry Cohen and star Eric Roberts in attendance!

Eric Roberts, James Earl Jones, and Janine Turner star in this typically colorful high concept thriller (with humor) from Larry Cohen, one of the most reliably entertaining indie filmmakers over the past 40 years. While not be as well-known as Cohen’s more regularly-screened classics, this smoothly entertaining flick about a mysterious ambulance that keeps snatching up all the women in Roberts’ life has to be seen to be believed.

with subject Larry Cohen in attendance!
USA, 2017
Dir: Steve Mitchell

Indie film legend Larry Cohen has directed cult classics like Black Caesar, It’s Alive, Q the Winged Serpent, and The Stuff. Hollywood screenwriter Larry Cohen delivered enjoyable high concept matinees like Best Seller, Phone Booth, and Cellular - and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Fans and newcomers alike will savor every minute of this exhaustive documentary, covering virtually every piece of Mr. Cohen’s wildly impressive career.


Shaft. Across 110th Street. Cleopatra Jones. Foxy Brown. Starsky and Hutch. I’m Gonna Git You Sucka! These are just a few of the exploitation classics that have been enlivened by the presence of character actor extraordinaire Antonio Fargas, whose body of work stretches from the late 1960s to our closing night film, BEYOND SKYLINE. Join us in celebrating this beloved veteran performer, as we highlight his eclectic and extensive body of work.

with co-star Antonio Fargas in attendance!
USA, 1974
Dir: Jack Hill

Cult legend, blaxploitation goddess, and overall badass Pam Grier stars as a young woman out for revenge after her boyfriend is murdered by a cabal of drug-dealing, sex-trafficking scumbags. It gets gruesome and unpleasant on occasion, but Ms. Grier always brings steely class to even the campiest of moments. Cinepocalypse honoree Antonio Fargas does some fine work as our anti-heroine’s conflicted - and untrustworthy - brother.

with co-star Antonio Fargas in attendance!
USA, 1988
Dir: Keenan Ivory Wayans
Fans of Shaft, Black Caesar, SuperFly, and Cleopatra Jones, have likely grown up with this Airplane!-style parody, but even newbies to the wonderful world of blaxploitation cinema will find much to love in Keenan Ivory Wayans’ affectionate, on-point lampoon of ‘70s street crime cinema.

Tommy Wiseau and The Room have given audiences countless hours of joy over the years, but for the inaugural Cinepocalypse, The A.V. Club is opening the door and taking you “Beyond The Room” with a special presentation of Get Even. By day, John De Hart is a trial lawyer in Los Angeles. By night, he’s the writer, director, producer, composer, and star of this DIY action-romance opus.
Shot mostly in 1993 and completed in 2007, Get Even features Satanic cults, corrupt cops, hot tubs, Shakespearean monologues, Wings Hauser laying down his personal philosophy while standing fully clothed in a swimming pool, and the life-changing magic of the “Shimmy Slide,” as performed by De Hart himself. Get Even has never received mainstream distribution and is only available from the director himself, so don’t miss your chance to see this cult-classic-in-the-making that will have you asking, “Who’s Hamlet? Who gives a shit?”

It’s top secret, so there’s nothing we can say other than: trust us, be here, or you’ll sincerely regret it!
And don’t believe any of the rumors; this one is staying completely under wraps until the title pops up on the screen!

Experience the ultimate in horror with the uncut, 98-minute version on a newly-discovered, Italian-dubbed 35mm print! Dario Argento’s classic tale of murder and paranoia inside a creepy dance academy is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and oldschool Eurohorror fans will not want to miss this special screening. Special thanks to The Chicago Cinema Society for use of their print.

BLOOD. GUTS. BULLETS. OCTANE. - Presented by Joe Carnahan

Cinepocalypse is proud to partner with Joe Carnahan to present a special screening of the legendary writer/director’s 1997 debut, accompanied by a fearsome foursome of classic cinematic thrills, all carefully curated and lovingly hosted by the man himself!

BLOOD, GUTS, BULLETS & OCTANE - Extremely rare 35mm Screening
with writer/director Joe Carnahan in attendance!
USA, 1997
Dir: Joe Carnahan

Inspired by the independent bravery of El Mariachi, (the directorial debut of Robert Rodriguez shot for only $7000), Carnahan paved his way as Hollywood’s most badass action filmmaker with this stunning first offering, also shot for an unbelievable seven grand! Following the screening, join writer/director Joe Carnahan as he discusses the trials and tribulations of low-budget filmmaking.

NEAR DARK - 30th Anniversary 35mm Screening
Curated and Introduced by Filmmaker Joe Carnahan!
USA, 1987
Dir: Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow’s masterful vampire ensemble may have not made much noise upon its theatrical release in 1987 but has gone up to become a true-blue genre classic in recent years. Aliens co-stars Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, and the late, great Bill Paxton star as a vampire clan who have their undead hearts set on terrorizing a small Texas town. [BLOOD]

HARD TIMES - Brand New 4K Restoration Premiere
Curated and introduced by Filmmaker Joe Carnahan!
USA, 1975
Dir: Walter Hill
Walter Hill director Charles Bronson and James Coburn, who gamble, booze, and box their way through New Orleans during the Great Depression. Recently restored to pristine 4K status, we guarantee you’ve never seen this one on the big screen! [GUTS]

BULLET IN THE HEAD – Rare 35mm Screening
Curated and Introduced by Filmmaker Joe Carnahan!
Hong Kong, 1990
Dir: John Woo
John Woo’s epic tale of three troubled friends who rise up from minor street toughs to fugitives and smugglers before being thrown into the Vietnam War is easily one of the most kinetic and exciting wartime action flicks ever put to film. Actual heart, humanity, and character elevate this action-packed bullet-fest far above all others of its ilk. [BULLETS]

MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE – Rare 35mm Screening
Curated and Introduced by Filmmaker Joe Carnahan!
USA, 1986                                         
Dir: Stephen Fucking King!
Buffeted by a phenomenal soundtrack by AC/DC, Stephen King’s first - and last - directorial effort is a goofy, grungy, gory tale of homicidal machines, ill-fated humans, and the greasy truck stop diner where vehicular homicide is the special of the day. [OCTANE]


SWEET VIRGINIA - Opening Night Film
Midwest Premiere
USA, 2017
Director: Jamie M. Dagg
Talent in attendance!

A former rodeo champ with a dark past unknowingly starts a rapport with a young man who has a propensity for disturbing sociopathic violence that has suddenly gripped a small town. Jon Bernthal (Netflix’s The Punisher), Christopher Abbott (It Comes at Night), Rosemarie DeWitt (Mad Men), and Imogen Poots (Green Room) star in this twisted, moody, modern day neo-noir masterpiece.

BEYOND SKYLINE - Closing Night Film
U.S. Premiere
USA, 2017
Dir: Liam O’Donnell
Talent in attendance!

The stars of The Purge: Anarchy (Frank Grillo) and The Raid: Redemption (Iko Uwais) team up to battle the alien apocalypse in this pulpy, colorful, and wildly over-the-top action/sci-fi/horror mash-up that has to be seen to be believed. The sequel to 2010’s Skyline, this mind-bending lunacy somehow manages to be even more insane (way more insane) than its infamous predecessor!


PRIMAL RAGE (World Premiere)
USA, 2017
Dir: Patrick Magee
Talent in attendance!
You may have seen a few Bigfoot-related horror films over the years, but it’s safe to say you’ve never seen a Sasquatch rampage like this. Primal Rage is a tale of a young couple, a bunch of hunters, a witch, and some Native American cops who butt heads with a wildly violent forest monster, causing all Hell to break loose! From practical special effects guru Patrick Magee (Spider-Man, Jurassic Park III), this may be the goriest film you’ll see all year!

SNOWFLAKE (North American Premiere)
Germany, 2017
Dirs: Adolfo Kolmerer and William James
Talent in attendance!
Take a dash of Tarantino, a splash of Coen brothers, a metric ton of meta-textual self-awareness, and a fast-paced series of humorously violent misadventures, and you’re halfway to grasping the magnificent madness of this bizarre German import. A gang of lowlife characters all want revenge on the others, but along the way they must contend with assassins, madmen, a blood-covered angel, and an electricity-powered superhero.

THE TERROR OF HALLOW’S EVE (North American Premiere)
USA, 2017
Dir: Todd Tucker
Talent in attendance!
Timmy Stevens is socially awkward kid, obsessed with horror movies and frequently bullied. But Timmy’s about to get his revenge in full-bore fashion when he unwittingly unleashes an evil creature known as The Trickster on Halloween Night. Genre veteran Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) provides an amazing creature performance, but the real stars here are the wide array of surprisingly effective creature FX and affection for old-school ‘80s mayhem.

DOWNRANGE (U.S. Premiere)
USA, 2017
Dir: Ryuhei Kitamura
Talent in attendance!
A merciless sniper takes aim at a car full of college kids, disabling their vehicle on a lonely country road and methodically picking them off, one by one. This latest, nail-biting offering from genre veteran Ryuhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train, Versus) contains the filmmaker’s trademark creeping tension, sudden violence, and extreme nihilism. In other words, things get pretty dark.

MOTORRAD (U.S. Premiere)
Brazil, 2017
Dir: Vicente Amorim
Talent in attendance!
A slasher by way of George Miller’s MAD MAX meets Wes Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES, this violence-fueled adrenaline ride will leave you absolutely breathless. In this visually stunning Brazilian import, a gang of dirt-bikers on a ride across an isolated region, find themselves being hunted by a machete-wielding band of motorcyclists intent on killing them all. Based on characters created by Marvel comic book author Danilo Beyruth, this atmospheric and suspenseful genre film also functions as an allegory to our battles within. It’s as smart as it is downright frightening, and we’re damn excited to unleash this beast into the U.S. for the very first time!

APPLECART - All-New Cut (Midwest Premiere)
USA, 2017
Dir: Brad Baruh
Talent in attendance!
A gaggle of powerhouse horror veterans - including Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), Brea Grant (Beyond the Gates), AJ Bowen (The Signal), Daniel Roebuck (At the Devil’s Door), and Chase Williamson (John Dies at the End) get together for what seems like a fairly standard “cabin in the woods” tale and then it gets weird… and weirder… and super gory. Let’s just leave it at that.

CHARISMATA (Midwest Premiere)
UK – 2017
Dir: Tor Mian, Andy Collier
Talent in attendance!
A rookie female detective, struggling to find acceptance in a police department defined by a culture of bullying and intolerance, watches as things go from bad to worse as her chief suspect in a series of brutal ritualistic murders takes a personal interest in her. A game of cat and mouse degrades the detective’s grasp on reality and, as she spirals out of control, this young woman must suddenly fight for her sanity, life… and maybe even her soul.

THE CRESCENT (Midwest Premiere)
Canada, 2017
Dir: Seth A. Smith
A young widow and her two-year-old son take shelter in a massive, creepy seaside house after the sudden death of her husband. But rather than follow the tropes of standard jump-scare storytelling, The Crescent places a unique focus its child star, some truly impressive visual touches, and a consistently ominous sound design. This creepy Canadian import, which premiered in TIFF’s Midnight Madness program, is guaranteed to get under your skin.

GET MY GUN (Midwest Premiere)
USA, 2017
Director: Brian Darwas
Talent in attendance!
This wonderfully executed homage to beloved and controversial exploitation classics of the past (namely Abel Ferrera’s Ms. 45 and Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave) proves itself to not just as an imitator, but in a league of its own. After a horrible attack leaves Amanda pregnant and out of a job, she finds herself on the verge of motherhood and the target of a psychotic stalker who will stop at nothing to get her hands on the unborn child.

THE LODGERS (Midwest Premiere)
Ireland, 2017
Dir: Brian O’Malley
There’s been a great flood of Irish horror films over the past several years, and their latest offering is just another example of how to combine classy scares and intermittent nastiness into one good thriller. Director Brian O’Malley (Let Us Prey) brings us the tale of two young twins in the 1920s, the strange rules that govern their existence, and what happens when a handsome newcomer threatens to upset their order of things.

PSYCHOPATHS (Midwest Premiere)
USA, 2017
Dir: Mickey Keating
Prolific indie genre machine Mickey Keating (Pod, Darling, Carnage Park) returns with a tale of psychos run amok… Yes, multiple disparate psychos. The execution of an infamous serial killer somehow inspires a half-dozen maniacs to lose their collective minds and commit all sorts of nasty acts, but this is not your standard body count movie. Loaded with odd digressions, fractured narratives, and some enjoyably abstract weirdness, this is may be Keating’s strangest, creepiest movie yet.

SEQUENCE BREAK (Midwest Premiere)
USA, 2017
Dir: Graham Skipper
To call this freaky dark romance a love letter to David Cronenberg’s classic Videodrome would be an understatement, but at least writer/director Graham Skipper has awfully good taste in influences. Sequence Break is a story of a lonely guy, a sweet girl, a deserted arcade, and a video game with insidiously biological tendencies - all of which become intertwined in a perverse, melancholic string of events that will leave all of them forever changed.

Previously Announced Films:

RENDEL (North American Premiere)
Finland, 2017
Director: Jesse Haaja

Finland’s first superhero film, Rendel is dystopian action/fantasy unlike anything ever witnessed Stateside. When a massive criminal organization takes over his town, a masked vigilante strikes back through a series of brutal attacks that leave blood spilled and cash ablaze. A dark adventure that harkens to the finest in 80s era comics, Rendel is the anti-Marvel crusader: an all-too-human superhero from the streets, driven solely by rage and revenge!

ATTACK OF THE ADULT BABIES (North American Premeire)
UK, 2017
Director: Dominic Brunt
High-powered middle-aged men intend to refuel the world’s economy by very sinister, sick and monstrous means.
"$1 of each ticket sale will be donated to the ACLU to assist in continuing their support of defending us from further adult baby attacks".

LOWLIFE (U.S. Premiere)
USA, 2017
Director: Ryan Prows
The sordid lives of an addict, ex-con, and a luchador collide when an organ harvesting caper goes very, very wrong

POOR AGNES (U.S. Premiere)
Canada, 2017
Director: Navin Ramaswaran
A female serial killer and her next victim form an unexpected relationship.

ANIMALS (TIERE) (Midwest Premiere)
Germany, 2017
Director: Greg Zglinski
A vehicle collision with a sheep on a country road initiates a whole series of weird an unsettling experiences for a couple in this darkly comical Lynchian nightmare.

BEFORE WE VANISH (Midwest Premiere)
Japan, 2017
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Three aliens travel to Earth in preparation for a mass invasion, taking possession of human bodies.

DEAD SHACK (Midwest Premiere)
Canada, 2017
Director: Peter Ricq
While staying at a run down cabin in the woods, three children must save their parents from the neighbor who intends to feed them to her un-dead family.

Germany, 2017
Director: Lukas Feigelfeld
Set in the Austrian Alps during the middle ages, this morbid and visually stunning tale deals with the fine line between ancient beliefs in magic and delusional psychosis

HOUSEWIFE (Midwest Premiere)
Turkey, 2017
Director: Can Evrenol
On a snowy eve a young girl’s sister and father are killed by her mother. 20 years later and slowly losing her grip on reality, she runs into a celebrity psychic who claims he is destined to help her. And then things get ultra weird. From the director of Baskin.

JAILBREAK (Midwest Premiere)
Cambodia, 2017
Director: Jimmy Henderson
An entire prison riots and they all get their ass-kicked by a special task force sent in to protect a key witness.

MOHAWK (Midwest Premiere)
USA, 2017
Director: Ted Geoghegan
Late in the war of 1812, a young Mohawk woman and her two lovers battle a squad of American soldiers hell-bent on revenge. From the director of We Are Still Here.

TRENCH 11 (Midwest Premiere)
Canada, 2017
Director: Leo Scherman
In the final days of WWI a shell-shocked soldier must lead a mission deep beneath the trenches to stop a German plot that could turn the tide of the war. But what lies beneath is way more dark & sinister than they ever could have imagined.

VERONICA (Midwest Premiere)
Spain, 2017
Director: Paco Plaza
After making a Ouija with friends, a teenager is besieged by dangerous supernatural presences that threaten to harm her whole family. From the director of the REC franchise.

TRAGEDY GIRLS (Illinois Premiere)
USA, 2017
Director: Tyler MacIntyre
This twist on the slasher genre follows two death-obsessed teenage girls who use their online show about real-life tragedies to send their small mid-western town into a frenzy and cement their legacy as modern horror legends.


Cinepocalypse 2017’s Feature Film Jury is comprised of actress/producer Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond, We Are Still Here), critic and Chicago Film Critics Festival producer Erik Childress, and critic/author Mark Millar (Pirouette/Jungle Book).

The festival’s Short Film Jury is made up of writer/director Gary Sherman (Raw Meat, Dead & Buried)
Lisa Holmes (Director of Sales, Home Entertainment at Music Box Films and Doppelganger Releasing), and actor/producer/editor Shane Simmons.


Once Cinepocalypse whittled down its hundreds of short film submissions into a small pile of favorites, the realization was made that a startling amount of them were directed by women. So why not, the programmers decided, showcase all of ‘em in one wildly eclectic block?! These shorts cover a wide array of subjects, from small-town psychos to otherworldly mysteries, and all sorts of insanity in between. Cinepocalypse is donating 50% of all proceeds from this screening to The Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

These year’s short films are:

Beautiful Injuries
Dir: Judith Beauvallet

Blood Shed
Dir: James Moran

Brown Wreck-Loose
Dir: Tristian Montgomery

Dir: Laura Nitz

Dir: Jon Rhoads

The Dollmaker
Dir: Al Lougher

Don’t Ever Change
Dir: Don Swaynos

Feeding Time
Dir: Matt Mercer

Dir: Shelagh Rowan-Legg

For a Good Time Call
Dir: Izzy Lee

Dir: Christopher Zatta
Dir: Slater Dixon

Dir: Justin Harding

Over Easy
Dir: Laura Nitz

Dir: Lauren Cooney

Remote Viewing
Dir: Robert Puccinelli

Third Wheel
Dir: Danny DelPurgatori

Dir: Elmira Bagherzadah

Sleazy Pete
Dir: Frank Appache

We Summed a Demon
Dir: Chris McInroy

What Metal Girls Are Into
Dir: Laurel Vail

Your Date Is Here
Dir: Todd Spence

Eric Roberts Is The Fucking Man!

With over 476 acting credits (and growing by the day). Oscar nominated thespian and just all around badass Eric Roberts (!!!) takes part in a very special live recording of Doug Tilley & Liam O’Donnell’s acclaimed film podcast ERIC ROBERTS IS THE FUCKING MAN. Though there are dozens of episodes that have been produced without the man Eric Roberts involved, Cinepocalypse is proud to introduce the parties to each other for the first time ever!

We promise this will be one of the most epic events of the festival!

The Cinepocalypse Midnight Movie Challenge
The production team at Boulderlight Pictures consists of 23-year-old JD Lifshitz and 24-year-old Raphael Margules. Alongside both Contracted films, they also produced Bad Match, which received its premiere at FrightFest; the upcoming Dismissed (starring Dylan Krause); and numerous other genre titles.

With their youthful exuberance and heavy output, we've issued them a challenge: produce a genre feature exclusively for Cinepocalypse 2017. There are no parameters other than it must be a feature-length midnight movie, and that they must begin production immediately upon release of this announcement.

Together, attendees of Cinepocalypse will all experience the World Premiere of this yet-untitled (and unwritten… and unfilmed) production during a special midnight slot in this year’s inaugural festival!

Josh Goldbloom, Founder and Artistic Director of The Awesome Fest and what had been known as Bruce Campbell’s Horror Film Festival, and Ryan Oestreich, General Manager of The Music Box Theatre, aim to make this year bigger, better, and scarier than any in the festival’s history. Since 2014, the festival has terrorized audiences with an annual slate of premiere films, guests, and bloodcurdling entertainment. Leaving a trail of apocalyptic annihilation in the suburbs, as Cinepocalypse, the festival sheds its suburban skin, forms an epic alliance with the city’s historic Music Box Theatre and reemerges as a brand new horror behemoth for Chicago.

The Music Box Theatre stands as one of the nation’s most prestigious art house theatres, and has recently made a concerted effort to diversify programming and bolster local audiences. Located on the city’s Northside at 3733 North Southport Ave, The Music Box's year-round programming has consistently offered genre fans some of the very finest cinematic experiences in digital, 35mm, and 70mm formats.

OPENING: DIE WALKÜRE at Lyric Opera of Chicago November 1 - 30

What You Need to Know About
at Lyric Opera of Chicago
November 1 - 30

Die Walküre during technical rehearsals. PHOTO: Michael Brosilow

The opening-night performance of Die Walküre on Wednesday, November 1, can be heard live locally on 98.7WFMT and globally on, beginning at 5:15pm.

New production dedicated to Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric’s music director and principal conductor, to mark the 30th anniversary of his Lyric debut

Running time 4 hours 45 minutes, including two intermissions.
Sung in German with projected English translations.

Die Walküre focuses on the conflict between Wotan, king of the gods, and his mortal son, Siegmund, who has unwittingly fallen in love with his own twin, Sieglinde, the wife of the brutish Hunding. This arouses the wrath of Wotan’s wife, Fricka (goddess of marriage), and the compassion of Wotan’s daughter, the warrior-maiden Brünnhilde. The turning point of the opera arrives when Brünnhilde disobeys her father by siding with Siegmund in the latter’s fight against Hunding. Both Siegmund and Hunding are killed, and Wotan punishes Brünnhilde.

Music Director Sir Andrew Davis celebrates his 30th anniversary at Lyric by conducting all performances of Die Walküre -- including one on November 14, the actual anniversary date. Lyric is dedicating the new production to Sir Andrew to celebrate this milestone.
Taboo-breaking love, violated vows, deadly disobedience, fierce retribution. Family dysfunction taken to the limits.

Provocative, shocking, deeply moving story inspired by Norse mythology.
Ravishing, dramatic, powerful, tender, sublime music that really tells the story. Every character has a distinctive musical theme. If you love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones…come see what inspired those sagas.

Before there was Wonder Woman...there was Die Walküre.
You’ll recognize the exhilarating “Ride of the Valkyries” music from Apocalypse Now, What's Opera, Doc? and countless commercials. Now hear that glorious music in context, live and brilliantly played by Lyric’s expanded 93-piece orchestra (including Wagner tuba, bass trumpet, and contrabass trombone!) conducted by Ring leader Sir Andrew Davis.

“Sheer beauty,” “sheer humanity,” “glorious music” are among the phrases Lyric’s general director Anthony Freud uses to describe this monumental yet intimate work.

Directed by David Pountney, one of the great stage directors in the world.
Outstanding international creative team: original scenic design by the late Johan Engels; set designer Robert Innes Hopkins, costumes designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca, lighting designer Fabrice Kebour, choreographer Denni Sayers.
German composer Richard Wagner wrote the entire libretto and music.
Die Walküre is through-composed -- the music flows from one scene to the next.

It’s a dramatic and musical thrill ride that you’ll never forget, with A-list Wagnerian singers who will blow you away. Soprano Elisabet Strid and tenor Brandon Jovanovich as twins Sieglinde and Siegmund will thrill with their rapturous duet before the deadly duel with Hunding, portrayed by bass Ain Anger. (Strid and Anger will both make Lyric debuts in these performances.)
As Fricka, preserver of sacred marriage vows, mezzo-soprano Tanja Ariane Baumgartner will overpower her willful husband Wotan with her righteous indignation.

As Wotan, bass-baritone Eric Owens gave the Millennium Park concert audience a taste of what’s to come. 9,000 attendees listened raptly to his heartrending farewell to favorite daughter Brunnhilde as he put her into a trancelike sleep and encircled her with magic fire, to be penetrated only by the bravest of heroes (in Part 3, Siegfried). Before the Big Sleep, soprano Christine Goerke will astonish audiences with her powerfully emotional performance as Brünnhilde, capturing perfectly the passionate spirit of a headstrong young woman fighting for what she believes is right.

These world-class singers will triumph in their demanding marathon roles. All are internationally acclaimed Wagnerians in the absolute prime of their careers.
The Valkyries sing gloriously -- and they ride flying horses. Die Walküre stands alone as a brilliant opera -- and it’s also part of the mighty Ring cycle. Lyric is presenting one Ring opera per season through 2020, then will perform the full cycle three times over the course of three weeks following the regular 2019/2020 season.

7 Performances November 1 - 30 
at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago

Evening performances start 5:30pm, matinees start 1pm. 
Doors open an hour before curtain.

Box suppers available for purchase before performances, 
for pickup at first intermission.

More opera for your money! 

For more information and to order tickets, visitüre or call 312-827-5600.


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar: 



City Winery Chicago, 1200 W. Randolph Street, announces English rock band The Zombies – with over 50 years of music, multi-Grammy Award nominee Dwele and more. The following shows are currently on sale to the public at

Nico Segal Presents: The JuJu Exchange – a Benefit Concert for Merit School of Music 
Tuesday, November 28; 7:00 p.m.

Drawing from hip-hop, jazz, classical and pop music, Nico Segal and The JuJu Exchange present a benefit concert for West Loop’s Merit School of Music which serves nearly 5,000 Chicago-area youth by removing barriers to high-quality music education. Nico Segal (previously known as “Donnie Trumpet” from the Chance the Rapper-affiliated band, The Social Experiment), Julian & Everett Reid and Lane Beckstrom use The JuJu as a way to build off of their past experiences in order to make a genre-bending style of music that looks to the future while dealing with the problems of the present. The ensemble is based on a musical partnership of these childhood friends who came up through Chicago Public School music programs, including Merit School of Music which band members attended between 1998 and 2013, three of whom graduated from Merit’s Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory. The musicians attribute their music and personal success to the exceptional training they received at Merit. Founded in 1979, Merit is a nationally accredited music school that offers its diverse student body sustained access to the highest-quality musical instruction, helping young people transform their lives through music education.

Shemekia Copeland 
Saturday, December 9 
Whether she's belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soul-shouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B rave-up or digging deep down into a subtle, country-tinged ballad, Shemekia Copeland sounds like no one else. With a voice that is alternately sultry, assertive and roaring, Copeland's wide-open vision of contemporary blues, roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with a modern musical and lyrical approach.

Thursday, December 14; 7:00 & 9:30 p.m.
Influenced by the sounds of jazz and Motown, Dwele is a multi-Grammy Award nominated songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. He began his career in Detroit’s underground hip-hop scene during the late ’90s and has since released five albums and collaborated with artists like Big Sean and Kanye West, including work on West’s 2007 Flashing Lights. His fifth studio album, Greater than One, mixes silky ballads and crispy up-tempo jams to create what Dwele calls “bedroom music.”

Cyrille Aimee
Thursday, February 15
Cyrille Aimée (Sur­real M­A) is a French­Dominican vocalist and actress. Winner of the Montreux Jazz Festival's Vocal Competition, the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition and finalist in the Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition, Aimée is—in the words of Will Friedwald of The Wall Street Journal—"one of the most promising jazz singers of her generation."

The Zombies 
Monday-Tuesday, March 19-20
The Zombies have returned to celebrate the release of their latest Billboard-charting album, Still Got That Hunger, and their 2nd nomination for the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Zombies is led by founding and current members vocalist Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent alongside bassist Jim Rodford (formerly of ARGENT and The Kinks), Rodford's son Steve Rodford on drums, and renowned session guitarist Tom Toomey. The band's live performances take fans on a journey through time, from their early hits, such as 1968 masterpiece “Odessey & Oracle,” to post-Zombies solo favorites to today with Still Got That Hunger.

City Winery also announces Josh & Erika (of the Empty Pockets) opens for Poco featuring Rusty Young on Oct. 25 and Marie Miller opens for Kris Allen on Dec. 18.

All City Winery events are open to all ages and start at 8 p.m., unless noted.

Only members of City Winery Chicago’s signature VinoFile™ program have access to advanced ticket sales in addition to receiving: a waiver of ticket service fees; free valet parking; Restaurant Loyalty Rewards, such as a free pair of VIP concert tickets for every $500 spent on food & beverage in the restaurant; exclusive membership-only events; and access to the proprietary City Winery Virtual Sommelier™, which helps make suggestions for wines one might enjoy based on past consumption at the venue.

The Zombies, Shemika Copeland, Nico Segal & The JuJu Exchange, Dwele, Marie Miller and Cyrille Aimee join a diverse mix of the most respected names in pop, rock, jazz, blues, world music, theater, dance, spoken word and comedy presented at City Winery Chicago, including previously announced headliners and supporting acts:

David Crosby & Friends (Oct. 30-31); Lizz Wright with Lyric (Nov. 1-2); Tim Reynolds & TR3 (Nov. 3); Jackie Greene & Anders Osborne with Cris Jacobs (Nov. 4; 5 & 8pm) The Accidentals with Jake Allen (Nov. 5, 11:30am); Victor Wooten Trio (Nov. 5, 5 & 8pm); An Evening with Herb Alpert & Lani Hall (Nov. 6-7); Mariza (Nov. 8); Ryan Montbleau Band with The DuPont Brothers (Nov. 9); The Revelers (Nov. 12, 1pm); Black Violin (Nov. 12, 5:30 & 8pm); Sharon Shannon (Nov. 13); Take Me to the River (Nov. 14); Loudon Wainwright III with Lucy Wainwright Roche (Nov. 15); Kandace Springs (Nov. 16); Loose Ends (Nov. 17, 7pm); Mike Doughty (Nov. 18); Chicago Philharmonic Brunch - True Crime Radio Stories (Nov. 19, 12pm); Jackopierce with Marie Miller (Nov. 19, 7pm); Badfinger featuring Joey Molland (Nov. 20); Miki Howard (Nov. 21); Joshua Davis (Nov. 22); The Verve Pipe (Nov. 24); Kurt Elling: The Beautiful Day (Nov. 25-26, 5 & 8pm); Marcus Johnson (Nov. 27); Earl Klugh (Nov. 29, 6:30 & 9pm); Rhett Miller with Matthew Ryan (Nov. 30); Ms. Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton (Dec. 2); Jeffrey Foucault & Kris Delmhorst (Dec. 3); The Secret Sisters with Brian Dunne (Dec. 4); Marc Roberge of O.A.R. (Dec. 5, 7 & 9:30pm); Joe Pug with Juanita Stein (Dec. 6); Chicago Philharmonic Brunch - FairyTale Noël (Dec. 10, 12pm); Los Lobos with Matt Andersen (Dec. 10-11); Los Lobos with Future Stuff (Dec. 12-13); The Empty Pockets with Nate Jones (Dec. 17, 7pm); Kris Allen (Dec. 18); Bebel Gilberto (Dec. 19-20); Avery*Sunshine (Dec. 21, 7 & 9:30pm); Michael McDermott with Heather Horton (Dec. 22); Michael McDermott (Dec. 23, 5 & 8pm); Poi Dog Pondering (Dec. 26-30); BoDeans (Dec. 31, 7:30 & 11pm; Jan. 1, 5 & 8pm); Freddy Jones Band with The Nadas (Jan. 12-13); Eric Benét (Jan. 19, 7 & 10pm); The Posies (Jan. 31); 10,000 Maniacs (Feb. 9, 7:30 & 10pm; Feb. 10, 5 & 8pm) and Alan Doyle (Mar. 2).

Opened in 2012, City Winery Chicago is a fully operational winery, restaurant with outdoor patio, concert hall and private event space located in the heart of the West Loop at 1200 W. Randolph, in the historic urban Fulton Market district. Once a refrigerated food distribution warehouse, the 1911 building has been transformed into a contemporary 33,000 square foot haven for those passionate about wine, music and culinary arts. The décor evokes the romance of being in wine country, from the exposed stainless steel fermenting tanks and French oak barrels, to the aroma of fermenting grapes. Chicago’s only fully operation winery has produced dozens of in-house wines sourced from vineyards in California, Oregon, Washington, Argentina and Chile, including a Wine Enthusiast 92-point 2015 Verna’s Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir. With more than 400 unique producers from around the world City Winery is recognized with 2014 and 2015 Best of Awards of Excellence “for having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world” by Wine Spectator. The globally inspired, locally sourced, wine-focused food menu is conceived for pairing and sharing. The concert hall accommodates up to 300 guests, all seated at tables with complete beverage and dining service, ensuring a comfortable “listening room” experience enhanced by a state-of-the-art Meyer Sound system. Riedel is the official and exclusive provider of glassware, showing City Winery’s commitment to enjoying quality wine in a quality vessel. American Airlines is the Official Airline and Virgin Hotels Chicago is the Official Hotel of City Winery. For more information, please visit

OPENING: Wild Boar Via Silk Road Rising 11/9-12/17/17

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Silk Road Rising Presents
Wild Boar
The U.S. Premiere
Written by Candace Chong
Translated by Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith
Adapted by David Henry Hwang
Directed by Helen Young

November 9th - December 17th, 2017

Silk Road Rising (Chief Programming Officer and Mission Trustee, Jamil Khoury and Founding Executive Director, Malik Gillani) is proud to announce the U.S. Premiere of Wild Boar, written by Candace Chong, translated from Chinese to English by Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith, adapted by Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang, and directed by Helen Young.  The production will run November 9th to December 17th, 2017 at Silk Road Rising located at 77 W. Washington St., Lower Level, Chicago, IL, 60602. 


A gripping investigation of journalistic integrity, city planning, and social conscience, Wild Boar is a new play from one of Hong Kong’s most acclaimed playwrights. When a controversial professor goes missing, an editor and his student band together to publicize the truth. Old flames spark and friendships are tested in the U.S. premiere of this turbulent thriller about media manipulation, fake news, and who gets to speak for the poor.

Artistic Statements 

“We love Wild Boar not only because it’s smart, sexy, and topical, but because, in a rare combination, it exudes both confidence and self-doubt simultaneously. It builds and unpacks all at once, seemingly unable to differentiate right from wrong without flip-flopping, which is part of the play’s inherent strength. At a time when journalism, governance, nation-states, and citizenship all feel in flux, Wild Boar probes those feelings with an air of mystery, flirtatiousness, and whodunit intrigue. “  - Chief Programming Officer and Mission Trustee, Jamil Khoury

“As a fable, Wild Boar is a cautionary tale. It sounds an alarm. Today, this call has crossed the oceans, traversing 12,518 kilometers to Chicago. I believe the power of art will shorten the physical distance between us. Watching the fire from the other shore, will you feel the pain less acutely? I hope not. If this fable hasn’t provided a proper warning for my own city, let its ending be a mirror for audiences elsewhere.” - Playwright of Wild Boar, Candace Chong

“In giving this play its American premiere, Silk Road Rising builds a road connecting Candace’s community with our own. In our current national moment, Wild Boar has also become an American story.”- Adapter of Wild Boar, David Henry Hwang

“We make choices to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Some of those choices touch on self-censorship or the censorship of others. Wild Boar’s challenge is this: we must not forget to examine and reflect on those choices. We may be giving up a deeply held long-term gain for a short-term smaller good. And in the case of an ideal, once it’s given up, it takes a fight to get it back.” - Director of Wild Boar, Helen Young


The creative team for Wild Boar includes Candace Chong (Playwright), Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith (Translators), David Henry Hwang (adapter), Helen Young (Director), Corey Pond (Production Manager), Joshua Baggett (Stage Manager), Yeaji Kim (Set/Projections Designer), Tony Churchill (Projections Designer),  Melissa Ng (Costume Designer), Lindsey Lyddan (Lighting Designer), Thomas Dixon (Sound Design and Original Music), Katy Vest (Props Master), Jason Pikscher (Tech Director), Carol Ann Tan (Dramaturg), Brent Ervin-Eickhoff (Assistant Director), and Bailey Howard (Assistant Stage Manager). 

The cast includes Christine Bunuan* as Tricia, F. Karmann Bajuyo as Ruan, Fin Coe as Yam, Emily Marso as Karrie, and Scott Shimizu as Johnny. Understudies include Zhanna Albertini, Harrison Hapin, Dwight Sora, Marie Tredway, Ian Michael Smith, and Marie Tredway.  

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers.

About the Artists

Candace Chong (Playwright) is a recipient of the Best Artist Award (Drama) by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, and the winner of four Hong Kong Drama Awards (Best Script) for Alive in the Mortuary (2003), Shall We Go to Mars (2004), The French Kiss (2006) and Murder in San Jose (2009). Her plays have been translated and presented in Seoul, Tokyo, Macao, Singapore, and Shanghai, and her first commission as librettist, for the opera Dr. Sun Yat-sen, was selected as part of New York City Opera’s VOX: Contemporary American Opera Lab in May and will receive its world premiere this fall in Beijing and Hong Kong. Ms. Chong is a prolific translator of stage work, and her translations include Titus Andronicus, Betrayal and The Shape of Things, among many others. Her play, Wild Boar, premiered at the 2012 Hong Kong Arts Festival.

Helen Young (Director) is grateful and excited for another opportunity to work with the good people at Silk Road Rising! Recent work at SRR includes Great Expectations, The Hundred Flowers Project (as assistant director), and Red Flamboyant (as reading director). Other Chicago credits include the Jeff Recommended American Hwangap with A-Squared and Halcyon Theatres (director), and Tea—also Jeff Recommended—at Prologue Theatre. Helen also has several credits with TimeLine Theatre: Tiny Dynamite(director), The Audience (associate director), The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin (reading director), and Chimerica (assistant dramaturg). Other directing credits include work with Indie Boots, Polarity Ensemble, Artemisia, Broken Nose, and Artistic Home. 

Performance Schedule

Wild Boar will run from November 9th to December 17th, 2017. Performances will occur Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 4:00pm, and Sundays at 4:00pm. 
Added performance: Tuesday, 11/21 at 7:30pm.

Previews:  November 9 - November 17, 2017
Press Opening: November 18, 2017 at 4:00pm
Regular Run: November 19 - December 17, 2017


Preview Performances: $25 for adults, $12.50 for students 
Regular Performances: $35 for adults, $17.50 for students 
Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at or by calling the Silk Road Rising Box Office at 312.857.1234 x201. 

Steppenwolf LookOut Series Winter 2017-18 Lineup to Include Chita Rivera in Concert with Seth Rudetsky

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Additional Winter Highlights Include a One-Woman Show Written and Performed by Ensemble Member Molly Regan, an Evening of Improv with Michael Patrick Thornton and Performances by Returning LookOut Guests Jessie Fisher & Erik Hellman, Growing Concerns, and You’re Being Ridiculousplus Chicago musical theatre & storefront stars

Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series is pleased to announce their exciting Winter 2017-18 Lineup, which will feature two-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera in Concert with Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host. The one-night-only event will be on Monday, December 11 at 6:30pm in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted). Public tickets go on sale Friday, November 3 at 11am. Member Pre-Sale for the Chita Rivera concert starts Wednesday, November 1 at 11am.

Two-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera performs alongside Sirius XM Radio host and creator/star of Broadway's Disaster! Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host. This unscripted evening will feature Rivera performing the greatest hits of her vast musical theater repertoire, including songs from her now legendary roles of Anita in West Side Story, Rose in Bye Bye Birdie and Velma in Chicago. Produced with Mark Cortale, the evening will be a seamless mixture of intimate, behind-the-scenes stories of her career through insightful, funny and revealing questions posed by Rudetsky. An acclaimed actress, singer and dancer, Rivera has earned 10 Tony nominations for her beloved Broadway roles. This spontaneous evening of hilarity and show-stopping songs is not to be missed. 

Additional winter highlights include a one-woman show written and performed by ensemble member Molly Regan, an evening of improv with Michael Patrick Thornton and performances by Returning LookOut Guests Growing Concerns Poetry Collective and Po’Chop, plus new music, comedy, theatre, storytelling and more. Full lineup below.

Tickets to most Winter LookOut programming go on sale Friday, November 3 at 11am through Audiences Services (1650 N Halsted), 312-335-1650 and Steppenwolf Red and Black Card Members may use credits towards shows in the 1700 Theatre. Lineup below; prices vary. For information, visit

Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre is an 80-seat cabaret-style space connected to Steppenwolf’s own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks at 1700 N Halsted St., an inviting space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Guests can take drinks into the theater.

LookOut Winter 2017-18 Lineup
Listed in date order. All artists, dates and prices subject to change
*Doors open 30 minutes before performance time

She's Folks' Holiday Hootenanny
Thursday, December 7 & Friday, December 8 
The Folks are hitchin' up the sleigh to bring you their signature Story, Song and Sass - with a seasonal twist. Join Betsy Morgan and the Boys as they celebrate the holidays with charming tales, Yuletide classics and a medley of holiday hymns, as well as original tunes.

Erik and Jessie and Everyone You Know Variety Show: Holiday Edition 
Monday, December 11
Local actor/musicians Erik Hellman and Jessie Fisher present a Holiday edition of their variety hour: Original music, special guests, comedy, magic, improv, and ephemera along with the tightest country/soul band in the land. Fast-paced, fun, funky and fresh.

Bette Midler: Xmas at the Baths
Tuesday, December 12 & Wednesday, December 13
Hell in a Handbag presents Caitlin Jackson as Bette Midler in the return of their steamy cabaret sensation - with a holiday twist! A live tribute to the legendary shows at New York's infamous Continental Bath House with Jeremy Ramey on piano and a slew of special guest stars to help ring in the holidays - Handbag style! 

Chita Rivera in Concert with Seth Rudetsky 
Monday, December 11 
Two-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera performs at Steppenwolf for one-night-only alongside Sirius XM Radio host and creator/star of Broadway's Disaster! Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host. This unscripted evening will feature Rivera performing the greatest hits of her vast musical theater repertoire, including songs from her now legendary roles of Anita in West Side Story, Rose in Bye Bye Birdie and Velma in Chicago.

Steppenwolf Member Pre-Sale for this performance starts November 1 at 11am.

Youth in a Roman Field
Saturday, January 6
Youth in a Roman Field wants to help you break the rules. The bastardized string quartet-meets-jazz-combo-meets-folk-band led by singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Claire Wellin incorporates sounds of "Appalachia, cayenne pepper, & ghosts.”

The Accidental Curator
By Molly Regan
Directed by Mary B. Robinson
Friday, January 12 – Sunday, January 14
Friday and Saturday 8pm
Sunday Matinee 2pm
With equal amounts of wry humor and warm wisdom, Steppenwolf ensemble member Molly Regan takes on one of life's most challenging-but-under-appreciated rites of passage in this solo show: becoming the keeper of the keepsakes, repository of family memory, appraiser and disseminator of the valueless and the invaluable.

Sand & Friends
Friday, January 19 & Saturday, January 20 
Sand is an improv ensemble made up of Thomas Kelly, Scott Nelson and Mike Brunlieb, accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Tim Joyce. Gentle, sweet little misfits and power-mad demonic rage-machines and kinda vacant functionaries and righteous Christian punk guitarists are some of Sand's favorite people.

Poems for the People: Growing Concerns Poetry Collective Book Release + Concert
Friday, January 26 & Saturday, January 27
With this evening of music and performance, Growing Concerns Poetry Collective celebrates the release of its first book, a collection of the poetry of McKenzie Chinn and Mykele Deville, published by Candor Arts. 

The Przmatics: Chicago Songs
Tuesday, January 30
Join The Przmatics for an evening of quirky power-pop with jazz harmonies filtered through garage band mentalities. This performance features songs written in and about the city of Chicago and will showcase special guests from the local scene performing new collaborations.

You’re Being Ridiculous: I LOVE…
Friday, February 2 & Saturday, February 3
Friday, February 9 & Saturday, February 10
At You're Being Ridiculous, real people tell true stories about their lives. Each performer is linked by rotating themes, and by the desire to make you laugh—and, once in a while, cry. This month’s theme: I LOVE…

Thursday, February 8
YOU & ME is a two-person, entirely improvised, no suggestion set with Michael Patrick Thornton and a guest artist. Hilarious, horrifying, and human.

Sinfolk / Sound + Fury
Monday, February 12
Featuring Gabriel Ruiz, Marvin Quijada and Jess Godwin, Sinfolk and Sound + Fury come together for a theatrically augmented concert experience benefitting Puerto Rico relief efforts. The split bill will host Sinfolk, an intimate acoustic duo, and Sound + Fury's electronic bombast, to create a unique evening of diverse music and theatrical experiments.

WildClaw Theatre Company Presents
Open Heart Surgery 2: Invasive Procedures
A Salon of Medical Horrors
Wednesday, February 14
WildClaw Theatre Company is proud to present Open Heart Surgery 2, the sequel to 2014’s Horrific Valentine’s Day Salon. Join WildClaw as they explore matters of the heart… and lungs… and liver…

Thank the Lorde!
By Po’Chop
Friday, February 16 - Sunday, February 18
Friday and Saturday 8pm
Sunday Matinee 2pm
The spirit moves in Po'Chop’s Thank the Lorde! This tribute to the revolutionary women who work together as friends and lovers is church service as performance. Filled with secular interpretations of all your favorite sacraments. Only this time, the object of worship is a Black Lesbian Feminist doing her work. Have you done yours? 

A Concert Presentation of:
East’o, West’o!
Music and Lyrics by Michelle J. Rodriguez
Friday, February 23 & Saturday, February 24
Weaving together Appalachian harmonies, bluegrass and contemporary folk, a Norwegian tale becomes an American myth in this joyful musical, celebrating a big-hearted heroine navigating the spaces between womanhood, belonging and home. Starring the composer/lyricist, Michelle J. Rodriguez, the first Chicago presentation of East’o, West’o! promises to be an experience of powerful, cleansing, revitalizing joy.

We Three: Loud Her. Fast Her. Funny Her. 
Monday, February 26 & Tuesday, February 27 
Meghan Murphy, Danni Smith, & Cassie Slater are three giants (literally they're all 5'10+) in the musical theatre world. Here, they join forces to sing about the sweet release of a well-timed belly laugh and the life affirming power of a new found friendship.

LookOut is Steppenwolf’s performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form, emerging artists and performance legends, quintessential Chicago companies and young aspiring ensembles, familiar Steppenwolf faces and new friends. Tickets to all LookOut programming are available through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted), or 312-335-1650. Prices vary for each show. Steppenwolf Red Card and Black Card Members may use credits towards any LookOut programming. The LookOut Series is presented year-round and announced on an ongoing basis. John Zinn, Greta Honold and Patrick Zakem are the producers for LookOut. For more information, visit

Located in front of the 1700 Theatre is Steppenwolf’s café & bar, Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, offering a warm, creative space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Open Tuesdays – Sundays from 8am to midnight, Front Bar serves artisanal coffee and espresso is provided by La Colombe and food prepared by Goddess and Grocer. The menu focuses on fresh, accessible fare, featuring grab-and-go salads and sandwiches for lunch and adding shareable small plates and desserts for evening and post show service.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble today features 47 members who represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit,, and

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