Tuesday, February 6, 2018

REVIEW: Podcasts, Park Trysts and Friendships Spark in BPBCo's Hilarious Speech & Debate

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Non-Equity Chicago Debut of
Speech & Debate

by Tony-winner Stephen Karam
directed by David Lipschutz

Running Time: 90-minutes 

This terrific trio embody high school struggles with believable humor and angst. The reluctant friendships that develop as this group of loners bond, is a joy to see. When the adults have their own agendas, like book promotion or sexual gratification, these teens grab their own destinies and hit the ground running.  The writing is superb and framing the scenes as competitive Speech & Debate styles is ingenious and a lot of fun to see. Add to that, Brown Paper Box Co. is renting one of our fav venues for the first time, The Edge Theater, and it's a win. The Edge has comfortable seating with cup holders, and a bar in the front lobby. Grab a drink and settle in for this battle of words and wills. Don't miss this. Recommended. 

February 2 - March 4, 2018

The Edge Theater in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood

Following their Jeff Award Recommended run of They’re Playing Our Song, Brown Paper Box Co. concludes their 2017/2018 season with the non-Equity Chicago debut of Tony Award winner Stephen Karam’s Speech & Debate. BPBCo. Board President David Lipschutz* helms the timely dark comedy at The Edge Theater (5451 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660).

Three teenage misfits in Salem, Oregon discover they are linked by a sex scandal that's rocked their town. When one of them sets out to expose the truth, secrets become currency, the stakes get higher, and the trio's connection grows deeper in this fiercely funny dark comedy with music. ​More information - including ticketing, group & student sales, LGBTQ+ tie-ins, and behind-the-scenes insights - can be found at

Where: The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660
Preview: Friday, Feb 2, 2018 @ 7:30pm

Opening Night: Saturday, Feb 3, 2018 @ 7:30pm

Press Performances: Sunday, Feb 4, 2018 @ 3:30pm and ​Monday, Feb 5, 2018 @ 7:30pm

Regular Run: Friday, Feb 9 - Monday, Feb 12, 2018
Friday, Feb 16 - Sunday 18, 2018
Thursday, Feb 22 - Understudy Performance
Friday, Feb 23 - Sunday, Feb 25, 2018
Thursday, March 1 - Sunday, March 4, 2018
Tickets: On sale now at

“I am excited to stage Speech & Debate with BPBCo. because I’ve been performing, coaching, and judging at forensics competitions for over twenty years,” says director Lipschutz.  “The play holds a special spot in my heart since these high school misfits form an unforeseen friendship after starting their speech and debate team. This is reminiscent of my own high school experience as many of my closest and longest friendships began on the very same teams.”

Speech & Debate stars Trevor Bates (Howie), Austin Book (Howie u/s), Michael Brigance (Solomon u/s), Molly Coleman (Diwata u/s), Elise Marie Davis (Teacher/Reporter), Lauren S. Deaton (Teacher/Reporter u/s), Darren Patin (Solomon), and Deanalís Resto (Diwata).

The production staff and design team includes David Lipschutz* (Director), Sally Baker (Casting Assistant), Zach Dries* (Photographer/Videographer), Jeanine Fry (Costume Designer), ​Sara Heymann* (Properties Designer). Becca Holloway (Ass’t Director/Choreographer), ​Torrey Meyer (Scenic Designer), ​M. William Panek* (Box Office Manager), Erin Pleake (Lighting & Projection Designer), ​Deanna Satin (Stage Manager), Anna Schutz* (Production Manager), Charlie Sheets* (Graphic Designer), Daniel Spagnuolo* (Casting Associate), Gin To (Production Intern), and ​Becca Venable​ (Sound Designer).

Artist Bios

Stephen Karam (Playwright) plays include The Humans (Tony Award, Obie Award for Playwriting and Pulitzer Prize finalist), Sons of the Prophet (Pulitzer Prize finalist), and Speech & Debate. His adaptation of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard premiered on Broadway as part of Roundabout’s 2016 season; his film adaptation of The Seagull starring Annette Bening will premiere in 2017. Recent honors include two Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards; a Lucille Lortel Award, Drama League Award and Hull-Warriner Award. Stephen is a graduate of Brown University and grew up in Scranton, PA.

David Lipschutz* (Director)  BPBCo. member. David has directed with Hell in a Handbag (company member), Underscore Theatre, Generic Theatre Company, and several high schools throughout Chicagoland (where he ironically also coached and judged at speech and debate competitions). He recently assistant directed The Clockwork of the Lonely Soul with Runaways Lab Theatre's DDADIS Festival, and understudied/performed in At the Table (Non-Equity Jeff Award, Best Play) with Broken Nose Theatre. Next up, David is directing The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Holiday Edition with Handbag. Thanks to BPBCo. for this incredible opportunity and to BC/KJOC.

Trevor Bates (Howie) is an actor, dancer, writer, and sketch comedian. Recent acting credits in Chicago include The Tempermentals (About Face, u/s); Jerker (Pride Films and Plays); The Wig Bullies (Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival at Stage 773) and The Merchant of Venice, Peter Pan & Wendy, and Metamorphosis (The Theatre School at DePaul) TV: "Play by Play." Love to his family, his vegan tribe, and all brave actors out there.

Elise Marie Davis (Teacher/Reporter) is very happy to be working with Brown Paper Box Co. for the first time! She is the Associate Artistic Director and Casting Director of Broken Nose Theatre, where she was last seen in the recent Jeff Award Winning production of At The Table. Elise is also a company member with The Factory Theater. Her Chicago acting credits include the Lyric Opera, Artemisia, Strawdog, Route 66, The New Colony, Midsommer Flight, Level 11, American Blues, Hobo Junction, and Pride Films and Plays. As a playwright, she has had her work performed at First Floor Theater, BNT, and Arc Theatre, while her play, A Phase, has been taught at the University of Chicago. She is represented by Big Mouth Talent Agency.

Darren Patin (Solomon) ​is excited to be making his Brown Paper Box Co. debut as Solomon in Speech & Debate! A recent BFA Musical Theatre Performance graduate of Columbia College Chicago, his credits include: David Heard (Choir Boy – Raven Theatre), Marco/John Paul understudy/Dance Captain (Little Fish -Kokandy Productions), Male Swing (The Wiz - Kokandy Productions), “Mohawk Guy” (High Fidelity – Refuge Theatre Project), and “CB” (Dog Sees God – CCC). He would like to thank his amazing family and friends for their constant love and support!

Deanalís Resto (Diwata) is a Pennsylvania-Rican teatrista who earned her Musical Theatre degree from Ithaca College. Having previously worked with BPBCo. (They’re Playing Our Song, "Positively Present") she is stoked to be back with the BPBCo. family! Deanalís has also worked with BoHo Theatre, Refuge Theatre Project, Theo Ubique, Oracle, Emerald City Theatre, Teatro Luna, Free Street Theater, & Rabid Bat Theatricals. She has also spent the last four years working as an actor, deviser, and teaching artist with For Youth Inquiry (FYI) at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH), which designs participatory plays and theatre-based workshops for youth about sexual health and reproductive justice.

About Brown Paper Box Co.
Brown Paper Box Co. creates challenging and inspiring theatre that focuses on the text. By employing a smart, simple aesthetic in intimate spaces, we connect audiences directly to the heart of the story. For more information, please visit

*Denotes Brown Paper Box Co. members

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