Tuesday, March 6, 2018

OPENING: SMART PEOPLE at Writers Theatre 3/21-6/10/18

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Writers Theatre presents
Written by Lydia R. Diamond
Directed by Hallie Gordon
Featuring Kayla Carter, Erik Hellman, Deanna Myers and Julian Parker

March 21 – June 10, 2018

**Advisory: Recommended for ages 18 and up. This production contains use of profanity and sexual situations.**

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we're elated to see Chicago's theatre scene embracing themes of racism and racial tensions, and sparking much needed discussions. We're also eager to see Hallie Gordon's inaugural opportunity directing at Writers Theatre. We've thoroughly enjoyed her insightful direction at Steppenwolf and Rivendell for years.

Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma, presents Smart People, written by Lydia R. Diamond and directed by Hallie Gordon. Smart People runs March 21 – June 10, 2018 in the Gillian Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. The Press Opening is Wednesday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Four intelligent, attractive and opinionated young urban professionals—a doctor, an actress, a psychologist and a neurobiologist studying the human brain’s response to race—search for love, success and identity while also attempting to navigate the intricacies of racial and sexual politics. This whip-smart new play taps into current cultural conversation in an enthralling and provocative way, taking on deep questions of the nature of prejudice with razor sharp wit.

Smart People premiered at the Huntington Theatre in Boston in May of 2014 under the direction of Peter DuBois.

Staged in WT’s intimate Gillian Theatre, this sexy, serious and fiercely funny new play explores the inescapable nature of racism and other tricky topics with rapid fire dialogue, shattering assumptions about our culture’s ingrained attitudes of racism, sexism and classism. Audiences will be captivated by one of the smartest new plays of its time.

Lydia Diamond’s plays have received national attention and acclaim, receiving the Lorraine Hansberry Award for Best Writing, an LA Weekly Theater Award, and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award. She has taught playwriting at DePaul University, Loyola University, Columbia College Chicago, and Boston University. She is also a Huntington Playwright Fellow and a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists.

“Smart People manages to be a progressive provocative and sophisticated conversation about race while also being thoroughly entertaining and even hilarious,” said Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. “This combination of superlatives defines the work of playwright Lydia Diamond. She is uncompromising in how she engages with her subject matter and yet remains completely generous to the audience, never forgetting the reasons we choose to go to the theatre in the first place.  We are delighted to welcome director Hallie Gordon, making her Writers Theatre debut, with a first rate cast and superb design team.  I invite you to stay around in the lobby for a drink and some conversation following the performance.  There will be SO much to talk about!"

Hallie Gordon is directing at Writers for the first time. She recently directed Cal and Camo and Dry Land at Rivendell Theatre Company and HIR, The Rembrandt and Monster at Steppenwolf.

The cast includes: Kayla Carter (Valerie Johnston), Erik Hellman (Brian White), Deanna Myers (Ginny Yang) and Julian Parker (Jackson Moore).

The designers are Collette Pollard (scenic), Izumi Inaba (costumes), Kathy A. Perkins (lighting), Deidre Searcy (projections) and Richard Woodbury (original music & sound). The dramaturg is Bobby Kennedy and the intimacy director is Sasha Smith. The production stage manager is Rebecca Pechter.

Tickets are priced $35 - $80. Subscriptions and individual tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at 847-242-6000 or in person at the box office at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe.

Lydia R. Diamond (Playwright) has written a number of award-winning plays including: Smart People, Stick Fly, Voyeurs de Venus, The Bluest Eye, The Gift Horse, Harriet Jacobs, The Inside, and Stage Black. Theatres she has worked with include: Arena Stage, Cort Theatre (Broadway), Chicago Dramatists, Company One, Congo Square, Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, Huntington Theatre Company, Jubilee Theatre, Kansas City Repertory, Long Wharf, Lorraine Hansberry, McCarter, Theatre Mo’Olelo Performing Arts Co., MPAACT, New Vic Theatre, Playmakers Repertory, Plowshares Theatre Company, Second Stage Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and TrueColors. Commissions include: Arena Stage, Steppenwolf (4), McCarter, Huntington, Center Stage, Victory Gardens and The Roundabout Theatre Company. A recipient of many playwriting awards, Lydia was also an 2005/06 W.E.B. Du Bois Institute non-resident Fellow, a 2007 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf Theatre, a 2006/07 Huntington Playwright Fellow, a 2012 Sundance Institute Playwright Lab Creative Advisor, is a Board Member with Chicago Dramatists and a 2012/13 Radcliffe Institute Fellow. Lydia is a graduate of Northwestern University (Class of 1991), has an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Pine Manor College and was 2013/14 Playwright in Residence at Arena Stage. Lydia is on faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she teaches playwriting.

Hallie Gordon (Director) most recently directed Cal and Camo and Dry Land at Rivendell Theatre Company, where she is also an ensemble member. She serves as Artistic Producer for Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where she most recently directed HIR, The Rembrandt and Monster. She is the recipient of The Helen Coburn Meier & Tim Meier Achievement Award.

Kayla Carter (Valerie Johnston) has worked with The Shakespeare Project of Chicago and Artemisia. Regional credits include River City (NNPN World Premiere, Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte and Phoenix Theatre Indianapolis), the World Premiere of The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep and Passing Strange (Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte). TV credits include Chicago Med (NBC) and APB (Fox). She is a graduate of University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Erik Hellman (Brian White) previously appeared at Writers Theatre in Marjorie Prime, Hesperia, and The Frog Prince. Recent work includes The Burn and The Crucible (Steppenwolf SYA), One Man Two Govnors, The Good Book, Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, Proof (Jeff Nomination, Supporting Actor), The Comedy of Errors, The Mystery of Irma Vep (Jeff Nomination, Lead Actor), Titus Andronicus, Arcadia (Court Theatre), Luna Gale (Goodman Theatre), Miss Bennet (Jeff Nomination, Lead Actor), Shining Lives, The Commons of Pensacola, Lost in Yonkers (Northlight Theatre), The Madness of  King George III, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Edward II (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Honest, The Elephant Man,  Huck Finn (Steppenwolf), Eastland (Lookingglass Theatre Company), All My Sons (TimeLine), as well as shows at Next Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Remy Bumppo, The House Theatre of Chicago and as a company member of Strawdog Theatre Company. Outside of Chicago, Erik has appeared at Milwaukee Repertory, Geva Theatre Center, Syracuse Stage, Indianapolis Repertory, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Houston’s Stages Repertory and Off-Broadway at The Mirror Repertory. Film/TV work includes The Dark Knight, The Chicago Code, Boss, Betrayal, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and the upcoming feature Walden. Erik is married to actress Jessie Fisher, with whom he co-hosts the Erik and Jessie and Everyone You Know Variety Show which performs regularly at the Steppenwolf 1700 space.

Deanna Myers (Ginny Yang) previously appeared at Writers Theatre in The Scene. Selected Chicago credits inlcude: That’s Weird, Grandma! (Barrel of Monkeys), Two Mile Hollow (First Floor Theatre), You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites), The Chicago and Miami Productions of The Hammer Trinity (The House Theatre), SideShow (Porchlight Music Theatre), The New Stages Production of King of the Yees, The White Snake (Goodman Theatre), The Golden Dragon (Sideshow Theatre) and The Three Musketeers (Lifeline Theatre).  TV/Film Credits include: Hot Date, Chicago Fire and The Drunk. Deanna is a proud company member at Barrel of Monkeys, where she finds her favorite young playwrights among the students in CPS classrooms. She is a perpetual student at the Actors Gymnasium.

Julian Parker (Jackson Moore) has been previously seen at Writers Theatre in Julius Caesar and Hamlet, as well as in collaboration with The Chicago Inclusion Project: Saint Joan. He is a co-founding member of Definition Theatre Company and received his BFA from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Steppenwolf Theatre Company credits include: Pass Over, Gospel of Franklin, Head of Passes (u/s) (First Look Series) and BlackTop Sky (Garage Repertory). Other credits include: Genesis, Dutchman The Brothers’ Size (Definition Theatre Company), Prowess (Jackalope Theatre), The Hairy Ape (Jeff Award Recipient for Actor in Principal Role, Oracle Productions), Charm (Northlight Theatre) and The Royale (American Theatre Company). TV/Film credits include: Pass Over (Presented at Sundance Film Festival; Directed by Spike Lee), The Chi (Showtime), Chicago PD and Chicago Fire (NBC).


Accessible Performances
ASL-Interpreted performance: Saturday, June 2, 2018 at 7:30pm
Open-Captioned performance: Friday, June 1, 2018 at 7:30pm

Sunday Spotlight— Sunday, May 13, 2018 after the matinee performance
Are you curious about the world that surrounds your favorite plays? Sunday Spotlight offers access to the finest speakers, scholars and cultural leaders. This one-hour event extends the conversation on our stages by featuring an expert in an area connected to the play. Seating is limited. RSVP is required. Save the date!

The Making of… Series— Monday, May 21, 2018 at 6:30pm
Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of our productions? For each production, we will offer insight into a different aspect of creating theatre. Enjoy a short and lively presentation by our actors, designers or other experts who will walk you through the process of preparing for and executing a production. Seating is limited. RSVP is required. Save the date!

Post Show Conversation: The Word
Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding previews and extensions) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

Post Show Conversation: The Artist
Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding previews and extensions) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

For more information about Writers Theatre Audience Enrichment programs visit

In an effort to promote taking public transit to the Theatre, Writers Theatre launched a new promotion in 2013. Any audience member who purchases a ticket to a Writers Theatre production and rides Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to the Theatre may snap a photo of themselves on the train and post it to their Facebook or Instagram page or their Twitter feed with a tag of @WritersTheatre and #[the title of the show], and upon showing the post at the Writers Theatre Box Office, receive $5 in cash to put toward the cost of your fare as a thank you for going green.

This promotion is available for a limited time only, and may end without warning. Ticket must have been paid for in advance. Not valid on comp tickets. More information available at

Writers Theatre is pleased to welcome back BMO Harris Bank as the 2017/18 Season Sponsor, and ComEd as the Official Lighting Sponsor of the 2017/18 Season. The Major Production Sponsors of Smart People are Sara and Dan Cohan and Mary Winton Green. Artists Council Sponsors are Jane and Richard Lipton, Laurie and Michael Petersen, and Marilynn and Carl Thoma. Additional production support for is provided by the Patricia Dodson Family Foundation.

For more than 25 years, Writers Theatre has captivated Chicagoland audiences with inventive interpretations of classic work, a bold approach to contemporary theatre and a dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible.

Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has grown to become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence, being called the top regional theatre in the nation by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of more than 60,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry—providing the finest interpretations of both classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues. 

In February 2016, Writers Theatre opened a new, state-of-the-art facility. This established the company's first permanent home—a new theatre center in downtown Glencoe, designed by the award-winning, internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by Founder and Design Principal Jeanne Gang, FAIA, in collaboration with Theatre Consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. The new facility has allowed the Theatre to continue to grow to accommodate its audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy. The new facility resonates with and complements the Theatre’s neighboring Glencoe community, adding tremendous value to Chicagoland and helping to establish the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.

Find Writers Theatre on Facebook at, follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter or @Writers_Theatre on Instagram. For more information, visit

Tuesdays – Fridays: 7:30pm
(with select 3:00pm Wednesday matinees)
Saturdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm
Sundays: 2:00pm and 6:00pm
Open-Captioned performance: Friday, June 1, 2018 at 7:30pm
ASL-Interpreted performance: Saturday, June 2, 2018 at 7:30pm

The Gillian Theatre
325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Prices: Prices for all performances range from $35 - $80
Purchase early for best prices                                    
Box Office:
The Box Office is located at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe;

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