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Writers Theatre continues 2021/22 Season with
Written by Gracie Gardner
Directed by Jessica Fisch
May 5-July 10, 2022
Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma and Interim Artistic Director Bobby Kennedy, continues its 2021/22 Season with Athena, by Gracie Gardner, directed by Jessica Fisch in the Gillian Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. I'll be out for the press opening May 13th, so check back soon for my full review. I studied fencing and stage combat in college and loved it, so I'm particularly eager to catch this production with my 19 year old daughter, Sage.
Mary Wallace and Athena are both seventeen-year-old fencers training for Nationals. Mary Wallace lives in a house in New Jersey, loves marine biology and practices at home. Athena lives in an apartment in New York City, takes acne medication and Athena is not her real name. Follow their journey from competitors to confidantes as they form a bond navigating the milestones of adolescence, training together only to learn the future is only certain for one of them.
Fight choreography plays an important role in this production as each performance features live fencing on stage. The cast has taken fencing lessons at Lincoln Square Fencing Club and co-choreographers David Blixt and Christian Kelly-Sordelet are rehearsing with the cast to bring those lessons to life on stage. The sport equally adds action to the production, propels the plot, develops the characters, and deepens the story.
A fast-paced, engaging new play from Gracie Gardner, the winner of the 2017 Relentless Award, Athena received a critically acclaimed premiere in New York in 2018. Director Jessica Fisch (Cry It Out at Northlight Theatre, Every Brilliant Thing at Windy City Playhouse) brings her deft touch for storytelling to this portrait of two high-achieving young women, simultaneously rivals and allies, pushing each other to be the best.
Audiences, including those with little-to-no experience with or knowledge of fencing, can expect to get caught up in the action, tension, and elegance of the sport. The traditionally masculine sport of fencing is positioned it in the lives of these two young characters, reflecting what it is to navigate the tricky world of teenage friendship in a new and surprising way.
The cast includes Mary Tilden (Athena) and Aja Singletary (Mary Wallace). The understudies are Emma Rosenthal (Athena) and Kianna Rose (Mary Wallace).
The creative team includes: David Blixt and Christian Kelly-Sordelet (Co-Choreographers), Arnel Sanciano (Scenic Designer), Mieka van der Ploeg (Costume Designer), Paul Toben (Lighting Designer), and Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Designer/Composer), The assistant director is Grace Dolezal-Ng and the stage manager is Miranda Anderson.
Interim Artistic Director Bobby Kennedy comments, “Writers Theatre is pleased to produce the Midwest premiere of Gracie Gardner’s Athena, following highly successful runs of the play in London and New York. This intimate portrait of the friendship and rivalry between two teenage athletes crackles to life with its charming honesty and kinetic fencing choreography. In the crucible-like Gillian Theatre, the clashing of swords and emotions mere inches from the audience will create a theatrical experience unlike anywhere else. It’s the perfect play for us to continue our 30th Anniversary Season, as it highlights the joys and trials of young women today in a fresh and life-affirming way.”
About the Artists
Gracie Gardner is an award-winning playwright whose work has been seen internationally. Athena was a New York Times Critic’s Pick when it was produced in New York in 2018.
Gracie Gardner (Playwright) has written Decoys (McKnight National Residency), Pussy Sludge (Relentless Award, Theatertreffen Stückemarkt), Athena (New York Times Critic’s Pick), Hate Baby (James Stevenson Prize), Panopticon (Clubbed Thumb). Development: New Dramatists, Ars Nova Play Group, Manhattan Theater Club, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Ensemble Studio Theater’s Youngblood, The Old Vic, The New Group, Two River Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival. Publications: Bloomsbury, Samuel French, Table Work Press, S. Fischer, Cincinnati Review, Metrograph. She also writes video games for Annapurna Interactive and is an EMT in New York City.
This marks Jessica Fisch’s first time working at Writers Theatre. Among her acclaimed local productions are Every Brilliant Thing (Windy City Playhouse, #2 Chicago Tribune “Top 10 Productions of 2019”, Chicago Sun-Times “Best of the Decade”), I Wanna F*#%ing Tear You Apart, The Firebirds Take The Field (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), and Cry It Out (Northlight Theatre, #8 Chicago Tribune “Top 10 Productions).
Jessica Fisch (Director) is a freelance director, educator, and creator based in Chicago. She is dedicated to the creation of new plays, original content, and bold interpretations of classic texts. Recent credits: Every Brilliant Thing (Windy City Playhouse, #2 Chicago Tribune “Top 10 Productions of 2019”, Chicago Sun-Times “Best of the Decade”), And Then There Were None (Drury Lane), I Wanna F*#%ing Tear You Apart, The Firebirds Take The Field (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), Twilight Bowl (University of Wisconsin at Madison), Cry It Out (Northlight Theatre, #8 Chicago Tribune “Top 10 Productions of 2018”), You Across From Me, Trudy, Carolyn, Martha and Regina Travel to Outer Space (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival), Late Company (Cor Theatre, Midwest Premiere), Straight White Men (Associate Director, Steppenwolf Theatre), The Rosenkranz Mysteries: An Evening of Magic (Royal George Cabaret), Fefu and Her Friends (Goodman Theatre/Rivendell Latina/o Celebration), Opulent Complex and That Thing That Time (Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Tens). In addition to her theatre work, Jessica, with her co-creator Grace McLeod, is the co-writer and co-director of the original scripted podcast series Two Truths and a Lie which has been developed with creative producer Temple Hill Entertainment and will begin production in 2022. Jessica is adjunct faculty at University of Illinois at Chicago, a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and a mom to two awesome kids. MFA: Northwestern University.
Mary Tilden (Athena) is a queer, Southern-born actor, writer, director, producer, and educator. Her theatre credits: The Wolves at Goodman Theatre (winner of the 2018 Jeff Award for Best Ensemble); Hookman at Steep Theatre. New Work Development: The Kennedy Center, The Latinx Theatre Commons, Sideshow Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, Adventure Stage Chicago, PlayMakers Laboratory and The Neo-Futurists. She is a proud member of the long-running improv team Devil’s Daughter. In 2018, Mary co-starred in and co-produced the short film Cool for Five Seconds, written by Calamity West. The short has been featured at 22 festivals, received the Grand Prize at the Midwest Film Awards and Best Ensemble at the Milwaukee Shorts Fest in 2021. Mary’s short film script Rough River Lake was a semifinalist for the 2020 Chicago Community Builders Grant and the Mass Epiphany script competition. Mary is a 2021 3Arts Make A Wave grantee. She seeks to celebrate and uplift queer, feminist perspectives in every aspect of the creative process. She is honored to do so in this production of Athena.
Aja Singletary (Mary Wallace) is making her Writers Theatre debut. She graduated from Fordham University in 2016 and did the School at Steppenwolf in 2019. Chicago credits include Relentless (u/s, Timeline) Dance Nation (u/s, Steppenwolf) Eclipsed (Pegasus); American Revolution (Theatre Unspeakable) and As You Like It (Eclectic Full Contact Theatre). Now, she's a Bramble Theatre Ensemble Member and represented by Gray Talent Group.
Creative Team: David Blixt and Christian Kelly-Sordelet (Co-Choreographers), Arnel Sanciano (Scenic Designer), Mieka van der Ploeg (Costume Designer), Paul Toben (Lighting Designer), and Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Designer/Composer). The assistant director is Grace Dolezal-Ng and the stage manager is Miranda Anderson.
Dates: First performance: May 5, 2022
Press opening: Friday, May 13, 2022 at 7:30pm
Closing performance: Sunday, July 10, 2022
Wednesdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm
Sundays: 2:00pm and 6:00pm
Location: The Gillian Theatre 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Prices: Prices for all performances range from $35 - $90. Purchase early for best prices
Box Office: The Box Office is located at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe;
WRITERS THEATRE 2021/22 SEASON
The Writers Theatre season began with Dishwasher Dreams, written and performed by Alaudin Ullah, directed by Chay Yew, and produced in association with Hartford Stage, followed by Wife of a Salesman, written by Eleanor Burgess, directed by Jo Bonney, and produced in association with Milwaukee Repertory Theater, The season concludes with the world premiere of Pearl’s Rollin’ with the Blues, a musical revue created by Felicia P. Fields and Ron OJ Parson and direction by Parson.
The 2021/22 Season will see the company return to live performances and celebrate its 30th Anniversary, now firmly at home in its award-winning building at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe, designed by Studio Gang Architects. Productions will be presented in two spaces in the theater complex including the 255-seat Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre as well as the Gillian Theatre, a 50 to 99-seat flexible theatre space.
The theatre, along with over 60 other Chicago performing arts organizations, will require patrons to be fully vaccinated and masked when attending performances. Please visit https://www.writerstheatre.org/covid-safety for full details.
Writers is offering a variety of Classic Subscriptions, which include a ticket to each production throughout the season and includes renewal into fixed seats on set dates once each run is announced.
Subscriptions include three familiar package types that all offer fixed seats to see all four WT productions this season, one ticket to each production. Subscriptions are made for those who are looking to set their schedule in advance and gain access to seating at the top of the Season.
For the 2021/22 Season, Writers will continue the Membership Program, which includes 4 tickets to be used throughout the season as the Member chooses.
There are two types of Memberships: The most flexible option to “Pay As You Go” after an up-front Membership fee, or the option to pay in full for 4 tickets to be used throughout the season (“Up Front Flex”). Memberships are designed for those who want the freedom and flexibility of a more adaptable package.
Classic Subscriptions range in price from $160 to $240. Customizable payment plans are available. A “Pay As You Go” Membership is $35 per ticket after a one-time $60 Membership fee, or patrons may opt for the “Up Front Flex” Membership for $200 up-front
Season package subscribers receive exclusive benefits including complimentary ticket exchanges by phone and mail (upgrade fees may apply), access to special play readings and lectures, special “subscriber-rate” prices on additional tickets, a year subscription to The Brief Chronicle digital newsmagazine and more. For a complete list of benefits visit writerstheatre.org/join.
Season Packages are available online at www.writerstheatre.org, and at the Box Office by calling 847-242-6000.
Writers Theatre is pleased to welcome back BMO Harris Bank as the distinguished 2021/22 Season Sponsor, marking the Bank’s ninth consecutive year as season sponsor.
AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES:
WT also offers Access Performances, including ASL-interpretation and Open Captioning on select dates for each production. Please visit writerstheatre.org/accessibility for more information.
Writers Theatre is also working with Erika Walker and Maylene Peña of the Walker Thomas Group on workplace culture and equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. Additional information about this important and ongoing work can be found at writerstheatre.org/working-at-wt.
ABOUT WRITERS THEATRE
Writers Theatre boldly looks to the future as it begins its 30th season. Having captivated audiences for years with its dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible, the theatre is now a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence, being called “America’s finest regional theater company” by The Wall Street Journal.
Since 1992, Writers Theatre has stayed true to its core values: valuing the power of the written word and uplifting the artists who bring that word to life. The company has produced over 120 productions—everything from inventive interpretations of classics to groundbreaking new work. In 2016, Writers Theatre opened a new, state-of-the-art facility designed by the internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects. The new facility has allowed the Theatre to accommodate its growing audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy.
Writers Theatre now welcomes more than 60,000 patrons each season and has helped establish the North Shore of Chicago as a premier cultural destination. Through its Literary Development Initiative, which has been responsible for the nurturing and premiering of over two dozen world premieres, the theatre has established itself as a major originator of new theatrical works. Serving as an extension of the Writers Theatre mission, WT Education programs engage an average 10,000 students each year with active learning opportunities centered around the written word.