Writers Theatre continues its 2021/22 Season with
the world premiere of
Wife of a Salesman
by Eleanor Burgess
directed by Jo Bonney
featuring Kate Fry, Amanda Drinkall and Rom Barkhordar
March 3 – April 3, 2022
Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma and Interim Artistic Director Bobby Kennedy, continues its 2021/22 Season with the world premiere of Eleanor Burgess’s Wife of a Saleman, directed by Jo Bonney, and in association with Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Wife of a Salesman runs March 3, 2022 – April 3, 2022 in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe.
An iconic drama. An imagined meeting. A recentering of where “attention must be paid.” What if a 1950s housewife from a particularly well-known American play drove from Brooklyn to Boston to confront her husband’s mistress? Would the encounter be explosive? Or would the two women discover they have more in common than one might assume? Taking inspiration from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, this world premiere play imagines how a potentially combustible confrontation brings themes of marriage, duty and division to the surface—and the ways in which the world has, and hasn’t, changed across generations.
Playwright Eleanor Burgess (The Niceties) brings her gift for sharp dialogue and spirited debate to Wife of a Salesman, influenced by interviews with her grandmothers in addition to the work of Arthur Miller. Staged in the intimate Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre, this world premiere co-presentation with Milwaukee Rep is sure to be the must-see theatrical event of the spring!
Wife of a Salesman was commissioned and developed through Writers Theatre’s Literary Development Initiative, in joint partnership with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
Interim Artistic Director Bobby Kennedy [he/him] comments, “We are proud to continue Writers Theatre's 30th Anniversary Season with the world premiere of Wife of a Salesman. This play, commissioned and developed in partnership with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, connects both the past and future of live theatre. Having staged dozens of productions of theatrical classics over the years, it is exciting to now be a place where fresh voices are creating original work in dialogue with dramatic tradition. Eleanor Burgess has written a new play that brilliantly and passionately carves out space for women in a familiar narrative where little existed previously, making a call for attention to be paid not only in the mid-century era defined by male writers like Arthur Miller but in our own time as well. I’m thrilled to be giving this play its debut staging, and to be working with Jo Bonney, one of the foremost directors of new plays, for the first time. With a cast and design team full of both returning artists and newcomers, this production brings the past and future together to create something I think audiences will find extraordinarily refreshing and poignant.”
Kate Fry returns to Writers Theatre where she previously performed in A Minister’s Wife, Oh Coward, The Letters, Hedda Gabler, Marjorie Prime, and Arcadia. Rom Barkhordar performed at WT more than 20 years ago at Books on Vernon in Incident at Vichy and Fallen Angels.
The cast is Kate Fry (The Wife), Amanda Drinkall (The Mistress), Rom Barkholder (Jim/The Radio) with Dekyi Rongé (Angela/The Radio) and Karmann Bajuyo (The Radio). The understudies are Heather Chrisler (The Mistress/Violet), Stacy Stoltz (The Wife/Heather) and Keith Kupferer (Jim).
The creative team for Wife of a Salesman includes Jo Bonney (Director), Heather Gilbert (Lighting Designer), Courtney O’Neill (Scenic Designer), Raquel Adorno (Costume Designer), Sarah Espinoza (Sound Designer), Rae Watson (Properties), Kate DeVore (Vocal Coach) and Courtney Abbott (Violence Designer). The stage manager is Katie Klemme.
About the Artists
Writers Theatre previously produced Eleanor Burgess’ play The Niceties in its 19/20 season. Scenic Designer Courtney O’Neill and Lighting Designer Heather Gilbert worked on that production as well.
Eleanor Burgess (Writer) is a playwright whose plays include The Niceties, Start Down, Chill and These Dying Generations. Her work has been produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre Center, Geffen Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company, the Alliance Theatre, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Portland Stage Company and Centenary Stage, and developed with The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Alley Theatre, Writers Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Salt Lake Acting Company, the Hermitage Artists Retreat, the Lark Play Development Center and the Kennedy Center/NNPN MFA Playwrights Workshop. She’s also been a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages, Page 73's writers' group Interstate 73, The Civilians’ R&D Group, and New York Theatre Workshop’s 2050 Fellowship. Originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, she studied history at Yale College and Dramatic Writing at NYU/Tisch.
Director Jo Bonney is an award-winning director known internationally for her work on world premiere plays.
Jo Bonney (Director) has directed premieres of plays by: Alan Ball, Hilary Bettis, Eric Bogosian, Hammaad Chaudry, Culture Clash, Eve Ensler, Jessica Goldberg, Isaac Gomez, Danny Hoch, Ione Patricia Lloyd, Neil LaBute, Warren Leight, Martyna Majok, Lynn Nottage, Dan O'Brien, Dael Orlandersmith, Suzan-Lori Parks, Darci Picoult, John Pollono, Will Power, David Rabe, Jose Rivera, Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, Christopher Shinn, Diana Son, Universes, Naomi Wallace, Michael Weller. Productions of plays by: Caryl Churchill, Nilo Cruz, Anna Deavere Smith, Charles Fuller, Lisa Loomer, Paul Lucas, Carey Perloff, Lanford Wilson. Productions directed at: ART, Boston; PS 122; The Public Theater NYC; NYTW; Second Stage; Goodman Theatre; La Jolla Playhouse; MCC, NY; Geffen Playhouse; Williamstown Festival; McCarter Theater; Playwrights Horizons; Arena Stage; CTG, LA; Signature, NY; Long Wharf; The New Group; CSC; Humana Festival; Almeida, London; Edinburgh Festival; The Market Theatre, Johannesburg; The Baxter, Cape Town SA, Cine 13, Paris. She is the recipient of two Obie Awards for Sustained Excellence of Direction, Lucille Lortel Best Musical and Lucille Lortel Best Revival, Drama Desk nomination for Direction of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, and Alliance and Lilly Award. Audelco Award for Father Comes Home from the Wars. Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Cost of Living. Editor of Extreme Exposure: An Anthology of Solo Performance Texts from the Twentieth Century (TCG).
Kate Fry (The Wife) is happy to be back at Writers, where she has performed in A Minister’s Wife, Oh Coward, The Letters, Hedda Gabler, and Marjorie Prime. Elsewhere in the Chicago area she has worked with Court Theatre (over a dozen productions including The Belle of Amherst, Electra, Mousetrap); Northlight Theatre (Outside Mullingar, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Mother of the Maid); Goodman Theatre (The Winter’s Tale, Ah, Wilderness!), Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (As You Like It, Taming of the Shrew, Love’s Labor’s Lost, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV parts 1 and 2—also at the Royal Shakespeare Company) and Victory Gardens (In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play). Elsewhere, she has worked with Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, McCarter Theatre Center, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and Lincoln Center. Film/TV includes episodes on Boss, Empire, Proven Innocent, and Chicago PD. She is the recipient of 4 Joseph Jefferson Awards, the Sarah Siddons award for Chicago’s Leading Lady, the After Dark Award, and Chicago Tribune’s actress of the year. Kate is married to actor/teacher Timothy Edward Kane. They have two sons.
Amanda Drinkall (The Mistress) makes her Writers Theatre debut. She was most recently seen as Desdemona in The Tragedy of Othello at Court Theatre. Other Chicago credits include: Venus in Fur, A Winter’s Tale, Measure for Measure, Continuity, Bernhardt/Hamlet, and Ah, Wilderness! (Goodman Theatre); Mary Page Marlowe (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); King Charles III (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); White Guy on the Bus, Funnyman, By the Water (Northlight Theatre); Southern Gothic (Windy City Playhouse); Significant Other (About Face Theatre); Dutchman (American Blues Theatre); Pygmalion (Oak Park Festival); Rest (Victory Gardens), The Last Train to Nibroc (Haven Theatre-Jeff Award-Best Actress), Great Expectations (Strawdog), Pride and Prejudice (Lifeline); and more than 20 shows with The Back Room Shakespeare Project, where she is a Partner. As an ensemble member of Red Tape Theatre, her favorite credits include: hamlet is dead. no gravity, The Skriker, Brand, and Pullman, WA. Regional credits: Sheltered (Alliance Theatre); My Father’s War (TheatreSquared), Michigan Shakespeare Festival’s The Comedy of Errors and Romeo and Juliet and North Carolina Shakespeare Festival’s King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing. Film/TV credits include: The View From Tall, Christmas...Again?! (Disney Channel), Chicago Med (NBC), Bobby & Iza (NBC). Ms. Drinkall is represented by Gray Talent Group and is married to actor Gage Wallace.
Rom Barkhordar (Jim/The Radio) is VERY happy to be making a return to Writers Theatre after a 21-year hiatus, where he appeared in Incident at Vichy and Fallen Angels. Chicago credits include: Acts of God, Around the World in 80 Days (Lookingglass Theatre); Yasmina’s Necklace, Ruined (u/s) (Goodman Theatre); The Elephant Man, Homebody/Kabul (u/s)(Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Who and the What (Victory Gardens Theatre); Mosque Alert, Night over Erzinga (Silk Road Rising); Pravda, Halcyon Days, Not About Nightingales (Timeline Theatre). Regional: Proof (Kitchen Theatre); Disgraced (Virginia Stage Co.); The Who and the What (Huntington Theatre) Around the World in 80 Days (Kansas City Rep.) (Centerstage Theatre). Film: Canal Street, Abi, Roundabout American. Television: Proven Innocent, Chicago Med., Chicago Justice, Mind Games, Chicago Fire, Boss, The Beast.
Cast: Kate Fry (The Wife), Amanda Drinkall (The Mistress), Rom Barkholder (Jim/The Radio) with Dekyi Rongé (Angela/The Radio) and Karmann Bajuyo (The Radio). The understudies are Heather Chrisler (The Mistress) Stacy Stoltz (The Wife) and Keith Kupferer (Jim).
Creative team: Heather Gilbert (Lighting Designer), Courtney O’Neill (Scenic Designer), Raquel Adorno (Costume Designer), Sarah Espinoza (Sound Designer), Rae Watson (Properties), Kate DeVore (Vocal Coach) and Courtney Abbott (Violence Designer). The stage manager is Katie Klemme.
First performance: Thursday, March 3, 2022
Press opening: Friday, March 11, 2022 at 7:30pm
Closing performance: Sunday, April 3, 2022
Wednesdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm
Sundays: 2:00pm and 6:00pm
Location: The Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Prices for all performances range from $35 - $90
Purchase early for best prices
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. Following Wife of a Salesman, is the Chicago premiere of Athena, written by Gracie Gardner, choreographed by Steph Paul, and directed by Jessica Fisch. 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 directed 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.