Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Griffin Theatre Company Presents
GHOSTS OF WAR
From the Novel by Ryan Smithson
Adapted by Artistic Director William Massolia
Directed by Jason Gerace
Presented in Rotating Repertory with the 10th anniversary of Letters Home
Through May 6, 2018 at The Den Theatre
It was my great pleasure to see GHOSTS OF WAR and LETTERS HOME. They make a powerful pairing of productions and we highly recommend catching both shows. These works are thought provoking, multilayered, nuanced looks at the human side of war. Kudos to Griffin for providing the platform for this message in an era of fake news, polarizing views, and a daunting barrage of rhetoric.
Sam Krey does an excellent job as Ryan Smithson, keeping the audience in a state of rapt attention for the duration of this one man show. The set design is sparse but effective, featuring a screen with a tattered, jagged bottom as a backdrop. Griffin Theatre makes stellar use of multimedia to showcase everything from letters from children to scenes of war torn landscapes.
I was half expecting a highly politicized piece either for or against war, but was pleasantly surprised that Ghosts of War is refreshingly apolitical. This is a psychological exploration of the effects of patriotism and combat before, during and after war, and the stage is the perfect outlet for this. It's a powerful thing to push bias aside and just listen to an intimate, first person account. This is a tale of idealism, altruism, loss, and one young man's journey into manhood via armed conflict. This show is an "everyman tale" and the protagonist even refers to himself as GI Joe Schmoe. Unlike movies featuring heroes and great battles, this show is the quiet recount of the millions who perform quiet acts of compassion or regrettable acts of sanctioned violence. It's the tale of young man boys who enlist for ideals, money, or adventure, coming to grips with their own mortality and morality.
In this pairing of productions Griffin Theatre has given audiences a powerful gift and a unique experience that can open hearts and mind and bridge polarizing politics.
Presented in Rotating Repertory
April 7 – May 6, 2018 at The Den Theatre
The Chicago premiere of GHOSTS OF WAR details a young soldier’s tour of duty in Iraq following 9/11, based on Ryan Smithson’s best-selling autobiographical novel, adapted for the stage by Artistic Director Bill Massolia (In To America) and directed by Jason Gerace (Great Expectations, Last Train to Nibroc). Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Griffin’s LETTERS HOME puts the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq front and center by bringing to life actual letters written by soldiers serving in the Middle East. Written and directed by Bill Massolia, the critically acclaimed production returns home to Chicago after touring the U.S. for more than a decade.
GHOSTS OF WAR and LETTERS HOME will play April 7 – May 6, 2018 at The Den Theatre (2B), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago Tickets for go on sale Friday, February 16 at www.griffintheatre.com or by calling (773) 697-3830. The press opening for GHOSTS OF WAR is Monday, April 9 at 7:30 pm and the press opening for LETTERS HOME is Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30 pm.
GHOSTS OF WAR features Sam Krey as Ryan Smithson.
Ryan Smithson joined the Army Reserve when he was seventeen. Two years later, he was deployed to Iraq as an Army engineer. In this extraordinary and harrowing adaptation, GHOSTS OF WAR follows one GI’s tour of duty inside a world that few understand. Based on Smithson’s best-selling novel, this unforgettable story about combat, friendship, fear and a soldier’s commitment to his country peels back the curtain on the realities of war.
LETTERS HOME features an ensemble cast including Peter Byrne, Elliot Cruz, Zachary DeNardi, Mario Guzman, Jennifer Lowe, Ryan McBride, Andrew Neftalí Perez, Leah Raidt, Lynda Shadrake, Jessica Dean Turner and Jason Von Rohn.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Griffin Theatre’s critically lauded production of LETTERS HOME puts the soldier experience in Iraq and Afghanistan front and center by bringing to life war letters written home. Seen by more than 100,000 people in more than 100 cities since its first performance in 2007, the Griffin is proud to have this production come home for Chicago audiences to experience once again.
The production team for GHOSTS OF WAR includes: Alan Donahue (scenic design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), John Kelly (lighting design), Stephen Ptacek (sound design), Michael Stanfill (projection design), Jennifer Aparicio (production manager), David Moreland (technical director) and Sara Beaman (stage manager).
The production team for LETTERS HOME includes: Alan Donahue (scenic design), John Kelly (lighting design), Brett Warren Masteller (sound design), Brandon Wardell (projection design), Jennifer Aparicio (production manager), David Moreland (technical director) and Sara Beaman (stage manager).
Location: The Den Theatre (2B), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Saturday, April 7 at 4 pm and Sunday, April 8 at 5 pm (GHOSTS OF WAR), Saturday, April 7 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, April 8 at 7 pm (LETTERS HOME).
Regular run: Thursday, April 12 – Sunday, May 6, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 4 pm and 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2 pm and 4 pm.
Tickets: Previews $23. Regular run $30 single show; $50 for both shows (when purchased together). Students, seniors & veterans $27 ($20 previews). Group discount are available for groups of ten or more. Single tickets go on sale Friday, February 16 at www.griffintheatre.com or by calling (773) 697-3830.
GHOSTS OF WAR Performance Schedule:
Saturday, April 7 at 4 pm (preview)
Sunday, April 8 at 5 pm (preview)
Monday, April 9 at 7:30 pm (press opening)
Thursday, April 12 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 14 at 4 pm
Sunday, April 15 at 2 pm
Friday, April 20 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 22 at 2 pm
Monday, April 23 at 7:30 pm
Friday, April 27 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 28 at 4 pm
Sunday, April 29 at 2 pm
Thursday, May 3 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 5 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 6 at 2 pm
LETTERS HOME Performance Schedule:
Saturday, April 7 at 7:30 pm (preview)
Sunday, April 8 at 7 pm (preview)
Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30 pm (press opening)
Friday, April 13 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 15 at 4 pm
Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 21 at 4 pm
Sunday, April 22 at 4 pm
Thursday, April 26 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 28 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 29 at 4 pm
Monday, April 30 at 7:30 pm
Friday, May 4 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 5 at 4 pm
Sunday, May 6 at 4 pm
About the Artists
Jason Gerace (Director, Ghosts of War) is a freelance director in Chicago, and is so thrilled to be directing for Griffin Theatre for the first time. He was the recipient of the 2014 Non-Equity Jeff Award in Outstanding Direction for Great Expectations with Strawdog Theatre Company, which broke box office records, was twice remounted, and led to the adaptation’s first publication. His production of Last Train to Nibroc for Haven Theatre was hailed as “an exquisitely acted and generally gorgeous little show” by the Chicago Tribune. Regional directing credits include the world premiere of Gabe McKinley's The Source (Route 66 Theatre), the Chicago Premiere of Yussef El Guindi’s Threesome (Other Theatre), Wrecks (with John Judd; Chicago), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Opus (RedTwist Theatre, Chicago). Jason originally hails from Anchorage, Alaska and holds an MFA in Directing from The University of Oklahoma. He is an associate member of SDC, and has been Artistic Associate of American Theater Company since 2008.
William Massolia (Adapter, Ghosts of War & Playwright/Director, Letters Home) is a founding member of the Griffin Theatre Company. He is the author of over 30 plays and adaptations including, Be More Chill, Little Brother, Stardust, Loving Little Egypt, Shakespeare’s Dog, Ghosts of War, and most recently In to America. His play Letters Home is celebrating its 10th Anniversary touring the U.S. and his children’s play, Frindle has been presented in more than 70 U.S. cities since 2009. Massolia is a seven-time Joseph Jefferson Award nominee for his work as a playwright. A graduate of Southern Illinois University, Mr. Massolia is a past member of the League of Chicago Theatres Board of Directors, a recipient of an IAC Playwriting Fellowship Award and the theatre advisory panel for the Illinois Arts Council.
The Griffin Theatre Company's 2017/2018 Premiere Season Sponsors are Michael and Mona Heath.
Additional Season Sponsor Support: Kassie Davis and Bruce Beatus, Mary Grover, Randy and Lloyd Gussis, Terrance Stevenson and Gale Dreas and Tom Brennan,
The Griffin Theatre Company is a Blue Star Theater and is proud to support our military enlisted and veterans.
About Griffin Theatre Company
Established in 1988 and celebrating its 30th season, the mission of the Griffin Theatre Company is to create extraordinary and meaningful theatrical experiences for both children and adults by building bridges of understanding between generations that instill in its audience an appreciation of the performing arts. Through artistic collaboration the Griffin Theatre Company produces literary adaptations, original work and classic plays that challenge and inspire, with wit, style and compassion for the audience.
The Griffin Theatre Company is the recipient of 115 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for theater excellence in Chicago. The Griffin was the repeat winner of the 2016 Jeff Award for “Best Production of a Play” for London Wall having won the same award in 2015 for its production of Men Should Weep.
The Griffin Theatre Company is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
For additional information, visit www.griffintheatre.com.