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Showing posts with label Interrobang Theatre Project. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interrobang Theatre Project. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

REVIEW: Chicago Premiere of I CALL MY BROTHERS Via Interrobang Theatre Project at Rivendell Theatre Through February 2, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar 

Chicago Premiere!
Interrobang Theatre Project Presents
I CALL MY BROTHERS
By Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Directed by Abhi Shrestha 

Through February 2, 2019 at Rivendell Theatre


(left to right) Chris Khoshaba, Salar Ardebili and Tina El Gamal in Interrobang Theatre Project’s Chicago premiere of I CALL MY BROTHERS. Photo by Emily Schwartz.




Review
by bonnie kenaz-mara

What do you do when the wind howls? It's all a matter of personality and perspective, how you handle the elements of adversity. In childhood, Amor (Salar Ardebili), a young Arab-Swedish man and science geek, nicknamed his friends with elements from the periodic table, by their personality types. As young adults, reconnecting by phone, in the wake of an Arab perpetrated car bombing in Stockholm, these traits remain true to type and provide an intriguing exploration of the myriad ways the innocents in a minority community deal with a society's collective suspicions and covert and overt racism. 



 (left to right) Gloria Imseih Petrelli, Salar Ardebili and Chris Khoshaba in Interrobang Theatre Project’s Chicago premiere of I CALL MY BROTHERS. Photo by Emily Schwartz.

When Shavi (Chris Khoshaba), dubbed Helium for his ability to lighten and lift moods, breaks character with a barrage of frantic and worried calls, Amor can barely pick up and talk to his childhood friend. When tough girl cousin, Ahlem (Tina El Gamal), calls to check in from afar, Amor finds that the child he dubbed Titanium for her toughness and scrappy attitude has become a sudo-Buddhist spouting platitudes and oozing fakeness. 

(left to right) Chris Khoshaba and Salar Ardebili. Photo by Emily Schwartz.

This brilliant production explores the psychological toll of suspicions, surveillance, fears, police presence, and a rabbit hole of imagined reactions, by placing the audience inside Amor's head. In the day after a public act of terrorism, perpetrated by someone resembling him, we join Amor in spiraling down a dark internal dialogue, punctuated by concerned check in calls from friends. As Amor and his "brothers": friends, relatives, and even a former girlfriend, process the events and ad nauseam news coverage, conflicting coping styles are amplified. 


(left to right) Tina El Gamal and Salar Ardebili. Photo by Emily Schwartz.


(left to right) Gloria Imseih Petrelli abd Salar Ardebili. Photo by Emily Schwartz.


Some adapt by hiding in plain sight, shedding traditional dress and names for westernized alternatives, losing pieces of themselves with this rejection of cultural identity. Others go bold and visible, angry at an undeserved backlash. Some are even temped to snap in a violent self fulfilling prophecy, enraged by the constant barrage of suspicious glances. Those who try to "act normally" are still impacted by external profiling and forced into a heightened vigilance and an examining of their every move, in a futile attempt to appear non threatening. 

(pictured) Salar Ardebili in Interrobang Theatre Project’s Chicago premiere of I CALL MY BROTHERS. Photo by Emily Schwartz.


(pictured) Salar Ardebili in Interrobang Theatre Project’s Chicago premiere of I CALL MY BROTHERS. Photo by Emily Schwartz.


Although this story is set in Stockholm, Sweden, the themes are universal, as paranoia about public safety and terror of "the other" wars with reason and human rights on a global scale. I Call My Brothers is a powerful exploration of interconnection and the effects of internalized racism, particularly after a frightening public act. I left the show with greater empathy and understanding of all the hoops that innocents must jump through, just to peacefully coexist in a society that perceives them as a threat, merely by their physical traits or clothing choices. The whole cast is stellar, and the set design, featuring  minimalist furniture and a wall of metal keffiyehs and jijabs amplifies the action and perception of both malleability and strength. I love the idea of these symbols of Arab culture recast as something that can be shaped into something else without breaking.

Once again, Interrobang has mounted a thought provoking and timely production, not shying away from the tough stuff endemic to our society, that we all need to examine.



(left to right) Salar Ardebili and Tina El Gamal in Interrobang Theatre Project’s Chicago premiere of I CALL MY BROTHERS. Photo by Emily Schwartz.


This production is sure to spark some vital discussions and dialogue. What a great springboard for building bridges between diverse communities and working toward erasing racism. Highly recommended.

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: ChiILLiveShows.com (adult) & ChiILMama.com (family friendly). 



Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to continue its ninth season, exploring “identity/crisis” with the Chicago premiere of Jonas Hassen Khemiri's drama I CALL MY BROTHERS, a day in the life of an Arab-Swedish man who must dodge suspicion after a car bomb rattles Stockholm. Translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles and directed by guest director Abhi Shrestha, I CALL MY BROTHERS will play January 5 – February 2, 2019 at ITP’s new resident home, Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave. in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. Tickets are currently available at www.interrobangtheatre.org or by calling (312) 219-4140. 

I CALL MY BROTHERS features ITP Ensemble Member Salar Ardebili* with Tina El Gamal, Chris Khoshaba and Gloria Imseih Petrelli.

I'll be out for the press opening on Monday, January 7th, so check back soon for my full review.

Stockholm, Sweden. A car bomb rocks the peaceful city and leaves the Arab-Swedish Amor on guard and on edge. But he doesn’t have time to let his fear get the best of him; he’s got places to be. As Amor attempts to run his errand and grapple with his own anxieties, we follow him through a fraught 24 hours, cautiously navigating the city he calls home. Balancing paranoia and humor, Jonas Khemiri's nuanced account dares us to question our own perceptions and prejudices, while offering a singular and harrowing take on the labyrinth of global identity politics.

Comments Director Abhi Shrestha, “At the heart of I Call My Brothers, is a beautiful and tragic interrogation of how a community navigates fear. At a point in time where my community feels explicitly under attack – doing this play is scary... but it is a ritual, it is a love letter to my MENASA community saying ‘I hear you, I see you, you are not alone’ – and a challenge to folx outside the community to examine their own complicity and ask themselves ‘What do you do when the wind howls?’” 

The production team for I CALL MY BROTHERS includes Eleanor Kahn (scenic design, props design), Michelle Benda (lighting design), Jeffrey Levin (sound designer), Alec Silver (movement dramaturg), Nadya Nauman (dramaturg) and Shawn Galligan* (stage manager).

*Denotes Interrobang Theatre Project Ensemble Member or Artistic Associate.

Cast (in alphabetical order): Salar Ardebili*, Tina El Gamal, Chris Khoshaba and Gloria Imseih Petrelli.

Location: 
Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago
Dates: 
Subscriber/Board opening: Thursday, January 10 at 8 pm
Regular run: Friday, January 11 – Saturday, February 2, 2019
Curtain Times: Thursdays, and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 8 pm: Mondays at 8 pm.
Tickets: Previews: $16. Regular run: $32. Students $16 with ID. Group discounts available. Tickets are currently available at www.interrobangtheatre.org or by calling (312) 219-4140.


About the Artists:

Jonas Hassen Khemiri (Playwright) is a celebrated author and playwright based in Stockholm. His novels have been translated into over 20 languages and his plays have been performed by over a hundred international companies on stages from Stockholm to Berlin to New York to London. Khemiri was awarded a Village Voice Obie Award for his first play Invasion!, which premiered in New York in 2011. His second play God Times Five toured Sweden and his third play The Hundred We Are received the Hedda Award for best play in Norway. Khemiri’s play ≈ [Almost Equal To] premiered at Dramaten in Stockholm in October 2014 to rave reviews and has been performed in Germany, Norway, Iceland and the U.S. His play I Call My Brothers began as an essay published in Dagens Nyheter in December 2010, one week after a suicide bombing in central Stockholm that shook the nation. The book was published to great acclaim and later became a lauded play that toured Sweden with Riksteatern in 2013 (directed by Farnaz Arbabi) and premiered in New York in January 2014. It has also been performed in Norway, Denmark, Germany (multiple theatres), Australia, San Francisco, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Finland and at the Gate Theatre in London, UK.

Rachel Willson-Broyles (Translator) is a freelance translator based in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received her BA from Gustavus Adolphus College and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her other translations include Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s novels Montecore and Everything I Don’t Remember and plays INVASION! and I Call My Brothers, Malin Persson Giolito’s novel Quicksand and Jonas Jonasson’s novels The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden and The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old-Man.

Abhi Shrestha (Director)  is a Chicago-based director, movement dramaturge and educator originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. Working at the intersections of decolonization and queer brown narratives, they are the Education Associate at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Literary Manager and Director of Public Programming for Haven Theatre, the Resident Dramaturge and Community Organizer for the Chicago Inclusion Project, and a content curator for Rescripted. They are currently working on exploring a personal history of the world as told by brown grandma’s, in a performance installation called The Brown Grandma Project (working title). 



About Interrobang Theatre Project

Now in its ninth season, Interrobang Theatre Project, under the artistic leadership of Georgette Verdin, has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as a “company to watch” and by Time Out Chicago as “one of Chicago’s most promising young theatre companies.” Chris Jones called Foxfinder, which kicked off Interrobang’s 2017-18 season, “...a ripping good yarn,” earning it 3.5 stars from the Chicago Tribune. Foxfinder also garnered seven non-Equity Jeff Awards nominations including Best Director and Production of a Play, and took home two awards for Best Original Music and Set Design. The company also earned seven non-Equity Jeff Nominations for their seventh season, including Best Director, Production of a Play, Solo Performance and acting nominations for Lead Actor, Actress (win) and Actor in a Supporting Role (win). Productions have included the world premiere of Calamity West’s Ibsen is Dead (Jeff Recommended), the Jeff Recommended The Pitchfork Disney, Orange Flower Water, Recent Tragic Events, The North Pool, The Amish Project, Falling and Grace. Director James Yost’s critically-acclaimed Really Really was one of six shows chosen for Chicago Tribune’s “Best of 2015 in Chicago Fringe Theater.”

What’s an interrobang?
An interrobang is the combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, joining the Latin for “question” (interro) with a proofreading term for “exclamation” (bang). Through the plays we produce, Interrobang Theatre Project aims to pose worthwhile and exciting questions which challenge our understanding and assumptions of who we are and the world in which we live.

For more information, please visit www.interrobangtheatreproject.org.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

REVIEW: WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT Via Interrobang Theatre Project Every Monday Through November 12, 2018

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Interrobang Theatre Project Presents
WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT
By Nassim Soleimanpour
September 24 – November 12, 2018 at The Den Theatre


Review:
I did something odd at The Den Theatre this month. I just watched someone make a potentially fatal choice, take direction from an Iranian half a world away, explore vulnerability, enlist the unsuspecting, and perform a script, opened for the first time on the spot. Yes, it's WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT. 

Mondays are usually a dark night for theatre arts, but Interrobang Theatre Project is changing that up with a stunning 8 week social experiment. With a script from award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, 8 diverse Chicagoans, and willing audience, WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT, is a subtly different show every week. 

First, kudos to Interrobang Theatre Project for casting an eclectic range of actors for the run. I had the great pleasure of catching JD Caudill on October 1st, the second actor in the lineup. They provided a unique perspective on the work as a trans individual who prefers the pronouns "they/theirs/them". 

About a third of the audience was drafted into joining the production, some designated by the playwright in the script, and many by choice. I found it poetic that JD's partner was one of the first to begin the show, randomly plucked by seat number, and another trans individual (a theatre critic), volunteered by choice, and closed out the show with a powerful reading. The bookending was a beautiful thing that happened organically and will likely never be recreated again.

I'm keeping this review as spoiler free as possible, because WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT is best experienced without preconceptions. Suffice it to say, before I had left the show, I was already thinking of all the people I know that I wanted to bring back to see it. I left the show and promptly friended Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour on social media and heard back from him within a day. I left with a few more tangents in my head, new thoughts on psychology and sociology and how they tie in with the theatre of politics and the political theatre arts, and a new Facebook friend in Iran. Theatre has the power to transcend borders and cultural conditioning, and alter mindsets on the spot more effectively than most other mediums. Check it out! White Rabbit Red Rabbit is recommended.



Ever have that nightmare where you can't get your locker open, or you're suddenly on stage without a clue what your lines are or even what play you're in, and everyone in the audience is looking expectantly at you? I have. This fall in Chicago, professional actors are actually volunteering for the latter scenario at several theatres in several different show configurations! One that's piqued my interest the most is award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour's acclaimed solo show WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT. 


The show features a different actor each week, with a script they’ve never read before. Plan to catch one or many, as we go down the rabbit hole of word spanning two disparate cultures. Forbidden to leave his country, young Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour found a way for his voice to get out when he physically could not. His words have escaped censorship and are awaiting an audience.

What happens when you put one artist on a stage and hand them a script they’ve never read before? Pure theatrical magic! Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to present award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour's acclaimed solo show WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT, an experimental tour de force you have to see to believe! 

Featuring a different actor each week, this unforgettable artistic experiment will play Mondays at 8 pm from September 24 – November 12, 2018 at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets are on sale at www.interrobangtheatre.org or by calling (312) 219-4140. 

The line-up for WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT includes: 

Stephanie Shum (September 24) 
JD Caudill (October 1)
Echaka Agba (October 8)
Michael Turrentine (October 15)
Joe Lino (October 22)
David Cerda (October 29)
Shawna Franks (November 5)
Owais Ahmed (November 12)

No rehearsal. No director. No set. No spoiler. A different performer each night is handed a script (in a sealed envelope) for the first time as they step onto stage. Forbidden to leave his country, young Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour found a way for his voice to get out when he physically could not. His words have escaped censorship and are awaiting your audience. This wildly entertaining and thought-provoking theatrical piece – where no audience can see the same show twice – blends drama, comedy and social experiment, providing audiences with a potent reminder of the transformative power of theatre. WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT has been called a play – but it’s a lively, global sensation that no one is allowed to talk about. 

Curtain Times: Mondays at 8 pm
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Tickets go on sale shortly at www.interrobangtheatre.org or by calling (312) 219-4140. 
Performers: Stephanie Shum (September 24) JD Caudill (October 1), Echaka Agba (October 8), Michael Turrentine (October 15), Joe Lino (October 22), David Cerda (October 29), Shawna Franks (November 5) and Owais Ahmed (November 12).

Understudy: Matthew Nerber

About the Playwright

Nassim Soleimanpour is an independent multidisciplinary theatre maker from Tehran, Iran. His plays have been translated into more than 20 languages. Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit, written to travel the world when he couldn’t, his work has been awarded the Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe), as well as picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award. By the time Nassim was permitted to travel for the first time in early 2013, his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit had been performed over 200 times in 15 languages. Since then, Nassim has facilitated workshops and panels in different countries including World Theatre Festival (Brisbane), Tolhuistuin (Amsterdam), SESC Vila Mariana (Sao Paulo), Schauspielhaus (Vienna), DPAC (Kuala Lampur), Theatretreffen (Berlin), British Council (London), Asia House (London) and University of Bremen (Germany). Nassim’s second play Blind Hamlet for the London based Actors Touring Company premiered at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has since toured extensively around the UK and was received well in Bucharest and Copenhagen. Blank, his third play, recently premiered in Amsterdam and has been performed in Utrecht, Edinburgh and London. Nassim now lives in Berlin with his wife Shirin.



PHOTO CREDIT: Interrobang Theatre Project’s production of WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT will feature (top, l to r) Echaka Agba, Owais Ahmed, JD Caudill and David Cerda (bottom, l to r) Shawna Franks, Joe Lino, Stephanie Shum and Michael Turrentine.


About the Performers

Stephanie Shum can't believe Interrobang is letting her do this but is very excited to play with them for the first time. She is Co-Artistic Director of The New Colony, Associate Producer with Red Tape Theatre and has also performed with Steppenwolf, American Theater Company, The Neo-Futurists, 16th Street, Walkabout, Factory, Redtwist, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Silk Road and The Fly Honeys. She is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf and is represented by Actors Talent Group. She may next be in seen in Wildclaw’s Second Skin. www.stephanieshum.com

JD Caudill is a Chicago-based director, music director and performer. Since coming to Chicago in 2014, JD has performed onstage with The New Colony, Hell in a Handbag Productions, New American Folk Theatre, Forks and Hope and Hobo Junction, and directed for over 15 companies, including Broken Nose Theatre, The New Colony and Haven Theatre. JD is a company member of Hell in a Handbag and Haven Theatre (where they are also marketing director), and an associate company member of Broken Nose Theatre.

Echaka Agba’s Chicago theatre credits include: Women Laughing Alone with Salad (Theater Wit); At the Table (Jeff Award – Best Ensemble, Best Supporting Actress; Black Theatre Alliance Award – The Hattie McDaniel Award) Broken Nose Theatre; The Crucible, Between Riverside and Crazy (u/s) Steppenwolf Theatre; Short Shakes! Romeo and Juliet (u/s) Chicago Shakespeare Theater; A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch, United Flight 232 (Jeff Award – Best Ensemble) House Theatre of Chicago; Don't Go Gentle (Haven Theatre); Balm in Gilead (Griffin Theatre). She is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf and is represented by Grossman and Jack. 

Michael Turrentine is an actor/educator/playwright originally from Oklahoma, but loves the Windy City too much for words! He has worked at various theaters around Chicago including Firebrand Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre, Theater Wit, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Gift Theatre and others. He will also be performing in the up coming production of Frankenstein at Remy Bumppo Theatre. Michael is excited to go on this cool and exciting journey with Interrobang! He is represented by Gray Talent Group.

Joe Lino is a Chicago based actor and has worked with Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista, Drury Lane, The New Colony, The Cuckoos Theater Project, The Agency Theatre Collective and Interrobang Theatre Project. where he is an artistic associate. Regionally he has credits with Actors Theatre of Louisville in shows such as Dracula, A Christmas Carol and That High Lonesome Sound, which premiered at the Humana Festival. He has also performed Off-Broadway at the BAM Harvey Theatre in Charles Mee’s world premiere of The Glory of the World. He is a proud alumni of Ball State University. 

David Cerda is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Hell in a Handbag Productions. Plays written include Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, SCARRIE! The Musical, POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical, Christmas Dearest, The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes Vol 1 & 2 and The Birds. As an actor he has worked with A New Colony, Corn Productions, Lookingglass, A Red Orchid Theatre and more. Cerda was inducted into the Chicago 2016 GLBTQ Hall of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Jeff Committee in 2017 for his body of work and philanthropic efforts.

Shawna Franks is the founding Managing Director of Facility Theatre where she is currently performing in the Chicago premiere of Phoebe In Winter by Jen Silverman. Shawna originated the role of Dottie in Killer Joe by Tracy Letts at The Next Lab in Evanston. She performed this role at The Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, The Bush Theatre in London and The Vaudeville Theatre on London's West End. She also performed in Grand Concourse at Steppenwolf Theatre and The Woman Before at Trap Door Theatre. She has appeared in various productions in Dublin, Los Angeles, Phoenix and New York City, and is the founding Artistic Director of Space 55 Theatre in Phoenix.

Owais Ahmed is a Chicago native and a proud ensemble member of Definition Theatre Co. Theatre credits include: The Invisible Hand (Steep Theatre, Milwaukee Rep), The Hard Problem (Court Theatre), Orange (Mixed Blood Theatre) and The Qualms (Steppenwolf Theatre). 



About Interrobang Theatre Project

Now in its ninth season, Interrobang Theatre Project, under the artistic leadership of Georgette Verdin and James Yost, has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as a “company to watch” and by Time Out Chicago as “one of Chicago’s most promising young theatre companies.” Chris Jones called Foxfinder, which kicked off Interrobang’s 2017-18 season, “...a ripping good yarn,” earning it 3.5 stars from the Chicago Tribune. Foxfinder also garnered seven non-Equity Jeff Awards nominations including Best Director and Production of a Play, and took home two awards for Best Original Music and Set Design. The company also earned seven non-Equity Jeff Nominations for their seventh season, including Best Director, Production of a Play, Solo Performance and acting nominations for Lead Actor, Actress (win) and Actor in a Supporting Role (win). Productions have included the world premiere of Calamity West’s Ibsen is Dead (Jeff Recommended), the Jeff Recommended The Pitchfork Disney, Orange Flower Water, Recent Tragic Events, The North Pool, The Amish Project, Falling and Grace. Director James Yost’s critically-acclaimed Really Really was one of six shows chosen for Chicago Tribune’s “Best of 2015 in Chicago Fringe Theater.”

What’s an interrobang?
An interrobang is the combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, joining the Latin for “question” (interro) with a proofreading term for “exclamation” (bang). Through the plays we produce, Interrobang Theatre Project aims to pose worthwhile and exciting questions which challenge our understanding and assumptions of who we are and the world in which we live. 

For more information, please visit www.interrobangtheatreproject.org.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

OPENING: WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT Via Interrobang Theatre Project at The Den Theatre

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Interrobang Theatre Project Presents
WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT
By Nassim Soleimanpour
September 24 – November 12, 2018 at The Den Theatre


Ever have that nightmare where you can't get your locker open, or you're suddenly on stage without a clue what your lines are or even what play you're in, and everyone in the audience is looking expectantly at you? I have. This fall in Chicago, professional actors are actually volunteering for the latter scenario at several theatres in several different show configurations! One that's piqued my interest the most is award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour's acclaimed solo show WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT. The show features a different actor each week, with a script they’ve never read before. Plan to catch one or many, as we go down the rabbit hole of word spanning two disparate cultures. Forbidden to leave his country, young Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour found a way for his voice to get out when he physically could not. His words have escaped censorship and are awaiting an audience. I'll be ChiILin' at Chi, IL's Den Theatre for WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT featuring JD Caudill on October 1st. Check back soon for my full review.


What happens when you put one artist on a stage and hand them a script they’ve never read before? Pure theatrical magic! Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to present award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour's acclaimed solo show WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT, an experimental tour de force you have to see to believe! 

Featuring a different actor each week, this unforgettable artistic experiment will play Mondays at 8 pm from September 24 – November 12, 2018 at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets are on sale at www.interrobangtheatre.org or by calling (312) 219-4140. 

The line-up for WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT includes: 

Stephanie Shum (September 24) 
JD Caudill (October 1)
Echaka Agba (October 8)
Michael Turrentine (October 15)
Joe Lino (October 22)
David Cerda (October 29)
Shawna Franks (November 5)
Owais Ahmed (November 12)

No rehearsal. No director. No set. No spoiler. A different performer each night is handed a script (in a sealed envelope) for the first time as they step onto stage. Forbidden to leave his country, young Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour found a way for his voice to get out when he physically could not. His words have escaped censorship and are awaiting your audience. This wildly entertaining and thought-provoking theatrical piece – where no audience can see the same show twice – blends drama, comedy and social experiment, providing audiences with a potent reminder of the transformative power of theatre. WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT has been called a play – but it’s a lively, global sensation that no one is allowed to talk about. 

Curtain Times: Mondays at 8 pm
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Tickets go on sale shortly at www.interrobangtheatre.org or by calling (312) 219-4140. 
Performers: Stephanie Shum (September 24) JD Caudill (October 1), Echaka Agba (October 8), Michael Turrentine (October 15), Joe Lino (October 22), David Cerda (October 29), Shawna Franks (November 5) and Owais Ahmed (November 12).

Understudy: Matthew Nerber

About the Playwright

Nassim Soleimanpour is an independent multidisciplinary theatre maker from Tehran, Iran. His plays have been translated into more than 20 languages. Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit, written to travel the world when he couldn’t, his work has been awarded the Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe), as well as picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award. By the time Nassim was permitted to travel for the first time in early 2013, his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit had been performed over 200 times in 15 languages. Since then, Nassim has facilitated workshops and panels in different countries including World Theatre Festival (Brisbane), Tolhuistuin (Amsterdam), SESC Vila Mariana (Sao Paulo), Schauspielhaus (Vienna), DPAC (Kuala Lampur), Theatretreffen (Berlin), British Council (London), Asia House (London) and University of Bremen (Germany). Nassim’s second play Blind Hamlet for the London based Actors Touring Company premiered at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has since toured extensively around the UK and was received well in Bucharest and Copenhagen. Blank, his third play, recently premiered in Amsterdam and has been performed in Utrecht, Edinburgh and London. Nassim now lives in Berlin with his wife Shirin.



PHOTO CREDIT: Interrobang Theatre Project’s production of WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT will feature (top, l to r) Echaka Agba, Owais Ahmed, JD Caudill and David Cerda (bottom, l to r) Shawna Franks, Joe Lino, Stephanie Shum and Michael Turrentine.


About the Performers

Stephanie Shum can't believe Interrobang is letting her do this but is very excited to play with them for the first time. She is Co-Artistic Director of The New Colony, Associate Producer with Red Tape Theatre and has also performed with Steppenwolf, American Theater Company, The Neo-Futurists, 16th Street, Walkabout, Factory, Redtwist, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Silk Road and The Fly Honeys. She is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf and is represented by Actors Talent Group. She may next be in seen in Wildclaw’s Second Skin. www.stephanieshum.com

JD Caudill is a Chicago-based director, music director and performer. Since coming to Chicago in 2014, JD has performed onstage with The New Colony, Hell in a Handbag Productions, New American Folk Theatre, Forks and Hope and Hobo Junction, and directed for over 15 companies, including Broken Nose Theatre, The New Colony and Haven Theatre. JD is a company member of Hell in a Handbag and Haven Theatre (where they are also marketing director), and an associate company member of Broken Nose Theatre.

Echaka Agba’s Chicago theatre credits include: Women Laughing Alone with Salad (Theater Wit); At the Table (Jeff Award – Best Ensemble, Best Supporting Actress; Black Theatre Alliance Award – The Hattie McDaniel Award) Broken Nose Theatre; The Crucible, Between Riverside and Crazy (u/s) Steppenwolf Theatre; Short Shakes! Romeo and Juliet (u/s) Chicago Shakespeare Theater; A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch, United Flight 232 (Jeff Award – Best Ensemble) House Theatre of Chicago; Don't Go Gentle (Haven Theatre); Balm in Gilead (Griffin Theatre). She is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf and is represented by Grossman and Jack. 

Michael Turrentine is an actor/educator/playwright originally from Oklahoma, but loves the Windy City too much for words! He has worked at various theaters around Chicago including Firebrand Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre, Theater Wit, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Gift Theatre and others. He will also be performing in the up coming production of Frankenstein at Remy Bumppo Theatre. Michael is excited to go on this cool and exciting journey with Interrobang! He is represented by Gray Talent Group.

Joe Lino is a Chicago based actor and has worked with Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista, Drury Lane, The New Colony, The Cuckoos Theater Project, The Agency Theatre Collective and Interrobang Theatre Project. where he is an artistic associate. Regionally he has credits with Actors Theatre of Louisville in shows such as Dracula, A Christmas Carol and That High Lonesome Sound, which premiered at the Humana Festival. He has also performed Off-Broadway at the BAM Harvey Theatre in Charles Mee’s world premiere of The Glory of the World. He is a proud alumni of Ball State University. 

David Cerda is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Hell in a Handbag Productions. Plays written include Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, SCARRIE! The Musical, POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical, Christmas Dearest, The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes Vol 1 & 2 and The Birds. As an actor he has worked with A New Colony, Corn Productions, Lookingglass, A Red Orchid Theatre and more. Cerda was inducted into the Chicago 2016 GLBTQ Hall of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Jeff Committee in 2017 for his body of work and philanthropic efforts.

Shawna Franks is the founding Managing Director of Facility Theatre where she is currently performing in the Chicago premiere of Phoebe In Winter by Jen Silverman. Shawna originated the role of Dottie in Killer Joe by Tracy Letts at The Next Lab in Evanston. She performed this role at The Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, The Bush Theatre in London and The Vaudeville Theatre on London's West End. She also performed in Grand Concourse at Steppenwolf Theatre and The Woman Before at Trap Door Theatre. She has appeared in various productions in Dublin, Los Angeles, Phoenix and New York City, and is the founding Artistic Director of Space 55 Theatre in Phoenix.

Owais Ahmed is a Chicago native and a proud ensemble member of Definition Theatre Co. Theatre credits include: The Invisible Hand (Steep Theatre, Milwaukee Rep), The Hard Problem (Court Theatre), Orange (Mixed Blood Theatre) and The Qualms (Steppenwolf Theatre). 

About Interrobang Theatre Project

Now in its ninth season, Interrobang Theatre Project, under the artistic leadership of Georgette Verdin and James Yost, has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as a “company to watch” and by Time Out Chicago as “one of Chicago’s most promising young theatre companies.” Chris Jones called Foxfinder, which kicked off Interrobang’s 2017-18 season, “...a ripping good yarn,” earning it 3.5 stars from the Chicago Tribune. Foxfinder also garnered seven non-Equity Jeff Awards nominations including Best Director and Production of a Play, and took home two awards for Best Original Music and Set Design. The company also earned seven non-Equity Jeff Nominations for their seventh season, including Best Director, Production of a Play, Solo Performance and acting nominations for Lead Actor, Actress (win) and Actor in a Supporting Role (win). Productions have included the world premiere of Calamity West’s Ibsen is Dead (Jeff Recommended), the Jeff Recommended The Pitchfork Disney, Orange Flower Water, Recent Tragic Events, The North Pool, The Amish Project, Falling and Grace. Director James Yost’s critically-acclaimed Really Really was one of six shows chosen for Chicago Tribune’s “Best of 2015 in Chicago Fringe Theater.”

What’s an interrobang?
An interrobang is the combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, joining the Latin for “question” (interro) with a proofreading term for “exclamation” (bang). Through the plays we produce, Interrobang Theatre Project aims to pose worthwhile and exciting questions which challenge our understanding and assumptions of who we are and the world in which we live. 

For more information, please visit www.interrobangtheatreproject.org.

Monday, July 23, 2018

SAVE THE DATES: 2018/19 Season Announced Interrobang Theatre Project

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Interrobang Theatre Project 
Announces Ninth Season: Identity/Crisis



Now in Residence at Rivendell Theatre!

THE GOAT, OR WHO IS SYLVIA?
By Edward Albee 
Directed by Co-Artistic Director James Yost 

Chicago Premiere!
I CALL MY BROTHERS
By Jonas Hassen Khemiri 
Translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Directed by Abhi Shrestha 

Midwest Premiere!
UTILITY
By Emily Schwend
Directed by Co-Artistic Director Georgette Verdin 

Chicago Premiere!
WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT
By Nassim Soleimanpour

Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to announce its ninth season, featuring three knockout dramas presented at its new resident home, Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave. in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. This season, Interrobang explores “identity/crisis,” with three plays featuring characters on the edge of something new, battling old demons and making room for fresh starts.

Interrobang’s 2018/19 season kicks off this fall with THE GOAT, OR WHO IS SYLVIA?, Edward Albee’s provocative portrait of a marriage in flux, directed by Co-Artistic Director James Yost. In winter 2019, guest director Abhi Shrestha stages the Chicago premiere of Jonas Hassen Khemiri's I CALL MY BROTHERS, a day in the life of an Arab-Swedish man who must dodge suspicion after a car bomb rattles Stockholm. ITP’s ninth season concludes in spring 2019 with Co-Artistic Director Georgette Verdin helming the Midwest premiere of Emily Schwend's UTILITY, an intimate look at an East Texas woman's struggle to make ends meet. Season subscriptions are currently on sale at www.interrobangtheatreproject.org.  

Also this fall, join Interrobang for a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience. One actor. No rehearsal. A different show every week. The Chicago premiere of Nassim Soleimanpour's acclaimed solo show WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT challenges the notion of performance with an experimental tour de force you have to see to believe. Join Interrobang at The Den Theatre (1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago) on Monday nights for this unforgettable artistic experiment.

“This season we landed on the unifying theme of ‘identity/crisis,’” comments Co-Artistic Director Georgette Verdin. “Across three plays and one special event we will tackle the elusive nature of self-definition. The characters in these dramas are desperately trying to discover who they are in a world that has already decided who they ought to be. What happens when this conflict is pushed to the breaking point, and how do we return to sanity once the dust settles?” 

Interrobang is also pleased to welcome Joe Lino as its newest Artistic Associate. Lino recently appeared in ITP’s production of Grace. In Chicago, he has worked with Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista, Drury Lane, The New Colony, The Cuckoos Theater Project and The Agency Theatre Collective, where he can be seen next in the world premiere of Tres Bandidos. Regionally, he has credits with Actors Theatre of Louisville in shows such as Dracula, A Christmas Carol and That High Lonesome Sound, which premiered at the Humana Festival. He has also performed Off-Broadway at the BAM Harvey Theatre in Charles Mee’s world premiere of The Glory of the World. He is a proud alumni of Ball State University where he received a BFA in Acting. 

Finally, ITP announces THE PLAYWRITING INITIATIVE, in association with DePaul University. Each season, local playwrights will be invited to participate in an immersive and supportive partnership, including one graduate selected from DePaul's prestigious BFA Playwriting program. Each collaboration will be tailored to meet the needs of the individual playwright as the Interrobang Artistic staff aids in the development of the artist’s dramatic vocabulary and theatrical voice, culminating in a public reading of each playwright’s work.

Interrobang Theatre Project’s 2018/19 Season includes:

September 7 – October 7, 2018
THE GOAT, OR WHO IS SYLVIA?
By Edward Albee 
Directed by Co-Artistic Director James Yost
Press opening: Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 8 pm

Martin is an accomplished architect living the American dream. He has a loving wife, a devoted son and an acclaimed career. But an explosive revelation threatens to destroy everything he has built, and forces Martin to reconcile the man the world has come to know with the man he has always been inside. Shocking theatregoers when it first premiered, The Goat deftly lambastes liberal acceptance, fidelity and family as one man painfully traverses the ultimate taboo.

January 5 – February 2, 2019
I CALL MY BROTHERS – Chicago Premiere!
By Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Directed by Abhi Shrestha 
Press opening: Monday, January 7, 2019 at 8 pm

Stockholm, Sweden. An explosion rocks the peaceful city and the authorities need someone to blame. Amor is scared and confused, but he’s got places to be. Knowing that he could be targeted at any moment, he must cautiously navigate the city he calls home if he’s going to make it through the day in one piece. Balancing paranoia, humor and 21st century woes, Khemiri's nuanced account dares us to question our own perceptions and prejudices, while offering a singular and harrowing take on the Labyrinth of global identity politics.

April 5 – May 4, 2019
UTILITY – Midwest Premiere!
By Emily Schwend 
Directed by Co-Artistic Director Georgette Verdin
Press opening: Monday, April 8, 2019 at 8 pm

Amber is doing everything she can to keep her head above water, but no matter how hard she tries, it never seems to be enough. Money is tight, her marriage is in turmoil and she’s juggling two jobs just to make ends meet. As she struggles to plan her eight-year-old daughter’s birthday party, Amber begins to unravel in the face of tragic uncertainty. Meticulous and heartbreaking, Utility offers a glimpse into the American working class through empathic realism.   

Special Event:

September 24 – November 12, 2018
WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT
by Nassim Soleimanpour
Mondays at 8 pm at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

What happens when you put one artist on a stage and hand them a script they’ve never read before? Pure theatrical magic. This acclaimed solo show creates an intimate exchange between actor and audience in a one-of-a-kind dramatic experience. No rehearsal. A new performer every night. An artistic experiment like you've never seen, and won’t soon forget.

About the Playwrights

Edward Albee (The Goat, Or Who is Sylvia?) was born on March 12, 1928 and began writing plays thirty years later. His plays include The Zoo Story (1958), The American Dream (1960), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961-1962, Tony Award), Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize; 1996, Tony Award), All Over (1971), Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize), The Lady From Dubuque (1977-1978), The Man Who Had Three Arms (1981), Finding the Sun (1982), Marriage Play (1986-1987), Three Tall Women (1991, Pulitzer Prize), Fragments (1993), The Play About the Baby (1997), The Goat, Or Who is Sylvia? (2000, 2002 Tony Award) and Occupant (2001). He was a member of the Dramatists Guild Council and president of The Edward F. Albee Foundation. Mr. Albee was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980, and in 1996 received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. Mr. Albee died September 16, 2016.

Jonas Hassen Khemiri (I Call My Brothers) is a celebrated author and playwright based in Stockholm. His novels have been translated into over 20 languages and his plays have been performed by over a hundred international companies on stages from Stockholm to Berlin to New York to London. Khemiri was awarded a Village Voice Obie Award for his first play Invasion!, which premiered in New York in 2011. His second play God Times Five toured Sweden and his third play The Hundred We Are received the Hedda Award for best play in Norway. Khemiri’s play ≈ [Almost Equal To] premiered at Dramaten in Stockholm in October 2014 to rave reviews and has been performed in Germany, Norway, Iceland and the U.S. His play I Call My Brothers began as an essay published in Dagens Nyheter in December 2010, one week after a suicide bombing in central Stockholm that shook the nation. The book was published to great acclaim and later became a lauded play that toured Sweden with Riksteatern in 2013 (directed by Farnaz Arbabi) and premiered in New York in January 2014. It has also been performed in Norway, Denmark, Germany (multiple theatres), Australia, San Francisco, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Finland and at the Gate Theatre in London, UK.

Emily Schwend (Utility) Emily Schwend's plays include Utility (The Amoralists in New York City, Orange Tree Theatre in London, 2016 Yale Drama Series Award, 2017 IT Award for Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play), The Other Thing (Second Stage Theatre Uptown), Take Me Back (Walkerspace), South of Settling (Steppenwolf's Next Up Rep) and Splinters (CUDC Source Festival). She was a 2016-2017 Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard University and the inaugural 2014 Tow Foundation playwright-in-residence at Second Stage Theatre. Her work has been developed at The New Group, Roundabout Theatre Company, ACT Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Partial Comfort Productions, Ars Nova, the Alliance Theatre, PlayPenn and the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, among others. She is a frequent contributor to Christine Jones’s Theatre for One booth. She is the recipient of a Bogliasco Fellowship, a MacDowell Fellowship, the ACT New Play Award, the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwrights Prize, the Lecomte du Nouy Prize, and the Heideman Prize. Her work has been commissioned by the Studio Theatre in D.C., the Ensemble Studio Theatre through the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Old Vic in London. She is a proud alumna of the playwriting programs at Juilliard and Tisch.

Nassim Soleimanpour (White Rabbit Red Rabbit) is an independent multidisciplinary theatre maker from Tehran, Iran. His plays have been translated into more than 20 languages. Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit, written to travel the world when he couldn’t, his work has been awarded the Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe), as well as picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award. By the time Nassim was permitted to travel for the first time in early 2013, his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit had been performed over 200 times in 15 languages. Since then, Nassim has facilitated workshops and panels in different countries including World Theatre Festival (Brisbane), Tolhuistuin (Amsterdam), SESC Vila Mariana (Sao Paulo), Schauspielhaus (Vienna), DPAC (Kuala Lampur), Theatretreffen (Berlin), British Council (London), Asia House (London) and University of Bremen (Germany). Nassim’s second play Blind Hamlet for the London based Actors Touring Company premiered at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has since toured extensively around the UK and was received well in Bucharest and Copenhagen. Blank, his third play, recently premiered in Amsterdam and has been performed in Utrecht, Edinburgh and London. Nassim now lives in Berlin with his wife Shirin.

About the Directors

James Yost (The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?) is a Joseph Jefferson Award-nominated director and the Co-Artistic Director of Interrobang Theatre Project. He previously served as the producing Artistic Director for BareBones Theatre Group, a company he co-founded in 1998. Selected credits include: Mr. Marmalade, Psycho Beach Party, Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, Skylight, The Graduate, The Play About the Baby, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Drift, bash; the latter-day plays, Squirrels, The Wizard of Oz, Lend Me A Tenor, Orson's Shadow, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Pitchfork Disney and Noises Off. For ITP, credits include Orange Flower Water (Jeff nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Joseph Wiens), Ibsen is Dead, The North Pool (Jeff nominated for Best Production and Best Director), Falling (Jeff nominated actors Justin Tsatsa and Amy Johnson) and the critically acclaimed REALLY REALLY (named one of the best shows of 2015 by the Chicago Tribune). Other credits include True West by Sam Shepard for Shattered Globe. This summer, he will direct Boeing Boeing for Davidson College. He teaches acting, directing, production design and film at the high school and collegiate level. He is published in Teaching Theatre Journal, a publication of Dramatics Magazine.

Abhi Shrestha (I Call My Brothers) Abhi Shrestha is a Chicago based director, movement dramaturge and educator originally from Kathmandu, Nepal. Working at the intersections of decolonization and queer brown narratives, they are the Literary Manager and Director of Public Programming for Haven Theatre, the Resident Dramaturg and Community Organizer for the Chicago Inclusion Project and a content curator for Rescripted. They are currently working on exploring a personal history of the world as told by brown grandmas, in a performance installation called The Brown Grandma Project (working title). 

Georgette Verdin (Utility) has been working with ITP since 2014 and has served as Co-Artistic Director since 2015. She is also a freelance director, theater and speech educator and arts integration specialist. She was the founding theater teacher at Polaris Charter Academy, an Expeditionary Learning School in West Humboldt Park, where she taught full-time for eight years. For Interrobang, Georgette directed last season's Jeff Recommended production of Grace by Craig Wright, season seven's production of the 2013 Yale Drama Series Winner Still by Jen Silverman, as well as season six’s Katrina: Mother-In-Law of ‘Em All by Rob Florence and the Jeff Recommended Recent Tragic Events, also by Craig Wright. Other recent directing credits include Jeff Recommended 20,000 Leagues Under The Seas (Assistant Director, Lookingglass Theatre Company) Time Stands Still (AstonRep), a staged reading of Launch Day by Michael J. Higgins (Chicago Dramatists) and Tennessee Williams’ Talk To Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen as part of AstonRep’s FOUR BY TENN festival. Georgette holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre performance from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA and a Master in Directing from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.



About Interrobang Theatre Project

Now in its ninth season, Interrobang Theatre Project, under the artistic leadership of Georgette Verdin and James Yost, has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as a “company to watch” and by Time Out Chicago as “one of Chicago’s most promising young theatre companies.” Chris Jones called Foxfinder, which kicked off Interrobang’s 2017-18 season, “...a ripping good yarn,” earning it 3.5 stars from the Chicago Tribune. Foxfinder also garnered seven non-Equity Jeff Awards nominations including Best Director and Production of a Play, and took home two awards for Best Original Music and Set Design. The company also earned seven non-Equity Jeff Nominations for their seventh season, including Best Director, Production of a Play, Solo Performance and acting nominations for Lead Actor, Actress (win) and Actor in a Supporting Role (win). Productions have included the world premiere of Calamity West’s Ibsen is Dead (Jeff Recommended), the Jeff Recommended The Pitchfork Disney, Orange Flower Water, Recent Tragic Events, The North Pool, The Amish Project, Falling and Grace. Director James Yost’s critically-acclaimed Really Really was one of six shows chosen for Chicago Tribune’s “Best of 2015 in Chicago Fringe Theater.”

What’s an interrobang?
An interrobang is the combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, joining the Latin for “question” (interro) with a proofreading term for “exclamation” (bang). Through the plays we produce, Interrobang Theatre Project aims to pose worthwhile and exciting questions which challenge our understanding and assumptions of who we are and the world in which we live. 

For more information, please visit www.interrobangtheatreproject.org.

Monday, April 23, 2018

OPENING: GRACE Via The Interrobang Theatre Project at The Athenaeum Theatre 5/4-6/3/18

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Interrobang Theatre Project Presents
GRACE
By Craig Wright
Directed by Co-Artistic Director Georgette Verdin
May 4 – June 3, 2018 at The Athenaeum Theatre


ChiIL Live Shows will be ChiILin' with Chi, IL's Interrobang Theatre Project for the press opening on May 7, so check back shortly for my full review. 

Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to conclude its 2017-18 Season, exploring the urgent question “What is Truth?,” with a revival of Craig Wright's darkly funny and deadly serious Broadway hit GRACE, directed by Co-Artistic Director Georgette Verdin. GRACE will play May 4 – June 3, 2018 at The Athenaeum Theatre (Studio 2), 2936 N. Southport Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at www.interrobangtheatre.org, by calling (773) 935-6875 or in person at The Athenaeum Theatre Box Office.

GRACE features Walter Brody as Karl, Evan Linder as Sam, Joe Lino as Steve and ITP ensemble member Laura Berner Taylor* as Sara.

Steve and Sarah have a plan. With nothing more than a little start-up cash and a lot of faith, the couple picks up from their Minnesota home to start a new life in sunny Florida, opening a chain of evangelically-themed motels to spread the good Word while reaping some divine financial benefits. Meanwhile, their new neighbor Sam is in an existential quandary of his own: recently widowed and badly injured, he's faithless, bitter and hardly in the mood for new friends, sent by God or otherwise. As their lives become entwined, and their destinies made clear, all three will come to question their own beliefs and fears. 

The production team for GRACE includes: Pauline Oleksy (scenic design), Noël Huntzinger* (costume designer), Richie Vavrina (lighting design), Erik Siegling (sound design/original music), Melanie Hatch (props design), Brynne Barnard* (assistant director), Lindsay Bartlett (dialect coach), Jeremiah Barr (make-up design), Claire Yearman (violence direction) and Melanie Kulas (stage manager).

*Denotes Interrobang Theatre Project Ensemble Member or Artistic Associate.

Location: The Athenaeum Theatre (Studio 2), 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Friday, May 4 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, May 5 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 6 at 2 pm

Regular run: Thursday, May 10 – Sunday, June 3, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 2 pm & 7:30 pm: Sundays at 2 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Sunday, May 20 due to Interrobang’s annual benefit.

Tickets: Previews: $17. Regular run: $32. Students $17 with ID. (Ticket prices include $2 Athenaeum Theatre restoration fee). Tickets are currently available at www.interrobangtheatre.org, by calling (773) 935-6875 or in person at The Athenaeum Theatre Box Office.

About the Artists:
Craig Wright (Director) is the author of Mistakes Were Made, which played at A Red Orchid Theatre, Hartford Stage, and the Barrow Street Theater; Blind, which played at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre; The Gray Sisters, which played at Third Rail Rep; The Unseen, which was produced at Actors Theater of Louisville and Stages Rep with Lady, which was commissioned by and received its world premiere from the Northlight Theatre, and was subsequently produced at Rattlestick and around the country; Grace, which premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play); Recent Tragic Events, which debuted at Woolly and was produced at Playwrights Horizons (finalist for the American Theatre Critics New Play Award and the Helen Hayes Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play); Melissa Arctic, a contemporary adaptation of The Winter’s Tale, which premiered at the Folger Theatre (2005 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play) and was done at Two River Theater; Main Street, commissioned and premiered by the Great American History Theatre; Orange Flower Water, produced at Steppenwolf (Chicago Sun-Times named it one of the Best of the Year); Molly’s Delicious, which debuted at the Arden Theatre (Barrymore nomination for Best New Play) and played at Arizona Theatre Company; The Pavilion, which had dozens of productions around the country, including an extended run at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre (Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding New Play). Mr. Wright received an Emmy nomination for an episode he wrote of Six Feet Under. He also wrote for Twilight, and served as writer and producer for Lost, Brothers & Sisters, United States of Tara, and his own series on ABC Dirty Sexy Money. A graduate of United Theological Seminary, Mr. Wright lives in Los Angeles and New York.

Georgette Verdin (Director) is Co-Artistic Director of Interrobang Theatre Project, as well as a freelance director, arts educator and arts integration specialist. She was the founding theatre teacher at Polaris Charter Academy, an Expeditionary Learning School in West Humboldt Park where she taught full time for eight years, in addition to teaching speech at the collegiate level. Her recent Interrobang credits include the 2013 Yale Drama Series Winner Still by Jen Silverman, Recent Tragic Events also by Craig Wright (Jeff Recommended) and Katrina: Mother-In-Law of ‘Em All by Rob Florence. Last spring she directed Time Stands Still (Jeff Recommended) for Aston Rep and will be returning to direct Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen as part of their Four by Tenn short play festival honoring Tennessee Williams. Other upcoming projects include assistant directing Lookingglass’ production of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Georgette holds a Bachelor's in Theatre Performance from McNeese State University and a Master's in Directing from Roosevelt University. 



About Interrobang Theatre Project
Now in its eighth season, Interrobang Theatre Project, under the artistic leadership of Georgette Verdin and James Yost, has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as a “company to watch” and by Time Out Chicago as “one of Chicago’s most promising young theatre companies.” Chris Jones called Foxfinder, which kicked off Interrobang’s 2017-18 season, “...a ripping good yarn,” earning it 3.5 stars in the Chicago Tribune. Season seven earned seven non-Equity Jeff Nominations, including Best Director, Production of a Play, Solo Performance and acting nominations for Lead Actor, Actress and Actor in a Supporting Role. Productions have included the world premiere of Calamity West’s Ibsen is Dead (Jeff Recommended), and the Jeff Recommended The Pitchfork Disney, Orange Flower Water, Recent Tragic Events, The Amish Project, The North Pool and Falling. Director James Yost’s critically-acclaimed Really Really was one of six shows chosen for Chicago Tribune’s “Best of 2015 in Chicago Fringe Theater.”

What’s an interrobang?
An interrobang is the combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, joining the Latin for “question” (interro) with a proofreading term for “exclamation” (bang). Through the plays we produce, Interrobang Theatre Project aims to pose worthwhile and exciting questions which challenge our understanding and assumptions of who we are and the world in which we live. 

For more information, please visit www.interrobangtheatreproject.org.





Wednesday, January 10, 2018

REVIEW: For The Loyal Tackles Reality and Morality In Football Coach Pedophilia Scandal

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Interrobang Theatre Project Presents
FOR THE LOYAL
By Lee Blessing
Directed by Co-Artistic Director James Yost


Through February 4, 2018 at The Athenaeum Theatre

(left to right) Matthew NerberRob Frankel and Sarah Gise in Interrobang Theatre Project's Chicago premiere of FOR THE LOYAL. Photo by Emily Schwartz.


Review:
Interrobang Theatre's at it again, challenging perceptions and pulling no punches. There are plenty of plot twists in this cleverly crafted drama, where 5 characters run through an entire playbook of possible outcomes, when a talented coach is caught making illegal choices with a child.

There are many truth bombs here about complicity and why society often gives a pass to role models suspected of sketchy behavior. We teach our children to beware of strangers when we should teach them to beware of heroes! When beloved coaches, teachers, community leaders, doctors, friends and family abuse the trust of children and adolescents, it's beyond complicated to find hard evidence, rip lives apart, and destroy the good being done, in order to protect current and future victims. People don't want to look under rocks. It's easier to be naive than to be disloyal and believe horrific truths about those we trust with our children. When loyalty to a team or a family is sacred, it's beyond bravery to go against that bond.

Even in the "Me Too" era, it's often easier to look away from the abyss than to deal with the repercussions of whistle blowing, from not being believed to being fired or retaliated against. This show also goes well beyond knee jerk reactions to taboos like pedophilia and incest, to explore why victims stay silent, even calling into question the cringeworthy grey areas where some actually welcome the money or crave the attention of their abusers and feel ambiguously responsible.


(left to right) Sarah Gise and Richard David in Interrobang Theatre Project's Chicago premiere of FOR THE LOYAL. Photo by Emily Schwartz.

For the Loyal also explores the morality of taking extreme measures to protect our children. Is another illegal act like murder justifiable to stop a serial child molester who'll likely never stop? Is a sympathetic pregnant mother above the law and justified in protecting her children and others by any means necessary? Is an organization complicit in cover ups, if it turns a blind eye to protects it talent pool from ugly accusations? Is lying to the police and powers that be an acceptable crime when livelihood is on the line? 

We recommend checking out this intricate and excellent production. 


Presented as part of Interrobang Theatre Project’s 'RAW Series'
exploring the urgent question “What is Truth?”. As we begin 2018, few things are as American as football and sex abuse scandals, so this on stage exploration is more than timely.


Important Info: Due to strong language, not recommended for all ages. Performance lasts 78 minutes without intermission.

Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission.



Photos by Emily Schwartz.
Sarah Gise, Rob Frankel & Matthew Nerber

Following its hit production of FOXFINDER, Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to continue its 2017-18 Season, exploring the urgent question “What is Truth?,” with the Chicago premiere of Lee Blessing's shocking and thought-provoking new play FOR THE LOYAL, directed by Co-Artistic Director James Yost*. FOR THE LOYAL will play January 6 – February 4, 2018 at The Athenaeum Theatre (Studio 1), 2936 N. Southport Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at www.interrobangtheatre.org, by calling (773) 935-6875 or in person at The Athenaeum Theatre Box Office. 

FOR THE LOYAL features ensemble members Sarah Gise* as Mia and Matthew Nerber* as Toby with Richard David as The Boy, Rob Frankel as Carlson and Josh Zagoren as Hale.

For Toby and Mia, college football and family are one and the same; he has a new coaching job for a top team, and they are happily expecting their first born. But when Toby gets Mia enmeshed in an unseemly team secret, she is forced to decide where her loyalties truly lie. Inspired by the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, FOR THE LOYAL takes an unconventional and provocative look at how one woman traverses a no-win situation. 

FOR THE LOYAL is presented as part of Interrobang's RAW Series. Think of it a bit like theatrical sashimi. Big ideas, bold flavors – everything you’ve come to expect from Interrobang Theatre Project – without the trimmings. We’ve stripped down the classic stage elements to put the story front and center. The RAW Series features passion-projects and bucket-list productions spearheaded by our talented ensemble. In addition to our regularly scheduled plays, the RAW Series aims to bring concise, actor-driven theater to the Chicago stage. 

The production team for FOR THE LOYAL includes: Pauline Olesky (scenic design), Rebecca Bartle (lighting design), Christopher Aaron Knarr* (original music), Hannah Wolff (asst. director), Elana Elyce* (artistic producer) and Shawn Galligan* (stage manager).

*Denotes Interrobang Theatre Project Company Member. 

Location: The Athenaeum Theatre (Studio 1), 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago

Regular run: Thursday, January 11 – Sunday, February 4, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 2 pm & 7:30 pm: Sundays at 2 pm. 

Tickets: Regular run: $32. Students $17 with ID. (Ticket prices include $2 Athenaeum Theatre restoration fee). 
Tickets are currently available at www.interrobangtheatre.org, by calling (773) 935-6875 or in person at The Athenaeum Theatre Box Office.

About the Artists:

Lee Blessing’s (Playwright) play A Walk in the Woods was produced on Broadway and London's West End. His Off-Broadway productions include A Body of Water, Primary Stages; Going To St. Ives, Primary Stages (Outer Critic’s Circle Award, Best Play, Obie for ensemble performance); Thief River, Signature Theatre (Drama Desk nomination, Best Play); Cobb, Lucille Lortel Theatre (Drama Desk award, best ensemble); Chesapeake, New York Stage and Film at Second Stage; Eleemosynary, Manhattan Theatre Company and Down the Road, the Weissberger Group at the Atlantic Theatre. The Signature Theatre dedicated its 1992-93 season to his work, consisting of Fortinbras, Lake Street Extension, Two Rooms and the world premiere of Patient A. Other world and regional premieres include an adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s Heaven's My Destination, which had its world premiere at the Cleveland Play House, Great Falls in the Humana New Play Festival of the Actors Theatre of Louisville, A Body of Water at the Guthrie Theater and the Old Globe Theatre, Lonesome Hollow, Flag Day and Whores at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, The Scottish Play at La Jolla Playhouse, Black Sheep at Florida Stage and The Winning Streak at George Street Playhouse. Other plays include Independence, Riches, Oldtimers Game, Nice People Dancing To Good Country Music and Perilous Night. Productions of Blessing’s plays have earned awards such as The American Theater Critics Circle Award, the L.A. Drama Critics Award, The Great American Play Award, The Humanitas Award, and the George and Elisabeth Marton Award, among others. He has received nominations for Tony and Olivier awards, as well as the Pulitzer Prize. He heads the graduate playwriting program at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.

James Yost (Director) is a Joseph Jefferson Award nominated director and the Co-Artistic Director of Interrobang Theatre Project. He previously served as the producing artistic director for BareBones Theatre Group, a company he co-founded in 1998. Selected credits include: Mr. Marmalade, Psycho Beach Party, Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, Skylight, The Graduate, The Play About the Baby, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Drift, bash; the latter-day plays, Squirrels, The Wizard of Oz, Lend Me A Tenor, Orson's Shadow, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Pitchfork Disney and Noises Off.  For ITP, credits include Orange Flower Water (Jeff nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Joseph Wiens), Ibsen is Dead, The North Pool (Jeff nominated for best production and best director), Falling (Jeff nominated actors: Justin Tsatsa and Amy Johnson) and last season's critically acclaimed REALLY REALLY (named one of the best shows of 2015 by the Chicago Tribune). Other credits include True West by Sam Shepard for Shattered Globe. This summer he will direct Boeing Boeing for Davidson College. He teaches acting, directing, production design and film at the high school and collegiate level. He is published in Teaching Theatre Journal, a publication of Dramatics Magazine.

About Interrobang Theatre Project
Now in its eighth season, Interrobang Theatre Project, under the artistic leadership of Georgette Verdin and James Yost, has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as a “company to watch” and by Time Out Chicago as “one of Chicago’s most promising young theatre companies.” Season seven earned seven non-Equity Jeff Nominations, including Best Director, Production of a Play, Solo Performance and acting nominations for Lead Actor, Actress and Actor in a Supporting Role. Productions have included the world premiere of Calamity West’s Ibsen is Dead (Jeff Recommended), and the Jeff Recommended The Pitchfork Disney, Orange Flower Water, Recent Tragic Events, The Amish Project, The North Pool, and Falling. Director James Yost’s critically-acclaimed Really Really was one of six shows chosen for Chicago Tribune’s list "Best of 2015 in Chicago Fringe Theater.”

What’s an interrobang?
An interrobang is the combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, joining the Latin for “question” (interro) with a proofreading term for “exclamation” (bang). Through the plays we produce, Interrobang Theatre Project aims to pose worthwhile and exciting questions which challenge our understanding and assumptions of who we are and the world in which we live. 

For more information, please visit www.interrobangtheatreproject.org.

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