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Showing posts with label The Gift Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Gift Theatre. Show all posts

Friday, January 10, 2020

TEN 2020 Now Playing at The Gift Theatre Through January 18, 2020

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar:

The Gift Theatre Presents
TEN 2020
Festival of World Premiere Ten-Minute Plays
January 9 – 18, 2020



The Gift Theatre is pleased to present TEN 2020, the company’s annual season kick-off festival of ten world premiere ten-minute pieces by The Gift and guest artists, curated by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton and Associate Artistic Directors Paul D'Addario and Emjoy Gavino. TEN will play January 9 – 18, 2020 at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood. Tickets for TEN are free for Gift subscribers and $10 for the general public. Tickets are currently available at thegifttheatre.org or by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071.



The TEN 2020 line-up includes:

THE GAME OF LIFE
Book and Lyrics by Gift Co-Founder William Nedved, Music by Stephen Coleman
Directed by ensemble member Erica Weiss
Featuring Michael Turrentine

UNMOVED 
By Hansol Jung
Directed by Brian Shaw
Featuring ensemble member James D. Farruggio

THE EDIT
By Brooke Allen
Directed by Erin Murray
Featuring ensemble member Alexandra Main with Chanell Bell

NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT 
By Michael Allen Harris
Directed by Gregory Geffrard
Featuring Raphael Diaz, Jalyn Greene, Watson Swift and Michael Turrentine

BLACK HOLE 
By Stacy Osei-Kuffour
Directed by ensemble member Martel Manning
Featuring ensemble members Gregory Fenner and Jennifer Glasse

BURIED MOTHER
By Mickle Maher
Directed by Michael Cotey
Featuring Deanna Dunagan and Diana Slickman

PLEDGE DRIVE 
By Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton
Directed by Jonathan Berry
Featuring ensemble members Jay Worthington, James D. Farruggio and Alexandra Main with Katie Gonzalez and Ricardo Gutierrez

Plus:

Natural Gas, The Gift’s house-improv team.
Featuring ensemble members Ed Flynn, Michael Patrick Thornton, Hannah Toriumi and Kyle Zornes with Kieran Fitzgerald, Carly Olson, John Pantlind and other scoundrels.

giftLIT, The Gift’s literary extension.
Featuring giftLIT Director Maggie Andersen with Maria Ortiz, Jennifer Rumberger and Shaina Warfield

TOUR MANAGER
A short film by ensemble member Ed Flynn and Amy Speckien
Featuring ensemble members and guest artists

The TEN 2020 production team includes Daniel Friedman (lighting design), Michael McShane (sound design), Sarah Luse (production manager), David Preis (technical director) and Tori Thompson (stage manager).

Performance Schedule:

Thursday, January 9 at 7:30 pm
Friday, January 10 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, January 11 at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm
Sunday, January 12 at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm
Thursday, January 16 at 7:30 pm
Friday, January 17 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, January 18 at 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm



About The Gift Theatre
Since 2001 and over 70 productions, The Gift Theatre has pioneered the frontiers of the American theatre via the most intimate professional Equity theatre in the country, leading to national acclaim and a cultural revolution on Chicago’s northwest side.

Friday, April 26, 2019

SAVE THE DATES: The Chicago Premiere of KENTUCKY Plus New Dates for Hansol Jung’s WOLF PLAY Via The Gift Theatre

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
The Gift Theatre Announces Final Production 2019 Season:

The Chicago Premiere of
KENTUCKY
By Leah Nanako Winkler
Directed by Ensemble Member Chika Ike
October 17 – November 17, 2019 at Theater Wit
Plus: New Dates for Hansol Jung’s WOLF PLAY



The Gift Theatre is pleased to announce the final play of its 2019 Season: the Chicago premiere of Leah Nanako Winkler’s dark comedy KENTUCKY, directed by ensemble member Chika Ike, playing October 17 – November 17, 2019 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago.

The Gift has also announced new dates for its world premiere of Hansol Jung’s messy, funny and disturbing theatrical experience WOLF PLAY, now slated for July 11 – August 18, 2019. Directed by guest artist Jess McLeod, WOLF PLAY will be presented at The Gift’s home at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood.

The Gift Theatre’s 2019 season opened with an all-ensemble production John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning drama DOUBT: A PARABLE, directed by ensemble member John Gawlik. DOUBT played February 27 – March 31, 2019 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre.

Two-show subscriptions are currently available at www.thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071.


About KENTUCKY

Two Sisters, Eccentric Parents, A Chatty Cat, And A Born-Again Wedding...What Could Go Wrong?

Hiro is a self-made single, almost 30 woman making it in New York while estranged from her dysfunctional family who lives in Kentucky. When her sister, a born-again Christian, decides to marry at 22, Hiro decides to do whatever she can to stop the wedding and salvage her sister's future. The themes of identity, religion and love collide in this unique coming-of-age story. 


About the Artists
Leah Nanako Winkler (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright from Kamakura, Japan and Lexington, Kentucky. Her plays include God Said This (Winner: 2018 Yale Drama Series, World Premiere: Humana Festival, Off Broadway Premiere: Primary Stages/Cherry Lane), Kentucky (2015 Kilroys List/World premiere: Ensemble Studio Theatre in coproduction with Page 73 and the Radio Drama Network. West Coast Premiere: East West Players) Two Mile Hollow (2017 Kilroys List, simultaneous world premiere with Artists At Play in La, Mixed Blood/Theater Mu in Minneapolis, First Floor Theater in Chicago and Ferocious Lotus in SF), Death For Sydney Black (terraNova Collective, Thinking Cap Theater, 2014 Kilroys Honorable Mention) Diversity Awareness Picnic (Clubbed Thumb/Playwrights Horizons Superlab, 2014 Kilroys Honorable Mention), Double Suicide At Ueno Park (EST/Marathon 2015), Linus and Murray (EST/Marathon 2017) and more.

Chika Ike (Director) is an ensemble member with the Gift Theatre Company, where she is also the Director of the 4802 Residency. She has worked with Public Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Victory Gardens, About Face Theatre Company, Chicago Inclusion Initiative, Chicago Dramatists, and Prologue Theatre Company. Fellowships: Gielgud Directing Fellowship, the Bret C. Harte Directing Fellowship and Victory Garden’s Directors Initiative. Recent productions: A Swell in the Ground (The Gift Theatre), In the Blood (Red Tape Theatre), No Child (Definition Theatre Company), Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea (First Floor Theatre) and Franklinland (Jackalope Theatre Company).  


About The Gift Theatre
Since 2001 and over 70 productions, The Gift Theatre has pioneered the frontiers of the American theatre via the most intimate professional Equity theatre in the country, leading to national acclaim and a cultural revolution on Chicago’s northwest side.

The Gift’s 18th season includes a revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning drama Doubt: A Parable, directed by Ensemble Member John Gawlik at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre (February 27 – March 31); the world premiere of Hansol Jung’s Wolf Play, directed by guest artist Jess McLeod at The Gift Theatre (July 11 – August 18) and Leah Nanako Winkler’s Chicago Premiere KENTUCKY directed by Ensemble Member Chika Ike at Theater Wit (October 17 – November 17). Season subscriptions are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at www.thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

OPENING: DOUBT: A PARABLE Via The Gift Theatre at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre February 27 – March 31, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
The Gift Theatre Presents
DOUBT: A PARABLE

By John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Ensemble Member John Gawlik


February 27 – March 31, 2019 
at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre
Presented as a part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series

The Gift Theatre is pleased to launch its 18th season with a revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning drama DOUBT: A PARABLE, presented as a part of Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series. Directed by Ensemble Member John Gawlik and featuring an all-ensemble cast, DOUBT will play February 27 – March 31, 2019 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at steppenwolf.org through Steppenwolf Audience Services (1650 N. Halsted St.) or by calling (312) 335-1650. 

DOUBT: A PARABLE will feature Ensemble Members Cyd Blakewell*, Jennifer Glasse*, Mary Ann Thebus* and Michael Patrick Thornton*.

In this brilliant and powerful drama, Sister Aloysius, a Bronx school principal, takes matters into her own hands when she suspects the young Father Flynn of improper relations with one of the male students. Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best Play.

The production team for DOUBT: A PARABLE includes Arnel Sancianco (scenic design), Sanja Manakoski (costume design), Mike Durst (lighting design), Matthew Chapman (sound design), Maggie Andersen (dramaturg), David Preis (technical director) and Sarah Luse (production manager).

Cast (in alphabetical order): Cyd Blakewell* (Sister James), Jennifer Glasse* (Mrs. Muller), Mary Ann Thebus* (Sister Aloysius) and Michael Patrick Thornton* (Father Flynn).

Location: Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted St., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Wednesday, February 27 at 8 pm, Thursday, February 28 at 8 pm, Friday, March 1 at 8 pm and Saturday, March 2 at 8 pm


Regular run: Thursday, March 7 – Sunday, March 31, 2019

Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 4 pm & 8 pm; Sundays at 3:30 pm.

Tickets: Previews $35. Regular run $45 – $55. Seniors $25. Students $15. Tickets are currently available at steppenwolf.org, through Steppenwolf Audience Services (1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago) or by calling (312) 335-1650.

*Denotes Gift Theatre ensemble member

 

About the Artists
John Patrick Shanley (Playwright) is the author of numerous plays, including Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Dirty Story, Four Dogs and a Bone, Psychopathia Sexualis, Sailor’s Song, Savage in Limbo and Where’s My Money?. He has written extensively for TV and film, and his credits include the teleplay for Live from Baghdad and screenplays for Congo, Alive, Five Corners, Joe Versus the Volcano (which he also directed) and Moonstruck, for which he won an Academy Award for original screenplay.

John Gawlik (Director) is an AEA/SAG actor and director. Favorite acting credits include: the world premiere of David Rabe’s Good For Otto and Broadsword with The Gift Theatre, Bill Sykes in Oliver at Drury Lane, Blizzard ‘67 with Chicago Dramatist, The Lonesome West and Beauty Queen of Lennane with the Gift Theatre and A Skull in Connemara at Northlight. Favorite directing projects include Thinner Than Water and The Royal Society of Antarctica for The Gift Theatre and the Chicago Premiere of When the Rain Stops Falling at Circle Theater (Jeff Award for Director and Production). He is an ensemble member of The Gift Theater.

About The Gift Theatre
Since 2001 and over 70 productions, The Gift Theatre has pioneered the frontiers of the American theatre via the most intimate professional Equity theatre in the country, leading to national acclaim and a cultural revolution on Chicago’s northwest side.

The Gift’s 18th season includes a revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning drama Doubt: A Parable, directed by Ensemble Member John Gawlik (February 27 – March 31); the world premiere of Hansol Jung’s Wolf Play, directed by guest artist Jess McLeod (October 18 – November 24); as well as a soon-to-be announced third production (July 12 – August 18). Season subscriptions are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at www.thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071.

About Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series
Housed primarily in the 1700 Theatre, LookOut is Steppenwolf’s performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form: emerging artists and performance legends, quintessential Chicago companies and young aspiring ensembles, familiar Steppenwolf faces and new friends. Greta Honold and Patrick Zakem are the producers for LookOut, which is presented year-round and announced on an ongoing basis. For more information, visit steppenwolf.org/lookout.

Monday, October 1, 2018

OPENING: The Midwest Premiere of COSMOLOGIES Via The Gift Theatre Through December 9, 2018

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar:
The Gift Theatre Presents the Midwest Premiere of 
COSMOLOGIES
By Ensemble Member David Rabe
Directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton
October 19 – December 9, 2018




(front, l to r) Ensemble members Martel Manning, Gregory Fenner, Kenny Mihlfried and Hannah Toriumi with (back, l to r) Darci Nalepa, John Kelly Connolly and James D. Farruggio in a publicity image for The Gift Theatre’s Midwest premiere of David Rabe’s COSMOLOGIES. Photo by Claire Demos.


                                   
The Gift Theatre is pleased to conclude its 17th season with the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s* COSMOLOGIES, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton*, playing October 19 – December 9, 2018 at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood. Tickets are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at (773) 283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org

COSMOLOGIES will eature an all-ensemble cast including John Kelly Connolly*, James D. Farruggio*, Gregory Fenner*, Martel Manning*, Kenny Mihlfried*, Darci Nalepa* and Hannah Toriumi*.

Put the whimsical humor of the Keystone Cops and Bugs Bunny into a particle collider with the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard and George Berkeley and you’re getting close to the style of this existential absurdist comedy from David Rabe. When a young man’s negotiation for a date goes very wrong, we are transported through kaleidoscopic worlds of possibilities, identities and loves. 

Comments playwright and Gift ensemble member David Rabe, “Here's the thing: working on Good for Otto with The Gift was among the very best experiences I've ever had in the theater. Cosmologies and I are eager to get there and go at it again with Mike Thornton, some of the same actors, along with new ones drawn from the Gift ensemble.”

The production team for COSMOLOGIES includes Angela McIlvain and Courtney O'Neill (scenic design), Izumi Inaba (costume design), Charlie Cooper (lighting design), Christopher Kriz (sound design), Grace Bolander (assistant director) and Sarah Luse (stage manager).


Location: The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Friday, October 19 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, October 20 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, October 21 at 2:30 pm, Wednesday, October 24 at 7:30 pm, Thursday, October 25 at 7:30 pm, Friday, October 26 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, October 27 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Thursday, November 1 – Sunday, December 9, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm. Please note: there will not be a 3 pm performance on Saturday, October 20.

Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $35 – $50. Tickets are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at (773) 283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org

*Denotes Gift Theatre ensemble member

About the Artists

David Rabe (Playwright) was born in Dubuque, Iowa, where he lived though his college years, studying creative writing under Reverend Ray Roseliep, a renowned poet. After the army and a gloriously productive period at Villanova University where a number of his early plays were written and performed, his first professional productions were in New York, a Vietnam Quartet starting in 1971: The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, Sticks and Bones, The Orphan and Streamers. All were produced by Joseph Papp to whom he owes a complex and absolute debt. In the Boom Boom Room followed, as did Goose and Tom Tom, Hurlyburly, Those the River Keeps, A Question of Mercy, The Dog Problem, The Black Monk adapted from Chekov, An Early History of Fire and Good For Otto, which in 2015 gave him his first experience of Chicago theater with The Gift, followed by Visiting Edna at Steppenwolf. Four of his plays have received Tony nominations, and Sticks and Bones, for which the actors requested combat pay, won in 1972. He has received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and an Obie award; the Drama Desk, John Gassner Outer Critics, the New York Drama Critics Circle awards, and three times won the Elizabeth Hull-Kate Warriner Drama Guild Award. Screenplays are I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can, Casualties of War and Hurlyburly. His fiction includes the book of stories A Primitive Heart, and the novels Recital of the Dog, Dinosaurs on the Roof and Girl by the Road at Night.  He has three children, Jason, Lily and Michael.

Michael Patrick Thornton (Director) is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of The Gift, where previous directing credits include: world premiere of Gift ensemble member David Rabe’s Good For Otto; world premiere of Claire Kiechel’s Pilgrims (co-directed with Jessica Thebus), War of the Worlds (75th Anniversary Production), the Chicago Premiere of ensemble member Will Eno’s Oh, The Humanity (and other exclamations), Prairie View, Night & Her Stars, Stop/Kiss, Santa’s Great American Depression Holiday Show! America, White People, Three Sisters, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Hurlyburly (Joseph Jefferson Award: Actor In Leading Role), A Young Man In Pieces, Language Of Angels, County Fair and Orestes 2.0. Elsewhere: Of Mice and Men (Steppenwolf), the world premieres of Sean Graney’s IS N UR B1UDS7REEM… and Mark Harvey Levine’s LA 8AM (Collaboraction) and Picasso At The Lapin Agile (Noble Fool). Michael was a very grateful assistant director on Steppenwolf’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County. 

A Joseph Jefferson Award-winning actor for Solo Performance in Conor McPherson’s The Good Thief (The Gift) Michael was nominated for a Best Actor Jeff Award (Suicide, Incorporated) and Best Director Jeff Award (Good For Otto). 

About The Gift Theatre

The Gift’s 17th season: Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by Jess McLeod (March 2 – April 29, 2018); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1 – July 29, 2018); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton (October 12 –December 9, 2018). The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

OPENING: HAMLET Via The Gift Theatre 6/1-7/29/18

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

The Gift Theatre 
HAMLET
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Guest Artist Monty Cole
June 1 – July 29, 2018


Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we've long been big fans of Gift Theatre's little space. They're outliers from all the cities various theatre districts, but well worth the trek to Jefferson Park on Chicago's northwest side. They've made a go of it for 17 seasons, with intimate, excellent, and award winning productions. Gift often likes to play vertically with multilayered shows, physically and mentally. We're eager to catch their take on Hamlet.

The Gift Theatre is pleased to announce casting for William Shakespeare’s HAMLET, directed by guest artist Monty Cole. The Gift’s production of the Bard’s great tragedy will crack open the mind of one of western drama's most fascinating and complex characters. 




The cast of The Gift Theatre’s HAMLET includes (top, l to r) John Kelly Connolly, Robert Cornelius, Shanésia Davis, Gregory Fenner and Daniel Kyri (bottom, l to r) Martel Manning, Casey Morris, Jake Szczepaniak, Hannah Toriumi and Netta Walker.

HAMLET will feature Daniel Kyri as Hamlet with Gift ensemble members John Kelly Connolly* as Claudius, Gregory Fenner* as Laertes, Martel Manning* as Guildenstern and Hannah Toriumi* as Rosencrantz, and guest artists Robert Cornelius as Ghost/Polonius, Shanésia Davis as Gertrude, Casey Morris as Horatio, Jake Szczepaniak as Fortinbras/Marcellus/Gravedigger and Netta Walker as Ophelia.

HAMLET will play June 1 – July 29, 2018 at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood. Single tickets and season subscriptions are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org. The press opening is Thursday, June 7 at 7:30 pm

After the death of his dad, a young black man named Hamlet returns home to grieve and seek revenge. Fighting against the injustice of his father's murder and the powers that want him out of the picture, Hamlet quickly loses power and sanity. 

Director Monty Cole comments, “Over the last year, this script has only become more personal to me and my production team. What makes this Hamlet unique isn’t necessarily “a new spin” from me but rather a process of personalization from incredibly respected Chicago artists working to make this 400 year old story feel prescient.”

Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton adds, “Experiencing Shakespeare at The Gift is electrifying. In our intimate space, we can deliver performances that mirror Hamlet’s advice to the players: stripped-down, clear, lyrical, and conversational. To be mere feet away from Hamlet’s heartache and blazing mind would be gift enough; with the colossal talents of these artists, our HAMLET will be one for the ages.”

The production team for HAMLET includes: William Boles (scenic design), Samantha Jones (costume design) Claire Chrzan and Michelle Benda (lighting design) Jeffery Levin (sound design) and Michael Petersen, Ph.D. (dramaturg).  

Location: The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Friday, June 1 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, June 2 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, June 3 at 2:30 pm and Wednesday, June 6 at 7:30 pm
Press openings: Thursday, June 7 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Friday, June 8 – Sunday, July 29, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm. Please note: there will not be a 3:30 pm performance on Saturday, June 9.

Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $35 – $40. Single and season subscriptions are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org.

*Denotes Gift Theatre ensemble member

About the Director
Monty Cole is a director based in Chicago and Los Angeles. Cole has directed for The Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, American Theatre Company, Definition Theater Company/ALTA, The House Theatre of Chicago, the Chicago Theater Marathon, California Institute of the Arts and others. Cole directed the critically acclaimed and Jeff Award winning production of The Hairy Ape for Oracle Productions. Monty is working with collaborator and choreographer Breon Arzell on revitalizing In Dahomey, the first black written and performed Broadway musical from 1903 for the Center for New Performance. Recently, he directed Kiss by Guillermo Calderon at the California Institute of the Arts where he is currently an MFA2 Directing candidate.

About The Gift Theatre
The Gift’s 17th season consists of Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by Jess McLeod (March 2 – April 29, 2018); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1 – July 29, 2018); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton (October 12 –December 9, 2018). The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071. 


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Gift Theatre's giftLit Resumes at Community Tavern at 8pm May 1, 2018

The Gift Theatre Presents 
giftLit
Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at Community Tavern


(left to right) Katherine Bourne, Sherman Edwards and Shaina Warfield are among the writers featured in The Gift Theatre’s May 2018 giftLit.

Join The Gift Theatre for a line-up of local writers, actors and musicians at giftLit, an evening of stories, wine and entertainment in the grand tradition of a Parisian salon on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 8 pm at Community Tavern, 4038 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood. May giftLit writers include Maggie Andersen, Katherine Bourne, Sherman Edwards and Shaina Warfield. Tickets, priced at $10, are currently available at thegifttheatre.org. Advance reservations are highly recommended.

About giftLit
The giftLIT salons happen several times a year at Community Tavern. A salon has historically been defined as “a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of participants through conversation.” What does that mean to the Gift? It means we round up a diverse group of writers and performers – some experienced, some rookies, some comedians, some poets. We give them all the same prompt and ask them to tell their stories while we drink good wine and eat good food. In between stories, we enjoy live music. At the Gift, we strongly believe that these story-sharing experiences create meaningful connections among individuals and within our community.

About the Writers
Katherine Bourne makes her giftLit debut In Chicago, she has worked with The House Theater of Chicago, Raven Theatre, The Gift Theatre, The Women's Theatre Alliance and brings Shakespeare plays to high school students with A Crew of Patches. She is on staff as an instructor with Black Box Acting, and spent her summer on faculty in the Meisner classroom at The School at Steppenwolf. While living in in Dallas TX, her work as a producer and co-founder for Shakespeare in the Bar and The Tribe contributed towards awards such as Best of Big D, and The Dallas Observer Mastermind Award. She performed with Dallas Theater Center, Stage West, Watertower Theater, Dallas Actor’s Lab, and is an ensemble member at Undermain Theatre. Katherine graduated from The School at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2014 and is represented by Actor's Talent Group. www.Katherine-Bourne.com.

Sherman Edwards was named 2012’s ‘Best Stand Up Comic in Chicago’ by the Chicago Reader and has been lucky enough to perform at the TBS Just for Laughs Festival in Chicago, The Del Close Marathon in New York, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and a few other notable places which has given him his cool, comfortable, laid-back style. Born and raised in Virginia but currently residing in Chicago, he can be found doing stand up, plays, improv, eating brunch with Brittany and can be seen on HBO GO's Single Long and FOX’s Empire.

Shaina Warfield is a 20-year-old sophomore from Dominican University. This is her first reading in the Chicago community and she's hoping it won’t be her last.  She gets half her personality from the protagonist of whatever novel she' s currently reading. The other half is written in a notecard in her wallet so she doesn’t forget it. She lives with her parents in Westchester.

About The Gift Theatre
The Gift’s 17th season consists of Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by Jess McLeod (March 2 – April 29, 2018); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1 – July 29, 2018); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton (October 12 –December 9, 2018). The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

REVIEW: Gift's Creepy Comedic Hang Man Not What You Think

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
The Gift Theatre Presents the World Premiere of
 HANG MAN
By Stacy Osei-Kuffour
Directed by Jess McLeod
March 2 – April 29, 2018


Mariah Sydnei Gordon co-stars in The Gift Theatre's premiere of "Hang Man"

Review:
Uncomfortable yet? You should be. Sometimes theatre is meant to entertain and amuse. Sometimes it's meant to enlighten, enrage or engage. Hang Man falls into the later category. If your emotions and intellect aren't challenged by Hang Man, you're not paying attention. I find it very interesting that without seeing the production, enough people were offended by some of the press imagery of a black man hanging in a noose, that Gift Theatre was compelled to censor the photos, from the backlash, even though the scenario is not in actuality a lynching or even a murder. I won't say more, to keep this review as spoiler free as possible so audience members can experience the story in real time, as it unfolds. 


Gregory Fenner, Jennifer Glasse and Mariah Sydnei Gordon in "Hang Man" at Gift Theatre Co. (Claire Demos photo)


In my mind, that means Stacy Osei-Kuffour and Gift Theatre are doing their job. The playwright has stated her goal is to bring untold stories to the stage and screen that challenge our political, societal and stereotypical views of the Black experience. Hang Man is a challenge to digest. It's not for the easily unnerved, with disturbing elements of sex and death intermingled, racism, odd obsessions, self inflicted pain, violence, and edgy subject matter. To say it's a darkly comical piece is putting it lightly. 



This production takes no prisoners and soft pedals nothing, but in an era where nothing's shocking and real news is over the top, sometimes it take a production like HANG MAN to shake audiences from their apathy, inertia, knee jerk reactions, and preconceived ideas. That said, I'm glad to have seen it and think it's worth checking out, for mature audiences who enjoy the absurdist genre and are open to a piece at least as disturbing as it is comedic. Recommended.



The Gift Theatre is pleased to launch its 17th season with the world premiere of Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s haunting and often-humorous drama HANG MAN, directed by guest artist Jess McLeod, playing March 2 – April 29, 2018 at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Single tickets and season subscriptions are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org

HANG MAN will feature ensemble members Paul D’Addario, Gregory Fenner and Martel Manning with Andy Fleischer, Jennifer Glasse, Mariah Sydnei Gordon and Angela Morris.

The community of a backwoods Southern town grapples with the murder of a black man who is found hanging in a tree. As events unfold, the hanging mystifies the people of the community, forcing them to confront their complicity in this man’s horrific demise. Osei-Kuffour’s darkly comical, heartbreaking play, which recently made the prestigious 2017 Kilroy’s List, uses absurdity to explore racism, sexuality and the parts of American history we would all like to forget.

Comments Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton, "The Gift is honored to produce the world premiere of HANG MAN. Stacy Osei-Kuffour's voice is singular, bold, incisive and humorous. The moment we finished her play, we were shook, terrified, and knew we had to embrace it. HANG MAN demands to be experienced right now; experiencing it in the intimacy of The Gift will simply be unforgettable." 

The production team for HANG MAN includes: Arnel Sancianco (scenic design), Alarie Hammock (costume design), Mike Durst (lighting design), Stephen Ptacek (sound design), John Nichols III (props design), Rachel Flesher (violence/intimacy design) and Cori James (stage manager).




Dates: 

Regular run: Through Sunday, April 29, 2018
Curtain Times: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm. Please note: there will not be a 3:30 pm performance on Saturday, March 10.
Tickets: $30 – $40. Single and season subscriptions are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org

About the Artists

Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s (Playwright) previous plays include The Painter (Samuel French Festival finalist); Breathless, workshop productions at the Dream Up Festival & Downtown Urban Theater Festival (both at Theater for the New City); Dirty Blood, reading at Rattlestick Theater; Animals (Irv Zarkower Award winner through Hunter College), readings: Lark Development Center, NYTW, Blank Theatre and IAMA Theatre; The Pearl and The Black Sea (Honorable Mention in The Kilroy’s 2015 The List); Hang Man, Bay Area Playwrights Festival finalist, Boston Court New Play finalist, O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist and The Kilroy’s 2017 The List. This past year, Stacy was accepted into EST in LA, Youngblood, New Georges the Jam, Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Ingram Play Lab alongside Christopher Durang and Humantias PLAY LA Workshop. In addition, Stacy became a two-time Van Lier finalist at the Lark Development Center. Stacy just finished writing for the TV show Happy!, which will air on the SYFY network this December. Currently, Stacy is writing for the HBO TV show Watchmen, set to air in 2019. Stacy’s goal is to bring untold stories to the stage and screen, stories that challenge our political, societal and stereotypical views of the Black experience. She holds a BFA in Acting from NYU and an MFA in Playwright from Hunter College.

Jess McLeod (Director) is the Resident Director of Hamilton (Broadway in Chicago), a Resident Director at Victory Gardens Theater and the Goodman Theatre’s 2017 Michael Maggio Directing Fellow. Chicago credits include 2 1/2 seasons with Chicago Voices (Lyric Opera of Chicago), a revamped Marry Me A Little (Porchlight Music Theatre), Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On (Haven Theatre), Lauren Yee’s in a word (Strawdog Theatre Company), Shawn Pfautch’s Season on the Line (The House Theatre of Chicago, Jeff Nomination); poet Kevin Coval’s one-man show L-vis Live! (Victory Gardens); Venus (Steppenwolf’s Next Up!); Bathsheba Doran’s Kin (Griffin Theatre); Jenni Lamb’s Suicide Kills (American Theater Company); Babes In Arms (Porchlight Revisits); and Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen’s Fugitive Songs, Zanna, Don’t, and The Pajama Game (The Music Theatre Company). She has directed workshops of new plays or musicals for the Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens, American Theater Company, Steep Theatre and The American Music Theatre Project, and served as Labrunner for Timber Lake Playhouse's Summer Playwrights Lab (2011-12). From 2005-2008, McLeod served as Director of Programming for The New York Musical Theatre Festival, where she oversaw all curating and directed pop/musical theatre fusion concerts such as The Unauthorized Musicology of Ben Folds. New York directing credits include Joyce Carol Oates’ The Corn Maiden, Harrison David Rivers’ Fell, Rachel Axler’s Kitchen Sink (Cherry Lane Studio), Joe Keenan and Brad Ross’ The Times (Sonnet Repertory Theatre) and The Last Five Years (Arthur Seelen Theatre). An avid teaching artist and believer in youth and community engagement, McLeod also recently served as Festival Coordinator for Young Chicago Authors’ Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Festival (the world’s largest youth poetry festival), worked as a Teaching Artist for Storycatchers Theatre and will direct Short Shakes! A Midsummer Night’s Dream this winter for Chicago Shakespeare Theater. McLeod holds an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University and a BA from Williams College, and has taught or lectured at both, as well as at NYU, Yale University, NSLC, and The Calhoun School in New York.

About The Gift Theatre
The Gift’s 17th season consists of Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by Jess McCleod (March 2 – April 29, 2018); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1 – July 29, 2018); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton (October 12 –December 9, 2018). The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

OPENING: World Premiere of HANG MAN at The Gift Theatre Through 4/29/18

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
The Gift Theatre Presents the World Premiere of
 HANG MAN
By Stacy Osei-Kuffour
Directed by Jess McLeod
March 2 – April 29, 2018




I'll be out to review for ChiIL Live Shows on Friday 3/9/18. Check back soon for our take on this world premiere production. 

The Gift Theatre is pleased to launch its 17th season with the world premiere of Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s haunting and often-humorous drama HANG MAN, directed by guest artist Jess McLeod, playing March 2 – April 29, 2018 at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Single tickets and season subscriptions are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org

HANG MAN will feature ensemble members Paul D’Addario, Gregory Fenner and Martel Manning with Andy Fleischer, Jennifer Glasse, Mariah Sydnei Gordon and Angela Morris.

The community of a backwoods Southern town grapples with the murder of a black man who is found hanging in a tree. As events unfold, the hanging mystifies the people of the community, forcing them to confront their complicity in this man’s horrific demise. Osei-Kuffour’s darkly comical, heartbreaking play, which recently made the prestigious 2017 Kilroy’s List, uses absurdity to explore racism, sexuality and the parts of American history we would all like to forget.

Comments Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton, "The Gift is honored to produce the world premiere of HANG MAN. Stacy Osei-Kuffour's voice is singular, bold, incisive and humorous. The moment we finished her play, we were shook, terrified, and knew we had to embrace it. HANG MAN demands to be experienced right now; experiencing it in the intimacy of The Gift will simply be unforgettable." 

The production team for HANG MAN includes: Arnel Sancianco (scenic design), Alarie Hammock (costume design), Mike Durst (lighting design), Stephen Ptacek (sound design), John Nichols III (props design), Rachel Flesher (violence/intimacy design) and Cori James (stage manager).


Dates: 
Previews: Friday, March 2 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, March 4 at 2:30 pm and Wednesday, March 7 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Friday, March 9 – Sunday, April 29, 2018
Curtain Times: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm. Please note: there will not be a 3:30 pm performance on Saturday, March 10.
Tickets: $30 – $40. Single and season subscriptions are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org. 

About the Artists

Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s (Playwright) previous plays include The Painter (Samuel French Festival finalist); Breathless, workshop productions at the Dream Up Festival & Downtown Urban Theater Festival (both at Theater for the New City); Dirty Blood, reading at Rattlestick Theater; Animals (Irv Zarkower Award winner through Hunter College), readings: Lark Development Center, NYTW, Blank Theatre and IAMA Theatre; The Pearl and The Black Sea (Honorable Mention in The Kilroy’s 2015 The List); Hang Man, Bay Area Playwrights Festival finalist, Boston Court New Play finalist, O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist and The Kilroy’s 2017 The List. This past year, Stacy was accepted into EST in LA, Youngblood, New Georges the Jam, Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Ingram Play Lab alongside Christopher Durang and Humantias PLAY LA Workshop. In addition, Stacy became a two-time Van Lier finalist at the Lark Development Center. Stacy just finished writing for the TV show Happy!, which will air on the SYFY network this December. Currently, Stacy is writing for the HBO TV show Watchmen, set to air in 2019. Stacy’s goal is to bring untold stories to the stage and screen, stories that challenge our political, societal and stereotypical views of the Black experience. She holds a BFA in Acting from NYU and an MFA in Playwright from Hunter College.

Jess McLeod (Director) is the Resident Director of Hamilton (Broadway in Chicago), a Resident Director at Victory Gardens Theater and the Goodman Theatre’s 2017 Michael Maggio Directing Fellow. Chicago credits include 2 1/2 seasons with Chicago Voices (Lyric Opera of Chicago), a revamped Marry Me A Little (Porchlight Music Theatre), Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On (Haven Theatre), Lauren Yee’s in a word (Strawdog Theatre Company), Shawn Pfautch’s Season on the Line (The House Theatre of Chicago, Jeff Nomination); poet Kevin Coval’s one-man show L-vis Live! (Victory Gardens); Venus (Steppenwolf’s Next Up!); Bathsheba Doran’s Kin (Griffin Theatre); Jenni Lamb’s Suicide Kills (American Theater Company); Babes In Arms (Porchlight Revisits); and Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen’s Fugitive Songs, Zanna, Don’t, and The Pajama Game (The Music Theatre Company). She has directed workshops of new plays or musicals for the Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens, American Theater Company, Steep Theatre and The American Music Theatre Project, and served as Labrunner for Timber Lake Playhouse's Summer Playwrights Lab (2011-12). From 2005-2008, McLeod served as Director of Programming for The New York Musical Theatre Festival, where she oversaw all curating and directed pop/musical theatre fusion concerts such as The Unauthorized Musicology of Ben Folds. New York directing credits include Joyce Carol Oates’ The Corn Maiden, Harrison David Rivers’ Fell, Rachel Axler’s Kitchen Sink (Cherry Lane Studio), Joe Keenan and Brad Ross’ The Times (Sonnet Repertory Theatre) and The Last Five Years (Arthur Seelen Theatre). An avid teaching artist and believer in youth and community engagement, McLeod also recently served as Festival Coordinator for Young Chicago Authors’ Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Festival (the world’s largest youth poetry festival), worked as a Teaching Artist for Storycatchers Theatre and will direct Short Shakes! A Midsummer Night’s Dream this winter for Chicago Shakespeare Theater. McLeod holds an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University and a BA from Williams College, and has taught or lectured at both, as well as at NYU, Yale University, NSLC, and The Calhoun School in New York.

About The Gift Theatre
The Gift’s 17th season consists of Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by Jess McCleod (March 2 – April 29, 2018); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1 – July 29, 2018); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton (October 12 –December 9, 2018). The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

World Premiere 10 Minute Plays by Tracy Letts, David Rabe and More: TEN 2018 at The Gift Theatre January 5-14th

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

The Gift Theatre is pleased to present TEN 2018, the company’s annual season kick-off festival of ten world premiere ten-minute pieces by The Gift and guest artists, curated by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton and Associate Artistic Director Paul D'Addario, playing January 5 – 14, 2018 at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood. 


Tickets for TEN are free for Gift subscribers and $10 for the general public. Tickets are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org



The TEN 2018 line-up includes:

NIGHT SAFARI
By Tracy Letts
Directed by Kristen Johnson
Featuring ensemble member John Gawlik

WINTER OR FALL
By ensemble member David Rabe
Directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton
Featuring ensemble member Mary Ann Thebus with Mike Nussbaum

CANCELLATION
By ensemble member Will Eno
Directed by ensemble member John Gawlik
Featuring ensemble members John Gawlik, Martel Manning and Michael Patrick Thornton with Ian Deanes, Bryce Gangel, Katie Gonzalez, Emma Palizza, Tricia Rodriguez, Becca Savoy, Mac Wallach and Pat Weber

NORTHERN MICHIGAN TRUST
By Rammel Chan
Directed by Brian Shaw
Featuring Bryce Gangel, Jeremy Nichols, Emma Palizza and Pat Weber

THE CELLPHONE PLAY
By Carolyn Braver
Directed by Kathryn Walsh
Featuring Ian Deanes 

SHAMED
By Isaac Gomez
Directed by Laura Alcalá Baker
Featuring Donovan Diaz and Katie Gonzalez

NIGERIAN ASTRONAUT WANTS TO COME HOME
By J. Nicole Brooks
Directed by ensemble member Chika Ike
Featuring ensemble member Martel Manning with Mac Wallach

SLATE
By Carly Olson
Directed by Sommer Austin
Featuring Becca Savoy and Tricia Rodriguez



 TEN will also feature performances by Natural Gas and giftLIT.



Performance Schedule:

Friday, January 5 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, January 6 at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm
Sunday, January 7 at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm
Thursday, January 11 at 7:30 pm
Friday, January 12 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, January 13 at 3:30 pm & 7:30pm
Sunday, January 14 at 3:30 pm

Tickets: FREE for Gift subscribers; $10 general public. Tickets are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org. 



About The Gift Theatre
The Gift’s 17th season consists of Stacy Amma Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by Jess McLeod (March 2 – April 29, 2018); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1 – July 29, 2018); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton (October 12 –December 9, 2018). The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

HELP OUT: Gift Gala 2017 REVOLUTIONS Friday, December 1, 2017 at The Copernicus Center

The Gift Theatre is pleased to present its 16th annual benefit, GIFT GALA 2017: REVOLUTIONS on Friday, December 1, 2017 from 6 pm – 10 pm at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. in Chicago. 


Since 2001 and over 70 productions, The Gift Theatre has pioneered the frontiers of the American theatre via the most intimate professional theatre in the country, leading to national acclaim and a cultural revolution on Chicago’s northwest side. Join The Gift family for this celebratory evening at the Copernicus Center, named after the astronomer whose theory about revolutions changed everything. Tickets for GIFT GALA 2017: REVOLUTIONS are currently available at thegifttheatre.org.

The elegant evening will feature hors d'oeuvres, irresistible auction items and delectable desserts. Entertainment will include live jazz and classical music, a DJ and dancing and a short performance charting The Gift’s evolving place in the cosmos from Copernicus to NASA, SpaceX and beyond. The evening also includes the presentation of the Sheldon Patinkin Total Gift Award, which recognizes a key supporter and friend of The Gift. The theatre is pleased to announce Greg and Anne Taubeneck will be the recipients of this year's award.

This Gala Co-Chairs include Michelle Boone, Chief Program and Civic Engagement Officer at Navy Pier Inc. and Chicago’s First Lady Amy Rule.

The Gala Committee incldues Lori Dimun, Laura Gale, George Karzas, Sharon Martwick, Rita Thornton and Shannon Wallace 

EVENT DETAILS:

Event: GIFT GALA 2017: REVOLUTIONS 
Date/Time: Friday, December 1, 2017 from 6 pm – 10 pm
Location: Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago
Details: Coctkails, hors d'oeuvres and dessert, auction items, live music, a DJ and dancing and a performance. Festive attire encouraged.
Tickets: Individual $150; Table $1500; VIP Table $3000. Tickets are currently available at thegifttheatre.org.

Gala food donors include: Gale Street Inn, Community Tavern, Pasta D'arte and Cafe Marbella.



About The Gift Theatre
The Gift’s 17th season consists of Stacy Amma Osei-Kuffour’s world premiere of Hang Man, directed by ensemble member Erica Weiss (February 9 – April 8, 2018); Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Monty Cole (June 1 – July 29, 2018); and the Midwest premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright and ensemble member David Rabe’s Cosmologies, directed by Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton (October 12 –December 9, 2018). The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

REVIEW: Art Imitates Life at Gift Theatre's World Premiere of A Swell In The Ground

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

The Gift Theatre Presents the World Premiere of
A SWELL IN THE GROUND
By Janine Nabers
Directed by Ensemble Member Chika Ike
Through December 10, 2017


All Photos by Claire Demos

Review: 
Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we've long enjoyed the tiny but mighty Gift Theatre. With just 45 seats, the smallest equity theatre in town is a great local for intimate dramas, and they excel at maximizing their minuscule performance space. The staging for A Swell In The Ground is no exception. They play up, with two tiers, for an effective illusion of extra room, and they have a clever swinging stage wall that opens up another space. Even the audience seating is rearranged for this one, to wrap around the stage in an L shape.

(left to right)  Keith Neagle and Andrew Muwonge
Photo by Claire Demos


(left to right)  Darci Nalepa and Keith Neagle
Photo by Claire Demos

The acting is compelling, though the script jumps back and forth through time in a dizzying, non linear fashion that comes across as unnecessarily confusing. The Gift has done a helpful job of projecting the dates on the wall, to help orient the audience, yet it's still a bit jolting and difficult to follow at times. 

(left to right) Andrew Muwonge and Sydney Charles
Photo by Claire Demos

This is not one of my favorites, of many excellent choices I've seen at The Gift for years. It's still worth a look, but the piece comes across more like keeping up with friends on Facebook for decades, with mundane predictability and without much plot. Sure there were some untimely parental deaths, new love, disillusion, infidelity, divorce, and eventually parenthood, but it's all fairly standard stuff. The actors do a fine job with the material, but none of the characters are written in quirky and interesting enough ways to be standouts, or have much of a story arc, growth or change.



(left to right)  Sydney Charles and Keith Neagle 
Photos by Claire Demos

About the Play:
In intimate rooms throughout New York and Michigan, four friends from college fight through 17 years of love affairs, shattered dreams and compromised lives. Flipping back and forth through time like a photobook, this play – whose title is from a line of Emily Dickinson poetry – is equally breathtaking and heartbreakingly spare as Olivia, Nate, Abigail and Charles try to reconcile the lives they imagined with the lives they live.

The Gift Theatre concludes its 2017 season with the world premiere of Janine Nabers’ time-hopping love story A SWELL IN THE GROUND directed by ensemble member Chika Ike, playing October 13 – December 10, 2017 at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available by calling the Gift’s box office at 773-283-7071 or visiting thegifttheatre.org

About The Gift Theatre

Conceived while students at The University of Iowa in 1997 by Michael Patrick Thornton and William Nedved, the idea for The Gift was to grow and nurture an ensemble and lay roots in an artistically underserved Chicago neighborhood. Heavily influenced by a class called “Alternative Approaches To Acting” taught by Dr. Eric Forsythe, the name of the theatre came from Jerzy Grotowski’s Towards A Poor Theatre:

“Acting is a particularly thankless art. It dies with the actor. Nothing survives him but the reviews, which do not usually do him justice anyway, whether he is good or bad. So the only source of satisfaction left to him is the audience’s reactions. The actor, in this special process of discipline and self-sacrifice, self-penetration and molding, is not afraid to go beyond all normally acceptable limits…The actor makes a total gift of himself.”


The ensemble is composed of actors, directors, writers, and improvisers. For over ten years, The Gift has earned and deepened its reputation as an ensemble dedicated to acting of the highest caliber and a welcome home for new plays. Natural Gas, giftED., giftLIT. and giftFILM offer, respectively, improvisation performances steeped in the Chicago “long form” tradition of montage, a two year high school training apprenticeship rich in the ensemble approach toward making theatre, a literature department offering readings and workshops, and a film company featuring the talents of the ensemble.


The open hand logo is a representation of an approach for building a character called “Three Parts of the Body.” The hand represents body (wrist), heart (palm), and mind (fingers). The three lines represent love, life, and the ability to overcome obstacles. The colors of The Gift are a nod to both The University of Iowa and the original cover design of Towards A Poor Theatre, both of which feature yellow & black.


Mission Statement
The mission of The Gift is to tell great stories onstage with honesty and simplicity.

The Gift believes a play never closes until everyone who saw it stops thinking about it and that art is, at its best, a sacred conversation between actor and audience, revealing the joy and pain of being human. In other words, a gift.




A SWELL IN THE GROUND features ensemble members Keith Neagle as Nate and Darci Nalepa as Abigail with guest artists Sydney Charles as Olivia and Andrew Muwonge as Charles.

The production team for A SWELL IN THE GROUND includes: Eleanor Kahn (scenic design), Rachel Lambert (costume design), Eric Watkins (lighting design), Christopher Kriz (sound design), Ellie Terrell (props design), Gaby Labotka (violence/intimacy design), Smooch Medina (video/projections design) and Corine James (stage manager).



(left to right)  Sydney Charles and Keith Neagle in The Gift Theatre’s world premiere of A SWELL IN THE GROUND by Janine Nabers, directed by ensemble member Chika Ike. 
Photo by Claire Demos.


PRODUCTION DETAILS:


Regular run: Friday, October 20 – Sunday, December 10, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3:30 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving) or Friday, December 1.

Tickets: $30 – $40 Tickets are currently available at thegifttheatre.org or by calling the box office at (773) 283-7071.


About the Artists:
Janine Nabers (Playwright) is a native of Houston, Texas and a 2013 graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship at Juilliard and winner of the 2014 Yale Drama Series Prize for her play Serial Black Face. She currently writes for Lifetime’s Unreal and Bravo’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce under Marti Noxon. Her play Annie Bosh is Missing premiered in August 2013 at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Janine won the 2013 NYFA Playwriting fellowship and was the 2013-2014 AETNA Playwriting Fellow at Hartford Stage, a 2012-2013 New York Theatre Workshop Playwriting Fellow, and Page 73’s 2011 Playwriting Fellow. Janine is working on commissions from Primary Stages, the Alley Theatre, and Hartford Stage. Her new musical Mrs. Hughes was developed as the 2012 Williamstown Theatre Festival fellowship musical and was part of the 2013 Yale Institute for Musical Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club’s 7@7 series, and the Theatreworks New Works Now Festival.

Chika Ike (Director) is a Gift ensemble member, where she also served as the​ assistant director of The Royal Society of Antarctica. Ike has worked artistically with many Chicago and regional theatre companies, including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Victory Gardens, American Blues Theatre Company, Eclipse Theatre, and Prologue Theatre Company. Upcoming directing projects include Lloyd Suh’s Franklinland for Jackalope Theatre Company and Dontrell who Kissed the Sea by Nathan Alan Davis for First Floor Theatre Company, as well as reading of Tori Sampson’s This Land was Made for Victory Garden’s Ignition Festival of New Plays. She is a former SDCF Gielgud Fellow, a member of the inaugural Victory Garden’s Directors Inclusion Initiative class, and the 2016-2017 Berkeley Repertory Theatre Bret C. Harte Directing Fellow.

More About The Gift Theatre:

The Gift’s 16th season consists of three world premieres and kicked off in February with Mona Mansour’s war-torn drama Unseen, directed by ensemble member Maureen Payne-Hahner, followed by Claire Kiechel’s Pilgrims, co-directed by ensemble member Michael Patrick Thornton and guest artist Jessica Thebus. The season closes with Janine Nabers’ time-hopping love story A Swell in the Ground, directed by ensemble member Chika Ike. Season subscriptions are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers ("Gifters") receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071. 

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