Showing posts with label The Opponent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Opponent. Show all posts

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ACT OUT OPENING: Lay Me Down Softly by Seanachai Theatre Company

Seanachaí Theatre Company Presents U.S. Premiere of
By Billy Roche
Directed by Kevin Christopher Fox
April 23 – May 25, 2014

LayMeDown-4 (left to right) Michael Grant, Dan Waller, Jeff Christian and Matthew Isler

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we were quite impressed with Seanachai's production of The Seafarer and we're looking forward to what's next. There have been a plethora of boxing plays in the recent past. We saw Griffin Theatre's Golden Boy at Theater Wit back in February, and The Opponent at A Red Orchid, by local fav, Brett Neveu. The boxing ring size is conducive to shows and there's something about the pacing, blocking and rhythm that rings true for stage and sport alike. This time there's the added bonus of the Irish brogue and the quirky, multiculti back story!

Following its wildly successful production of the The SeafarerSeanachaí Theatre Company is pleased to continue its 2013-14 season with the U.S. premiere of Billy Roche’s drama LAY ME DOWN SOFTLY directed by Kevin Christopher Fox (Hughie). LAY ME DOWN SOFTLY plays April 23 – May 25, 2014 at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee in Chicago. Tickets are available at or by calling (866) 811-4111. 

We do dig Seanachaí Theatre Company's name and creative statement.  In case you're curious, Seanachaí is the Gaelic word for Storyteller. It was the duty of the Seanachaí to keep these stories alive. Seanachaí Theatre Company's mission is to create compelling productions and programs that focus energy on exceptional storytelling.  Check it out.

(left to right) Michael Grant, Jamie L. Young, Dan Waller, Matthew Isler and Jeff Christian

LAY ME DOWN SOFTLY features Seanachaí ensemble members Jeff ChristianMichael GrantCarolyn Klein and Dan Waller with Chicago actors Matthew Isler and Jamie L. Young.

Early 1960s. Delaney’s Traveling Roadshow tours the Irish countryside with bumper cars, bearded ladies, rifle ranges and the main attraction: the boxing ring. The Roadshow invites all comers to fight them to win a prize. Theo, the iron fisted patriarch, struggles to keep his crew in line and when his long abandoned daughter arrives, the patchwork family is thrown against the ropes.

(left to right) Dan Waller and Jamie L. Young in Seanachai Theatre Company’s U.S. Premiere of LAY ME DOWN SOFTLY by Billy Roche, directed by Kevin Christopher Fox.  All production photos by Emily Schwartz.

The production team for LAY ME DOWN SOFTLY includes: Joe Schermoly (scenic design), Beth Laske-Miller (costume design), Julian Pike (lighting design), Stephen Ptacek (sound design), Eva Breneman (dialect design) and John Tovar (fight choreographer).


Playwright: Billy Roche
Director: Kevin Christopher Fox
Cast: Seanachaí ensemble members Jeff Christian (Theo), Michael Grant (Peadar), Carolyn Klein (Lily) and Dan Waller (Junior) with Chicago actors Matthew Isler (Dean) and Jamie L. Young (Emer).

Location: The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee, Chicago
Dates: Preview: Wednesday, April 23 at 7:30 pm
Press performance: Thursday April 24 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Friday, April 25, 2014  – Sunday, May 25, 2014.
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm
Tickets: Previews $12. Regular run $26 Thursdays & Fridays; $30 Saturdays & Sundays. Seniors/students $5 off. Tickets are available at or by calling (866) 811-4111. Group discounts (8 or more) are available by calling (773) 878-3727.

(left to right) Dan WallerCarolyn KleinMichael Grant and Jamie L. Young 

About the Playwright
Billy Roche’s first novel, Tumbling Down, was published by Wolfhound Press in 1986 (revised version published by Tassel Publications in 2008).  His first stage play, A Handful Of Stars, was staged at The Bush Theatre in 1988, followed by Poor Beast In the Rain in 1990. Belfry completed this powerful trilogy at the Bush Theatre.  All three plays, directed by Robin LeFevre, became known as The Wexford Trilogy and were performed in their entirety at The Bush, the Peacock and the Theatre Royal, Wexford.  Later, The Wexford Trilogy was filmed for the BBC, directed by the late and great Stuart Burge.  Roche’s fourth play, Amphibians, was commissioned by the R.S.C. and performed at the Barbican, followed by The Cavalcaders at The Peacock and Royal Court, London. He wrote the screenplay for Trojan Eddie, which was directed by Gillies MacKinnon and starred Stephen Rea and Richard Harris.  Trojan Eddie won the Best Film Award at The San Sebastian Film Festival in 1996.  His sixth play, On Such As We, was performed at the Peacock in 2001, directed by Wilson Milam and starring Brendan Gleeson. Tales From Rainwater Pond, his collection of short stories, was published by Pillar Press in 2006.  Lay Me Down Softly, his seventh play, was originally performed at the Peacock Theatre in 2008, directed by Wilson Milam.  Billy has been Writer-In-Residence at the Bush and Writer-In-Association at Druid and the Abbey Theatre.  The Eclipse, a film that was co-written with Conor McPherson, won IFTA awards for Best Screenplay and Best Film.  The film is inspired by Billy’s short story Table Manners (from the Tales From Rainwater Pond collection). In 2013, his short novella The Diary Of Maynard Perdu was published by 

About the Director
Kevin Christopher Fox is an actor and director based in ChicagoWith Seanachai, he directed Hughie with Brad Armacost and Jeff Duhigg last season – and last century he played Manus in David Cromer's production of Translations. Chicago directing credits include Accidental Rapture and Pull of the Moon (16th Street Theater), Widowers' Houses and Androcles and the Lion (ShawChicago), St. Crispin's Day (Strawdog), Arms and the Man and Betrayal (Oak Park Festival), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Gift Theatre Company), Beggars in the House of Plenty (Mary-Arrchie), Widowers' Houses (TimeLine), Patient No. 1 (WNEP)and his debut Buicks (Precious Mettle). At TheatreSquared (Fayetteville, AK) he directed world premieres of Sundown Town by Kevin Cohea and, this past fall, The Spiritualist by Robert Fordalong with Fall of the House, and a youth production of Macbeth, as well as numerous development projects for Arkansas New Play Festival. Recently he adapted and directed Macbeth (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Shakespeare in the Schools), he served as co-director for the remount of Nick Sandys' Chamber Opera Chicago production of Persuasion, and toured with it to England, Chicago and New York. This last winter, he directed two projects for the William Inge Festival and Center for the Arts in Independence, KS. This coming summer, he will direct the world premiere of The Gun Show by EM Lewis for 16th Street Theater.

About Seanachaí Theatre Company
The mission of Seanachaí Theatre Company is to return theatre to this origin - by creating compelling productions and programs that focus the energy of artists towards the common goal of exceptional storytelling. To achieve this end, Seanachaí Theatre Company strives to provide an atmosphere where all theatre artists – actors, playwrights, directors and designers – have the support and assurance to collaborate openly.

Seanachaí Theatre Company is supported in part by The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Charles River Associates, the Illinois Arts Council and The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs: City Arts Program. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ACT OUT EXTENDED: The Opponent at Red Orchid


A Red Orchid Theatre proudly announces new performance dates for the world premiere production of Ensemble Member Brett Neveu’s The Opponent, directed by fellow Ensemble Member Karen Kessler. Due to high ticket demand, the production is now extended through Saturday, December 15, 2012 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells. Tickets for the two-week extension are now on sale through the box office, (312) 943-8722 and

“We are thrilled that the first show of our 20th Anniversary Season warrants extending,” says Artistic Director Kirsten Fitzgerald.  “This is particularly rewarding as a world premiere work from Ensemble Member Brett Neveu, featuring our Founding Artistic Director and Ensemble Member Guy VanSwearingen.”

Accomplished playwright and Ensemble Member Brett Neveu takes a look at the hard world of boxing from the perspective of small time gym owner Tre and the young up-and-comer Donell. They come from different worlds, they barely understand each other, but in the ring anything is possible. Questions of loyalty and life’s dreams are put to the test in this explosive world premiere that promises to pull some punches and fearlessly land the others. The Opponent was originally developed through Center Theatre Group's Writers' Workshop.

The Opponent features A Red Orchid’s Founding Artistic Director and Ensemble Member Guy Van Swearingen with Kamal Angelo Bolden.
The creative team includes Joey Wade (Set Designer), Myron Elliott (Costume Designer), Mike Durst (Lighting Designer), Joe Court (Sound Designer), Toni Kendrick (Prop Designer), John Tovar (Fight Director), Al Ortiz (Boxing Trainer), Kate DeVore (Dialect Coach), Christa Van Baale (Stage Manager), Chelsea Mead Jackson (Assistant Director), and Rick Julien (Technical Director).

Title:                The Opponent
Written by:                    Brett Neveu
Directed by:      Karen Kessler
Dates:                Regular Run:              October 25 – December 2, 2012 (No performance November 22)

Extension:                    Through Saturday, December 15, 2012            

Schedule:         Thursdays:                   8:00 p.m.
                        Fridays:                        8:00 p.m.
                        Saturdays:                    8:00 p.m.         
Sundays:                      3:00 p.m.
Location:          A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells Ave.
Tickets:             $15 previews, $25-$30 regular run.  ($25 Thurs, $30 Fri-Sun)
Box Office:       Located at 1531 N. Wells Ave, Chicago, (312) 943-8722; or online

About The Artists:

BRETT NEVEU (Playwright) is an Ensemble Member at A Red Orchid where his play Megacosm had its world premiere just last year. Other recent productions include4 Murders with SkyPilot Theatre and twentyone with The Side Project. Past work includes productions with The Royal Court Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, The House Theatre, The Inconvenience, The Goodman Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, TimeLine Theatre Company, A Red Orchid Theatre and American Theatre Company. Brett is a 2012 Sundance Institute Ucross Fellow and the recipient of the Ofner Prize for New Work, the Emerging Artist Award from The League of Chicago Theatres, an After Dark Award for Outstanding Musical (Old Town with Strawdog Theatre Company) and has developed plays with companies including The New Group, The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens and Chicago Dramatists. Brett is a member of The Playwrights’ Union and an alumni member of the Center Theatre Group’s Playwrights’ Workshop as well as Chicago Dramatists. Brett has been commissioned by The Royal Court Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Goodman Theatre, TimeLine Theatre Company, Writers’ Theatre, Strawdog Theatre and has several of his plays published through Broadway Play Publishing, Dramatic Publishing and Nick Hern Books. Brett has taught at DePaul University, Second City Training Center and currently teaches at Northwestern University. His movie, Christmas Bytes, will begin production in 2013.

KAREN KESSLER (Director) is a member of the ensemble of A Red Orchid Theatre who just directed the critically acclaimed remount of Wrens by Anne McGravie for Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. Most recently for Red Orchid, Karen directed the Midwest premiere of Louis Slotin Sonata and previously directed the Midwest premiere of Pumpgirl by Irish playwright Abbie Spallen, the Chicago premiere of Sarah Kane’s Blasted; the US premiere of Gagarin’s Way by Gregory Burke (a play that won an After Dark award for Outstanding Ensemble) and the Midwest premiere of Mr. Kolpert by David Gieselmann. Other Chicago credits include: Collaboraction’s Sketchbook 2009 –Who Put the Dead Bird in My Mailbox? by Sarah Hammond; the US Premiere of Roddy Doyle’s War for Seanachai Theatre; A Going Concern, This Lime Tree Bower, Remembrance, A Mislaid Heaven, and the award winning Early and Often for Famous Door; the Midwest premiere of Sam Shepard’s The God of Hellat the Next Theatre; The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Hamlet and Cyrano de Bergerac for Rivendell Theatre; and the Midwest premiere of Steve Martin’s The Underpants for Noble Fool Productions. Credits outside of Chicago include: Glengarry Glen Ross for the Northern Stage Ensemble in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England;Macbeth for the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival; Measure for Measure for Connecticut Repertory Theatre; the world premiere of a new adaptation of The Three Musketeers, Scapin, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, and All’s Well That Ends Well at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival; and The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Complete History of American (Abridged)for Idaho Repertory Theatre. Karen is an Associate Professor of Directing and Shakespeare at Ball State University in Indiana.

GUY VAN SWEARINGEN (Tre) is a founding Ensemble Member and former Artistic Director at A Red Orchid Theatre.  He was last seen at A Red Orchid in The New Electric Ballroom.  Other credits include The Time of Your Life (Steppenwolf, Seattle Rep, A.C.T.), Taking Care (Steppenwolf), Eleven Rooms of Proust (Lookingglass),Come Like Shadows (Plasticene), Cleansed (Defiant Theatre) and Beyond Mozambique (Mary-Arrchie).  Other A Red Orchid appearances include Blasted, The Seahorse, Bug, Gagarin Way, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, The Cut, Tis’ Pity She’s a Whore, The Questioning of Nick³, Victims of Duty, The Killer, Cops, The Removalists and The Connection.   Television credits include episodes of Chicago Fire, Underemployed, Detroit 1-8-7, The Beast, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Early Edition and TURKS.   Film work includes: The Dilemma, Take Shelter, Janie Jones, Public Enemies, The Merry Gentleman, Mad Dog & Glory, The Negotiator, Ali, The Weatherman and Adam Rapp’s independent film Blackbird.

KAMAL ANGELO BOLDEN (Donell) makes his A Red Orchid Theatre debut with The Opponent.  Most recently he was seen at Court Theatre as Youngblood in August Wilson's Jitney, at the Goodman Theatre as Tony in Paul Oakley Stovall's Immediate Family, and as Black Man/Actor 2 in the world premiere of We Are Proud to Present... at Victory Gardens Theater.  Since leaving Nashville for Chicago three years ago, Kamal has originated the roles of Jackie Robinson in the Chicago Children's Theatre's world premiere of Jackie and Me, and Chad Deity in Victory Gardens Theatre's world premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. He has also worked with Actors Theatre of Louisville (The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity) and won a Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Leading Actor for his work in Athol Fugard’s The Island at Remy Bumppo Theatre.  Kamal has appeared in many independent films and national commercials, and has made guest appearances onBOSS, Lights Out, and The Row.  He holds a B.S. in Business Administration-Entrepreneurship from Bradley University and is a proud Artistic Associate of Erasing the Distance.

About A Red Orchid
Since 1993 A Red Orchid Theatre has been an artistic mainstay of the Chicago theatre community; known and praised for its powerful ensemble, creative design and its gripping, intimate productions.  The resident Ensemble maintains the conviction that passionately committed theatre will draw passionately committed audiences, and the 2012-2013 subscription season promises to bring Ensemble and audience even closer together.

A Red Orchid Theatre is: Lance Baker, Dado, Jennifer Engstrom, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Joseph Fosco, Steve Haggard, Mierka Girten, Larry Grimm, Karen Kawa, Karen Kessler, Danny McCarthy, Brett Neveu, Michael Shannon, Guy Van Swearingen, Doug Vickers, Natalie West and Craig Wright.

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