Showing posts with label free with RSVP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free with RSVP. Show all posts

Thursday, January 26, 2023

FREE With RSVP: Queer Theatre Workshops Via About Face Theatre every Saturday from January 28 – March 18, 2023, at The Den Theatre

  About Face Theatre to present

a public intergenerational workshop series 

Re/Generation Studio

charting the future of Queer Theatre

About Face Theatre continues its 28th season with Re/Generation Studio, a series of innovative, intergenerational workshops focused on new works and the future of queer theatre. The goal of the workshops is to bring together people of diverse ages and backgrounds to reconnect and imagine new ways of producing theatre. Each workshop will be grounded by staged readings of sections of new plays that invite conversation, collaboration, and creation in a shared space. Facilitators will offer key questions and considerations raised by the playwrights and directors and encourage participants to work together to brainstorm and develop creative solutions.

All workshops are free and open to the public. Workshops will be presented every Saturday from January 28 – March 18, 2023, at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, in Wicker Park (subject to change). More information can be found at

The artistic producer of Re/Generation Studio is theatre artist AJ Schwartz. Schwartz is a theatre director and producer who has previously worked with About Face on Time Is On Our Side and This Bitter Earth, as well as curating AFT’s OUT Front play reading series. They have also worked with Haven Chicago, Steep Theatre, First Floor Theatre, The New Coordinates, SideShow Theatre, and The Syndicate. The creative team for the series additionally includes casting director Catherine Miller and stage manager Rebecca Walker. Featured artists include Dionne Addai, Kirsten Baity, Mikael Burke, Roger Q. Mason, Derek Lee McPhatter, Lucky Stiff, and Steven Strafford.

“One of the major issues that has come up for theatre artists over the last few years is having regular shared space where we can collaborate,” said About Face Theatre Artistic Director Megan Carney. “We know we are stronger together. So Re/Generation Studio addresses that need. It is an invitation to gather across generations and explore the stories we want to tell going forward. This is just one of the ways About Face Theatre is dedicated to the future of the field. “

Re/Generation Studio

January 28 – March 18, 2023

Saturdays 2:00-5:00pm

All workshops are free and open to the public. 

Reservations are recommended and can be made at

This winter, About Face Theatre opens its doors for people across generations to gather in a series of public workshops exploring new plays and new models of play production. This will be a collective dreaming space for connecting with each other, learning about new plays, world-building, and exploring new production models. Each session will feature a new play and invite conversation, collaboration, and creation around key questions it raises. We’ll also have some food and time to catch up with each other.


Individual events:

Re/Generation Studio: Love and Nappiness

Saturday, January 28, 2023, 2:00-5:00pm

at About Face Theatre rehearsal studio, 5252 N Broadway Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

Featuring readings from Love and Nappiness by Kirsten Baity, directed by Dionne Addai.

In Love and Nappiness, when Meraki’s girlfriend brings her to a queer owned hair salon as a bonding exercise, the experience quickly devolves into an exercise in dealing with micro-aggressions and the intricacies of interracial dating.


Re/Generation Studio: Lavender Men

Saturday, February 18, 2023, 2:00-5:00pm

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Featuring readings from Lavender Men by Roger Q Mason, directed by Lucky Stiff.

Lavender Men is a genre-pushing play that courageously re-imagines one of America’s most beloved historical icons, President Abraham Lincoln, through a queer person of color’s storytelling lens. Taffeta, a self-proclaimed "fabulous queer creation of color," invades Honest Abe’s private world to confront issues of visibility, race, and LGBTQ+ inclusion that still challenge us today. Lavender Men is an embrace to every queer, fat person of color who has been ignored, neglected, or erased for being themselves unapologetically in this world. They are beautiful; they are essential; they are perfect - just the way they are.


Re/Generation Studio: The Model Congressman

Saturday, February 25, 2023, 2:00-5:00pm

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Featuring readings from The Model Congressman by Steven Strafford, directed by AJ Schwartz.

In The Model Congressman, it’s 1994, and Kevin’s just a kid hoping to win a big scholarship and get enough money to go to the school of his dreams. It’s 1994, and Kevin’s just a closeted kid who secretly goes on adults-only chat rooms looking for men. It’s 1994, and Kevin’s just an ambitious, closeted kid who has to decide how far he’s willing to go to impress the man who can change or ruin his life. It’s time to go to the 1994 Model Congress!


Re/Generation Studio: underdrown

Saturday, March 4, 2023, 2:00-5:00pm

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Featuring readings from underdrown by Derek Lee McPhatter, directed by Mikael Burke.

As climate catastrophe reshapes Chicago, a queer black intellectual confronts a lover, a computer, and a mysterious visitor on his quest for truth in virtual worlds. The lines between the digital world and “real life” blur as our blackademic grows obsessed with researching a problematic video game.


Re/Generation Studio: TBA

Saturday, March 11, 2023, 2:00-5:00pm

at  The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Featuring readings from a new play; title and director to be announced soon.


Re/Generation Studio: TBA

Saturday, March 18, 2023, 2:00-5:00pm

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Featuring readings from a new play; title and director to be announced soon.



DIONNE ADDAI (she/they), Director (Love and Nappiness)

Dionne Addaiis a director, actor, writer, and teaching artist local to Chicago. Their artistic practice centers on educating in order to encourage political action and mutual aid. As a director, she’s worked on Meeting Our Desires, Botticelli, and Sexuality Out Loud. Recent acting credits include Nina Simone: Four Women (Merrimack Repertory Theatre), The Secret Yes (Filament Theatre), Eclipsed (Pegasus/Theater on the Lake), and We are Pussy Riot (Red Tape Theatre). She is represented by Actor’s Talent Group.

KIRSTEN BAITY (they/them), Playwright (Love and Nappiness)

Kirsten Baity is a Chicago-based playwright, deviser, and intimacy director. Their work mainly explores race and gender politics within queer spaces. Their plays include Forest Friends & the First Day of Spring (Theatre Between Addresses), This Is Normal (Quaranstream Theatre Festival), Rage Isn’t Free: A participatory play (Youth Empowerment and Performance Project), and Tonin Town, Minstrelsy 2.0 (Columbia College Chicago). They have devised plays with  Goodman Theatre's Playbuild and Intergen Ensembles, About Face Youth Theatre, For Youth Inquiry, and Free Street Theater. Kirsten is a proud member of the Intimacy Coordinators of Color cohort and an About Face Theatre Green Room Collective alum. For more info, check out

MIKAEL BURKE (he/him), Director (underdrown)

Mikael Burke is a Chicago-based director and educator and served as Associate Artistic Director with About Face from 2020 through 2022. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre and Jeff Award-nominated director, Mikael’s worked with Goodman Theatre, About Face Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Raven Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Company, First Floor Theater, American Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists, The Story Theatre, and Windy City Playhouse in Chicago, and regionally with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Phoenix Theatre Indianapolis. Recent credits include the American premiere of Routes by Rachel De-Lahay, The Wanderers by Anna Ziegler, Shakespeare’s Richard III, The Magnolia Ballet by Terry Guest (2022 Jeff Award Winner - Production, Short Run); Fireflies by Donja R. Love (Black Theatre Alliance Award - Best Direction of an Ensemble). |

ROGER Q. MASON (they/them), Playwright (Lavender Men)

Roger Q. Mason was dubbed by Theatre Mania as "a major voice in the theatrical vanguard."  Their playwriting has been seen on Broadway (Circle in the Square Reading Series); Off and Off-Off-Broadway; and regionally.  Mason's critically-acclaimed world premiere of Lavender Men was recently lauded by the LA Times as "a daring theatrical talent on display...evoking the mingled visions of Suzan-Lori Parks, Jeremy O. Harris and Michael R. Jackson."   As a filmmaker, Mason has been recognized by the British Film Institute, Lonely Wolf International Film Festival, SCAD Film Festival, AT&T Film Award, and Atlanta International Film Festival. Their films have screened in the US, UK, Poland, Brazil, and Asia.  Mason holds degrees from Princeton University, Middlebury College, and Northwestern University. They are a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writers Group, and Primary Stages Writing Cohort; the co-host of Sister Roger’s Gayborhood podcast; the host of This Way Out Radio's Queerly Yours: Portraits in Courage; and lead mentor of the Marsha P. Johnson Starship Fellowship, Shay Foundation Fellowship, and New Visions Fellowship.

DEREK LEE McPHATTER (he/him), Playwright (underdrown)

Derek Lee McPhatter is committed to new work at intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality and technology. A 2021 Creative Capital Awardee, Derek is currently developing the NightQueen Performance Suite as a triptych of evening-length works spanning theater, music, opera, spoken word and new media.  The project has been supported by a 2022 Chicago Performance Commission from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, as well as additional residency and developmental support from Chicago Dramatists, Prop Thtr, Perceptions Theatre and Primary Stages. Derek served as librettist, book-writer and/or lyricist for five new music-theatre works with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as various theater projects with JACK, Hi-ARTS, and The Drama League, among others. His work has been supported by grants and prizes from the Jerome Foundation, the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund, the Puffin Foundation, the Propeller Fund, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the United States Embassy in the United Kingdom, to name a few. He is a native of Pickerington Ohio and currently splits his time between Chicago, NYC and Los Angeles.

AJ SCHWARTZ (they/them), Artistic Producer / Director (The Model Congressman)

AJ Schwartz is a theatre director and producer in Chicago, making work focused on queerness, relationships, and the fall of the American Empire. You may have seen their production of How You Kiss Me Is Not How I Like To Be Kissed by Dan Giles at Haven Chicago. They have also worked with storefront companies in Chicago including About Face Theatre, Steep Theatre, First Floor Theater, The New Coordinates, Sideshow Theatre Company, and The Syndicate. In their free time they enjoy photography and hosting dinner parties.

LUCKY STIFF (they/them), Director (Lavender Men)

Lucky Stiff is a trans and nonbinary director, writer, and performer working in Chicago and New York. They build original experiences that combine nightclub culture and performance art which have been featured at the Museum of Con­temporary Art Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Blue Man Group Chicago, Boy Friday Dance Company, and Bushwig Festival of Drag, among many others. They hold an MFA in Directing for Theater from Northwestern University and have lectured in performance and directing at UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

STEVEN STRAFFORD (he/him), Playwright (The Model Congressman)

Steven Strafford is grateful to be a part of this festival and to return to working with About Face Theatre where he performed his award-winning solo play, Methtacular! He has performed that show across the country for a long time now, and he loves it every single time. Methtacular! was recorded at Steppenwolf Theatre’s 1700 Space in 2019. His play Small Jokes About Monsters won the New American Voices Contest in 2016, was a semifinalist for The O’Neill, and won the 2022 Ready-to-Publish Award and will be published and licensed by Broadway Licensing later this year. Small Jokes About Monsters was produced at Landing Theatre in Houston (Nominated, Outstanding New Play), 16th Street Theater in Chicago, and at Lamb Theatre in Sioux City. His play The Match Game won the 2022 Jackie Demaline Award at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. His play Greater Illinois was semifinalist at The O’Neill in 2021. The play was an official selection of Tantum East’s New Play Development, MATC, Great Plains Theatre Conference, and received a workshop with The Road Theatre in Los Angeles in 2022. His essays have been published on various sites and in the book The Anatomy of Silence. He has an MFA in Playwriting from Ohio University.  As an actor, he's been across the globe on fancy and less fancy stages. He has been on TV, in commercials and movies, and one time played Hepatitis A for an industrial, which is a performance he still receives emails, go figure.

ABOUT FACE THEATRE advances LGBTQ+ equity through community building, education, and performance. AFT envisions an affirming and equitable world in which all LGBTQ+ individuals are thriving and free from prejudice and discrimination. About Face Theatre is also dedicated to being an intentionally and increasingly anti-racist organization. Due to the intersectionality of our identities, we understand our work to advance LGBTQ+ equity as directly connected to movements for racial justice.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

FREE THEATRE: Goodman Theatre’s 18th annual New Stages Festival On Stage Now Through December 18, 2022

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 




Goodman Theatre’s 18th annual New Stages Festival, a celebration of innovative new work offered entirely free of charge and curated by Director of New Works Jonathan L. Green, is on stage now. Two fully staged developmental productions include This Happened Once at the Romance Depot off the I-87 in Westchester by Gina Femia, directed by Kimberly Senior and Rust by Nancy García Loza, directed by Laura Alcalá Baker.

In addition, four script-in-hand staged readings are presented during the last weekend of the festival, December 18-19: White Monkey by Charlie Oh, directed by Eric Ting (Saturday, December 17 at 10:30am); Fever Dreams (of Animals on the Verge of Extinction) by Jeffrey Lieber (co-creator of TV’s Lost), directed by Susan V. Booth (Saturday, December 17 at 2pm); Modern Women by Omer Abbas Salem, directed by Lavina Jadhwani (Sunday, December 18 at 10:30am); and What Will Happen to All That Beauty? by Donja R. Love, directed by Malika Oyetimein (Sunday, December 18 at 1:30pm). 

The New Stages Festival appears through December 18 in the 350-seat Owen Theatre; free tickets (reservations required) are available at or by phone at 312.443.3800 (12noon – 5pm, daily).

More than 100 plays have appeared in the New Stages Festival since its inception in 2004, the majority of which have gone on to premiere at the Goodman and its peer theaters across the country. Each year, the Festival’s final weekend draws national theater industry professionals to Chicago for the opportunity to view all of the plays.

The New Stages Festival is made possible by The Joyce Foundation, which provides Major Support for Diverse Artistic and Professional Development, and BMO is the Next Generation Artists Sponsor. The Goodman is grateful for the generosity of its New Work sponsors, including: Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation and the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Major Support of New Work; Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee New Works Fund, Major Support of New Play Development; The Glasser and Rosenthal Family, Mayer Brown LLP, and Shaw Family Supporting Organization, Support of New Work.


The cast for Gina Femia’s This Happened Once at the Romance Depot off the I-87 in Westchester, directed by Kimberly Senior, includes Satya Chávez (Janice/Amy), Sandra Delgado (Beth), Raymond Fox (Tom/Walt) and Eric Slater (Kevin). Kevin’s days are full of monotony, selling bondage gear and sex toys to ordinary customers.  But when schoolteacher Beth blows into Kevin's store in desperate search of a vibrator, it sparks an unlikely relationship that forces them both to confront what they think they know about love, romance and sex. Revealing that nothing, and no one, are what they seem, Gina Femia’s hilarious and intimate new play asks us to re-examine ourselves, our fears and our dreams. 

The cast for Nancy García Loza’s Rust, directed by Laura Alcalá Baker, includes Eduardo Xavier Curley-Carrillo (Fer), Arash Fakhrabadi (Papi), Molly Hernández (Yo), René L. Moreno (Abuelo), Daniella Pereira (Mami), Brandon Rivera (Pablo) and Jocelyn Zamudio (Güera). Güera, a young pocha, is trying very hard to be a perfect Mexican daughter and contain her glaring imperfections. The hot Chicago summer has her climbing trees, fighting with her brothers, and melting like a paleta under her parents’ searing gaze. Suddenly, when Abuelo moves in, Güera begins to wonder if she really has to be perfect at all. Why be perfect when you can be free? 

The design teams include Kevin Depinet (Original Set Design), Ryan Emens (Sets), Evelyn Danner (Costumes for Romance Depot) and Uriel Gomez (Costumes for Rust), Heather Gilbert (Lights), Stephanie Farina (Sound for Romance Depot and Co-Sound Design for Rust), Mike Przygoda (Composition for Rust) and Claudette Przygoda (Co-Sound Design for Rust).


Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement. The theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earner two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fifth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.

Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.

As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Goodman Theatre’s Action Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) was born out of the belief that progress means action, which includes building on the decades-long commitment to using art, assets and resources to contribute to a more just, equitable and anti-racist society.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation on the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre is led by Artistic Director Susan V. Booth and Executive Director/CEO Roche Schulfer. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Craig McCaw is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Free Theatre: Strawdog Presents the World Premiere of ON THE GREENBELT Monday, April 25 – Saturday, May 28, 2022

 ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Free Performances!

Strawdog Theatre Company Presents the World Premiere of


By Ensemble Member Karissa Murrell Myers

Directed by Jonathan Berry

April 22 – May 28, 2022 at Links Hall

Strawdog Theatre Company, Chicago’s newest free theater, returns this spring with the world premiere of On The Greenbelt, playing April 22 – May 28, 2022 at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. A semi-finalist for the 2021 Blue Ink Playwright Awards, On The Greenbelt is a serio-comic play that jumps between past and the present, written by ensemble member Karissa Murrell Myers* and directed by Jonathan Berry. Tickets for all performances are FREE with reservations opening Friday, March 25 at I'll be out for the press opening, Sunday, April 24, so check back soon for my review.

On The Greenbelt will feature ensemble member Jamie Vann* with Kathryn Acosta, Lynne Baker, Jessica Ervin, Dan Lin and Alexis Ward.

Understudies: Rachel Bachar, Blake Dava, Daniel Vaughn Manasia, Koshie Mills, Laura Resinger and India Whiteside.

On The Greenbelt is an exploration of family, love, memory and the question of “How do we process loss and grief?” Jules saw something terrible in the Idaho hospital the night her mom died, but she’ll never say what it was. Not to her ex, Olivia, and especially not to her brother, Jake, who keeps trying to convince her to go with him to the Greenbelt to spread their mom’s ashes with their father, Alan. But try as she might, Jules can’t shake the memories of the past that haunt her like a gin-soaked hangover, and as the day unravels the past events surrounding her mother’s death come to light.

Comments Strawdog Artistic Director Kamille Dawkins*, “We really enjoy the story behind Karissa’s funny and wildly unpredictable family drama. It dives deep into emotional themes of love and illness with a fresh and inspiring look at family. We are also thrilled to have ensemble member Jamie Vann return to our stage and reunite with director Jonathan Berry.”

The production team includes Yeaji Kim* (scenic design), Gregory Graham (costume design), Trey Brazeal (lighting design), Daniel Etti-Williams (sound design), Patty Meier (props design), Sam Hubbard* (fight director), Tristin Hall (intimacy designer), Aja Singletary (assistant director), Caitlyn Garrity (stage manager) and Michelle Locke (assistant stage manager).

Covid protocols: Masks and proof of vaccination for individuals ages 5 and up, OR a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of entry is required for entrance. Rapid antigen or at-home tests are not accepted as proof of negative COVID-19 status. For additional details about these policies, acceptable forms of documentation and ongoing health and safety measures visit   

*Denotes Strawdog ensemble member

Cast (in alphabetical order): Kathryn Acosta (Jules), Lynne Baker (Lydia), Jessica Ervin (Mallory), Dan Lin (Jake), Jamie Vann* (Alan) and Alexis Ward (Olivia).

Understudies: Rachel Bachar, Blake Dava, Daniel Vaughn Manasia, Koshie Mills, Laura Resinger and India Whiteside.

Location: Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago.

Dates: Previews: Friday, April 22 at 7 pm and Saturday, April 23 at 7 pm

Press performance: Sunday, April 24 at 7 pm

Regular run: Monday, April 25 – Saturday, May 28, 2022

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7 pm: Please note: there will be an added performance on Monday, April 25 at 7 pm

Understudy Performance: Wednesday, May 18 at 7 pm

Tickets: Free. Reservations open Friday, March 25 at

About the Artists

Karissa Murrell Myers* (Playwright, she/her) is a hapa Filipino American theatre artist originally from Boise, Idaho and is currently based in Chicago, where she works professionally as a playwright, actor, casting director and producer. She has a MFA in Performance from University of Hawaii at Manoa, a BA in Theatre Arts from Boise State University and is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf. Her autobiographical play Fragmented was filmed and released through Our Perspective: Asian American Plays. Her most recently produced play, How Do We Navigate Space?, was filmed and released through Strawdog Theatre Company, where she is the current Casting Director and ensemble member. Proud member of SAG-AFTRA, represented by Gray Talent Group.   

Jonathan Berry (Director) is a director and teacher in Chicago, a proud ensemble member of both Steep Theatre and Griffin Theatre and a former Artistic Producer at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. He directed the Steppenwolf productions of Lindiwe, The Children, You Got Older, Constellations and the SYA productions of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Crucible and A Separate Peace. Steep Theatre Company: Red Rex, Earthquakes in London, Posh, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet, The Knowledge, Festen, Moment, The Hollow Lands and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. At Griffin, productions include: The North American premieres of Simon Stephens Punk Rock (Jeff award Director, Lead Actor and Ensemble), Port and On the Shore of the Wide World, as well as The Harvest, Winterset, Pocatello, Balm in Gilead, Golden Boy, The Burnt Part Boys, Spring Awakening, Company, Picnic, Time and the Conways, Dead End, The Hostage and Journey’s End.  

He was the Assistant Director for Anna D. Shapiro’s Broadway productions of Of Mice and Men and This is our Youth. Gift Theatre: the world premieres of both Dirty and Suicide, Incorporated, as well as Othello. Goodman Theatre: The Solid Sand Below and The World of Extreme Happiness for their New Stages Festival. Other work includes: American Theatre Company: Kill Floor, American Blues: Little Shop of Horrors and Sideman; Redtwist: Look Back in Anger and Reverb, Chicago Dramatists: I am Going to Change the World, Jackalope Theatre: The Casuals, Strawdog: Conversations on a Homecoming, Remy Bumpo: The Marriage of Figaro, Theatre Mir: The Sea and Caucasian Chalk Circle, Lifeline Theater: The Piano Tuner (After Dark Award – Best Production). He pursued his MFA in directing from Northwestern University. He has taught acting, directing and viewpoints at University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Act One Studios, Columbia College and served as the director for the ensemble training program The School at Steppenwolf.

About Strawdog Theatre Company

Strawdog Theatre Company was founded as a small ensemble based Chicago storefront theatre in 1988 by founders, Lawrence Novikoff and Paul Engelhardt. Since then, Strawdog has grown and redefined what storefront theatre and ensemble work means by elevating the craft of intimate storytelling through innovative collaborative work in all genres. Our ensemble and guest artists are encouraged to bring out of the box thinking to create worlds and immersive theater experiences in a little black box. As one of the oldest, most well-respected storefront theaters of Chicago, we foster career growth and artistic experimentation to theater artists of all disciplines. We make theater more accessible to the community by providing free admission to our productions. We give our ensemble the support to create exciting, new and unusual work in our late night, off night, mainstage and virtual spaces, garnering us a special non-equity Jeff Award for 30 years of provocative ensemble work.

Strawdog Theatre Company is supported in part by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council Agency, The Small Business Association and The Saints Grant Commission.

Friday, June 14, 2019

FREE With RSVP: Victory Gardens Theater Announces Lineup for IGNITION Festival of New Plays August 2 - 4, 2019

Fest Alert:
Victory Gardens Theater Announces
Lineup for IGNITION Festival of New Plays
2019 Festival runs August 2 - 4, 2019

Victory Gardens Theater Artistic Director Chay Yew, Executive Director Erica Daniels and Director of New Play Development Skyler Gray announce the lineup for the 2019 IGNITION Festival of New Plays, including The Tasters by Meghan Brown; The Gradient by Steph Del Rosso; [hieroglyph] by Erika Dickerson-Despenza; #NEWSLAVES by Keelay Gipson; Reckoning: Furies from a New Queer Nation by Geraldine Inoa; and They Could Give No Name by Exal Iraheta. The 2019 Festival runs August 2 -4, 2019 at Victory Gardens Theater, located at 2433 N Lincoln Avenue.

All readings are free and open to the public, though a reservation is strongly encouraged. For more information or to RSVP, visit or call the Victory Gardens Box Office at 773.871.3000.

IGNITION’s six selected plays will be presented in a festival of readings and will be directed by leading artists from Chicago, including Lili-Anne Brown, Mikael Burke, Monty Cole, Elly Green, Devon de Mayo, and Chay Yew.

"I'm excited to introduce a brave new generation of American playwrights for our eleventh edition of Victory Gardens' IGNITION Festival of New Plays. Since its inception in 2008, we have given world premiere productions to some of our country's most innovative voices from Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Lauren Yee to Jackie Sibblies Drury and Kristoffer Diaz. We're thrilled to have shared these plays with Chicagoans and the world," says Artistic Director Chay Yew. "This year, we give a home to emerging playwrights who shine light on our diverse humanity, whose powerful plays create meaningful dialogue towards a more unified and equitable world."

"This year's Ignition Festival includes six of the most exciting new voices writing today. Each piece is exploring our complicated world and the people in it with a rich complexity and vibrant urgency that demands these stories be told,” says Director of New Play Development Skyler Gray. “I could not be more excited to introduce Chicago to these powerhouse writers who are paving a new road in the American Theater."

The 2019 Lineup Includes:

Friday, August 2 at 7:30pm
By Keelay Gipson
Directed by Mikael Burke

This Is the Story of Football and Football is the Story of America. A Sports Fantasia on the Commodification of the Black Body in America - Using the NFL Draft as a jumping off point, the show follows three black men as they attempt to free themselves from the history of a nation pitted against itself.

About Keelay Gipson

Keelay Gipson is an Activist, Professor, and award-winning Playwright whose plays include imagine sisyphus happy (Finalist; Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference; P73 Summer Residency at Yale University),  #NEWSLAVES (Finalist; Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Seven Devils Playwright Conference), CRH, or the placenta play (Semi- Finalist; The O’Neill, Bay Area Playwrights Conference, AADA Main Stage Live!), Nigger/Faggot (Downtown Urban Theater Festival), The Lost, Or How to Just Be, What I Tell You in the Dark (Premiere Stages Finalist), and Mary/Stuart, a dramatic queering of friederich schiller's classic play (BAM Next Wave Festival, partnership with Wendy’s Subway and Lambda Literary). He is the recipient of New York Stage and Film’s Founders’ Award, the Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists, as well as writing fellowships with Lambda Literary, The Amoralists, Page 73, Dramatist Guild Foundation and Playwrights’ Realm. He has held residencies with the MacDowell Colony, New York Stage and Film, the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of New York, and the Administration of Children’s Services of the City of New York. His work has been seen/developed at the Wild Project, Poetic Theater Productions, HERE Arts Center, The Theater at Alvin Ailey, Tom Noonan's Paradise Factory, Pace University, Planet Connections Theater Festivity, The University of Houston, The National Black Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights' Theater, The Fire This Time Festival, Classical Theater of Harlem, and New York Theatre Workshop. Represented by Abrams Artists Agency.

Saturday, August 3 at 11am
They Could Give No Name
By Exal Iraheta
Directed by Chay Yew

Somewhere in the southern end of Arizona, medical examiner Nellie Ramirez descends into near-madness when her fiancé, a border patrol agent, accidentally kills a young immigrant girl. In order to save her future family, Nellie must make a decision that threatens to tear her life apart. Little does she know that soon the desert will come to collect what is due to it. This macabre, magical play takes an unsettling look at the complexities of identity, cruelty of immigration, and the power behind a name.

About Exal Iraheta

Exal Iraheta is a Salvadorian American playwright & screenwriter, born in Houston, TX who is now based in Chicago, IL. Sometimes humorous and often uncomfortable, his writing explores the intersections of Latinx realities, innocence, queerness, violence, and sex. Exal earned an MFA from Northwestern University’s Writing for the Screen and Stage program in 2019, and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Film & Video Production in 2009. He has worked with several Chicago-based organizations as videographer and editor, media advisor, and film/video equipment instructor. Recently, his short play Open Venas received a production as part of Theater Master's 2019 Take Ten Festival NYC. And his full-length play Rules of a Closed Door was a semi-finalist for 2019 Activate: Midwest New Play Fest, with an excerpt reading at The Goodman Theater the previous year. Exal is a 2018 Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar, 2018 Fornés Playwriting Workshop participant, and 2019 Theater Masters Playwright.

Saturday, August 3 at 2pm
Reckoning: Furies from a New Queer Nation
By Geraldine Inoa
Directed by Monty Cole

2015: a year when the Supreme Court's landmark ruling on marriage equality coincided with a record number of trans women being murdered. Reckoning: Furies from a New Queer Nation examines the most pressing issues affecting Queer America today: gay white male privilege and the systemic oppression of trans women. Because when a Supreme Court ruling like marriage equality passes, we must ask: what did we accomplish and who did we leave behind?

About Geraldine Inoa

Geraldine Inoa is a writer for theater and television. She is a story editor for AMC's “The Walking Dead.” Her play Scraps had its world premiere production at the Flea Theater in New York during the 2018/19 season, marking her professional debut. Scraps is making its West Coast premiere at The Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles during summer 2019. As a playwright, she is an alumnus of The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group and the inaugural recipient of The Shonda Rhimes Unsung Voices Playwriting Commission. She is a L. Arnold Weissberg New Play Award finalist, a P73 Playwriting Fellowship finalist, and a twice-named Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference semifinalist. Her work has been developed at the Atlantic Theater Company and the Labyrinth Theater Company. She holds a B.A. from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She resides in Los Angeles with her dog Alfred.

Saturday, August 3 at 7:30pm
The Tasters
By Meghan Brown
Directed by Devon de Mayo

With government leaders getting poisoned left and right, the Tasters have an important job — eating delicious, gourmet meals, and then waiting to see if they die. When rebellious Taster Elyse goes on hunger strike, she kicks off a series of events that will change the course of history… while putting all of the Tasters’ lives in jeopardy. In her sharp, energetic new play, Meghan Brown (The Pliant Girls) explores the nuances of political resistance, self-interest, and individual action creating hope in the face of hopelessness.

About Meghan Brown

Meghan is an Ovation Award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and lyricist based in Los Angeles. Current projects include These Girls Have Demons (Pittsburgh CLO SPARK Festival), Cowboy Elektra (with Rogue Artists Ensemble), The Tasters (Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival), What Happened While Hero Was Dead (Moving Arts’ MADlab Development Lab), and the film adaptation of her play, The Kill-or-Dies. Meghan wrote the lyrics for the song cycle Untuned Ears Hear Nothing but Discord, which premiered at Lincoln Center as part of In Need of Music: The Songs of Ben Toth with Tony Award-winner Lindsay Mendez as Emma Goldman. Full-length plays include The Pliant Girls (winner of the 2014 Ovation Award for Playwriting for an Original Play), The Kill-or-Dies (Max K. Lerner Fellowship winner, Princess Grace Award semifinalist), Psyche (Princess Grace Award finalist), The Fire Room (Hollywood Fringe Festival Award winner), The Gypsy Machine, This Is Happening Now, Perfect Teeth for Crocodile Land, and Shine Darkly, Illyria. She wrote the libretto for Operaworks’ social just opera The Discord Altar, and the book and lyrics for a new musical version of Jane Austen’s Emma with composer Sarah Taylor Ellis. Emma has been workshopped in London, Washington D.C., Brooklyn, Orlando, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Sunday, August 4 at 11am
By Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown

Involuntarily displaced in Chicago two months post-Katrina, 13-year-old Davis wrestles with the cultural landscape of a new city and school community while secretly coping with the PTSD of an assault at the Superdome. With her mother still in New Orleans committed to the fight for Black land ownership and her father committed to starting a new life in the Midwest, divorce threatens to further separate a family already torn apart. Will Davis be left hanging in the balance? [hieroglyph] traverses the intersection of environmental racism, sexual violence, and displacement, examining the psychological effects of a state-sanctioned man-made disaster on the most vulnerable members of the Katrina diaspora.

About Erika Dickerson-Despenza

Erika Dickerson-Despenza is a Blk feminist poet-playwright, futurist, educator and grassroots organizer from Chicago, Illinois. She’s a 2019 New York Stage and Film Fellow-in-Residence, a 2019 New Harmony Project Writer-in-Residence, a 2018-2019 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow, The Lark’s 2018 Van Lier New Voices Fellow and a 2018 Relentless Award Semifinalist. Erika is a 2019-2020 member of Ars Nova Play Group and a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre's Obie-winning Youngblood collective. Current plays in development include: Ocean’s Lip/ Heavn's Shore, Took/Tied; Hung/Split, Shadow/Land and Cullud Wattah (Public Theater, 2020). In addition to this water tetralogy, Erika is developing a 10-play Katrina Cycle, including [hieroglyph], focused on the effects of Hurricane Katrina and its state-sanctioned man-made disaster.

Sunday, August 4 at 3pm
The Gradient
By Steph Del Rosso
Directed by Elly Green

Tess just landed her dream job at sleek tech start-up The Gradient: a center where men accused of sexual misconduct are sent to be rehabilitated. The clients go in with a lifetime of toxic male conditioning and emerge as new people, sensitized and redeemed. It sounds too good to be true, and maybe it is. The Gradient asks what it means to say I'm sorry and whether it's possible for people to truly change.

About Steph Del Rosso

Steph Del Rosso is a playwright, film and television writer, and educator. Her play 53% Of is the winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition and will receive its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre in March 2020. Her play Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill premiered at The Flea Theater and is published by Dramatists Play Service, Inc. Her work has been developed or produced by Soho Rep, Clubbed Thumb, JACK, New York Stage and Film, The Lark, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Colt Coeur, SPACE on Ryder Farm, the Kennedy Center, and others. She is a Theater Masters Visionary Playwright and is currently commissioned by Studio Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse. BA, Northwestern University. MFA, UC-San Diego.

The IGNITION Festival of New Plays receives major support from the Bill and Orli Staley Foundation, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Southwest Airlines - Victory Garden Theater’s official travel sponsor, and Suite Home Chicago-Victory Gardens Theater’s housing sponsor for the 2019 IGNITION Festival.

Performances are at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Admission to all festival readings and events is free, though an RSVP is strongly encouraged. For more information or to RSVP, visit or call the Victory Gardens Box Office at 773.871.3000.

About Victory Gardens Theater

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Executive Director Erica Daniels, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals. Victory Gardens Theater is committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, set forth by Dennis Začek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.

Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theater work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.  

Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Začek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 259-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.

Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwrights include Luis Alfaro, Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Ike Holter, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Tanya Saracho, and Laura Schellhardt. Each playwright has a seven-year residency at Victory Gardens Theater.

For more information about Victory Gardens, visit  Follow us on Facebook at, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram at

Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The REAM Foundation, Shubert Foundation, Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, Wallace Foundation. Additional major funding comes from Crown Family Philanthropies, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Polk Bros. Foundation.

Major funders also include: Allstate, Alphawood Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Edgerton Foundation, Exelon, The Harvey L. Miller Supporting Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Additional funding this season Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation Inc., Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Capital Group Private Client Services, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, ComEd, Conagra Brands Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Golden Country Oriental Foods, Goldman Sachs, John R. Halligan Foundation, Illinois Humanities Council (with support from the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety + Justice Challenge), ITW, Mayer Brown LLP, The McVay Foundation, Metropolitan Capital Bank and Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, Negaunee Foundation, Roberta Olshansky Charitable Fund, Origin Ventures, Pauls Foundation, PNC Financial Services Group, Poetry Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, Service Club of Chicago, Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Wrightwood Neighbors Foundation.

In-kind support is provided by: Italian Village Restaurants, Southwest Airlines, Roy’s Furniture, Suite Home Chicago, Taco Joint, and Whole Foods Market.

Capital improvement support from the Performing Arts Venue Fund at the League of Chicago Theaters, with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Capacity Building support by Compass-Chicago.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

FREE With RSVP: Jeff Award Winning Chad Deity Returns to Theater on the Lake August 7-10th, 2018!

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Red Theater Chicago's Award Winning Production
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

I missed Red Theater's run last year, as I had just had surgery. I'm elated to have another chance to catch this Jeff Award-winning production. I'll be reviewing opening night, but highly suggest booking your tickets ASAP, since they're free and will go fast. 

Red Theater Chicago announces that its Jeff Award-winning production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will receive a limited remount next month as part of the 2018 Theater on the Lake Summer Theater Festival. Written by Kristoffer Diaz and directed by company member Jeremy Aluma, performances will take place August 7-10, 2018 at The South Shore Cultural Center.

What people are saying about The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity: 

* 2017 Top 10 Best Off-Loop Productions – Chicago Tribune

* 3.5 STARS “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity shows exquisite staying power.” – Chicago Tribune 

* “Aluma’s production is, quite simply, all-inclusive & terrifically breathtaking.” – Chicago Theatre Review 

* “Aluma’s direction sizzles and his cast of actor/wrestlers are all outstanding.” – Third Coast Review

* 2017 Best Revival of a Play Nomination – Broadway World

Kyle Encinas won the 2018 Jeff Award for Fight Choreography for his work with The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, and Alejandro Tey (Mace) was nominated for Performer in a Principle Role. Don't miss this rare opportunity to check out the show that the Tribune said delivers a power slam!

How does one pursue the "American Dream" in a country that refuses to offer opportunity indiscriminately? That is the question at the heart of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, an American satire set in the professional entertainment wrestling world. We follow Macedonio Guerra, an excellent Puerto Rican wrestler, as he rises from the bottom of the pecking order. In this interactive physical comedy, Mace talks directly to the audience as fans in his arena. The play dissects race, xenophobia, ego, and our moral compass - topics even more relevant now than when it premiered nine years ago.

Alejandro Tey as MACE, Harsh Gagoomal as VP, Breon Arzell as CHAD DEITY, Frank Stasio as EKO, Will Snyder as THE BAD GUY, and Dave Honigman as REFEREE.

Stage Manager: Jamie Crothers 
Costume Designer: Hailey Rakowiecki 
Lighting Designer: Charles Blunt 
Sound Designer: Sarah D. Espinoza 
Technical Director & Set Designer: Becca Venable 
Projection Designer: Alberto Mendoza and Matt Hooks 
Fight Choreographer: Kyle Encinas 
Props Designer: Kat Moraros 
Assistant Director: Nathan Speckman 
Dramaturg: Joseph Galizia 
Associate Producer: Rory Jobst

Tuesday, August 7 at 7pm 
Wednesday, August 8 at 7pm 
Thursday, August 9 at 2pm 
Thursday, August 9 at 7pm 
Friday, August 10 at 7pm
South Shore Center

Robeson Theater, South Shore Cultural Center 
7059 S. South Shore Dr. 
Chicago, IL 60649

Tickets are FREE. Secure yours now!
Click here or call 312.742.7994

ABOUT RED THEATER: Red Theater is a Jeff Award-winning company that asks dangerous questions, striving to deliver productions that go beyond entertainment, challenging an audience to interpret the themes and ideas presented on a personal level. Since 2008, our commitment to accessibility through every stage of the creative process also lowers the barriers of access, allowing all audiences to see new and reimagined works that broaden perspectives and inspire dialogue.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

FREE With RSVP: Babes With Blades' First Fighting Words Festival at Strawdog Theatre 5/19 & 5/20/18

Fest Alert: Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Two Days...
Three Great New Plays.

Want to see the newest woman-centered plays featuring the art of stage combat? Be there for BWBTC's first ever 
Fighting Words Festival!

Farce, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy...all in one weekend!

ChiIL Mama will be there... will YOU?!

May 19-20, 2018
Strawdog Theatre (1802 W Berenice Ave., Chicago)

Saturday 5/19:
12:00pm -
The Lady Demands Satisfaction* by Arthur Jolly
2:30pm -
Women of 4G by Amy Tofte

Sunday 5/20:
7:00pm -
The Witches of Birnam by Sara Murdock

FREE ADMISSION! Refreshments and a talkback follow each reading.

To reserve your FREE SEAT, go here.

*Winner of Joining Sword & Pen 2017-18

Check Out These Babes

Chloe Baldwin is off to California this summer to apprentice with Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, appearing in their productions of Othello and Two Noble Kinsmen.

Barbara Lhota's new play GIRL FOUND, produced by Idle Muse Theatre Company, with Alison Dornheggen directing, intimacy design by Jennifer L. Mickelson, and featuring Kathrynne Wolf, plays at The Edge Theater from May 17 thru Sunday, June 10th, Previews: May, 12th, 13th, 16th.

Barbara Lhota's play RAEANN'S GOTTA WIN: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO DRAGON SLAYING, will be read at Prop Theater's Church of the New Play on Sunday, July 15th at 11AM. 

Check out Artistic Associate Elizabeth MacDougald in Down the Rock Road and all the Way to Bedlam with Otherworld Theatre, running through May 13th at Fox Arca Theatre. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pandora Summer Party Featuring Cold War Kids at Concord Music Hall FREE With RSVP (21+)

You are invited to the first ever Pandora Summer Party in Chicago! 

Come ChiIL out in Chi, IL with ChiIL Live Shows and ChiIL Mama THIS Thursday.  Click HERE to join us.

Date: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Time: 7pm - 10pm
Location: Concord Music Hall - 2047 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL

Kick off the biggest festival weekend in Chicago with Pandora!  Join us for an exclusive, free performance by Cold War Kids, giveaways and cocktails at one of Chicago’s hottest concert venues.

Join the concert conversation with #PandoraSummerParty and follow @pandora_radio on Twitter!

RSVP will be on a first come, first served basis and capped at venue capacity.

RSVP does not guarantee admission if capacity is reached.

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