Tuesday, January 13, 2015

REVIEW: Cor Theatre's A Map of Virtue at Rivendell

Cor Theatre, the new Chicago company that made its mark with 
Skin Tight at A Red Orchid Theatre in 2012, returns with 
the Midwest premiere of 

Erin Courtney's A Map of Virtue
directed by Cor Theatre Artistic Director Tosha Fowler.

This sinister, symmetrical, and cyclical drama is a multilayered miasma of victims, abuse, love and obsessions. And woven throughout the coincidences and compulsions are the birds. Inescapably everywhere are the birds. We enjoyed the creative verbal structure of the production which has very little dialogue or action, a sentient bird statue, a lot of interconnecting monologues and a few disturbing songs. The Cor in Cor Theatre stands for Courage and this courageous cadre of actors does their theme and mission statement justice with A Map of Virtue. Check out this Obie Award winner (2012) and New York Times Critic’s Pick. Highly recommended.

Adam Benjamin is Ray and Scottie Caldwell is The Bird 
in Cor Theatre’s Midwest premiere of Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue. 
Cor Artistic Director Tosha Fowler directs Courtney’s psychological thriller, playing through February 14, 2015 at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave, Chicago. 
For tickets and information, visit or call (866) 811-4111.  Photo credit: Ryan Bourque

Scottie Caldwell plays The Bird in Cor Theatre’s Midwest premiere of Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue. Photo credit: Ryan Bourque

The uncanny coincidences seem almost predestined and it's a pleasure to get inside these fabulously flawed characters' heads. It's intriguing how molded and changed they are by the real and the imagined. Their obsessions and inner thought processes alter them and their trajectory as much as actual life events.


(standing) Scottie Caldwell (The Bird), (below, from left) Eleni Pappageorge (June), Nick Mikula (Nate), Mallory Nees (Sarah) and Will Von Vogt (Mark). Photo credit: Ryan Bourque

A Map of Virtue is a powerful and poetic look at the cyclical nature of abuse and opposites. The plot expands with the interconnectedness of people via random repeat meetings and a reoccurring bird motif in statue, tattoo, mask, story, and actual form. The bird mask terrified the protagonists and ultimately enabled their rescue. The tattoos were inked and then removed with great thought and intent. And the statue was let go and came back. 

I'm fascinated that opposite desires and motivations caused the protagonists, Mark and Sarah, to make the very same dangerous choices. Audiences will be mulling over, and circling back to the themes of this production days later. This brilliant piece speaks as loudly in the spaces between words, and the thoughts unspoken, as it does in the human interaction between characters, and that's rare to pull off on stage, in a medium where words are king. 

Act Out: Chicago Theatre openings, closings, reviews, giveaways, ticket sale dates and more via ChiIL Live Shows. 

Part interview, part comedy, part middle-of-the-night horror story, 
A Map of Virtue is a hauntingly romantic play about a shared obsession 
that leaves a group of friends stranded in the woods. A bird statue is the guide through this symmetrical tale about the limits of our virtues and what we leave behind.

"one of the most terrifying plays of the past decade" 
- The New York Times 

*Free parking is available at Senn High School.*

A hauntingly romantic play with a mystery at its center, A Map of Virtue was hailed “one of the most terrifying plays of the past decade” by the New York Times. It premiered at New York’s 13P in 2012, won an Obie Award and was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick. 

Cor Theatre's Midwest premiere of A Map of Virtue will be only the play's second professional production. Cor Artistic Director Tosha Fowler will direct. The cast includes Will Von Vogt (Mark), Mallory Ness (Sarah), Nick Mikula (Nate), Ruben Adorno (Victor), Eleni Pappageorge (June), Adam Benjamin (Ray) and Scottie Caldwell  (The Bird). 

Designers are Tierra G. Novy (set), Stefin Steberl (costumes and props), Eric Vigo (lights) and Jeffrey Levin (sound). Elyse Cowles is assistant director/dramaturg. Production stage manager is Navid Afshar.

Cor Theatre will present A Map of Virtue January 8-February 14, 2015 at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave., in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Previews are Thursday and Friday, January 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. Soft Opening is Saturday, January 10 at 7:30 p.m. Preview and Soft Opening tickets are $10. 

Regular performances continue January 15 through February 14: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 5 p.m. Performances are $25; $10 students and industry. Tickets to A Map of Virtue go on sale December 1. For tickets and information, visit or call (866) 811-4111.

Adam Benjamin is Ray and Eleni Pappageorge plays June in Cor Theatre’s Midwest premiere of Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue. Photo credit: Ryan Bourque

Will Von Vogt is Mark and Eleni Pappageorge plays June. Photo credit: Ryan Bourque 
More about Cor Theatre's A Map of Virtue
Tosha Fowler (director) is the co-founder of Cor Theatre, where she produced and acted in the critically acclaimed Skin Tight, under the direction of Victoria Delorio. Also with Cor she co-produced, wrote and performed in her original solo show, Mami, Where'd my O go? Fowler has produced theatre for almost ten years for companies including Mary-Arrchie Theatre, The Chicago Fringe Festival, The Academy Theatre in Atlanta, and her founding company, Fowl Brick in Savannah, Georgia. Her directing credits include A Doctor's Stories, Poof! and Bash and Bully Breakdown in HD. As an actress, Fowler has performed in Chicago with Lifeline Theatre, Emerald City, MPAACT, Cock & Bull and Circle Theatre. She has worked as a playwright with American Theatre Company's "Chicago Chronicle Project," the DePaul University Diversity Initiative, and the Academy Theater. Fowler is an adjunct professor in Theatre at DePaul University, and she holds an MFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul.

Erin Courtney (playwright) has said A Map of Virtue "is about people fantasizing about other people's lives, thinking their lives are better than their own lives, and really we are all just trying to get by." 

A Map of Virtue has been published along with her play Black Cat Lost by 53rd State Press. Courtney's other works include Honey Drop, Alice the MagnetQuiver and Twitch, and Demon Baby. Her work has been produced and developed by Clubbed Thumb, The Flea, New York Stage and Film, Adhesive Theater, Soho Rep, The Vineyard and The Public. She collaborated with Elizabeth Swados on the opera Kaspar Hauser and is starting work on a new musical with Swados on the life of Isabelle Eberhardt. She was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013, a NYSCA grant, two MAP Fund grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, and has been a resident at the MacDowell Colony. Demon Baby is published in two anthologies; New Downtown Now, edited by Mac Wellman and Young Jean Lee and published by University of Minnesota Press, and Funny, Strange, Provocative: Seven Plays by Clubbed Thumb edited by Maria Striar and Erin Detrick and published by Playscripts, Inc. She is an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb, a member of 13P, and a member of New Dramatists. She teaches in the MFA playwriting program at Brooklyn College and is a co-founder of Brooklyn Writers Space. She is a graduate of Mac Wellman's MFA program at Brooklyn College in 2003, and earned her BA at Brown University in 1990.

(From left/back to front) Scottie Caldwell (The Bird), Mallory Nees (Sarah), Nick Mikula (Nate), Ruben Adorno (Victor) and Will Von Vogt (Mark). Photo credit: Ryan Bourque

About Cor Theatre
Cor Theatre ( is a professional theatre company committed to producing stories about courage and exploring the hidden hero within us all. The company believes that there are certain intrinsic values that connect people at the core of their being. Cor Theatre seeks to expose those values.

Cor debuted in September 2012 with its production of Skin Tight by Gary Henderson at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. About a powerful, enduring love, complete with punches, laughter, knife fights, confessions and forgiveness, Skin Tight was rewarded with enthusiastic audiences, critical acclaim and made just enough money to establish a not-for-profit corporation. The company named itself Cor Theatre, deriving its name from the Latin root of courage - meaning heart.

Today, Cor is a new and ambitious Chicago professional theatre company under the leadership of Tosha Fowler, Artistic Director, and Navid Afshar, Managing Director. Company members include Chris Brickhouse, Elyse Cowles, Brian Crawford, Claire Meyers, Stefin Steberl and Will Von Vogt.With strong experience behind it, Cor is committed to produce works that provide an environment in which its audience can explore the unexplored and expect the unexpected.

Cor will return to Rivendell Theatre in the spring, June 4-July 11, 2015 with Love and Human Remains, the first Chicago professional production in nearly 20 years of the ground-breaking play originally titled Unidentified Human Remains and the Nature of True Love. Ernie Nolan will direct.

Will Von Vogt is Mark and Scottie Caldwell is The Bird in Cor Theatre’s Midwest premiere of 
Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue. Photo credit: Ryan Bourque 

(from left) Will Von Vogt is Mark, Mallory Nees plays Sarah and Nick Mikula is Nate in Cor Theatre’s Midwest premiere of Erin Courtney’s A Map of Virtue. Photo credit: Ryan Bourque

For more information, visit, call (866) 811-4111, like Cor Theatre on Facebook or follow the company on Twitter, @TheatreCor.

Rivendell Theatre
5779 N. Ridge Ave
Chicago, IL 60660
Edgewater Neighborhood
Rivendell is a few short blocks away from both the Bryn Mawr Red Line el stop, as well as the Clark Street #22 bus. 

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