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