On Friday, May 20 Chicago Street Theatre served as hosts to guests from the American Association of Community Theatres, The Jack K. Ayre & Frank Ayre Lee Theatre Foundation, Dramatics Publishing and playwright, Nedra Pezold Roberts for the World Premiere of Wash, Dry, Fold. The drama was a winner of the 2016 AACT NewPlayFest and CST was chosen as one of seven theaters in the nation to produce a winner from the festival. Audiences delighted with being the first to see a staged production of Roberts' work.
"I am not a film star, I am an actress. Being a film star is such a false life, lived for fake values and publicity."- Vivien Leigh
We had a terrific group of talented volunteers audition this month for upcoming productions at CST. Thank you all for coming out!
Director Bob Cooley is pleased to announce the cast for Orson's Shadow:
Kenneth Tynan: Dustin Ritchea
Sean: Marc J Bonich
Orson Welles: George Maslankowski
Larry Olivier: Daniel Matern
Joan Plowright: Caity Mullen
Vivien Leigh: Mary Walton DeBoer
Directors Traci Brant and Jonni Pera are proud to share the cast for Wash, Dry, Fold:
Trudy: Mary Walton DeBoer
Enola: Barbara Malangoni
Uncle Slack: Ed Hubbard
Arlene: Caity Mullen
Mick: David Pera
Opening weekend happened for The Lieutenant of Inishmore and as one of its directors I'm very happy with the results of what my lovely co-director and I were able to create with our amazing cast and crew. I was also very excited with the turnout for opening weekend which was comprised of newcomers, longtime theatre subscribers, and colleagues with whom I have done many shows. Since Daena Sisk and I were so passionate about doing this edgy dark comedy I was also curious about what audience members would have to say about the experience.
Bear with me because I intend to use the word "curious" a lot in this blog. On the one hand, as a director, I want the art that I am creating to speak for itself as much as possible. On the other hand, as the Director of Marketing for Chicago Street Theatre, I have to drum up interest in the play by trying to provide information about the piece. Wearing these two hats as both a director and as a promotions guy can be a little tricky at times. You don't want to give away too much, but it is necessary to write about aspects of the plot to entice people to come and experience the play.
Early on, we determined to describe the play as a "a violently funny tale about a man's love for his cat." In creating our tagline and giving a little bit of the plot, the label that people gave our show was: "The Cat Killing Play." This is somewhat unfair (although still true) because a cat (or maybe two) dying is only one thing that happens in the show.
The director in me wants to scream out because so much more takes place in the production than this one or possibly two incidents. The beauty of McDonagh is that he, like we as directors, wants you to experience this comedy for what it is rather than having someone else explain what it is. He wants you to leave the theatre curious about what you just saw and why it had to happen that way.
One of my friends and theatre colleagues wrote a post on Facebook after seeing the show that said, "Who knew that a show about cats and Northern Irish terrorists could be so entertaining?"
Another longtime patron told me, "Stop apologizing for this show, it's hilarious! It's a bonus to what you guys offer to us each season and we love you for it."
As my Co-director so eloquently put in our director's note, "We want you to laugh. We really do. We want you to be uncomfortable while you're laughing. This is what watching a Martin McDonagh play is often about: laughing in the face of gore and political incorrectness."
Of course you could also leave curious about what McDonagh is really writing about. Is it a commentary of the stupidity and brutishness of Irish terrorism? Is it an absurd look at the early 90's extremism in the entertainment business and the media? Is it a vehicle for these wonderfully drawn characters to inhabit? Is it a satire on society's ambivalence about violence and how it is only our pets that matter to us? Well yes. It could be all of those things or it could be none of them.
McDonagh gives us no answers. He wants us to experience this curious little story he has created and enjoy it. The director and Marketing Director hopes you'll do the same.-Eric Brant, Director and Member
When Eric and I pondered the idea of doing a play like the one you are watching today, we were only worried about your delicate sensibilities for a moment, because we trust you. Yes, you, sitting in that red chair. We trust you for many reasons.
First, we trust that you will find the humor in all the darkness. We want you to laugh. We really do. We also want you to be uncomfortable while you are laughing. This is what watching a Martin McDonagh play is often all about- laughing in the face of gore and political incorrectness.
We trust that you will accept that this play has no great political message or deep philosophical undertones; it’s a snapshot of an absurd situation caused by the fear of an extremely awful person. Sometimes you have to laugh at the craziness that can happen in life, even while being completely horrified.
We trust that sometimes, as an audience, you don’t want to attend a show that is pretty to listen to or pretty to look at, but, instead, want to see something beautiful in its violence and depravity even while being cloaked in the mundane. These characters lead boring lives and have boring conversations, and their only reprieve is the insanity that eventually brings them all together. This is the genius of the playwright- these characters care more about their animals then they do for each other.
We trust that occasionally you want a story that is complete. McDonagh leaves no loose ends. Every character’s fate is etched in stone, as it were. We know from the beginning who Padraic is, what he intends to do, and the depraved way he intends to do it. Knowing this, it almost makes the blood and gore easier to take, because we know someone like Padraic would absolutely do what he ends up doing.
Finally, we trust that you will adore the sharp wit McDonagh hides in the simple statements his characters make. It’s in there, and Eric and I dare you to find it. As Donny says, “Many’s the time I trampled on my Mam when she was alive. After she died, I stopped. There seemed no sense.” You will walk away saying lines like these, and giggle to yourself, and, hopefully, admire McDonagh for it. Just like we do.
-Daena Sisk, Co-Director
posted by Director Eric Brant
One of the things that I love about Chicago Street Theatre is that we've gained a reputation for taking risks with new plays and edgier works. This season Daena Sisk and I feel very fortunate to be directing The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh. I have been a long-time fan of his work since first being introduced to it back in the late 90's with Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane.
Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theatre has always been know for its in-your-face style of theatre that was what I loved about seeing McDonagh's Beauty Queen. Within in this work were the elements of American playwrights like David Mamet and Sam Shepard mixed with more absurd influences like Harold Pinter and Edward Albee. The characters and the drama unfolding onstage was revealing and biting. McDonagh's knack for dialogue about random and pointless things told you as much about the characters as the awkward silences and looks to one another.
Those of you who were able to experience The Beauty Queen of Leenane when CST produced it two years ago know that the play has incredible moments of beauty and longing. Underlying those qualities is an ugliness and a harshness that McDonagh unravels with a dark wit and unflinching ferocity. Those fierce moments explode unexpectedly. As an audience member who had never read the play before, I watched Steppenwolf's production with shock and awe thinking, "Did they just really do that on stage?!!"
Through the years Chicago Street has tackled other productions of McDonagh's. As a director I watched our outstanding performances of The Cripple of Inishmann, The Pillowman, and Beauty Queen with delight and the hope that one day I might get to direct one of his plays. That day has arrived with our upcoming production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore.
Like McDonagh's other works, Lieutenant has many of the playwright's trademarks with this unlikely tale of an INLA officer's love for his cat. The dialogue in this dark comedy is smartly written and reveals the wonderfully complex characters--warts and all. In true form, McDonagh is not afraid to attack the vulnerabilities of his characters nor to shy away from their viciousness. Humor flows out of the sometimes loving and often brutal absurdity of these characters' agendas. In addition to the well-drawn studies of people from his Irish homeland, I can also say that there are plenty of those "shock and awe" moments throughout the show.
My co-director, Daena Sisk, and I hope that audiences will come to love McDonagh's work the way we have. If you are looking for a theatre experience that is darkly funny, original and totally unexpected, right now seems like the perfect time to shake the winter blues with Martin McDonagh's The Lieutenant of Inishmore.
If you are in doubt of his status as one of the greatest living playwrights, take a look at this list:
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play
- 1998: The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Won)
- 2005: The Pillowman (Nomination)
- 2006: The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Nomination)
- Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play
- 1997: The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Nomination)
- 2004: The Pillowman (Won)
Huge thanks to all who auditioned for Nancy Drew: Girl Detective! Director Kari-Anne Innes is pleased to announce the cast for this upcoming family-friendly production.
We consume experiences directly with other people.
We look forward to experiences together with those we love.
After an experience is over, it becomes a part of the stories that we tell to one another; the good times we shared.
Make plans to share more experiences with those you care about.
We hope you will make theatre one of those experiences.
Chicago Street Holiday Gifts on sale now.
- 2-ticket gift certificate $30
- 4-ticket gift bag $60
- 6-ticket gift bag $90
- Nancy Drew 4-ticket family pack w/ book $50
Call (219) 464-1636 ext 1 or Buy Online.