A Love Letter to Sam Shepard

I have been waiting over 20 years to direct Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love. My first experience with Sam Shepard’s work was while I was at college at Valparaiso University. The theatre students often produced works for the Underground Theatre. These were productions not on the university mainstage. The production was at Baldwin Hall, which is no longer standing. It was very much guerilla theatre—no formal sets, tech, etc. I was running sound, which consisted of hitting play and pause on a boom box with a cassette. My sister, Patty Bird, played the lead role of May. She was a theatre major at VU. She was actually the first person to introduce me to the world of Sam Shepard. Through her passion for his work and theatre, I fell instantly in love—in love with theatre, the arts, and Sam Shepard’s brilliant words. That production in college laid the groundwork for all of my future theatre endeavors. It’s where I learned that absolutely anything can happen in live theatre, and no matter what you do, the show must go on. During one performance, I recall the character of Eddie shoving May into a wall (or flat as we call them in theatre). Instantly, the flat started to sway and began to fall forward into the stage space directly over the actors. Eddie simply leaned against the wall and forced it into place. It was terrifying and exciting all at the same time!

The first Sam Shepard play produced at Chicago Street was True West in Season 32, 1986-1987. I was mesmerized. CST’s next Shepard production was Buried Child in Season 45, 1999-2000. I served as a crew member for the show and learned so much from directors, Jonni Pera and Traci Brant. I learned about the raw humanity and dirty, real souls of Sam’s characters. I learned that every aspect of the show—the set, lights, sound, costume, and props were equally as important at the characters on stage. In many ways these areas were characters as well. I learned to respect the integrity of the playwright’s words and vision.

I was then blessed with the opportunity to direct Sam’s The Curse of the Starving Class at CST. I had the honor to co-direct with my sister. This show had many challenges. We conquered them all! We had a working gas stove on stage where characters actually cooked bacon and eggs at every performance. The show calls for a live lamb as one of the characters. Our production took place in February, we learned that February was not “lambing season” but did manage to find a farm in Kouts that had a lamb we could use. We affectionately called the lamb Sammy. Those are just two challenges we faced and conquered.

I was honored again to direct Sam’s A Lie of the Mind at CST. I had the pleasure of co-directing this one with Stan Christianson. This was a much darker, tormented Sam production. The female lead was played by my sister, Patty Bird. She had to go to some horrific dark places for her character. As director, I helped lead her there and back. It was an emotional rollercoaster for the both of us, but I wouldn’t trade that whole experience for anything.

And now with this production of Fool For Love, my theatrical/directorial journey has come full circle with the play that started it all for me. I am so thrilled to tackle this show alongside a brilliant co-director and very dear friend, Auriel Lark Felsecker. Sam’s fully fleshed out and flawed characters are the centerpiece of this show. Family struggles and dysfunction, co-dependent relationships, alcoholism, abandonment, hope, loss of hope, and finding a new normal are only a few of the themes this show touches on. These themes run wild through all of Sam’s works and I couldn’t be more humble to be allowed into his world if only for a moment while directing this show. This is my love letter to Sam Shepard for sparking something in me at an early age that led me to theatre. Because of Sam’s work, I have met the dearest friends in my entire life as well as my husband! I will always count Sam as one of my earliest life and art influences and will forever be grateful.

-Director Mary A. Bird Matern

Director's Note: Hurlyburly

Hurlyburly. n. a disorderly outburst or tumult.

And it has some fun synonyms: to-do, disturbance, commotion, kerfuffle, hoo-ha.

But I’ll be honest—my feelings about David Rabe’s Hurlyburly are, in many ways, tumultuous. Sure, this play has a lot of the traits that might draw in potential directors and actors. It’s got substance, deeply flawed characters, and some roles with heft. It’s emotional and challenging. It’s set in the 80s (how fun!).

This particular disorderly outburst of a play, however, is so much more than that. It’s an often unflattering look at a decade of excess. It’s rife with drugs, vulgarity, and violence. And as I continued to submerge myself in the addiction, the misogyny, and the deeply rooted desperation of Hurlyburly’s troubled characters, I became increasingly uneasy. 

This play was not some window to a bygone era. It was an echo of our own disturbing news cycles.

It would be nice to read or see Hurlyburly and beam at how far we’ve come. But that’s not honest. We need to talk about this play more than ever. We need to talk about the way men treat women. We need to talk about the way men treat each other. We need to talk about addiction, mental illness, depression, violence, and what we’re now calling toxic masculinity.

So here’s my disclaimer: What you are about to see is full of ugliness. It might make you uncomfortable. Maybe even outraged. I’m not asking you not to feel those feelings. But I do think we need to be brave enough not to run away from that ugliness. If we can see past the faults of these characters, maybe we can start a dialogue. We need dialogue. We need to talk about it.

And we need to listen.

After living with this play for the better part of the last year, I still feel shame about how far we haven’t come. I’m ready to talk about it.

And I’m ready to listen.

-Jordan Chaddock, Director of Hurlyburly

Hurlyburly runs January 19 - February 3, 2018 | Save Your Seat Here

HAIR Cast Announcement

Chicago Street Theatre and director Bob Cooley are pleased to announce the following cast for the tribal love-rock musical HAIR. Congratulations to all and a huge THANK YOU to everyone who auditioned. We look forward to seeing you at the show! HAIR opens October 13, 2017 and runs through October 29. 

Lillian Alyssum—Tribe

Brandon Berk—Tribe

Tracy Bermingham—Tribe

Elli Bezotte—Jeannie

Nate Hendricks—Woof

Arlene Henry—Chrissy

Jen Hernandez—Dionne

Matt Kiley—Berger

Brandon King—Hud

Craig Nordstrom—Dad, General, etc.

Michael Ohm—Claude

Caroline Rau—Earth Mother

Samantha Sangerman—Sheila 

Jennifer Stevens—Mom, etc.

Nathaniel Wasko—Tribe

2017/18 Season On Sale Now!

CST is celebrating a lot in 2017/18 as we mark our 20th Anniversary at Chicago Street with Season 63. Become a Viewer’s Choice Subscriber and never miss a moment of great theatre and discounts from our group of local restaurants throughout the entire season. Viewer’s Choice cards give you the flexibility to see the shows you want to see and save up to 25% over the cost of individual ticket purchases. In addition to the great shows you’ll be able to experience, subscribers also receive our Dining Partner’s Discount Card as our way of thanking you for supporting the theatre all season long.

Want a free sample of the great selection of shows Chicago Street has coming in 2017/18? Join us Friday, August 18 for our Season 63 Preview Party.

Choose from our  selection of musicals,  dramas, comedies and classics: 

HAIR | Hurlyburly | Moonlight and Magnolias

Fool for Love | Much Ado About Nothing

Plus, we have a terrific line-up of family features: 

How to Eat Like a Child | It's a Wonderful Life

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

There's something for everyone as CST celebrates 20 years on Chicago Street as

"Your Neighborhood Place for Plays."

Individual Production Tickets | Season Tickets(219) 464-1636 ext. 1

HAIR: Auditions July 24-25



The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a product of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s; several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. Hair tells the story of the "tribe", a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the "Age of Aquarius" living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War. Claude, his good friend Berger, their roommate Sheila and their friends struggle to balance their young lives, loves, and the sexual revolution with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society. Ultimately, Claude must decide whether to resist the draft as his friends have done, or to succumb to the pressures of his parents (and conservative America) to serve in Vietnam, compromising his pacifist principles and risking his life.

For information about auditions, scheduling, or with any other questions or concerns, please email the director Bob Cooley.

Casting is open to performers 18 and up. A youthful appearance is essential except where noted. Please prepare a monologue not to exceed 150 words (you may use one of those provided below or bring one of your own) and a vocal selection not to exceed 32 bars. Bring your sheet music, an accompanist will be provided. There will also be a dance evaluation.

Principle characters:

  • Claude Hooper Bukowski – Gentle and beautiful, Claude is conflicted about burning his draft card and avoiding conscription. Songs include “Manchester”, “Where Do I Go?”, and “I Got Life”.
  • George Berger – Brash, magnetic, and aggressively irreverent, Berger is the de-facto leader of the hippy “tribe”. Songs include “My Donna” and “Going Down”
  • Sheila Franklin – Sheila, 2nd semester NYU, is a sometimes over-bearing student militant and organizer. Songs include “Easy to Be Hard” and “Good Morning Starshine”.
  • Hud – Hud is a militant “black power” advocate. He will try to intimidate you by getting in your face about race in America. Songs include “Colored Spade” and “Abie Baby”.
  • Jeanie – Jeanie, incredibly sweet, understands Claude better than anyone. She is a wise, passionate, creative woman, who is pregnant with the tribe's baby. Songs include “Air”.
  • Neil "Woof" Donovan – Woof is distinctly bi-sexual and has a thing for Mick Jagger (and probably Berger). Woof’s songs include "Sodomy".
  • Crissy – Crissy is a sweet young hippy. Her songs include “Frank Mills”.
  • Dionne - Dionne is sassy and lots of fun. She adds some soulful backup parts to many of the songs. Dionne is featured on "Ain't Got No", "Eyes, Look Your Last", "Dead End", "Abie Baby", "Air", "Walking in Space", "White Boys", and "3-5-0-0".

The Tribe – We could call the Tribe "the chorus", but that would not be an adequate description of their responsibilities. There are 43 numbers in "Hair". The Tribe sings 10 of these themselves, and is featured on 21 of the others. And they dance on almost every one of these. That's 31 songs featuring the Tribe singing and dancing. They almost never leave the stage. They are singers, dancers, and actors, and each tribesman has the opportunity to create their own unique character. We are looking to cast 10-12 tribe members, equal number men and women. Racial/ethnic diversity will be very important.

Earth Mother - This is what I'm calling the vocalist who will sing "Aquarius" and "What a Piece of Work is Man" (a duet). A hippie role for a more experienced female performer. This actress will probably double as Claude's Mom.

There are 3-4 roles for more mature men. A character called “Margaret Meade”, who sings the song “My Conviction” in drag, could be a cameo, or be performed by one of the men that appear as various authority figures (high school dean, military generals, dad).

Director’s notes: This will be a difficult show to mount and rehearse. The Tribe has dance and vocal responsibilities on so many numbers that rehearsal attendance will be of primary importance. Auditions are being held 11 weeks prior to opening to allow for flexibility and time to assimilate the large amount of material.  We can work with scheduling conflicts if we know about them in advance, but multiple additions to your conflict schedule after casting will present a serious problem. Please come to auditions with a complete list of your weekday evening and weekend conflicts for the dates July 31st through Oct 12th (opening night is October 13th). Again, we will work to accommodate conflicts to get the best talent on the stage, but conflicts after the fact are detrimental to the quality of the show, and particularly to the efforts of your cast mates.

About nudity: While it is not mentioned in the script, most theater buffs know that Hair usually features a nude scene at the end of Act One, after Claude sings “Where Do I Go.” Most of the principals involved in mounting the original production concede that it was mostly a publicity stunt, but it has nonetheless become a standard part of the show. Although we are not sure yet exactly how we are going to stage the end of Act One, I want to assure all prospective auditioners that nudity on your part will never be required. You will not be asked at auditions if you if you are willing to do a nude scene. If the production team decides some form of discreetly lit and very brief nudity would add to the show, and if the group of performers as a whole decides they are in favor of that, it will still be individually strictly voluntary. A comfortable, safe, and supportive environment is essential for this show, and we will do everything necessary to provide one.


You may use one of these or choose your own. Not to exceed 150 words.

Berger: Hello.  My name is George Berger, but I don’t dig George, so just call me Banana Berger, or Cheese Berger, Unzipper Berger, Pull ‘em down Berger, Karma Berger, Pitts Berger, Tak ‘em off Berger, Up your Berger, Any Berger and I’ll answer you. Oh oh, I know you people think right off, Oh look dear, isn’t that a cute one?  What is it Agnes, a boy or a girl?  What is this god damn thing?  Three thousand pounds of Navajo jewelry.  Ha ha ha. Lady, will you hold my pants for me?  Mother!! Hey lady, can you spare a hand out?  A nick, dime, a quarter?  Something for a psychedelic teddy bear like me, me, me.  To keep my chromosomes dancing, dancing... up the Methedrine River.  I came over via Hoboken... and in the middle of the Hudson River, through the industrial haze, I thought I saw Donna, Donna, my Donna, standing in the water.  But it was only Democracy’s daughter, the Statue of Liberty, waving at me.

Claude: Hello there... ever thought of how you’re living right smack bang in the middle of the Stone Age?  Well, this folks, is the Psychedelic Stone Age.  Without doubt, the most exciting time this weary, whirling, square globe has seen for generations.  And it’s your age... you are living it, you are psyching it, you are stoning it.  It’s the age of electronic dinosaurs and cybernetic Indians, the age where it’s more fun than ever to be young.  The age where it’s more fun than ever to be stoned. I don’t want to be a dentist or a lawyer or a bum or an IBM machine, or a rock’n’roll hero, or a movie star.  I just want to be stoned. Maybe I’d get sooo stoned I could be... invisible.  An invisible man… I could float around and slip into people’s minds and know exactly what they’re doing and what they’re thinking.  I could go anywhere, do anything. I could perform miracles.  That’s the only thing I want to do or be on this dirt.

Hud: My name used to be Lafayette. I ain't Lafayette no more. I’m Hud. Do you understand about cosmic consciousness and all that shit? That's what I'm talking about, baby. All I'm talking about. I’m talkin’ about Black Power and power to the people. I’m talking about all of the beautiful brothers and sisters living in equality.

Jeanie: So… this is the way it is.  I’m hung up on Claude.  Sheila’s hung up on Berger, Berger is hung up everywhere. Claude is hung up on a cross over Sheila and Berger.  And as a prospective mother, I would just like to say that there is something highly unusual going on here, and furthermore, Woof is hung up on Berger. I live with a whole bunch of people on Teeny Bopper Island.  And I love Claude.  I dig this groovy, hip, beautiful living hunk of gold, blond, blue-eyed man, muscle of all muscle, smooth skin animal.  Claudio, I’d die for you.  I am lost in the unfathomable infinities of your mystical third eye.  I wish it was your baby inside my body.  I was knocked up by some crazy speed freak.  Wouldn’t you know?  Claude is my acid, Claude is my trip.  Methedrine’s a bad scene, and Claude loves me.

Sheila: I’m an anthropology student at NYU. We marched on the pentagon, the five sided dragon, and we levitated it! Then we attacked the FBI building, but they tear gassed us… tomorrow morning, at dawn, we will take our heads down to the US Army induction center for an exorcism of the Khaki. We’re going to yip out all the bad vibrations – yip, yip, yip – and we’re going to yip up the sun – yip, yip, yip, yippee! The war is white guys sending black guys to kill yellow guys to protect land they stole from the red man!

Dionne: Four score, I said four score and seven years ago, our forefathers… don’t get nervous, I mean all our forefathers, brought forth on this here continent a new nation… sock it to ‘em Buckwheat… conceived in liberty and dedicated to the one I love. I mean dedicated to the proposition, that all men… I mean you too, honey… all men are created… you know something pitiful? They’re not making shoe shine boys like they used to. Anyway, all men are created equal.

Announcing Season 63

The BIG News is that CST is excited to announce a whole new season of plays and musicals being slated for 2017/2018. Individual Tickets and Viewer's Choice Subscriptions will go on sale July 1! Be here for Season 63 when we will celebrate our 20th Anniversary at Chicago Street with great shows right here in your community!

  • Aug/Sept. 2017--Family Musical--How to Eat Like a Child
  • October 2017--Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Tribal Musical--HAIR
  • Nov/Dec. 2017--Holiday Favorite--It's A Wonderful Life
  • Jan/Feb. 2018--Edgy Drama--Hurlyburly
  • March 2018--Family Favorite--Sideways Stories From Wayside School
  • April 2018--Comedy--Moonlight and Magnolias
  • May/June 2018--Drama--Fool for Love
  • July 2018--Shakespeare's Comedy--Much Ado About Nothing