Season 33

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For Immediate Release
Stage Left Theatre Company ● 1541 W Belmont, Chicago, IL 60657
773.883.8830 ●
Press Contact: Vance Smith, 773-883-8830,

Stage Left Theatre Announces Season 34

Chicago, May 8, 2015 – Stage Left Theatre is pleased to announce the programming for its 34th season, which will feature three regional premieres. The season begins with the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of The Firestorm by Meridith Friedman. The Firestorm was developed in part through Stage Left’s new play development program, Downstage Left. As part of the NNPN Rolling World Premiere, it will also receive productions at Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, Texas and at LOCAL Theatre Company in Boulder, Colorado. Next, in the winter, Stage Left and Red Tape Theatre present a co-production of the Midwest premiere of Mutt by Christopher Chen. This biting and hilarious satire about race in poltics was first produced by Impact Theatre with Ferocious Lotus in San Francisco in 2014. Finally, Stage Left Theatre will present the Midwest premiere of Dan O’Brien’s award-winning play The Body of an American, which will arrive in Chicago fresh from its off-Broadway New York premiere.  The company will also present LeapFest, its annual developmental festival featuring workshop productions of new plays, at a time and location to be announced later.

About the Plays

A National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere
The Firestorm
by Meridith Friedman
directed by ensemble member Drew Martin
October 24 – November 29, 2015

After a highly successful term in the state senate, Patrick is the democratic nominee for Governor of Ohio. Patrick is married to Ivy League-educated Gaby, an antitrust attorney. While a strong political couple on paper, there’s one small hiccup: their interracial marriage. With interracial couples still a rarity on the campaign trail, their relationship is something of a political liability, particularly in a swing-state. However, when a racially charged prank from Patrick’s fraternity days emerges in the media, suddenly Gaby’s skin color is thrust to the forefront of the campaign. Charged with defending her husband against accusations of racism and saving the campaign from collapse, Gaby begins to have serious questions about the very foundation of her marriage.

The Firestorm was developed in part at Stage Left through a Downstage Left Playwright Residency in 2014. As part of a NNPN Rolling World Premiere, The Firestorm will be produced by Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, Texas in May of 2015, then at Stage Left, and finally by LOCAL Theater in Boulder, Colorado in the fall of 2016.

Meridith Friedman was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She received her BA from Connecticut College, and her MFA in Writing for the Stage & Screen from Northwestern University. Her plays have been developed and performed at The Kennedy Center, Chicago Dramatists, The Greenhouse Theatre Center, Curious Theatre Company, the NNPN National New Play Showcase, New Repertory Theatre, The Lark, Actor’s Express, Kitchen Dog Theater, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Stage Left, Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival, The American Southwest Theatre Company at NMSU, LOCAL Theatre Company, and The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals. She has twice been featured in The Dramatist, the official magazine of the Dramatist Guild of America. She was the NNPN Playwright-in-Residence at Curious Theatre Company for their 2010-2011 season, a 2012-2013 Dramatist Guild Fellow, and the recipient of a 2013-2014 Downstage Left Playwriting Residency at Stage Left Theatre. She was recently awarded the 2014 NNPN Annual Commission to write and develop a new play with Curious Theatre Company, The Luckiest People. She has taught playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University, Kenyon College, Curious Theatre Company, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. She is currently working on the books for two new musicals.

The National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country’s alliance of non-profit professional theaters dedicated to the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has supported more than 250 productions nationwide through its innovative National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere program, which provides playwright and production support for new works. Additional programs – its annual National Conference, National Showcase of New Plays, and MFA Playwrights Workshop; the NNPN Annual and Smith Prize commissions; its residencies for playwrights, producers and directors; and the organization’s member accessed Collaboration, Festival, and Travel banks, and online information sessions – have helped cement the Network’s position as a vital force in the regional theater landscape. NNPN’s programming allows its members and their affiliated artists to create, grow, and share new work across the country and around the world, and it strives to pioneer, implement, and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights. Its most recent project, The New Play Exchange (, launched in January of 2015, is already changing the way playwrights share their work and others discover it. NNPN’s 29 Core and more than 65 Associate and University Members – along with the more than 250 affiliated artists who are its alumni, the thousands of artists and artisans employed annually by its member theaters, and the hundreds of thousands of audience members who see its supported works each year – are creating the new American theater. For more information please visit

The Midwest premiere of
by Christopher Chen
directed by Vanessa Stalling
January 9 – February 14, 2016
a co-production with Red Tape Theatre

The Republican Party finally – finally! – realizes it has a problem with race. So it decides its best chance for success in the 2016 presidential election is to back a candidate who’s hapa – of mixed Asian descent. They think they’ve found their man in Nick, a promising Congressmember. But when Nick doesn’t conform to their expectations of who he should be, they turn to Len, a multiracial war hero who can check off every single box – and maybe a couple more boxes no one knows about. A blisteringly funny satire that skewers not only the elephants in the room but the donkeys too, Mutt burns down the entire house of racial cards.

Mutt saw its world premiere at Impact Theatre with Ferocious Lotus in San Francisco in 2014.

Christopher Chen’s full-length works have been produced and developed across the United States and abroad, at companies such as the American Conservatory Theater, Asian American Theater Company, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Beijing Fringe, Central Works, Crowded Fire, Cutting Ball, Edinburgh Fringe, hotINK Festival, Impact Theatre, InterAct, Just Theatre, The Lark, Magic Theatre, Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco Playhouse, Silk Road Rising, Sundance Theatre Lab, Theatre Mu and The Vineyard. Honors: Glickman Award; Rella Lossy Award; shortlist for the James Tait Black Award, nomination for the Steinberg Award; 2nd Place in the Belarus Free Theater International Playwriting Competition; PONY finalist; Jerome Finalist; the 2013 Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, through which he was playwright-in-residence at The Vineyard Theatre. Current commission: San Francisco Playhouse. In Chicago, his play The Hundred Flowers Project received its Midwest premiere at Silk Road Rising in 2014 and his play Caught (first produced at InterAct in Philadelphia) will be produced by Sideshow Theatre Company in 2016. Chris is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, and holds an M.F.A. in playwriting from S.F. State.

Now in their 11th season, Red Tape Theatre is committed to the creation of new and experimental work through collaborations with their ensemble, playwrights, musicians, dancers, and visual artists. Red Tape’s plays invite audiences to re-imagine their world and serve a vital purpose in our community: to arrest attention and create empathy. This work is supported by Red Tape’s Fresh Eyes Playwrights Workshop which is produced annually.

The Midwest premiere of
The Body of an American
by Dan O’Brien
directed by ensemble member Jason A. Fleece
May 14 – June 19, 2016

In 1993, Canadian photojournalist Paul Watson took a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. In 2007, writer Dan O’Brien was struggling to finish his play about ghosts. A chance encounter over the airwaves sparks an extraordinary friendship that sees the two men journey from some of the most dangerous places on earth to the depths of the human soul. Flying from Kabul to the Canadian Arctic, The Body of an American sees two actors play more than thirty roles in an exhilarating new form of documentary drama.

The Body of an American was workshopped at JAW: A Playwrights Festival, produced by Portland Center Stage, where it also had its world premiere. In early 2014 the play enjoyed its UK premiere at The Gate Theatre in London, where it was met with glowing reviews. The Body of an American has received the 2014 Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play, the Inaugural 2013 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, the 2013 PEN Center USA Award for Drama, and a nomination for the 2015 Evening Standard’s Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright. In 2016, it will see productions at Hartford Stage and off-Broadway at Primary Stages before the Midwest premiere at Stage Left.

Dan O’Brien is a playwright, poet, and librettist. Previous plays by O’Brien have premiered at Second Stage Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, and elsewhere. O’Brien’s debut poetry collection, War Reporter (Hanging Loose Press, 2013; CB Editions, 2013), received the UK’s prestigious Fenton-Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A new poetry collection entitled Scarsdale was published in 2014 by CB Editions in the UK, and in 2015 by Measure Press in the US. O’Brien’s libretto for Jonathan Berger’s Visitations was commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Visitations premiered at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University in 2013, directed by Rinde Eckert, and received its New York City premiere at the Prototype Festival in 2014. Originally from New York, O’Brien lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

LeapFest XIII
TBD, 2015

See what’s next in Chicago theatre –  LeapFest’s first twelve years have so far graduated twenty-one plays to world premiere productions in Chicago and beyond, with three of these receiving the Jeff Award for Best New Work. This annual new play development festival features workshop productions of exciting new plays in rotating repertory.

All performances will take place at Theater Wit: 1229 W Belmont, except for LeapFest XIII. The location of LeapFest XIII is TBA.

Subscriptions to Stage Left Theatre’s 34th season are $60 and include admission to all three mainstage productions as well as other advantages such as guaranteed seating and special subscriber-only events. Subscribers will be offered discounted admission to LeapFest, but the festival will not be included as a part of the regular subscription season. For more information or to purchase a subscription, patrons should call 773-883-8830 or visit

About Stage Left
Founded in 1982, Stage Left Theatre is committed to nurturing voices for the American theatre by developing and producing plays that raise debate and challenge perspectives on political and social issues. Through a full subscription season and our new play development program, Downstage Left, Stage Left strives to ask provocative social and political questions by producing a mix of new works, regional premieres and timeless classics. 


For questions or info, please contact:

Vance Smith, Artistic Director, Stage Left Theatre at 773-883-8830