Season 34

Press Room

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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
presents the Midwest premiere of
The Body of an American
by Dan O’Brien
May 14 – June 19, 2016

Chicago, March, 7 2016 – Stage Left Theatre announces the upcoming Midwest Premiere of The Body of an American, written by Dan O’Brien and directed by Associate Artistic Director Jason A. Fleece. The Body of an American is the third production of Stage Left’ s 34th season. Press opening is Wednesday, May 18th at 8:00 PM at Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont. The show runs through June 19th.


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[1]  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 has received the 2014 Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play, the Inaugural 2013 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired By American History, the 2013 PEN Center USA Award for Drama, and a nomination for the 2015 Evening Standard’s Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright. The play received its world premiere in 2012 at Portland Center Stage and in 2014, it had its UK premiere at the Gate Theatre in London. In 2016 it was produced at Hartford Stage, a production which is currently enjoying its NY premiere by Primary Stages at Cherry Lane Theatre.


In line with our mission to inspire social and political debate, Stage Left offers patrons a Symposium Series for every production. Immediately following each Sunday matinee, we invite the audience to stay for a discussion centered on a particular question raised by the performance. Admission to the Symposium Series is free, but it is recommended that attendees have seen the production in order to fully appreciate and participate in the discussion. The Body of an American ask questions about the Western relationship to conflicts in other countries, the role of journalism in those conflicts, and the responsibility of journalists for the consequences of their reporting.


The Body of an American runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 3:00 PM from 5/14/16 through 6/19/16. Tickets are $20-30[2]  and are available through the Theater Wit box office either online at or by calling 773-975-8150. Press Opening is Wednesday, May 18th at 8:00 PM. Previews are Saturday, May 14th at 8:00pm; Sunday, May 15th at 3:00 PM; and Tuesday, May 17th at 8:00 PM. Preview tickets are $20. The Body of an American will be performed at Theater Wit at 1229 W. Belmont in Chicago. The theater is handicapped and CTA accessible via the Belmont El (Red, Brown, and Purple Lines).

Media comps, videos, and interviews are available by contacting Vance Smith at 773.883.8830 (office) or Hi-res photos, this release, and archived releases and photos are available at


Dan O’Brien (Playwright) is a playwright, poet, and librettist. His play The Body of an American premiered at Portland Center Stage, directed by Bill Rauch, received its European premiere in an extended run at the Gate Theatre in London and Royal & Derngate in Northampton, England, directed by James Dacre, and premiered off-Broadway at Primary Stages in 2016. 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. Website:

Jason A. Fleece (Director) is a freelance director and theatre educator based in Chicago. Stage Left directing credits include Warped, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, An Enemy of the People, Underneath by Rob Smith (LeapFest 8), Anna is Saved by Jessica Cluess (LeapFest 6), and The Meaning of Lunch by Dan Aibel (LeapFest 7). Recently, Jason directed BoHo Theatre’s musical Ordinary Days, which was nominated for four Jeff Awards. Other favorite recent productions include the 29th Annual Young Playwright’s Festival (Pegasus Theatre Chicago) and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Oakton Community College). Jason holds a B.A. in Theatre from Point Park University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, and an M.F.A. in Directing from the Theatre School at DePaul University. He has been a member of the Stage Left ensemble since 2009, and Associate Artistic Director since 2013.

The cast features Stage Left Artistic Associate Don Bender and guest artist Ryan Hallahan.

The staff includes Stage Left Company Members John Kohn III (Lighting Design), Tara Malpass (Stage Management), Brenda Winstead (Costume Design), Annaliese McSweeney (Dramaturg), and Brittany Gillespie (Assistant Director), with guest artists Tony Churchill (Scenic and Projection Design), and Steven Gawrit (Sound Design).


Founded in 1982, Stage Left Theatre is committed to developing and producing plays that inspire 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.

LeapFest XIII– See what’s next in Chicago theatre – LeapFest’s first twelve years have so far graduated twenty- two plays to world premiere productions in Chicago and beyond, with three of these receiving the Jeff Award for Best New Work. Join us for a 13th smash year, when four new plays “take the leap” in development in this three week festival of politically-minded new work. Each play will be presented in rotating repertory, and performances are followed by a discussion with the playwright and director.
Run dates: June/July, 2016



For questions or info, please contact:Vance Smith, Artistic Director, Stage Left Theatre at 773-883-8830