Season 33

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
in association with Theater Wit
presents the world premiere of

Keys of the Kingdom

by Penny Penniston
January 10 – February 15, 2015


Chicago, October 13, 2014 – Stage Left Theatre, in association with Theater Wit, announces the upcoming world premiere of Keys of the Kingdom written by Penny Penniston and directed by ensemble member Greg Werstler. Keys of the Kingdom is the second production of Stage Lefts 33rd season.  Press opening is Friday, January 16 at 8 PM at Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont.  The show runs through February 15.


As assistant to the celebrity pastor of an evangelical mega church, Arthur obeys orders, attacks paperwork, and guards against sin.  So Arthur is surprised when the church pastor commissions a mural from Irene Hoff, an atheist New York artist married to another woman. Arthur is even more surprised when the pastor explains that he believes Irene has been chosen by God. But the biggest surprise of all is what happens when Irene shows up and starts to paint.

Keys of the Kingdom was developed at Stage Left though the Downstage Left Program LeapFest in 2012.  In 2014, Portland Center Stage selected the Keys of the Kingdom for its JAW Festival, where it received a 2-week workshop and public reading.


In line with our mission to raise social and political debate, Stage Left offers patrons a Symposium Series for every production.  Immediately following each Sunday matinee, we will 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.  Keys of the Kingdom wrestles with questions of Christianity, faith, sacrifice, and tolerance. Ultimately, the play asks: What must we accept in others? What can we demand from others? Where is God in the midst of this struggle?


Keys of the Kingdom runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 3:00 PM from 1/10/15 through 2/15/15. Tickets are $20-32 and will be available through the Theater Wit box office either online at or by calling 773-975-8150. Press Opening is Friday, January 16 at 8:00 PM. Previews are Saturday, January 10 at 8:00pm; Sunday, January 11 at 3:00 PM; Wednesday, January 14 at 8 PM; and Thursday, January 15 at 8:00 PM. Preview tickets are $20. Keys of the Kingdom 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).

Media comps, photos, 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


Penny Penniston is the author of now then againSpin7 Years at the Mayfair MallMiss Julie (an adaptation), and The Roaring Girl (co-adapted with Jeremy Wechsler). In Chicago, her work has been produced or developed with Theater Wit, Bailiwick Repertory, Shakespeare’s Motley Crew, Collaboraction, Stage Left Theatre, and Lookingglass Theatre. Additional productions, workshops, or commissions include Portland Center Stage (OR), Gorilla Rep (NY), the Depot Theater (NY), Penfold Theater (TX), the Blank Theater (CA), The Old Globe (CA), Milwaukee Repertory Theater (WI), plus numerous others. She has received multiple Joseph Jefferson citations for excellence and was the winner of the Sloan Prize at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival. Her book Talk the Talk: A Dialogue Workshop for Scriptwriters is published by MWP books. For more information, visit her website at

Greg Werstler’s Stage Left directing credits include, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, the world premiere of Impenetrable (which he also directed in Leapfest 7 when it was titled The Face of a Ruined Woman), The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, After Ashley, Blue/Whitney (Leapfest 10), and Ruby Vector (LeapFest 6). Greg has worked as a theater administrator and director in Chicago for more than 15 years. He is the Director of Creative Sales and CFO of ComedySportz Chicago. Other directing credits include Rumors and Loveliest Afternoon for Eclipse Theatre Company, Voice of the Prairie and The Eight for Dolphinback Theatre (of which he was a founding member), A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Equity Library Theatre and Angels in America at Lake Forest College.

The cast features Stage Left ensemble members Kate Black-Spence (Irene), McKenzie Chinn (Paige), and Brian Plocharczyk (Arthur), as well as guest artists Don Bender (Ed) and Kathrynne Wolf (Joann).

The staff includes SLT company members Emmaline Keddy-Hector (production management), John Kohn III (lighting design), Adam Smith (sound design), Brenda Winstead (costume design), and Zev Valancy (dramaturgy), with guest artists Rebecca Blackmore (stage management), Andrew Hildner (scenic design), Cassy Schillo (properties design), and Gordon Granger (technical direction).


Founded in 1982, Stage Left Theatre is committed to 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. 


Theater Wit is the premier smart art theater in Chicago, producing humorous, challenging, and intelligent plays that speak with a vibrant and contemporary theatrical voice. As an institution, Theater Wit seeks to be the hub of the Chicago neighborhood theater scene. In their three spaces, they bring together Chicago’s best storefront theater companies.


¨     All’s Well That Ends WellWhen you’re an orphaned woman in a man’s world, there aren’t too many options. But Helena won’t be held back by expectations, and her beloved won’t know what hit him. This mafia-set production of one of Shakespeare’s prickliest comedies asks the question: how far is too far to get what we want?
Run dates: April 18- May 24, 2015 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont


For questions or info, please contact:

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