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
The Firestorm
by Meridith Friedman

part of a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere
October 30 – November 29, 2015

Chicago, July, 31 2015 – Stage Left Theatre announces the upcoming Rolling World Premiere of The Firestorm,  written by Meridith Friedman and directed by Ensemble Member Drew Martin. The Firestorm is the first production of Stage Lefts 34th season. Press opening is Friday, October 30th at 8 PM at Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont. The show runs through November 29th.


Gaby and Patrick, an interracial political power couple hot on the campaign trail, are thrust into the center of a media frenzy when a racially charged incident from Patrick’s past surfaces. As the pressure intensifies, the political becomes explosively personal and the foundation of their seemingly picture-perfect marriage begins to fracture.

The Firestorm was developed in part at Stage Left through a Downstage Left Playwright Residency in 2014 and in it’s annual new-play festival, LeapFest. As part of a NNPN Rolling World Premiere, The Firestorm will see three productions. The first was at Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, Texas in May of 2015. Stage Left’s production is the second, and finally LOCAL Theater in Boulder, Colorado will mount a production in the fall of 2016.

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


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 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 Firestorm explores the ways we hide in conversations around race, and examines the gulf between professed ideology and personal action.


The Firestorm runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 3:00 PM from 10/24/15 through 11/29/15. Tickets are $20-30 and will be available through the Theater Wit box office either online at or by calling 773-975-8150. Press Opening is Friday, October 30 at 8:00 PM. Previews are Saturday, October 24 at 8:00pm; Sunday, October 25 at 7:00 PM; Wednesday, October 28 at 8 PM; and Thursday, October 29 at 8:00 PM. Preview tickets are $20. The Firestorm 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


Meridith Friedman (Playwright) 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, The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, and Florida Repertory Theater. 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 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.

Drew Martin (Director) has worked for over 25 years in Chicago theatre as a director, producer, finance manager, designer, technician and educator. He was Artistic Director of Stage Left in the 1990’s and Interim Co-Artistic Director 2008-9. Among the shows Drew directed, eleven were nominated by the Jeff Awards Committee and six honored with Jeff Awards, including a personal directing honor for Stage Left’s Leander Stillwell (which also won numerous awards for its Los Angeles remount) and nomination for Police Deaf Near Far. His passion for new work is reflected in World Premiere productions such as The Fisherman, The Day of Knowledge, One Fine DayPrairie LightsSing For Your SupperDapples and Grays and many workshop productions. Other directing work includes All’s Well That Ends Well, Julius CaesarOut Of Spite: Tales of Survival in SarajevoEscape From Happiness, and In White America (SLT); Taster’s Choice (Chicago Dramatists), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Talisman), and Twelfth Night (Northeastern). He has worked artistically with many Chicago theatres and also managed finances for several commercial and non-profit organizations. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and studied with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Drew produces and directs corporate shows nationwide through his company, Polaris Productions.

The cast features Stage Left Artistic Director Vance Smith (Patrick), Ensemble Member Melanie Derleth (Leslie), as well as guest artists Kanome Jones (Gabby) and David Lawrence Hamilton (Jamal).

The staff includes Stage Left Company Members Emmaline Keddy-Hector (Production Management), Joe Schermoly (Scenic Design), and Brenda Winstead (Costume Design), with guest artists Joe Court (Sound Design), Maya Michele Fein (Lighting Design), Adam Greye (Stage Management), Jasmine Jordan (Dramaturg), Mary O’Dowd (Properties Design), and Iris Sowlat (Assistant Director).


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. 


MuttThe Republican Party 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
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