Season 34

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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



A Downstage Left Festival of New Work

June 25 -July 31, 2016

Chicago, June 2, 2016 – Stage Left Theatre is proud to present LeapFest XIII, Stage Left’s annual new-play festival, running June 25 – July 31, 2016.  LeapFest features several new plays with socio-political themes, presented as workshop productions in rotating repertory. This year’s festival includes new works from Mrinalini Kamath, Shayne Kennedy, Andrew Kramer, and Aline Lathrop

The festival’s name stems from the Downstage Left logo, which features a frog about to “take the leap.”  This event is designed to help playwrights and their plays bridge the gap between development and full production. To further this objective, the festival features an extensive rehearsal process for each play, multiple workshop performances before the public, and post-show audience discussions after each performance. In addition to our general audiences, regional theater producers and artistic directors are invited to attend the festival in order to get an advance look at some of the best new plays in the country.

For the first time this year, Stage Left is partnering with Chicago Park District to present the first week of LeapFest as free readings in four different park buildings across the city. This initiative promises to invite new audiences into the development process

The LeapFest XIII Plays

… And Eat It Too
by Aline Lathrop ♦ directed by Anish Jethmalani
Sheila and Jasmine are two young scientists who make opposite choices when they become mothers. But each must face new challenges to her marriage and to her sense of worth, as she tries to find her own way in this world of antiquated maternal expectations and modern opportunities that come with a price.

by Shayne Kennedy ♦ directed by Amy Szerlong
It’s hard for a mother to watch her daughter struggle. When teenage Penny enters residential care to treat an emotional disorder, her mother Melanie finds that giving her daughter a new, healthier identity is just a few keystrokes and clicks away. When Penny comes home and discovers a glossy version of herself alive and roaming around the digital world—that’s when the struggles start.

The New Deal
by Mrinalini Kamath ♦ directed by Elly Green
Inmate 2 didn’t mean to kill anyone. He’s just a white collar thief, after all, but he panicked, and he’s not a murderer. He’s a survivor, which is why he chooses what the government is calling The New Deal. The New Deal explores a time in the not-too-distant future where prison corporations and pharmaceutical companies form a dangerous collaboration.

St. Sebastian
by Andrew Kramer ♦ directed by Lauren Shouse
Ben and Gideon are a white couple who buy an old repo house in a historically black neighborhood, in hopes of flipping it for a profit. When Ben hires Rueben, a young black boy, to do the yard work, Gideon becomes alarmed by the racial and sexual implications that accompany this seemingly well-intentioned action.

The LeapFest XII Playwrights

A graduate of the Writing Seminars program at The Johns Hopkins University and the MFA program in playwriting at the New School for Drama, Mrinalini Kamath‘s plays have been performed around the country as well as the UK, India, and Australia. Several of her one-act plays are featured in various Smith and Kraus play anthologies. Her play Celestial Motions won the East West Players “Got Laughs?” comedy play contest, and was later translated into Marathi and performed in India.  A finalist for the Ingram New Works Lab at Nashville Rep, she has also been a semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Award as well as the O’Neill Theater Conference for her play The Nava Jeevan.  A Tennessee Williams scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference, as well as the recipient of the Fluid Motion Theatre and Film’s inaugural “Start the Story,” fellowship, Mrinalini is an alumna of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s emerging playwrights group Youngblood, and is currently a member of the Ma-Yi Theater Writers Lab and the Mission to (dit)Mars Propulsion Lab for Queens, NY-based playwrights.

Shayne Kennedy is a Chicago playwright. Her play, Agreed Upon Fictions was developed through Stage Left’s Leapfest IX in the spring of 2012 and went on to be produced in the fall of 2014 at Chicago’s 16th Street Theater where she was Playwright-in-Residence. Her plays Plans to Form a Human Chain Faltered and The Unexpected were produced by The Shelterbelt Theatre in Omaha and her St. Jude and the Hopeless Cause was produced at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Shayne’s first produced play, Christmas Cookies was part of the inaugural Great Plains Theatre Conference and went on to be produced by Angels Theatre Company in Lincoln, Nebraska. Shayne is a member of the a.s.k./tell playwrights collective and a member of Dramatists’ Guild. She is an Audio Describer for the blind and has described at Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and The Merle Reskin, among other theaters. Shayne sings in two bands, The Kennedy Compound, and its smaller spinoff, The Compound Fracture. She lives in Oak Lawn with her husband and three children.

Andrew Kramer was born and raised in Cleveland and is a 2010 graduate of Ball State University’s Department of Theatre & Dance. He was a 2014 Nord Playwriting Fellow at Cleveland Public Theatre, where he has developed his plays: ARMATURECrying for Lions, and Bridge. He was a 2013 member of the Emerging Writer’s Group at The Public Theatre in New York as well as a former member of the Groundbreakers Playwrights’ Group with the terraNOVA Theatre Collective where he developed his play Whales & Souls. Andrew was a finalist for the 2050 Fellowship at New York Theatre Workshop, a former Core Apprentice Writer at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, as well as a two-time semi-finalist in the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Play Festival with his plays A Map of Our Country (2010) and We Happy Animals (2011). Andrew has also served as Playwright‐in‐Residence at the Cairns Arts Festival in Queensland, Australia and his play The Dog(run) Diaries was shortlisted for the 2012 US/UK Old Vic New Voices. He is currently working on Skin & Bones, a new American musical with composer Ben Clark. Andrew is a two-time member of the Ingram New Works Lab at Nashville Repertory Theatre where he was mentored by playwright Steven Dietz and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright. His work has been seen in Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago, Brooklyn, Lincoln, Louisville, Nashville, Houston, Williamsburg VA, New York, Sacramento, Cairns Australia and Bucharest Romania.

Aline Lathrop’s plays have been produced or developed at numerous theaters in Chicago and across the country. Her play, Merchild, received its Jeff-recommended world premiere at 16th Street Theater where she was the Playwright in Residence of 2015. “Christmas at the Staples Center” was commissioned by Step Up Productions and produced as part of their Holidaze show last season. …And Eat It Too was performed last summer as part of the Dionysos Cup with Polarity Ensemble Theatre. Bordello (a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize nominee), received its world premiere at Chicago Dramatists, as did Feast (one of the “Top 5 Best New Plays,” New City Magazine; First Prize, New Plays Festival, Centre Stage – South Carolina). “Toyota Tercel” and “Purity Ball” received workshop productions with Artistic Home’s Cut to the Chase Series. A Piece of Bone received its Jeff-recommended world premiere at Circle Theatre of Forest Park. Ms. Lathrop has also developed plays at Abingdon Theatre Company, American Theatre Company, Boarshead Theatre, Centre Stage-South Carolina, the Chicago Cultural Center, Columbia College, Famous Door Theatre Company, Northwestern University, Stage Left Theatre Company, Ten Grand Productions, and Theatre Seven. Her work has been published by Smith & Krauss. She is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council fellowship and a Dr. Donahue Tremaine grant. The playwright is a graduate of the Northwestern University Theatre Department, a member of the Dramatists Guild, and a Chicago Dramatists Resident Playwright. She resides in Chicago with her husband and their two young daughters.

Chicago Park District Readings

In cooperation with the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks program, we are proud to offer the first week of LeapFest as free readings in park buildings across the city. These are simple music stand readings followed by discussions and will not have technical elements associated with the other festival performances. No reservations are required. The schedule for these readings is:

Saturday, June 25th at 1pm — …And Eat It Too at Lincoln Park Cultural Center
Sunday, June 26 at 1pm — St. Sebastian at Washington Park
Tuesday, June 28 at 7pm — Handled at Jefferson Park
Wednesday, June 29 at 6:30pm — The New Deal at Eckhart Park

LeapFest XIII is presented as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series, supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Arts programming in neighborhoods across the city advances the goals of the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Cultural Plan. Now in its fourth year, the 2016 Night Out in the Parks series will host over 1,000 cultural events and programs at more than 250 neighborhood parks throughout the city, making community parks a safe haven and hubs of activity. Projects will vary from traditional performances and concerts, to movies, peace rallies, community workshops, nature based programs, dance pieces, festivals, and more. The Chicago Park District has partnered with more than 120 arts and community organizations to expand and produce this successful initiative.

Performances at Theater Wit

The remainder of LeapFest XIlI will be performed at Theater Wit at 1229 W Belmont in Chicago. A detailed performance schedules is provided below. The theater is handicapped and CTA accessible via the Belmont El (Red & Brown). These workshop performances will feature basic technical elements and will be followed by a discussion with the director and playwright.

…And Eat It Too: Saturday, July 16th @ 2pm, Wednesday, July 20th @ 7:30pm
Handled: Tuesday, July 19th @ 7:30pm, Sunday, July 24th @ 7pm
The New Deal: Monday, July 25th @ 7:30pm, Saturday, July 30 @ 2pm
St. Sebastian: Saturday, July 23rd @ 2pm, Sunday, July 31 @ 7pm

Tickets and information for all events are available by calling 773-975-8150 r online at Single tickets for LeapFest performances are $11 each. Patrons can save by purchasing a LeapPASS for $22.  The LeapPASS entitles the bearer to full access to all four LeapFest shows.

While the workshop productions and plays are still in development and therefore not open for critical review, press coverage of this unique festival program and its significant history of success in refining, showcasing and placing new plays is welcome. Please contact Vance Smith at 773.883.8830 (office) or to arrange interviews and receive additional background material. This release and archived releases will be available at


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 Downstage Left, one of Chicago’s most prolific new play development programs, Stage Left strives to bring high-quality new work and world premieres to the Chicago stage.


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