Season 33

Stage Left Theatre Blog

We cordially invite you to Paint the Night with Stage Left Theatre at our 33rd annual benefit. Having called Lakeview home since our inception, we are proud to present the 3rd annual Hallie Flanagan Award to Maureen Martino of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce and Heather Way Kitzes of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce for their continued dedication to the Lakeview community and the development of the Belmont Theatre District. This event will be a celebration of our company as well as the Lakeview community. 

Featuring a musical performance by JC Brooks of JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound!

Come for the fun—silent auction, food, vendors from Lakeview stores and great music.  Do not miss this great opportunity to support the arts and a great community as well as get a jump start on your Christmas shopping!

Monday, December 8, 7-10pm
at Roscoe’s, 3356 N. Halsted 


Stage Left presents the 3rd annual Hallie Flanagan Award to:

Maureen Martino of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce &
Heather Way Kitzes of the  Lakeview Chamber of Commerce

for their efforts in the creation of the Belmont Theater District.

Heather Way Kitzes is the the Executive Director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce; a position she has held since 2002. Prior to the Lakeview Chamber, she was the director of administration for a mulit-unit restaurant group based in Lakeview. During that time, she discovered her passion for business and community development. Heather studied Journalism and Art History at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  She sits on  many boards including the Lakeview Pantry, Inter-American Magnate School’s LSC and Serve Illinois: Governor Quinn’s Commission on Volunteerism and Service. Her claim to fame: she is a direct descendant of Annie Edson Taylor, the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. 

Over the past twelve years, Maureen Martino has held the position of Executive Director for the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce and Special Service Area #8. Prior to her current position, she was employed fourteen years at the Chicago Tribune.Her passion for the arts inspired her to be the founder of the Lakeview East Festival of the Arts. Ms. Martino received her B.A.in Business Administration from Concordia University . She is an active member of the 44th Ward Community Development Council and served on the City of Chicago’s Community Development and Economics Advisory Council during Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and former Mayor Daley administration. Maureen is currently working on new public art programs and is an active partner in the Belmont Theater District.

The Belmont Theater District is a collaboration between the Lakeview and Lakeview East Chambers of Commerce, SSAs #8 & #27, 14 theaters and 20 other local businesses.  Our mission is to act as an advocate to create, promote and strengthen the diverse artistic offerings of the Lakeview neighborhood to its residents and visitors.

The Hallie Flanagan Award celebrates significant contributions to artwork that illuminates the social and political aspects of the human condition. Hallie Flanagan (1890-1969) was an American theatrical producer and director, playwright, and author. She is best known as director of the Federal Theatre Project, a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Depression.

Adventurous auction and vendor items!

Get a jump on your Christmas shopping with great deals on many exciting items available in our silent auction and from in-house vendors. Here are just a few of our favorites:

  • Enjoy a private sailing party for 6-8 people aboard the renowned racing boat Painkiller 4. 
  • Treat yourself and up to 8 guests to an after-hours private party at your local Benefit Cosmetics Boutique. Wine and light appetizers will be served while beauty artists doll you up.
  • Explore the latest vegan beauty products with a three month subscription to Petit Vour’s montly curated box delivered right to your door.
  • Glass Can Dance will offer one of a kind stained and fused glass pieces. 
  • Steve Connell’s Chicago Night Paintings Series honors Chicago in all its after-dark glory. 
  • See a holiday ornament making exhibition from B&L Gallery.
  • Experience the thrill of freefall skydiving and and the serenity of parachute flight with a tandem jump from Skydive Milwaukee.

Plus a wide assortment of theater tickets, culinary experiences, bowling, dance lessons, music and more!

Can’t make it?  Enter our 50/50 raffle!

You do not have to be present to win in our 50/50 raffle! Half goes to us and the other half goes to the lucky winner! We have never done this before, so we would be taking a wild guess to say how much the top prize will be, but we are shooting for $500 each (fingers crossed)! Tickets are $5 for 1, $10 for 3, or $21 for 7. Purchase online and we will fill out a ticket for each of your entries and put it in the bowl! We will have your contact info from the order from in case you win! 

 

The BottleTree

Join us for free reading of

The Bottle Tree  
by Beth Kander
directed by Amy Szerlong
dramaturgy by Annaliese McSweeney

Tuesday, November 18th @ 7:30pm
Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont

currently being work-shopped through one of our Downstage Left Residencies.

Years after a tragic school shooting, the small town of Maple, Mississippi, is still traumatized– no one more so than Alley, the sister of the shooter.  Young love, old guilt, laughter, and lingering scars all keep the girl, the town, and Alley’s “bottle tree” on the verge of shattering.

Featuring: Melissa Cline, Derek Czaplewski, Danny Dauphin, Joan Merlo, Meredith Montgomery, Melissa Reeves, Abbas Salem

Belarusian Dream Theater

Belarusian Dream Theater aims to increase awareness about contemporary Belarus through culture, storytelling, and theater. Led by Ensemble Free Theater Norway, the Belarusian Dream Theater consists of new works by international playwrights about Belarus to be presented simultaneously by partner – theaters in Europe, the United States, and Australia on 25 March 2014 – Belarusian Freedom Day.

Stage Left will premiere four short plays to represent Chicago in this international theater action supporting freedom of expression in Belarus. We hope you will join us!

“NO ONE GIVES A CLAP,” by Jake Rosenberg (directed by Amy Szerlong).

“ALENA’S BOY,” by Anna J. Rogers (directed by Amy Szerlong).

“UNDER PROTEST,” by David L. Williams (directed by Michael Manocchio).

“SEE HIM?,” by Jacon Juntunen (directed by Kate Leslie).

Running time: about one hour
@ Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont
Tuesday, March 25th @ 7:30pm
Admission is FREE! 

The Comparables

Join us for a free reading of 

The Comparables
by Laura Schellhardt
directed by Devon DeMayo

Monday, November 11th @ 7:30pm
Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont 

featuring Lucy Carapetyan, Kimberly Logan and Mary Poole 

currently being work-shopped through one of our Downstage Left Residencies.

Three women vie for power in the cut-throat world of high-end real estate. Bette runs her own female-dominated agency. Monica is her loyal second-in-command. Iris is the savvy new hire. When Bette’s reputation falls under attack, the future of the agency is at stake. Who, if anyone, will survive the ordeal, and to what lengths will they go to ensure success?  A dark comedy that begs the question: for women in the competitive world — is there more than one way to do business?

Behind the Curtain

Our 2013 Benefit!

Before a play ever gets to the stage, actors, designers, directors, dramaturgs, and other artists put in hours of effort creating the look and feel of the show. Have you ever wanted to know how that work gets done? What the steps that lead to a full show look like? What a dramaturg is?

Or do you just want to have a good time with the people who do this work?

Then, come join us Behind the Curtain for drinks, delicious food, a silent auction, and a look at the research, designs, and other parts of the process that creates the shows we put on.

Featuring sneak previews of Stage Left Theatre’s upcoming shows: A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and Principal Principle.

Friday, November 15, 2013
7pm – 10pm
at the Jackson Junge Gallery 
1389 N. Milwaukee Ave.              

Buy Tickets

 

 
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Also at this event, Stage Left will present the 2nd annual Hallie Flanagan Award to 

Matthew Groch and Kevin Phillippi

Matt joined Stage Left’s board in 2006 , became Treasurer in 2008 and President in 2009 when he brought Kevin in as Treasurer.  What followed was a period of intense transition for Stage Left, including turnover of much of the ensemble, both the Managing and Artistic Directors, and a move from the company’s home of 15 years. Matt and Kevin were instrumental in navigating the transition to our current home as a resident at Theater Wit and in restructuring the company to meet new challenges in this situation.  Their considerable contributions were invaluable to the continued success of Stage Left.  

 

The Hallie Flanagan Award celebrates significant contributions to artwork that illuminates the social and political aspects of the human condition. Hallie Flanagan (1890-1969) was an American theatrical producer and director, playwright, and author. She is best known as director of the Federal Theatre Project, a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Depression. 

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Behind the Curtain save the dateHelp us celebrate our 32nd season!

Please join Stage Left Theatre for a fun night of food, drinks, a silent auction, and great company!  Hope you can make it!

When: Friday, November 15, 2013
Where: Jackson Junge Gallery
1389 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Time: 7:00 pm

RABBIT — The Wet Run

Most of of Rabbit takes place in a bar. And the characters are drinking.  A lot.  Shortly before we moved out of the rehearsal room and into Theater Wit, director Elly Green suggested that the actors try to run the show with real booze instead of water.  Here is what she had to say about it:

Rehearsals and drinking: do the first before the second, as a general rule.

And when it comes to ‘drunk acting’, I’m pretty hard line about it. Don’t. Just don’t.

So when the characters in the play are consuming large amounts of alcohol, how do you help to take this into account in the playing of it? I have told the cast of Rabbit several times during our rehearsal process to trust Raine’s writing. The effects of alcohol consumption are absolutely in the text, both in terms of content and tone. It’s written beautifully to capture the giddiness, belligerence and emotional instability of increasing drunkenness. And I still hold to that. So when I suggested a ‘wet run’ it was more to give them an opportunity to ‘feel’ the play out this way, than for me as a director. However, discoveries were made, and now I’m certainly a convert.

One of the actors afterwards remarked on the ‘volatility’ that actual intoxication induced, and from the outside, I was amazed at how many brave and new decisions were made, and how much freedom the actors seemed to gain. Obviously, we are not talking about a line perfect run, but the messiness and unpredictability was useful. Emboldened with a couple glasses of wine (not to mention the tequila shots) they were playing their actions and the stakes with both intensity and abandon. And the result was dynamic, immediate and often upsetting. As an audience member, I’ve rarely felt so much ‘in the room’ with the characters with the sense that ‘anything might happen’.

I also enjoy crying with laughter. It’s a cheap form of therapy. 

–Elly Green, director of Rabbit

Dennis William Grimes, who plays Richard in Rabbit, offers a perspective from inside of the “wet run”

It isn’t often that you find yourself writing about a specific rehearsal, but then again, one isn’t always trying to drink alcohol at pace with one’s character. When discussing our “wet-run” with people outside of our production I have met both curiosity and derision — couldn’t we just use our imaginations, isn’t it a little childish, dangerous even? Honestly though, I am compelled not to write about an experience of rehearsing a play while becoming inebriated, but rather about finding out what happens when things get messy and unpredictable. What happens when a group of people, who trust each other enough to try an experiment, fight through the giggles, drive through the slip ups, and find something productive in play.

It isn’t always easy to walk into a rehearsal with abandon. Habituation and safety often keep us from trying to follow an impulse or destroy what has come before, because we cling to ideas like “this isn’t right”, “what is the right thing to do?”, “I want to do what feels right for this character, moment, etc.” As people (and I make a gross sweeping generalization here) we like the feeling of safety that comes with certainty. As performing artists we are taught and witness the power of that knife’s edge of uncertainty, where expectations are set up and destroyed, leaving mystery and wonder in the wake.  How we get there while executing the same actions and path every night is a wonder in its own right.  So we throw things at the wall, play around and see what comes out on the other side.

A little before we moved out of the rehearsal hall and before we moved into tech, our director opened up to us an opportunity to drink as our characters do in the play, both as something fun to do in creating our company history, and as a way to see what things might come out of such an experiment. What came out of this experiment has still left me wondering. This was not a rehearsal where everyone was dropped in, we had plenty of times where the laughter of watching one or more of our partners lose it, ground the progress of the play to a halt, but there were powerful moments where impulses were followed and things touched more personally than they might have otherwise.

This is not advocacy for using chemicals to unlock one’s artistry, but if you can be on both sides — being in the event and attempting to see it for what it is — something telling about the messy and ugly emerges. Our cast is a group of very nice people.  We are kind and, as Elly likes to point out, happily “round the edges”, because naturally being cruel, or ugly, or downright mean, is something that we are encouraged not to do in our society and art form. This run gave us a little license to go to the sharper places, the messier places of  “I’m not going to be where you expect me to be”, and “I can’t and won’t react-the way you expect me to react,” because I am not thinking about it in those seconds beforehand. I’m making it up and mostly failing, but with smiles and laughter of all of the people around us. We became emphatic and uncaring, focused and distracted, listened with great intention and broken out of the play, but mostly lost in the fun of playing with each other. Most of what came out is unusable, but some of it was gold, that shifted our story and storytelling to a place at which it might not have arrived.

We all have the ability to play with this abandon without the booze and often do.  That night, we became adults with childlike eyes again, giving ourselves permission to always play the carefree and seek out that which is messy and unknown. Choosing to be “wet” allowed us to all fall down, fail, find the surprise, the wonder, seeing the joy and pain it could bring to us to be ugly and let it all hang out.

–Dennis William Grimes, Richard in Rabbit

 

Sometimes It’s Nice to Be Wrong

I was thrilled when I got a mid-winter phone call from Vance Smith, letting my know that my play, Agreed Upon Fictions, had been selected to be part of Stage Left’s 2012 LeapFest. Prior to its submission, the play had sat untouched for about a year—it was, at 109 pages, finished, but what to do with it?

The play’s director, Megan, asked me, at our first meeting, what elements would be most important to me as we prepared for the workshop. “It’s really pretty much finished,” I told her. “I anticipate rewording some things, cutting or adding a line or two, little things. But I’m happy with it. The most important thing to me will be to have actors who are extremely comfortable with the words. It’s very close to finished,” I reiterated. She let me think I was right.

My first inkling that I was wrong came over the course of our two-day audition process. Actors came in who had prepared—they knew what they were reading. As the hours passed, one scene in particular got worse and worse—not the performances, the pages. As I listened to them over and over, performed by people who had spent time trying to connect the emotional dots, it became quite clear that the connections weren’t there. I hadn’t built the road I thought I had, and it took me multiple hearings to recognize it. Returning home after auditions were over, I emailed Megan: Make no copies. Print nothing. I have to fix that scene.

Thus began the three-month process of questioning, wondering, listening, and trusting. Rehearsal revealed to me how much can be cut when one is blessed with focused, thoughtful actors and a dedicated director. Turns out you don’t need to say something twice for the audience to pick it up. You might not even need to say it once.

Megan is fiercely intelligent and very intuitive, and she has a sweet-faced way of letting you think your work is done, all the while plotting a way to get you to see that it’s not. Our working draft was 109 pages and the play now stands at 94. Here’s the thing: We added two scenes. Factoring in the roughly 6 new pages of writing, I cut 21 pages. The play is tighter, more intense and more gripping than I ever could have made it on my own. Stage Left loves writers, and they work to surround us with actors and staff who will serve the pages. I thought up a story, and I wrote it down. Megan, Katie, Laura, Ed, Lindsey, Malcolm, Howard, Kyle and I got together and made a play.

-Shayne Kennedy, author of Agreed Upon Fictions, which was part of LeapFest 9

A free reading of The Liar Paradox

Get an early glance at a script being developed though our Downstage Left Residency program and become an integral part of the process!

The Liar Paradox

by Kristin Idaszak

directed by Jason Fleece

Wednesday, December 19th @ 8pm

Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont

On New Year’s Eve, a catastrophic car accident leaves Marissa’s twin sister in a coma and her best friend dead. In the wake of this personal tragedy, all three of the young women’s secrets start to come to light, calling into question their identities in a multitude of ways.

We’ve Got Issues: A 30th Birthday Benefit Bash

Founded in 1982, Stage Left Theatre celebrates it’s 30th birthday this year! But if we told you we were 23, you’d still believe it right?

Come join us for drinks, delicious food, laughs, cake, silent auction and a Stage-Left-style look at the last 30 years…in 30 minutes!!

Featuring the unique stylings of Will Clinger, Randall Colburn, Will Dunne, Dana Formby, Andrew Hinderaker, Barb Lhota, Susan Lieberman, Melissa Lindberg, Jake Lundquist, Mia McCullough, Jayme McGhan, Christian Murphy, David Rush, Scott Woldman, and other artists!

 

Friday, November 16, 2012

7pm – 10pm

at the Jackson Junge Gallery

1389 North Milwaukee Avenue

Chicago, IL 60622

click here for map

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Also, at this event, Stage Left will present The Hallie Flanagan Award to

Alice O. Martin (PhD, JD) and Ted Jones

The Hallie Flanagan Award celebrates significant contributions to artwork that illuminates the social and political aspects of the human condition. Hallie Flanagan (1890-1969) was an American theatrical producer and director, playwright, and author. She is best known as director of the Federal Theatre Project, a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Depression. 2012 represents the inaugural presentation of what we conceive to be an annual award.

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Benefit committee:

Leigh Barrett, Scott Bishop, Kate Black-Spence, Jason Fleece, Alex Fliess, Lynne Foster, Marguerite Hammersley, Lisa Herceg, Katie Horwitz, Latoya James, John Kohn III, Cory Krebsbach, Tara Malpass, Drew Martin, Mia McCullough, Brian Plocharcyzk, Jack Tippett, Elizabeth Walker, Greg Werstler, and Scott Woldman

Behind the Camera in IMPENETRABLE

Working on this play has been an incredible blessing, and an amazing journey. As an actor, I sometimes have trouble finding a way to latch on to a character, to get to know them, in order to present their life on stage. That has not been a problem while working on Impenetrable. One amazing aspect of the show is that each and every one of us can find ways to relate to each and every one of the characters, and that we have all faced the same issues that are presented in the play. For me, this was especially true of my own character, Pete. Pete is lovingly described as a doofy, self-deprecating, white guy photographer who has a plethora of self-confidence issues. I happen to be a doofy, self-deprecating, white guy photographer who has a plethora of self-confidence issues as well. From the first moment I read this script, I knew that I had to play Pete.

I was thrilled with the idea of having to present a character so close to myself on stage with a work as brilliantly written as Impenetrable. But another, seemingly more subtle, aspect of the show has helped me find a way to understand it even better. The script calls for multiple scenes where Pete is actively working as a photographer on stage.  I started using my camera very early in the process, and quickly fell in love with any of the scenes where the photography took place, most notably the photoshoot. It was yet another hook for me to grab on to while grappling with the issues presented in the show. As you can imagine, throughout the rehearsal process, I have amassed an incredible amount of pictures. I do not know the exact number, but at the time of writing this, I have taken over 2000 pictures. Some are great gems, while most are utter rubbish.

This parallels my own photography style, and has in some way been very helpful in my growth as a person. I take, on average, about ten very shitty pictures for every ok one, and about ten ok ones for every good one, and so on and so on. It has definitely become a labor of love for me. The more used to this process I have become, the more comfortable I have gotten in my own life with the fact not everything is going to turn out perfect. You learn to accept when things are bad, and cherish the good that comes along when it does. I think that this is a huge lesson that each character in the show wrestles with, and at times they all find various levels of understanding and acceptance of its nature. Even now, I wish some of what I have written was more eloquent, and groundbreaking, but I know that it will serve its purpose, and that just writing it has helped me in some way.

-Kyle Johnson, Pete in Impenetrable

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