Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Big Post About Stage Left

So as most of you really should know by now, I'm an ensemble member of Stage Left Theatre here in Chicago. My particular focus is on dramaturgy and literary work, and I've been working as a Literary Associate for several months to help in the office. Well, to reflect the amount of work I've been doing and allow me to pursue some of my ideas, I've officially been named Co-Literary Manager, along with Kevin Heckman, who has been Literary Manager. He's also brilliant and insanely knowledgeable about how to find and cultivate new scripts, so it's also awesome on the job training.

The two of us working together will be able to wrestle the giant piles of scripts down to manageable size, not to mention getting scripts read and responded to with a briefer lag time. We'll also be more selective about the scripts we call in, so that everyone's limited time is used as well as possible. We're also going to be more proactive about going after the great scripts that are out there and developing the ones that interest us, not to mention creating and maintaining relationships with playwrights worth knowing in Chicago and outside.

I'm incredibly excited to be working with Kevin and Artistic Director Vance Smith on this wonderful work, and personally thrilled that I actually get to put this title after my name. I can't wait.


And now for the part plugging the whole theatre, not just me:

Tomorrow night sees the opening of LeapFest 7, Stage Left's annual festival of workshops of brand new scripts. This year has a really wonderful lineup of plays, and I can't wait to see them all. I recommend you get to as many as possible, but I have to put in a particular plug for The Face of a Ruined Woman by Mia McCullough. She's a brilliant writer, and an emeritus ensemble member at Stage Left, and she's written a play that really stretches her and the audience, exploring the relationship women have with their bodies in a way that's smart, moving, and very funny. Also, I'm performing in it--my first acting gig in 18 months--and I'm unbelievably proud that this is my return to performing. There are performances this Friday, 6/18, at 7:30, next Sunday, 6/27, at 7:30, and Saturday, 7/3, at 2:00 PM.  Make sure to get tickets (only $12!) or Leap Passes, letting you into all five shows as many times as you like (only $25!) soon: performances frequently do sell out. Here's the official press release:

LeapFest is an annual series of emerging plays with socio-political themes, presented as workshop productions in rotating repertory. The festival is the culmination of Downstage Left, a multi-tiered development program with the goal to cultivate and support new and emerging voices and inspire playwrights to address the political and social issues of our day. Join us again this year to see what's next in Chicago theatre!

All performances are at Stage Left Theatre, 3408 North Sheffield Avenue in Chicago. Single tickets are $12. A LeapPass, allowing entry to all five show, is $25. For tickets, call 773-883-8830 or visit


by Scott Woldman
directed by Drew Martin*
assistant directed by Jake Lindquist
starring Kate Black*, Cat Dean*, Ian Maxwell*, Morgan McCabe, and Kelsey McClarnon
Saturday, 6/19 @7:30pm
Sunday, 6/27 @ 2:00pm
Thursday, 7/1 @ 7:30pm
What do you do when your nerdy best friend wants benefits and more, your grandma intends to party until she drops (literally), and your mom is determined to see you succeed even if it kills you? Poignant, disturbing and shockingly funny, BEATEN tells the story of a young woman’s efforts to survive the best intentions of a family who has gone off the rails.

by Mia McCullough †
directed by Greg Werstler*
assistant directed by Gretchen Wright
starring Emi Clark, Melanie Derleth*, Kamal Hans, Jenn Pompa, Allison Torf, and Zev Valancy*
Friday, 6/18 @ 7:30pm
Sunday, 6/27 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, 7/3 @ 2:00pm
In well-to-do Northshore suburb, a local spa causes controversy with a billboard ad featuring a picture of a gorgeous woman in a bikini, superimposed with arrows suggesting how she could be cosmetically enhanced. Some of the key players discuss their involvement in the image being protested, vandalized and ultimately taken down.

by Dan Aibel
directed by Jason Fleece*
assistant directed by Lorenzo Blackett
starring Melissa DiLeonardo, Sandy Elias, Gabe Estrada, and Mark Pracht*
Sunday, 6/20 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, 6/26 @ 7:30pm
Wednesday, 6/30 @ 7:30pm
As their family business hits a dry spell, a father and son receive an intriguing offer that forces them to grapple with globalization and each other.

by Jayme McGhan
directed by Artistic Director Vance Smith
assistant directed by Katie Horwitz
starring Christopher Marcum, Tim Musachi, Brian Plocharczyk*, Rinska Michelle Prestinary, and Margaret Scott.
Sunday, 6/20 @ 2:00pm
Friday, 6/25 @ 7:30pm
Friday, 7/2 @ 7:30pm
A union organizer attempts to recruit a gang of truckers and their notorious leader in the Utah Desert. Mother Bear is a hard-hitting, plot-twisting, pedal-to-the-floor haul down the darkest parts of America's highways.

by Steve Spencer
directed by Rachel Edwards Harvith
assistant directed by Rachael A. Schaefer
starring Justin Cagney, Tom Lally, John Luzar, Eric Smies, and Helen Young
Thursday, 6/17 @ 7:30pm
Thursday, 6/24 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, 7/3 @ 7:30pm
Some people get to limp through life. No amount of therapy or Paxil can reach them. If you're one of these unlucky souls, sometimes you just have to kill somebody.

Production Staff:
Production Manager -- Caitlin Parrish
Production Stage Manager -- Christopher Thompson*
Set and Props Designer -- Heather Ho
Lighting Designer -- John Kohn III*
Costume Designer -- Erin Gallagher
Sound Designer -- Justin Glombicki
Fight Choreographer: Brian Plocharczyk*

* Stage Left Ensemble Member
†Stage Left Emeritus Ensemble Member


And finally, as announced on our website, we have chosen our 29th season, the first in our beautiful new home at Theatre Wit, 1229 West Belmont in Chicago. You can read the official press release there, but here's my take on why you really want to subscribe.

Running from October 19-November 21 of this year is Kingsville by Andrew Hinderaker, whose play Suicide Incorporated just opened to great acclaim at the Gift Theatre, and directed by Artistic Director Vance Smith. It starts from the terrifying premise of a United States that, in the wake of a string of school shootings, passed a constitutional amendment allowing children to carry guns. But it's hardly a simple anti-gun tract: it searches deep into questions of what manliness, strength and morality are, and doesn't give any easy answers, all while being a superbly told story that will put a knot in your stomach and send a shiver down your spine. I couldn't be prouder to be the dramaturg.

Our spring show, running March 1-April 3 of 2011 is Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, adapted by Arthur Miller, and directed by ensemble member Jason Fleece. It's a classic play, something we haven't done since 2002, and we are thrilled to expand our mission to allow in older scripts that still speak to contemporary audiences. And this one is just smashing. Miller respects Ibsen's brilliant play while making the stakes and motivations crystal clear for a contemporary audience. It's a big show, with a large cast of vibrant characters (many of whom will be played by our fabulous ensemble members), and a gripping story. It's going to be awesome--and I'm again thrilled to be dramaturging it.

June will see LeapFest 8. Of course we have no idea what the plays will be yet, but work on finding and selecting them will probably start shortly after LeapFest 7 ends. And it will be wonderful.

Don't you want to come see our bold jump into the future? It will be thrilling, I assure you!


And after all that, don't you want a chance to support Stage Left, without any cost to yourself? Just log into facebook, become a fan of Chase Community Giving, and vote for Stage Left to get $20,000 in funding from Chase Bank. You can click here to be taken directly to our page. And if you're with a group that is also involved, post on our wall that you support us and we'll make sure to visit and support you as well! Thanks in advance for your help, and I can't wait to see you at Stage Left!


Monica Reida said...

Congratulations on being the Co-Literary Manager! And break a leg with the first night of LeapFest

Mr. K said...

Congratulations, Zev!

And I second you on seeing Mia's play. She really is a very talented writer with a rigorous intellect & a dark sense of humor. There's no way this play will be didactic or preachy.