Here's the line-up for the second show of 50 Plays...
Breakfast with Burt and Birdie – director Rebekah Walendzak - cast: Michael Gellman, Deborah Ann Smith, Noah Ginex
Bounders – director Nathan Robbel - cast: Danielle Gennaoui, Colby Sellers, Jøel Vining
Grandpapa’s Keys – director Michael Gellman - cast: Rebekah Walendzak, Kimmie Companik-Warner
Mango Mouth – director Emily Darlington Cooke - cast: Jon Beal, Steve Casillas, Maggie O'Keefe
Salmon Falls – director Dawn Renee Jones - cast: Kayla Graham, Alex Farrington, Will Casey
Rebekah Walendzak directed Joe Janes' Dried and Cured Meats in last year's 365 Sketches and is proud to return to direct Breakfast with Burt & Birdie. A faculty member at The Second City Training Center, Rebekah is an actor, writer, director with a B.A. in Theatre Arts from San Jose State University. She is a proud ensemble member of the Process Theatre Group and co-founder of Bare Boned Theatre. Thanks to her gentleman friend for everything.
Nathan Robbel is a founder and co-artistic director of the Right Brain Project. For the RBP, Nathan has directed My Filthy Hunt, Hesperia, Pretty Penny, And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers, Franz Kafka's The Castle, and The Empire Builders, among others. He has also had the pleasure of directing for the side project, the Bailiwick, Chicago Sable Ensemble, Dream Theatre Company, and New World Center for the Arts. Much love to Emma!
Michael Gellman was a Resident Company member of The Second City Chicago for three years and he has directed at The Second City since 1980. He was nominated for Outstanding Director for the national Dora Mavor Moore Award in Canada and the Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago, and he won the Detroit Free Press Award for Best Comedy. Michael served as Artistic Director of Chicago Theatre Works and Wavelength and as an Artistic Associate of Organic Theater. In addition to The Second City Training Center, Michael has taught at Columbia College, Northern Illinois University and Artistic New Directions.
Emily Darlington Cooke graduated in May with an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in theatre directing and psychology from Columbia College Chicago; directing credits include Sheila Callaghan’s Dead City, John Patrick Shanley’s Dirty Story, and a site-specific piece for Manifest. She will spend her summer basking in Suzanne Thompson’s glow as the Feldenkrais T.A. at the School at Steppenwolf, directing a stage reading of Joel Rich’s Proustian Trilogy at the Newberry Library, and fooling around at Stage 773.
Dawn Renee Jones began her career as a director in 1983 in Minneapolis at At The Foot of the Mountain Theatre. Since then she has directed for many Minneapolis/St. Paul theatres including Actors Theatre of St Paul, Penumbra, Women’s Theatre Project, and Starting Gate. She is the founder and former Artistic Director of Alchemy Theater in Minneapolis. Jones is currently Assistant to the Theatre Department Chair at Columbia College Chicago.
My Notes On This Show
This show has four plays written for 50 Plays and one piece that premiered at the last Columbia College 24-Hour New Plays Festival I participated in. What's most exciting to me about this set is the participation of mentor and friend Michael Gellman not only as a director, but also as a performer in a piece with his wife, Deborah. Michael and I both love Old Time Radio, which is the style with which his piece is written. Gellman even worked for CBS radio as a writer and performer in the last days of their producing original radio dramas. Nathan Robbel is directing Bounders, the - perhaps - hallucinogenic adventure of a slacker inspired by The Men Who Stared At Goats and the for reals psychopath test. I love Nathan's work with The Right Brain Project and look forward to seeing what he and his cast will do with this play. Grandpapa's Keys was inspired by an incident that really happened to a friend of mine where she found a set of keys that should not have been where they were, several states away from where they belonged. It is also a nod to the ladies of Gray Gardens and you get to see Kimmie on a pair of roller skates! Mango Mouth was the first piece I wrote for 50 Plays where I went for full on absurdism. It's a great cast and the director is a little touched, but in a good way. Salmon Falls is my dip into 1950s Men-In-Black at a remote outpost in northern California in the winter. The original director and lead actress reprise their roles. It's worth coming to see this just to see and hear Kayla play the cello.
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