Thursday, June 9, 2011

50 Plays - June 18, 2011 8:00pm

Here's the line-up for Saturday, June 18 at 8pm...

June 18 - 8pm

Butterfly Collector – director Ben Harpe - cast: Melissa Fricke, Zach Zimmerman

To Be Written – director Jason Fleece - cast: ooooh, mystery cast!

A Love That Lasts Forever – director Jen Ellison - cast: Patrick Brennan, Mary Jo Bolduc, Dave Stinton, Kevin Gladish

A Place Where Two Rivers Meet – director Jake Schneider - cast:
Ray Mees, Colleen Breen, Aaron Caponigro, Aaron Alonzo, Justin Howard

Summer Kisses, Winter Tears – director John Hildreth - cast: Mary Jo Bolduc, John Mobley, Erin Kathryn Morrill, Janna Sobel, C.J. Tuor, Rudy Voit. Stage Combat by R & D Choreography. Fight Captain: John Mobley. Special Thanks to Columbia College.

The Directors

Ben Harpe. Recent directing credits include the sketch revue An Overhead Project and the one-man show Just Kidding, which was a featured production at ACTF 2010, Midwest region. Ben has also performed in the sketch revues Sketches with Wolves, Grandpa Hands and last summer's 365 Sketches. Ben would like to thank Joe, Zach and Melissa.

Jason A. Fleece is thrilled to be working with Joe Janes again, the subject of his manliest of man-crushes. Jason participated in last year's 365 Sketches with Joe, as well as various and sundry other projects. Jason is a member of Stage Left Theatre's artistic ensemble, and recently directed Arthur Miller's adaptation of An Enemy of the People for them. Also at Stage Left, Jason directed the workshop production of Underneath by Rob Smith as part of LeapFest 8, currently running.

Jen Ellison has been performing, writing and directing in Chicago for 13 years. Recent directing credits include The Lost Shakespeare Play (by Dave Stinton), Metaluna and the Amazing Science of the Mind Revue (by Joe Janes) for WNEP, Hackneyed for the Collaboraction 2008 Sketchbook, Funsplosion and Single Entendre (which most recently appeared at the TBS Just for Laughs Festival in Chicago) with Kerpatty!. Jen also wrote and directed Let There Be Light..! (Co-written with Dave Stinton in 2003) and Invasion of the Minnesota Normals, which had its Chicago premiere with WNEP in 2006 and was produced by Buzzworks of Los Angeles in March 2008. Jen currently teaches Screenwriting at DePaul University.

Jake Schneider is thrilled to be working with Joe Janes and Straw Dog again. Jake was previously in Joe's 365 Sketches last year. Since moving to Chicago in 2000 from Florissant Missouri, Jacob Schneider has improvised with Improvised Shakespeare Company, iO Theater's Armando Diaz & Del Tones, Comedy Sportz Chicago Ensemble, Second City Theatricals, and every Tuesday 10:30pm he joins his friends The Reckoning at iO. He has directed Black George, 9/11 Was An Inside The Actors Studio, and this Fall he will be directing Old Rasputin the Musical at the Annoyance. Jacob has a BFA in Theater from Webster in St. Louis. He does other stuff too.

John Hildreth is delighted to direct for the 50 Plays festival as he did last summer for the 365 Sketches festival. Recent directing credits include: Lifeline Theatre, the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, Live Bait Theater, Emerald City Theatre, Theatre on the Lake, iO, Donny's Skybox Studio, The Athenaeum, and Columbia College as part of the Freshman Performance Project. John teaches in the theater department at Columbia College and for The Second City Training Center.

My Thoughts On All This

This show is made up of all original pieces written for the director and their cast.

Butterfly Collector
- This is a new piece. Many of my plays have to do with either radio - being a dj or it's a piece designed for audio - or teaching. These are two things I have done for a living and now well. This one deals with the prickly issues that arise when a college student and teacher might be interested in things other than their professional relationship. This is also the second piece to reference a butterfly. There's a third. Not sure what that means about my writing. Either something about metamorphosis of myself as a writer or I just think they're pretty.

To Be Written
- This is the 50th Play! After the opening night show, the audience is invited to stick around and watch me interview Jason Fleece and his cast. I'll then head hoe and write their play which they will perform Saturday, June 18th at 8pm.

A Love That Lasts Forever - This is a very silly piece written for some of my favorite comedic actors. Patrick Brennan cracks me up. And while I have been warned about his tendencies to have a casual relationship with scripts, I went for it any way and made him the lead. The stage directions describe him as wearing a unitard and having very pronounced testicles that are clearly outlined. If I can't get my words coming out of his mouth, I'll at least have his scripted balls.

A Place Where Two Rivers Meet
- This is a serious piece with comic elements. The bittersweet parting of ways of a married couple and who they turn to for a shoulder to cry on. Jake had expressed wanting to do something that was definitely theater - not TV or film on stage. I think this piece does it with it's unusual structure and presentation.

Summer Kisses, Winter Tears
- I won't give away the "twist" in this piece. Suffice it to say, this is a loving jab at overwrought family dramas with strong, possibly insane, mothers.

For tickets and more logistical info, click HERE!

50 Plays - June 17, 2011 10:30pm

Here's what's going down for our Friday 10:30pm show on June 17th.

June 17, 10:30PM

Chuck and Randy in the Morning (6:15am) – director Rose Freeman - cast: Brian Posen, Joe Mack

Party Like It's Thursday – director Rachel Staelins - cast:
Amanda Dodge, Samay Gheewala, Sarah Mikayla Brown, Tracy Wray, Vinnie Lacey. Special Thanks to Nicci Schumacher.

Once Upon a Time in a Church Basement – director Jessica Wright - cast: Catherine Price, Aileen McGroddy, Brittney Love Smith

Chuck and Randy in the Morning (6:45am) – director Rose Freeman - cast: Brian Posen, Joe Mack

Beat Noir – director Bina Martin - cast: Jeff Hedges, Jen Malinsky, Vanessa Menton, Matt Malinsky

Moving Box – director Rob Colletti, assistant director Adam Ston - cast: John Reynolds, Sarita Scherpereel, Zach Rebich, Steve Hund, Eric Oren Special Thanks to Joe Janes, Don Hall, Second City, and to you! Thanks for supporting the shows!

Chuck and Randy in the Morning (6:59am)
director Rose Freeman - cast: Brian Posen, Joe Mack, Donna June Ray, Bill Boehler, David Fink


Rose Freeman directs stage manages and writes for theatre around Chicago and is honored to be collaborating with such a wonderful cast. She is excited to be working on another Joe Janes piece and looks forward towards her accreditation as a "Joe Janes Scholar" any time now. Freeman is currently the production manager for Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre and would like to thank her beautiful wife, Jenn for her patience love and support.

Rachel Staelens directs and stage manages around town. Most recently she directed Minutia in Point of Contention's 6th Annual ChAos Festival at Lincoln Square Theatre and production stage managed Redmoon's 1st ever Youth Spectacle at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Rachel is the Production Manager for the Chicago Fringe Festival (Pilsen, September 1-11, 2011 - She is also a strong believer in nap time and snacks.

Jessica Wright's writings have been performed by Tooth and Nail Ensemble (Under Ground), the Whiskey Rebellion (Sign of Rain), and members of Lifeline Theatre (as part of their 2010 Benefit). Locally, she has directed (Owl Theatre’s A New Nation: The American Civil War in Letters, Speeches, and Song), designed props (Lifeline Theatre’s Treasure Island), and worked as a dramaturg (Lookingglass Theatre's Our Future Metropolis). She has been the resident assistant stage manager at Lifeline since 2008.

Bina Martin (Director) is a faculty member at The Second City Training Center and Artistic Director of CarniKid Productions whose improvised play, Chairs, has appeared in theaters around Chicago and in festivals around the world. Bina has also directed Reel, Cathcart & Olson, Off-Book, Segue and Better Off Wed (all at Donny’s Skybox at Second City) and several of Joe Janes's 365 Sketches. As an improviser, Bina has performed Off-Broadway in Lifegame, played on numerous teams at iO and appeared in sketches on "Late Night with Conan O’Brien" (the original).

Rob Colletti is a recent graduate of Columbia College, receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Theater. You can currently see him as Roger in American Theater Company's Revival of "The Original Grease." Directing/Production Credits include: "Graceland" (Profiles Theatre - 2010 Jeff Award "Best New Work"), "The Good Soul of Szechuan" (Strawdog Theater, Jeff Recommended), and "Blood Wedding" (ACT ONE Conservatory, directed by Kimberly Senior).

My Thoughts On This Show

I am very much looking forward to this batch.

Chuck and Randy in the Morning - This piece has its origins going way back to the early 90s when Don Hall and I did a truncated version of it in our Level 5 show at Second City. I took it and developed it further into the script you'll see here. It was also in the first WNEP scripted production, Silence of the Frogs. AND, it features none other than Brian Posen! Looking forward to seeing him act.

Party Like It's Thursday - A world premiere written for 50 Plays. This one is a tribute to one of the best/worst bands I remember seeing when I was in college in Dayton, Ohio - Dale Walton's Second Wind. I like this because Mykala gets to be pompous and sing a party anthem. To be clear about the song, I wrote the lyrics, these cats figured out the music.

Once Upon A Time In A Church Basement - This piece appeared last year in 365 Sketches, but, for a sketch, it's longer than most sketches and gets into some detailed history with the characters, so I opted to have it in 50 Plays. It's three women who fall into a tangle of mistrust in the aftermath of a church rummage sale. Have to love that!

Beat Noir - Another world premiere written for this cast and director. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do. The title tips what's going on. It's a film noir story involving a female detective, a femme fatale and a murder, with elements of beat poetry. It was a lot of fun to write.

Moving Box - Again, a world premiere written for this cast and director. At the initial interview with the cast and director, I asked "What would you like to do on stage that you've never had the chance to do?" Sarita said "Nudity!" I missed the part where she said, "Just kidding." We compromised. It's a sweet play, even without nudity.

50 Plays - Friday Night June 17, 2011 8pm

Here's the line-up for the second show of 50 Plays...

Friday, June 17 - 8PM

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

The Directors

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.

For more information or to buy tickets for this show click HERE!