new plays, new takes, new voices

  1. Aug 24th, 2014

    Contestant #9: Greg Hardigan - The Hypocrites

    1.       What makes The Hypocrites so great, anyway?

    Our motto is: We make theater. But currently, we are making epic theater! All Our Tragic is a mashup of every surviving Greek tragedy that forms one crazy 12-hour performance. You can see the whole thing at once, from 11am to 11pm, or you can see the four, 3-hour parts on separate days. No one else in the history of theater has ever done anything like this, so I’d say that’s pretty great. 

     

    2.       What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why?

    We like a lot of companies. I guess it would be good to know Sideshow better. I just saw Stupid Fucking Bird, and it was full of excellent performances. Of course, they borrowed The Hypocrites’ own badass Stacy Stoltz, so it was bound to be good.

     

    3.       What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    We help each other. We support each other. We want everyone to succeed, because we know a strong community is a sustainable community. And we want Chicago to stay the best theater city in the world.

     

    4.       Where does your company most like to hangout and be friends?

    In the  old days, when we performed at the now-defunct Viaduct Theater, we always went to The Hungry Brain after a show. These days, we mostly see each other at company meetings and show openings, because we are either old or really busy, or both. And some of us have children. But the Long Room still gets a good amount of Hypo money.

     

    5.       If we were to rummage through your storage space today, what might we find?

    Creepy dolls. Tons of costume pieces. A giant glittering orb of trash. John Byrnes sleeping on a really high shelf.

     

    6.       If you could remount one show from the last 10(ish) years, what would it be?

    Probably Machinal. Or The Cherry Orchard. Those are two of my favorite productions ever.

     

    7.     What piece of advice would you like to share with the internet?

    The worst thing you can ever do with your life is try and be cool. Being cool means you never show emotion, never join in, never laugh out loud, never try something you might fail at, never tell people you love them. Cool is the enemy of humanity, and we’re all human, whether we like it or not.

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    Click for more info on PG’s 4th Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, August 24 - Doors at 6p

  2. Aug 21st, 2014

    Contestant #8: Joe Wiens of Shattered Globe

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    1.       What makes Shattered Globe so great, anyway? 

    Shattered Globe’s been around since 1992. We have dope actors and designers and directors.

     

    2.       What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why? 

    Would love to be besties with The Gift cuz they do dope shit real well.

     

    3.       What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    I love the kindness and encouragement of Chicago theater.

     

    4.       If we were to rummage through your storage space today, what might we find?

    A fake wooden leg.

     

    5.       If you could remount one show from the last 10(ish) years, what would it be?

    I would want to remount Buried Child.

     

    6.       Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    I stole candy fish and my grandma made me apologize

     

    7.     Where does your mind go when you’re bored?

    To the beautiful women that I know.

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    Click for more info on PG’s 4th Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, August 24 - Doors at 6p

  3. Aug 20th, 2014

    Contestant #7: Scott Merchant - Collaboraction

    1.       What makes Collaboraction so great, anyway? 

    Collaboraction is a magical eclectic mass of organized chaos. In one room you can have a rental company installing a set for a musical, next door artists devise an experience design performance piece inspired by surrealist painters while in the room next to that there are company members cooking up the next docu-drama meant to inspire real social change in our city.

     

    2.       What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why? 

    I have a crush on the House Theatre and I’m not going to keep it quiet any longer!! Please let me make sweet sweet theatre-magic with you.

     

    3.       What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    Outside of the obvious things (best theatre in the world blah blah, artistic incubator, blah blah, Risk blah, danger blah blah) The community supports each other. If a show isn’t selling well you can bet that the butts in the seats will be of other artists who you have paid the same respect to.

     

    4.       If we were to rummage through your storage space today, what might we find?

    Astronaut helmets, things that glow, police tape, severed arms, shopping carts, pinatas, hospital beds and all the pieces of the dome of dance. 

     

    5.       If you could remount one show from the last 10(ish) years, what would it be?

    The first show I saw in Chicago that blew my mind was “Argonautica,” Lookingglass’ story of Jason and the Argo by Mary Zimmerman. I would love to see Collaboraction’s audience-immersive take on that mythical beast.

     

    6.       Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    I used to be a bit of a kleptomaniac, but only in places that could afford to lose it: major chain stores, etc. (I once managed to walk out of a Super Target with a dozen two-sided picture frames for Christmas presents)

     

    7.     What piece of advice would you like to share with the internet?

    Dear internet: Choose to be the sail instead of the anchor, the generator instead of the drain, the light in the dark. Also take a soapbox when it’s given to you, it’s awesome up here!

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    Click for more info on PG’s 4th Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, August 24 - Doors at 6p

  4. Aug 19th, 2014

    Contestant #6: Tom Wells - Two Pence Theatre Co

    1.     What makes Two Pence so great, anyway?

    The thing that makes Two Pence unique in the Chicago community is that we produce Shakespeare, his contemporaries, as well as other artists whose curiosity about their inner experience guides them to voice works of art that shed light into all corners of the Human experience.

     

    2.       What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why?

    The storefronts we are not already besties with that we wish we were are Wildclaw Theatre, Steep Theatre Company, and Dog and Pony Theatre Company.

     

    3.       What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    My favorite thing about the Chicago Theatre community is that it’s the only place in the country where soooo many theatre companies compete for the same resources.

     

    4.       If we were to rummage through your storage space today, what might we find?

    A bunch of full bottles of Beefeater, some shitty warm beer, about 15 bamboo poles, costume tubs, a full wicker basket picnic set, some swords, and some PVC lightsabers. And an ass-head - of course. (I do wish we had a pair of thick, wooly goat pants with a 16-inch phallus. You know, for parties, public events, etc.)

     

    5.       What is your favorite song to sing at karaoke?

    “Hey Nonny, Nonny” by Anonymous. It’s an oldy, but a goody.

     

    6.       Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    Yes. Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell. From a lifeguard co-worker, while he was busy shaving his armpits and legs, when I was 18.  My explanation is that I was exploring the very human impulse of coveting other people’s shit.

     

    7.     What piece of advice would you like to share with the internet?

    I only have questions, no advice.  Advice leads to “right” answers….

    Do you think the internet is rewiring and physically changing the chemistry of your brain? And are you aware of how that change affects the way you feel?

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    Click for more info on PG’s 4th Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, August 24 - Doors at 6p

  5. Aug 18th, 2014

    Contestant #5: Elana Boulos - Jackalope Theatre Co

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    1.       What makes Jackalope so great, anyway?

    Jackalope is made up of some rad kids with huge hearts, who are constantly trying to do better and be better for the theatre community, the City of Chicago, and each other. A family of 14 brothers and sisters who work together to create theatre we enjoy and stories we feel our audiences should hear.

     

    2.       What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why?

    Well, I’d say we’re definitely from the same gene pool as the Inconvenience, especially since we share a member (Gus Menary). But if I could be besties with any storefront theatre in Chicago it would be the Neo-Futurists because their shows blow me away and make me feel things I never knew I could feel before.

     

    3.       What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    The heart, patience, passion and TALENT that goes into everything we do. Also the sense of support amongst the community is something I’ve never experienced in any other theatre city I’ve lived in.

     

    4.       Where does your company most like to hangout and be friends?

    Three of our company members share a house that is two blocks away from our spaces in Edgewater. Their house is called “the Mansion” and it definitely deserves that name because there is always an exceedingly large amount of wealth to be shared under this roof. It might not be wealth in the form of materialistic things, but whenever you need anything - you’ll find it here. 

    We also hang out at Moody’s Pub on Broadway, which is right across the street from our space at the Broadway Armory. And, of course, our favorite neighborhood dive, Ollie’s where we often run into the Steep folks!

     

    5.       If we were to rummage through your storage space today, what might we find?

    Considering we inherited three LARGE rooms full of junk when the Chicago Park District allowed us to move into the Broadway Armory, you’d find anything from 3 out of tune pianos, to about 12 broken treadmills, to a child’s barbie car. One day we’ll figure out what to do with it all, or just throw it away.

     

    6.       What is your favorite song to sing at karaoke?

    My go-to is normally “It’s All Coming Back to Me” by Celine Dion that I sing as a duet with my best friend, Jack.  I am honoring the 3 minute rule for the first round though, and will therefor not be singing this 5 minute long favorite at the Showdown.

     

    7.       Where does your mind go when you’re bored?

    When I’m bored, I think a lot about Beyonce and Jay-Z, how I should call my parents more often, wondering if I’ll ever be able to afford a car, making sure my to-do lists are finished, and if all else fail I check instagram until something else happens. 

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    Click for more info on PG’s 4th Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, August 24 - Doors at 6p

  6. Aug 17th, 2014

    Contestant #4: Brandon Moorhead - The Inconvenience

    1.       What makes The Inconvenience so great, anyway?

    We strive to be tastemakers in the off-loop artistic community and to facilitate many artists from multiple disciplines and backgrounds in order to form a cohesive whole. Plus, we throw killer parties.

     

    2.       What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why?

    Oracle. Their goal of providing free theatre to the public is noble as hell and their endeavors are always incredibly ambitious.

     

    3.       If we were to rummage through your storage space today, what might we find?

    Belt light, glitter, and Brian Rad’s dignity. 

     

    4.       If you could remount one show from the last 10(ish) years, what would it be?

    The Little Things. It was a gallery showing with accompanying performances and it played close to the chest and was funny and sometimes heart-wrenching and wonderful.

     

    5.       What is your favorite song to sing at karaoke?

    It’s Oh So Quiet by Bjork. If people aren’t familiar with it they’re blown away. No promises I’m doing that one this weekend. 

     

    6.       Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    I’ve certainly “forgotten” to return costumes and props to a theatre after a show closed. Girl, sometimes your show shoes are fly and you can’t afford them in the real world and Equity actors get fresh shoes for every show anyway, so whatevs.

     

    7.     What piece of advice would you like to share with the internet?

    Snopes before post. Every. Time.

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    Click for more info on PG’s 4th Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, August 24 - Doors at 6p

  7. Aug 14th, 2014

    Contestant #3: Darci Nalepa - Black Box Acting

    1.       What makes Black Box Acting so great, anyway?


    Black Box is like a gym for artists to come and work out. They get to sweat and build muscles in our classrooms that will make them fearless artists in the industry. We teach artists how to work hard and be fearless. I think it gives a lot of people ownership over what they have control over in the industry, which is pretty damn great in my book. 

     

    2.       What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why?

    I think we’re becoming besties with the Cuban coffee shop next to our home on North Avenue. That’s a storefront, right? But seriously, we get to work with actors from a variety of theatre companies all over town. It’s awesome to see the Black Box Community supporting each others work at Chicago storefronts. 

     

    3.       What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    The support and enthusiasm our community has for each others work. I think that’s really special. Chicago is always rooting for it’s own and that’s amazing to see and be a part of. 

     

    4.       If we were to rummage through your storage space today, what might we find?

    If you know what “activity” is then you know you would find lots of kid scissors, tape, glitter, ripped sheets, poster board, tooth picks and tea lights. It’s such a blurry line between what we do and what kindergartners bring to their first day of school…except for the sheets, toothpicks and tea lights. Maybe. 

     

    5.       If you could remount one show from the last 10(ish) years, what would it be?

    I will always say “August: Osage County”. It was magical to see it’s first run at Steppenwolf and know that something huge just happened and the audience was witness to it. 

     

    6.       Where does your mind go when you’re bored?

    Cheese. What kind of cheese I want in that exact moment and the things I would do for it. 

     

    7.     What piece of advice would you like to share with the internet?

    Do something that scares you. But don’t get put on the News for it. 

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    Click for more info on PG’s 4th Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, August 24 - Doors at 6p

  8. Aug 12th, 2014

    Contestant #2: Rory Jobst - Oracle Productions

    1.       What makes Oracle Productions so great, anyway?

    We offer quality, inventive productions to the public for free. We keep finding different ways to use our space beyond the proscenium arch, and with our commitment to politically themed projects, we make sure that our audiences leave talking. We also are expanding beyond theater, and our Aperture series, our film series featuring screenings and Q and A’s with local filmmakers, has exposed the public to more little seen fare on the indie circuit.

     

    2.       What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why?

    Wayward Productions, because everyone is so lovely and kind. Plus, I think they are most likely to stage a production in Lake Michigan. I mean IN it. I love swimming and theatre.

     

    3.       If we were to rummage through your storage space today, what might we find?

    Playbills, cassettes, random buttons, childhood drawings of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. 

     

    4.       If you could remount one show from the last 10(ish) years, what would it be?

    The Man Who Was Thursday at New Leaf comes to mind. That show rocked!

     

    5.       Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    A roll of toilet paper from a Green Line Tavern for a cute girl who claimed she couldn’t afford any. The bouncer caught me though. He was nice about it at least.

     

    6.       Where does your mind go when you’re bored?

    Weekend movie box office estimates or what to have for lunch.

     

    7.     What piece of advice would you like to share with the internet?

    Quit bitching about Chicago’s weather.

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    Click for more info on PG’s 4th Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, August 24 - Doors at 6p

  9. Aug 10th, 2014

    Contestant #1: Emjoy Gavino - Barrel of Monkeys

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    1.         What makes Barrel of Monkeys so great, anyway?

    Our company saves the world.  It’s our tagline.  Actually it is “kids write it, we do it, world saved.”  A group of teaching artists go into 3rd, 4th or 5th grade classrooms and teach a creative writing residency for 6 weeks and after that we take the stories and poems they’ve filled their journals with and adapt them into sketches or songs or movement pieces and perform it for their whole school and the writers get to be recognized as the rock stars they are. So TECHNICALLY, kids save the world, we get to help them do that.

     

    2.         What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why?

    You guys. I mean, any people smart enough to put Bryan Bosque in heels and glitter booty shorts, are okay in my book. [ed note: Flattery will not get you any closer to winning. (But it might get you more alcohol)]

     

    3.         What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    Risk, integrity and generosity.

     

    4.         If you could remount one show from the last 10(ish) years, what would it be?

    Burning Bluebeard presented by the Neo-Futurists and The Ruffians.  I would watch that show every day, forever. 

     

    5.         What is your favorite song to sing at karaoke?

    It used to be “Angels We Have Heard on High” but when I sang it at The Hidden Cove on my birthday they refused to let me sing anymore. So probably “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” by Etta James.

     

    6.         Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    I stole a Crucifix necklace at the Christian bookstore near my house when I was in the 2nd grade. I…can’t. I can’t explain myself.

     

    7.       What piece of advice would you like to share with the internet?

    Stop sending me invitations to play Candy Crush.  I guess that was more of a request than advice. Still, though.

     

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    Click for more info on PG’s 4th Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, August 24 - Doors at 6p

  10. Nov 8th, 2013

    Did You Ever Know That You’re My Hero? An Interview With Playwright Sigrid Gilmer

    So, I learned from Krissy [director of Harry and the Thief] the other day that you were an actor that was frustrated with the types of stories being told when you decided to start writing. Can you tell us a little about that and how it has informed you as a writer?

    I am a fan of stories. Growing up, I watched a lot of TV. Saw a ton of movies, read a goo-gob of books. (Still do.) And inevitably I wanted to be in the stories that I liked. Live in a Little House on the Prairie, be a member of the A-Team, go to the high school of the Performing Arts. Acting for me was a way into those stories. But the deeper I got into acting the more I realized that no one was gonna cast me as Iago. Plus I figured out that an actor’s control over the story is limited. I started writing plays cuz there wasn’t enough of me and the stuff I liked in the story universe. Therefore, my writing is super specific and subjective. I write plays that I would want to be in or see. The jokes make me laugh. I crib from my favorite movies, songs, plays, TV shows. For me my plays are very personal, they are about me filtering and processing the world, investigating and honoring my desires. 

    It’s interesting that you list your inspirations as TV, movies and books, and yet you are writing for the theatre. I feel like that is a common theme among theatre artists today - a lot of it doesn’t really inspire them, but they can’t let it go. Is that true for you? And if so, why do you stick with it?

    Why do I stick? I dunno. It’s my gut reaction.  But if I put on my arty thinkin’ cap, I would have to say that I stay in theatre cuz it is the language I speak artistically. I apologize ahead of time but I will most likely slide into pretentious douchery. But the language thing is the only way I know how to explain it. When I have an idea about a story it comes to me theatrically. When I think  ’Oh I think that would make a cool TV show.’ It is like trying to write in Portuguese. When I think of a film idea, it’s more like Spanish. I have some words and I kinda get the grammar but it’s not my mother tongue so it’s a struggle. Plus there is openness in theatre. There are so many ways to tell a story. So many points of entry. There is literally nothing that you cannot create on the stage. The only limits exist within the imaginations of the creators and the audience.  And the creating happens in real time, a melding of the audience and the makers minds. Theatre is constantly becoming. Perpetually on the verge of collapse, sliding into death and when a show is over there will never ever ever be another one like it, ever. That is some crazy poetic and exciting shit. That’s why I am stuck. 

    This play tackles American history, and particularly slavery and its place in it. Playwrights and filmmakers seem to have gravitated towards this subject matter in an interesting sort of collective consciousness in recent years. What are your thoughts about that? What’s going on with us as a country and as a people?

    This is a complex question..there is soooo much, many reasons…but I think one thing is that the election of President Obama has made the deep contradictions in our national story and our collective insanity/wounds/heartache around race so obvious that it cannot be ignored. We have lots of Americans rejoicing at this giant step in who we are as a nation. And yet tragic and horrific racist shit like the murder of Trayvon Martin can still happen. There are still blatant racial inequalities in the criminal justice system, education, employment, healthcare. And yet a black president. I think the contradictions are so naked and raw and mean. And the old dominate cultural narrative of black inferiority and pathology, which was always weak sauce looks even more absurd when the leader of the free world is a black dude. So I think artists are creating new national narratives, going back to slavery and re-framing how it fits in our country’s story. Artists of color have been doing this since the beginning of our nation, but now that a big chunk of the power structure is of color these stories are given more space and legitimacy in our culture.