new plays, new takes, new voices

  1. 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. 

     

  2. Oct 31st, 2013

    JUST JOKING! PROVOCATION, POLITICS, AND COMEDY!

    Many of the darker points in our history and society land in a “don’t touch” zone, but artists are inclined to reach out and reexamine these topics. Sometimes they do it with comedy, but when we joke about serious issues, what is the line between outrage and righteousness? Featuring a distinguished panel of visual and performing artists who use humor in their work, our latest Pavecast works through contemporary debates on comedy, trying to find the line between “justice” and “just joking.”

    Moderated by Cassy Sanders.

    Featuring Guest Panelists:

    Danny Bernardo

    Kelsie Huff

    Ike Holter

    Anne Elizabeth Moore

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    Harry & the Thief runs through November 10 at The Den Theatre. Tickets available at pavementgroup.org

  3. Jun 22nd, 2013

    Contestant #9: Carmine Grisolia - Strawdog Theatre Co

    What makes Strawdog so great, anyway? 

    The way we cut the crusts off, just the way you like



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

    Whichever one owns their own space.



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

    At home —  come join us anytime



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

    I sincerely hope it’s Nic Dimond’s welding mask — seriously, dudes.  He asks about it every time I see him.



    What’s your favorite karaoke song and why?

    Bohemian Rhapsody because everyone ends up singing it together



    If you could go back in time and see one show, what would it be? 

    The Monterey Pop Festival ‘67



    Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    Sure.  Lot’s of stuff.  Let me explain:  I have stolen lots of stuff.

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    Click for more info on PG’s 3rd Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, June 23 - Doors at 6p

  4. Jun 22nd, 2013

    Contestant #8: Phil de Guzman - Buzz22 Chicago

    What makes Buzz22 so great, anyway?

    We love doing ambitious projects. We often find ourselves hyped on projects and telling ourselves, “this is perfect. How the fuck can we pull it off?”



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

    Manual Cinema? Those guys are so creative. 



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

    I was just down there yesterday. For one reason or another, a ton of corsets. Like a lot. Get at me if you need corsets!

    Also a bunch of dragons. 



    What’s your favorite karaoke song and why?

    Stay - Lisa Loeb. It gets 90s kids hyped and then gets super sensitive.



    Who makes the best music these days?

    Kendrick Lamar



    Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    When I was in college I used to steal my roommate’s qtips all the time. Sorry Robbie…

    Wow I feel a lot better now actually. 

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    Click for more info on PG’s 3rd Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, June 23 - Doors at 6p

  5. Jun 21st, 2013

    Contestant #7: Alice Pacyga - Shattered Globe Theatre Co

    What makes Shattered Globe so great, anyway?

    Our suicide rate is the lowest.

     

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

    Radio Shack

     

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

    Alinea, Les Nomades, and Tru.

     

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

    Jimmy Hoffa and an empty bag of pork rinds.

     

    Whats your favorite karaoke song and why?

    Wipeout

     

    Who makes the best music these days?

    John Tesh

     

    Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    A bag of pork rinds.

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    Click for more info on PG’s 3rd Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, June 23 - Doors at 6p

  6. Jun 19th, 2013

    Contestant #6: Gavin Robinson - Mary Arrchie Theatre Co



    What makes Mary Arrchie so great, anyway?

    We’ve been around forever. And have you met Rich Cotovsky? That guy rules. We’re not afraid to do things other companies wouldn’t touch. I love that. Not to mention, our annual festival has spawned multiple theatre companies (some of which are even participating in this competition). The Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Fest 25. Coming this August.



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

    Steep. How have I not worked there? I wanna work there. Somebody get me an audition there.



    What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    Everybody knows everybody & we’re all constantly working. Sometimes, you’re working on crap, but sometimes you’re working on something amazing. It’s always entertaining & engaging & wonderful. I wouldn’t trade this community for the world.



    What is your least favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    Chris Jones



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

    HAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s a bad idea. Don’t do it. If you did, you’d find the last 25 years of Chicago’s theatrical history. We have props, costumes, & promotional material from almost every show we’ve ever done…& it’s all very poorly organized.



    Who makes the best music these days?

    That’s a tough one. ::checks his most played music:: Apparently, all I listen to now is Allen Toussaint & The Faces, but Allen Toussaint & Rod Stewart are both still active…so…them?



    Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    When I was a kid, I stole some John Lennon-style glasses. They were really cool & I was 12.

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    Click for more info on PG’s 3rd Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, June 23 - Doors at 6p

  7. Jun 19th, 2013

    Contestant #5: Vincent Teninty - Pine Box Theater

    What makes Pine Box so great, anyway?

    Quite simply, our ensemble. With this group of amazing talent, making great theatre is the easy part.



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

    Pavement Group?! I only know Mary Hollis Inboden, and Keith Neagle, but I like to know more of you. You seem like you have a lot of fun. 



    What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    The community. Period. No another city offers such amazing talent that wants everyone to succeed. We help when we can, and we give what we can…always. 



    What’s your favorite karaoke song and why?

    I’d have to say "Chantilly Lace" by The Big Bopper because that is about the only one I know how to sing, well, until Sunday. Ha!



    Who makes the best music these days?

    Have you ever heard of a band called MALBEC? They are pretty flippin’ amazing.



    If you could go back in time and see one show, what would it be?

    I would like to see the original Steppenwolf production on GRAPES OF WRATH in 1988. Does that make me old?



    Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    Yes, I was 7, and all the cool kids at school were eating those cracker and cheese packages (you know, the ones with the little red sticks to spread the cheese) and I wanted to be like the cool kids. Well, my dad and I were grocery shopping, and I asked him if he could buy one for me. He said no, and continued his shopping, but I wanted those fucking crackers and cheese. So, I placed them in my pocket, and continued shopping with my father. I was so nervous! Those crackers and cheese were burning a hole straight into my leg, and I could not bear to hold them any longer, but I knew I had to get them past the checkout counter. Well, again I was 7, so my clepto skills were not that evolved yet, and as we finished checking out, I quickly placed them in one of the grocery bags. Thinking I was home free, I got home and waited to help my dad unload the groceries, but at the age of 7 my attention span was only good for about 20-30 minutes. Sad, I know. Suddenly, my father called me into the kitchen, and I found him holding in one hand, the crackers and cheese (victory!), and in the other, the receipt (DEFEAT!). After the longest ride of my life back to the grocery store to apologize to the manager, sitting on an extremely tender pair of butt cheeks, I never once again stole, or ever ate those stupid fucking crackers and cheese!!!

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    Click for more info on PG’s 3rd Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, June 23 - Doors at 6p

  8. Jun 18th, 2013

    Contestant #4: John Pantlind - Natural Gas

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    What makes Natural Gas so great, anyway?

    The Gift Theatre is a special place filled with amazing talent. The theatre has roots in the working class neighborhood of Jefferson Park, and it aims to bring quality theatre to its neighbors. The Gift is a part of the community, and the ensemble is a close knit family. Natural Gas is the comedic branch of that family, performing improv every Wednesday night in Jefferson Park, as well as touring and putting up several sketch shows over the years. You can also get drunk at Fischman’s for under ten bucks.



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

    Collaboraction does cool fun new stuff, they make a point to always have fun, they seem like they would sing a lot of karaoke. Also maybe Lookingglass because then I could be introduced to celebrities like Kelsey Grammer.



    What is your least favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    Everyone waits until the last minute to see shows, or, if you’re me, you tell people, “I want to see that!” And then, “I meant to see that!”



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

    When we’re not hanging out in The Gift, Natural Gas can almost always be found shutting down Fischman’s Liquors just down the street from the theater space. There’s also good food to be had at the Gale Street Inn, and at a little known BBQ joint called “The Condo”.  



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

    Wigs, Trunks, Army Fatigues, Sport Coats, blankets, Yo-yo’s, an old Foreigner record, a bottle of Early Times, a couple of beers, and the faint scent of old body odor. 



    If you could go back in time and see one show, what would it be? 

    I think seeing the series finale of Cheers live would be pretty cool. Remember what a big deal that was at the time? I bet they would’ve had a buffet spread and some meet-n-greets. 



    Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    One time, when I was in the 4th grade, I went to a friend’s house and I pocketed one of his Sega Game Gear games. I was really nervous, and I probably could’ve just asked him for it. Anyway, I brought it home and the game was terrible. And I felt TERRIBLE about doing it. I told him about it a couple of years ago and apologized. It stuck with me how bad I felt for taking that game without asking, and it’s not just because it was a bad game.

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    Click for more info on PG’s 3rd Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, June 23 - Doors at 6p

  9. Jun 16th, 2013

    Contestant #3: Cassie Slater - Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

    What makes Rivendell so great, anyway?

    We can drink your company under the table. Oh….and we’re one of the few theatre companies in the country whose mission champions the work of female theatre artists (please note: the two are not related to one another). 



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

    The Gift, Victory Gardens, and whatever theatre company Mary Hollis Inboden is a part of. Because they’re all wonderful & because we really want to win.



    What is your least favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?

    Well, I’ve kissed a handful of the members of this theatre community….and now I’m married….and that’s awkward.



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

    At our brand new space - 5779 N. Ridge in Edgewater!!! (plug, plug, pluggity, plug, plug).



    If you could go back in time and see one show, what would it be? 

    Brian Wilson’s Smile at the Royal Festival Hall in 2004.



    Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.

    I have stolen. Not on purpose. This was back in college…I was visiting a beau who went to grad school in Kansas City. We were doing some shopping at a fancy outdoor shopping center that had been made to look like Italy. I was thoroughly impressed with the whole thing…now that I’ve been to Italy, I realize it looks nothing like it, but it’s still pretty fancy. I made a stop at the JCrew, tried on some things, and stepped up to the counter to make my purchase. Midway through, I realized I didn’t want to pay $75 for a blue sweater, so I told the lady I wasn’t going to take it. She took it off the tab….but left it in the bag. To be fair, I halfway noticed that something was maybe amiss. But I sure walked out the store with it. I wore the sweater for a very long time…always with guilt. I don’t know what that says about me….

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    Click for more info on PG’s 3rd Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, June 23 - Doors at 6p

  10. Jun 15th, 2013

    Contestant #2: Aaron Weissman - Dog & Pony

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    What makes Dog & Pony Theatre Company so great, anyway?
    We make innovative, immersive theatrical experiences that bring new voices to Chicago! 

     

    What is another local storefront you wish you were besties with and why?
    Theater Oobleckbecause they make such great work and do it with such class and verve.

     

    What is your favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?
    That everyone is so fucking attractive. 

     

    What is your least favorite thing about the Chicago theatre community?
    That going to see a play is always a social experience, and sometimes you just wanna watch the play and not have to make small talk with everyone!

     

    What’s your favorite karaoke song and why?
    Radiohead’s “Creep” – it’s such a great song and really fun to sing the falsetto part!

     

    Have you ever stolen anything? Explain yourself.
    When I was designing lights for my first Dog & Pony show (at the Viaduct), I needed an extra cable so I took one from the group next door without asking, and never told them! I returned it to the rental shop with my own order, so I never knew if they ever found out. Sorry to whoever that was!

     

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    Click for more info on PG’s 3rd Annual Karaoke Showdown - Weeds Tavern, 1555 N Dayton St - Sunday, June 23 - Doors at 6p