Upcoming Theatre

Shattered Globe Theatre is pleased to launch its 2017-18 Season with the Chicago premiere of Pulitzer Prize nominee James Still’s fevered, emotional epic THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK, a theatrical rendering of Abraham Lincoln's struggle as a man of conscience to lead a divided country, directed by SGT Ensemble Member Louis Contey*. THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK will play September 7 – October 21, 2017 at SGT’s resident home Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at www.shatteredglobe.org, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office. 
 
THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK will feature Lawrence Grimm and SGT Ensemble member Linda Reiter* as Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, respectively. The cast also includes SGT Ensemble Members Kelsey Melvin*, Drew Schad*, Brad Woodard* and SGT Artistic Associate Darren Jones+, with Don Bender, Zach Bloomfield, Jennifer Cheung, Kate Harris, Tim Kough, Tim Newell, Leo Sharkey and Gus Zaruba.
 
Presented for the first time in the “Land of Lincoln,” THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK is James Still’s personal interpretation on the months leading up to Abraham Lincoln’s signing of The Emancipation Proclamation. This theatrical epic explores Lincoln’s humanity, conscience and leadership through the troubled times of 1862 – as dreams of his famous adversaries and unnamed soldiers walk through his waking life. Sprinkled with text pulled from Lincoln’s prolific letters and speeches, this play explores the heart of the man who led America in a war that we're still fighting today.
 
“The Heavens are Hung in Black portrays a transformational moment in Abraham Lincoln’s life and worldview,” comments Director Louis Contey. “In 1862, after nearly a year of bloody civil war, Lincoln must find a way of elevating the purpose of the conflict and save the Union. It is said that the office of President changes the individual who occupies it. With his conscience gnawing at him Lincoln begins to evolve as he considers the virtues and controversy of emancipation. The play, for me, embodies the essence of moral leadership and the idea of doing the right thing for the right reason, or as Lincoln himself states, listening ‘to the better angels of our nature’.”
 
THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK was commissioned by and premiered at Ford’s Theatre in 2009, where Lincoln was famously shot.
 
The production team includes Angie Miller (scenic design), Hailey Rakowiecki (costume design), Madison Briede (assistant costume design), Michael Stanfill (lighting and projection design), Chris Kriz+ (sound design), Vivian Knouse* (props design), Judy Anderson* (executive production manager), Jason Shivers (stage manager) and Ayanna Wimberly (assistant stage manager).
 
PRODUCTION DETAILS:
 
Title: THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK
Playwright: James Still
Director: Louis Contey*
Cast: Don Bender (William Seward, Jefferson Davis, Edwin Booth, Ensemble), Zach Bloomfield (John Brown, Billy Brown, Canterbury, Ensemble), Jennifer Cheung (Young Woman, Ensemble), Lawrence Grimm (Abraham Lincoln), Kate Harris (Mrs. Winston, Westmoreland, Ensemble), Darren Jones+ (Dred Scott, Theophilus Hammond, Uncle Tom, Ensemble), Tim Kough (Ward Hill Lamon, Bates, Ensemble), Kelsey Melvin* (Thomas Haley), Tim Newell (Walt Whitman), Linda Reiter* (Mary Todd Lincoln), Drew Schad* (John Hay), Leo Sharkey (Tad Lincoln), Brad Woodard* (Edwin Stanton, Stephen Douglas, Ensemble) and Gus Zaruba (Willie Lincoln, Newsboy).
 
Location: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago
Dates: Previews: Thursday, September 7 at 8 pm, Friday, September 8 at 8 pm and Saturday, September 9 at 8 pm
Regular Run: Thursday, September 14 – Saturday, October 21, 2017 
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will be no performance on Saturday, October 7 at 8 pm and an added matinee on Saturday, October 21 at 3 pm.
Touch Tour/Audio Description Performance: Friday, October 6 – 6:30 pm touch tour, 8 pm performance with audio description. $20 tickets available with code “ACCESS.”
Global Perspectives: SGT will be hosting post-show discussions immediately following 3 pm performances on Sundays, September 17 -October 15.
Tickets: Previews: $20 general admission, $10 students, $10 industry tickets with code “FRIEND”. Regular Run: $35 general admission. Discounts: $15 students, $28 seniors, $20 under 30. $15 industry tickets on Thursdays with code “INDUSTRY.” Tickets are currently available at www.theaterwit.org, in person at the Theater Wit Box Office or by calling (773) 975-8150. Group discounts are currently available by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (773) 770-0333. 
 
* Denotes SGT Ensemble Member
+ Denotes SGT Artistic Associate

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Shattered Globe Theatre is pleased to announce its 2017-18 Season, featuring three Chicago premiere productions! The season kicks off this fall with Pulitzer Prize nominee James Still’s fevered, emotional epic THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK, a theatrical rendering of Abraham Lincoln's struggle as a man of conscience to lead a divided country. Directed by SGT Ensemble Member Louis Contey*, the Chicago premiere will feature Lawrence Grimm as Abraham Lincoln and SGT Ensemble Member Linda Reiter* as Mary Todd Lincoln.
 
Shattered Globe’s season continues this winter with Rachel Bonds’ new play FIVE MILE LAKE directed by Cody Estle. In this Chicago premiere, five friends approaching their 30s try to seize the moment and take a step toward adulthood.
 
The season concludes next spring with the Chicago premiere of Will Snider’s HOW TO USE A KNIFE, directed by SGT Producing Artistic Director Sandy Shinner*. In this fast-paced, gritty drama, a once-renowned chef strikes up an unlikely friendship with a reticent immigrant dishwasher while trying to manage his unruly and hilarious kitchen staff. 
 
Comments Sandy Shinner, "Shattered Globe is excited to present three Chicago premieres with all three playwrights – Rachel Bonds, Will Snider and James Still – involved in the productions. This is a first for SGT! The central characters in their plays are all caught in a particularly critical moment in time – political, personal or professional: Abraham Lincoln still mourning his young son, a small town woman with larger dreams, and a chef climbing back from addiction are all ready to make a change. Their worlds are about to undergo seismic shifts. Will the past hold them back?"
 
The full 2017-18 Season will be presented at Shattered Globe’s resident home, Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets for THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK go on sale Saturday, August 1, 2017 at www.shatteredglobe.org, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office. Discounted group sales for all three productions are currently available at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (773) 770-0333.
 
Shattered Globe Theatre’s 2017-18 Season includes:

September 7 – October 21, 2017
THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK
By James Still
Directed SGT Ensemble Member Louis Contey*
Featuring feature SGT Ensemble Members Kelsey Melvin*, Linda Reiter*, Drew Schad*, Brad Woodard* and SGT Artistic Associate Darren Jones+, with Don Bender, Zach Bloomfield, Jennifer Cheung, Lawrence Grimm, Kate Harris, Tim Kough and Tim Newell. Additional casting to be announced.
Press opening: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 3 pm
 
Presented for the first time in the “Land of Lincoln,” THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK is James Still’s personal interpretation on the months leading up to Abraham Lincoln’s signing of The Emancipation Proclamation. This theatrical epic explores Lincoln’s humanity, conscience and leadership through the troubled times of 1862 – as dreams of his famous adversaries and unnamed soldiers walk through his waking life. Sprinkled with text pulled from Lincoln’s prolific letters and speeches, this play explores the heart of the man who led America in a war that we're still fighting today.
 
January 11 – February 24, 2018
FIVE MILE LAKE
By Rachel Bonds
Directed by Cody Estle
Press opening: Sunday, January 14 2018 at 3 pm
 
In a style reminiscent of Chekhov, five friends approaching thirty try to navigate the emotional undercurrents of unrequited love, loss and possibility. The unexpected return of a sibling sets in motion an inadvertent winter reunion in their small Pennsylvania town. This is the kind of claustrophobic town that kids grow up to leave, but not everyone feels the same way. These old high school friends each aspire to make the right choice, and come face-to-face with the choices they have already made.
 
April 26 – June 9, 2018
HOW TO USE A KNIFE
By Will Snider
Directed by SGT Producing Artistic Director Sandy Shinner*
Press opening: Sunday, April 29 at 3 pm

In the chaotic kitchen of a Wall Street restaurant, Chef George is trying to stay sober and keep the trash talking cross-cultural kitchen staff churning out orders on time. While managing two Guatemalan line cooks, a pot smoking white busboy and dealing with a jerk of a boss, George strikes up a surprising friendship with a reserved Ugandan dishwasher. Raw, fast paced and suspenseful, HOW TO USE A KNIFE boils over when personal and moral issues from their pasts are exposed. This high energy drama is fresh off a rolling world premiere shared by four theaters in the National New Play Network.  

* Denotes SGT Ensemble Member
+ Denotes SGT Artistic Associate

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

"Are we still who we thought we were?"

"How much do we still value the culture we embraced a year ago?"
 
These are the questions that guided Theater Wit Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler as he assembled the company's 2017-18 "smart art" season of contemporary, comedic plays: the return for the holidays of Mitchell Fain's tour-de-force This Way Outta Santaland (and other Xmas miracles) (November 24-December 30, 2017), the world premiere of Eric John Meyer's The Antelope Party, a comedy for our times with a My Little Pony theme (January 5-February 24, 2018), and the Chicago debut of Women Laughing Alone with Salad, the Internet meme turned satirical play by Sheila Callaghan (March 9-April 29, 2018).
 
"This has been a year of tsunami-sized cultural change. So many American ideals - media independence, social services, feminism, LGBTQ rights, anti-racism - seem under assault," said Wechsler. "But we have to stay true to ourselves, and that means comedies of reason and compassion. Our 2017-18 season offers three such vantages: the personal story of how a city became a sanctuary, a comedy of ponies and normalization, and a whirling examination of media culture and sexual politics. It's a set of three plays that you won't soon forget, comic works by contemporary artists timed to the exigencies of this moment."
 
Theater Wit is located at 1229 N. Belmont, in the heart of the new Belmont Theatre District in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. The best way to secure seats to Theater Wit's 2017-18 season is to sign up for a Theater Wit Membership. Wit's Netflix-like "all the theater you can eat" deal lets members see as many plays at they want in any of theater's three spaces for one low monthly fee of $29/$22 for students, along with many exclusive member perks. Single tickets to Wit's 2017-18 season go on sale ten weeks before each show.

To purchase a Membership, inquire about Flex Pass options or to buy single tickets, visit theaterwit.org or call the Theater Wit box office, 773.975.8150.
More about Theater Wit's 2017-18 season

The return of
This Way Outta Santaland (and other Xmas miracles)
Written and performed by Mitchell Fain
Directed by Jeremy Wechsler
November 24-December 30, 2017

After completing an amazing workshop last year, Chicago's favorite holiday performer returns for a mainstage tour-de-force of his unique blend of storytelling, improvisation and cabaret.

This Way Outta Santaland (and other Xmas miracles), written and performed by Mitchell J. Fain, pulls together a host of holiday stories from the audience along with his own autobiographical war stories about how family, drunks, jewelry, funerals, 250 performances and the holiday spirits collide.

Chicago's newest holiday tell-all is this sweet, sentimental evening of hard truths that change night to night, with lovely cameos by Chicago cabaret powerhouses like Meghan Murphy and madcap pianist Julie B. Nichols.

"Highly recommended. A brand new, indispensable tradition, at once hilarious, tragic, moving and profane." - Chicago Theater Review


A World Premiere
The Antelope Party
By Eric John Meyer
Directed by Jeremy Wechsler
January 5-February 24, 2018
It's sometime in the 2010s. The Rust Belt Ponies Meet Up Group for Adult Fans of My Little Pony has gathered in Ben's Philadelphia apartment, but two members have not yet arrived. A new recruit seems unusually shy and curiously paranoid about a local neighborhood watch group. What happened to their Pegasister, Maggie? Why is Brony Doug so paranoid? What does it all have to do with the 9/11 Truthers and an emerging group of "concerned citizens?" In the midst of increasing violence and authoritarianism, how can our heroes see the magic in Everypony? And, even worse, what if they do? 
 
And that's just the first ten minutes of Meyer's amazing and timely new comedy. With its My Little Pony cult prism, Meyer explores the rise of a new social order and how the currents of history, normalization and fear can sweep up even the most Generous ponies of Celestia.
 
Eric John Meyer is a playwright and performer/director/producer based in New York City. His work has been developed or presented by Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, Vineyard Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Flea, Dutch Kills Theater Company and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, among others. He is a member of the Actor's Studio Playwright/Director Unit and a recipient of a new play commission from Playwrights Horizons. Meyer is a co-founder of Human Head Performance Group and The Truck Project, both of which he established with his partner, Jean Ann Douglass. He received his MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College.

 

A Chicago Premiere
Women Laughing Alone with Salad
By Sheila Callaghan
Directed by Devon De Mayo
March 9-April 29, 2018
Dangerous, fierce and funny, Women Laughing Alone with Salad bursts out of the bounds of internet meme-dom and onto the stage in a four person comic tour-de-force about friendship, salad, sex, bodies, yoga, salad, men, envy, women, pharmaceuticals, diets, salad and uppers and salad.
DC Theatre Scene called this hilarious satire about how we live with ourselves, or possibly, how we can't, a "fresh, funny play...the poster child for what feminist theatre should be: a great night out on the town watching a slambam comedy which is also a serious conversation about the society we oh-so-currently live in."
 
Devon de Mayo makes her Theater Wit directorial debut with Women Laughing Alone with Salad. Her recent directing credits include Court Theatre's Harvey and Raven Theatre's world premiere Sycamore.

Sheila Callaghan's plays have been produced and developed with Soho Rep, Playwright's Horizons, Yale Rep, South Coast Repertory, Clubbed Thumb, The LARK, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, New Georges, The Flea, Woolly Mammoth, Boston Court and Rattlestick Playwright's Theatre, among others. Callaghan is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award for emerging artists, a Jerome Fellowship from the Playwright's Center in Minneapolis, a MacDowell Residency, a Cherry Lane Mentorship Fellowship, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award and the prestigious Whiting Award. Her plays have been produced internationally in New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Germany, Portugal, and the Czech Republic. These include Scab, Crawl Fade to White, Crumble, We Are Not These Hands, Dead City, Lascivious Something, Kate Crackernuts, That Pretty Pretty; Or, The Rape Play, Fever/Dream, Everything You Touch, Roadkill Confidential, Elevada, Bed and Women Laughing Alone with Salad. She is published with Playscripts.com and Samuel French, and several of her collected works are published with Counterpoint Press. She has taught playwriting at Columbia University, The University of Rochester, The College of New Jersey, Florida State University, and Spalding University. Callaghan is an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb and a member of the Obie winning playwright's organization 13P. She is also an alumni of New Dramatists. In 2010, Callaghan was profiled by Marie Claire as one of "18 Successful Women Who Are Changing the World." She was also named one of Variety magazine's "10 Screenwriters to Watch" of 2010. Callaghan is currently a writer/producer on the hit Showtime comedy Shameless and a founder of the feminist activist group The Kilroys. She was nominated for a 2016 Golden Globe for her work on the Hulu comedy series Casual and a 2017 WGA Award for her Shameless episode "I Am A Storm."

About Theater Wit
Theater Wit, Chicago's "smart art" theater, is a major hub of the Chicago neighborhood theater scene, where audiences enjoy a smorgasbord of excellent productions in three, 99-seat spaces, see a parade of talented artists and mingle with audiences from all over Chicago.

"A thrilling addition to Chicago's roster of theaters" (Chicago Tribune) and "a terrific place to see a show" (New City), Theater Wit is now in its seventh season at its home at 1229 N. Belmont, in the heart of the new Belmont Theatre District in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. 

The company's most recent hits include 10 Out of 12 and Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn, Naperville by Mat Smart, The New Sincerity by Alena Smith, Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence and Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England by Madeleine George, and Completeness and The Four of Us by Itamar Moses.

In 2014, Theater Wit was awarded the National Theatre Award by the American Theatre Wing for strengthening the quality, diversity and dynamism of American theater. Theater Wit also brings together Chicago's best storefront companies at its Lakeview home, including 2017-18 resident companies About Face, Kokandy Productions and Shattered Globe.

To receive an "artisanal selection of consonants and vowels from Theater Wit," sign up at TheaterWit.org/mailing for exclusive updates, flash deals and behind-the-scenes production scoop every few weeks.

Published in Upcoming Theatre

Police brutality is nothing new. Having it broadcast on national news sources, however, is. The deep South in the 1960's wasn't a fun place to be if you were anything but a Christian Caucasian. Shattered Globe Theatre concludes its twenty-fifth season with Matt Pelfrey's adaptation of John Ball's best-selling novel "In the Heat of the Night." The film adaptation starring Sidney Poitier went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. 

 

Pelfrey's script keeps with the original time and setting, but adapts with a degree of hindsight. He's also good at keeping the pot boiling until the final conclusion, even if the dots don't exactly connect in the end. With the success of TV series like "Making a Murderer" and the podcast "Serial" - audiences can't get enough crime thrillers. What these all seem to have in common are police inadequacy. A disappointing trend among rural police forces. "In the Heat of the Night" tells the story of a small town reeling after a local real estate tycoon is murdered. The prejudiced, and largely incompetent law enforcement can't seem to find a suspect. After they accidentally profile an African American from out of town, they get help from an unlikely source. 

 

Louis Contey directs a large, and talented ensemble cast. Unfortunately the script is a bit clunky in parts. Too many entrances, exits and costume changes make for a puzzling caper. There's fun in the noir-esque stylings of Contey's vision, but it conflicts with the bigger themes this source material addressed. Character development suffers and the message of Ball's original novel gets a little muddled in empty one-liners and racial slurs. There's a major opportunity here to make biased police officers more three dimensional and Drew Schad as Sam Wood does his best to navigate the dialogue. Joseph Wiens' performance as Chief Gillespie is intense, but at times cartoonish. Christina Gorman as the victim's daughter is a high point, however brief. 

 

"In the Heat of the Night" is a sultry, and somewhat topical thriller. Its brevity and mathematical approach make for a satisfying murder mystery. What it occasionally lacks in substance it makes up for in exciting stage combat. An atmospheric who-dunnit, akin to "Twin Peaks." 

 

Through June 5th at Theatre Wit. 1229 W Belmont Ave. 773-975-8150.

 

Published in Theatre Reviews
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 00:00

The Grown-Up - Shattered Globe Theatre

In today’s culture of OnDemand and streaming entertainment, one has to wonder how theatre art will adapt. Accomplished playwright Jordan Harrison also currently writes for the hit Netflix series ‘Orange is the New Black.’ Nobody can argue that Mr. Harrison hasn’t mastered the one-hour drama format, but what we can argue is whether or not that form works in theatre. Often when audiences stand and applaud even poor performances, they’re standing to congratulate themselves, to say we did it! We spent money and sat still for two hours! It’s over! Are we cultured now? Despite the convenience of home entertainment, people still go to the theatre to be intellectually stimulated and even challenged, they expect the playwright to uphold his end of the bargain.

At the conclusion of Shattered Globe’s production of Harrison’s play ‘The Grown-Up’, an audience of albeit mostly theatre critics was pretty quiet. This is usually an achievement for a playwright whose work has left its audience stunned. In this case, it was an audience left without an impression, and without enough material to commend themselves for sitting through.

‘The Grown-Up’ tells the story of Actor A, or Kai (Keven Viol) who’s grandfather, Actor B (Ben Werling) gives him a magic door-knob with which he can fast forward to the unpleasant and unfulfilling realities of his adulthood. Safely packaged in a chronological structure, we see the very brief disappointments and adult anxieties that await little Kai.  While these scenes have glimmers of relatability, they’re too short to invest in character and instead come off as series of clichés.  Rather than relying on dialog to explain how these moments of Kai’s life are fraught with meaning, we’re lazily told by various narrators. The script capitalizes on too many trendy devices, but doesn’t validate their necessity.

Shattered Globe has the talent to justify the one-hour run time of this play. Director Krissy Vanderwarker’s aesthetic inserts some personality to this static drama.  Actor D (Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel) plays a few of roles, but really becomes a focal point of the play as a secretary trying to keep up in life. Gonzales-Cruz provides most of the laughs and the most intriguing performance.

Plays like ‘The Grown-Up’ are part of a growing trend in American playwriting that protect themselves in metaphysical chow-chow so that if you don’t like it, you just didn’t get it. What counts in a live performance is what the audience takes away, and if there’s not enough script to resonate with a viewer, what’s the point?

@ Shattered Globe Theatre. 1229 W Belmont. 773-975-8150. Through May 23rd

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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