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Theatre for One: Here We Are

Program Notes:

Theatre for One was first created in 2002 as a mobile venue where actor and audience member encounter each other as strangers and, through the course of the performance, allow the divisions and distinctions that separate us to dissolve. I could not have imagined that 18 years later our theatres would darken, computers would become our prosceniums, and our need for intimate engagement would be so profound. I invited director and activist Jenny Koons to imagine with me a digital space that could embody the qualities that have made Theatre for One unique. Our enlivening producer Mara Isaacs and the visionary artists of OpenEndedGroup have been our essential collaborators in this endeavor

A stage of any size is a vessel. As we began to envision what to fill this new space, the Black Lives Matter and other movements erupted and inspired us to use it to amplify an active artistic response. The need for response has not diminished, as the recent shooting of Jacob Blake makes clear. In our streets, protests continue, and on television, conventions use words to transmit our divisions in technicolor. 

Intimacy builds interrelation. We reached out to writers we believed would fearlessly excavate their interiors and share them with generosity and candor. The directors, designers, actors, all the creators in our virtual backstage, (Theatre for One is Made by Many), have blown me away with their precision and perseverance in working through all of the challenges they encountered as we built a new platform and they rehearsed remotely. It often felt like we were sending a rocket ship into space for the first time. I am deeply grateful to Elysa Marden of Arts Brookfield, Octopus Theatricals, and Tom Neff, for giving us the means and the tools to evolve into this new iteration, to boldly go where we have never gone before. 

I am a White Canadian-American theatre artist who has benefited from my white privilege. The privilege in making Here We Are has been to make space for these extraordinary voices to be heard, in our homes, in these extraordinary times. At this moment in our history, the inequities and lethal acts of violence make it imperative that we as humans and as artists manifest a new narrative, with our language, with our anger, and with our love.  

– Christine Jones, Creator and Co-Artistic Director 

Early in the pandemic, I attended a gathering a friend hosted on Zoom. After we met, one of the participants emailed us, “It was just so good to talk with strangers. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until now.” This has stayed with me for months, as we feel the loss of interaction and conversations with strangers, in the grocery line, on the subway, in a theater lobby. Those mundane conversations and tiny windows into a stranger’s heart, pain, longing, dreams, neuroses. 

In this moment of heightened disconnection and national reckoning, we find ourselves processing within our own bubbles, questioning within our own bubbles, dreaming within our own bubbles. Here We Are is a window into the minds and hearts of our form’s most exciting artists, a peek into strangers’ longings and dreams and pain as we move through this extraordinary time, together.

Together, we listen. Together, we witness the intimate and epic questions we grapple with. Together, we imagine a world beyond this world. A world where new planets and possibilities are discovered. A world where voter suppression is abolished. A world where white supremacy is uprooted and destroyed at its core. A world where both our heroes and childhood friends are remembered and uplifted. A world where systems are re-imagined with true justice for all. 

A world where we see each other, strangers, present and breathing, individual and irreparably interconnected.

We must imagine it together so we keep it in our collective dreams, so we know what we’re moving forward, so we know what we’re fighting for. Thank you for imagining with us tonight. 

– Jenny Koons, Co-Artistic Director

Credits:

CREATOR AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: CHRISTINE JONES
CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTOR FOR HERE WE ARE: JENNY KOONS

PLATFORM PROGRAMMING AND DESIGN: OPENENDEDGROUP — MARC DOWNIE AND PAUL KAISER

ORIGINALLY PRODUCED BY OCTOPUS THEATRICALS — MARA ISAACS, EXECUTIVE/CREATIVE PRODUCER

CASTING BY BECCA MCCRACKEN, C.S.A.
COSTUME DESIGN BY ERICA FRIESEN
LIGHTING DESIGN BY EMILY BROWN
PROPS DESIGN/ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER: LARA MUSARD
PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR: JENNIFER GADDA
THEATRE FOR ONE PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR: BRYAN HUNT
TECHNICAL SUPERVISOR: JOSHUA MCCAMMON
TECH CONSULTANT: CHERIE B. TAY
ARTISTIC CONSULTANT: SRĐA VASILJEVIĆ
PRODUCTION STAGE MANAGER: ERIN ALBRECHT*HOUSE MANAGER/ AUDIENCE TECH SUPPORT: MATTHEW SITZ, JEN LUKE, NICOLE BOND

Here We Are was commissioned by Arts Brookfield with additional support from Thomas M. Neff. The Chicago premiere is supported by the University of Chicago Women’s Board, Allstate, De and Paul Gray, and The Chicago Community Trust.

 

Plays:

Before America Was America by DeLanna Studi
Directed by Chris Anthony
Performed by Elizabeth Laidlaw*

Here We Are by Nikkole Salter
Directed by Monet Felton
Performed by Xavier Edward King*

What Are The Things I Need To Remember by Lynn Nottage
Directed by Chris Anthony
Performed by TayLar*

whiterly negotiations by Lydia R. Diamond
Directed by Monet Felton
Performed by Deanna Reed-Foster*

Vote! (the black album)
Written and Directed by Regina Taylor
Performed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce*

Pandemic Fight by Carmelita Tropicana
Directed by Miranda Gonzalez
Performed by Melissa DuPrey*

Thank You For Coming. Take Care. by Stacey Rose
Directed by Miranda Gonzalez
Performed by Sydney Charles*

Thank You Letter by Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Lavina Jadhwani
Performed by Adithi Chandrashekar*

Biographies:

TayLar* (Actor, What Are The Things I Need To Remember) is excited to return to Court Theatre for Theatre For One, after her debut as Ruby in August Wilson’s King Hedley II and in Oedipus Rex. She has also worked on Goodman Theatre’s productions of Sweat, The Little Foxes, Ruined, The Convert, Mary, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and The Cook. She is an ensemble member of Eclipse Theatre Company and performed in its productions of Ruined, Blues for An Alabama Sky, and A Song for Coretta. Other notable theatre companies TayLar has worked with include Asolo Repertory Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Writers, Steppenwolf, Black Ensemble, Erasing the Distance, and ETA. Television appearances include Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Empire, The Chi, and NeXt. Feature film credits include Southside With You, Teacher, and Ms. White Light. She can also be seen in numerous television commercials. TayLar is represented tri-coastally by the awesome team at DDO Artists Agency!

Cheryl Lynn Bruce* (Actor, Vote! (the black album)) has performed on numerous regional stages, as well as in Europe and Mexico. She originated the role of Elizabeth Sandry for Steppenwolf’s Tony Award-winning The Grapes of Wrath (Broadway, National Theatre (UK), La Jolla Playhouse). Film credits include: Stranger Than Fiction; Daughters of the Dust; The Fugitive. Television credits include: Prison Break; There Are No Children Here; Separate but Equal; and To Sir, With Love II. Ms. Bruce directed Pipeline (Victory Gardens) and the recently streamed reading of The Agitators for Remy Bumppo’s current season. A proud Teatro Vista company member, Ms. Bruce directed Sandra Delgado’s La Havana Madrid, which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre, and subsequent productions (Goodman Theatre, the Miracle Center, Navy Pier’s Lake Stage, The Den Theatre). She co-directed HOPE and assistant directed Tamer of Horses and A View From the Bridge. Awarded a 2015 Rauschenberg residency through a 3Arts fellowship, Ms. Bruce received a Yale University Art Gallery residency in 2011, and received both Jane Addams Hull House Association’s Woman of Valor Award and 3Arts Award for her work as theatre artist and educator in 2010. Named Inaugural Fellow of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media in 2006 at Columbia College Chicago, Ms. Bruce traveled to Iida, Japan in 2007 to study Bunraku puppetry for her staging of Rythm Mastr, Kerry James Marshall’s urban comic which premiered at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio. Some Ra, her poetical essay on the famed Afro-Futurist, musician and philosopher, is included in Traveling the Spaceways: Sun-Ra, the Astro Black and Other Solar Myths (2009), with editors John Corbett, Anthony Elms, and Terri Kapsalis.

Adithi Chandrashekar* (Actor, Thank You Letter) is a Chicago-based actor and writer. Theater credits include: Dance Nation (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Bull in a China Shop (About Face Theatre), We’re Gonna Be Okay (American Theater Company), and Wit (The Hypocrites). TV credits include: NBC’s Chicago Med, FOX’s Empire, and ABC’s Betrayal. Adithi’s solo performance piece Open Season was written and produced as part of The Gift Theatre’s inaugural 4802 residency. She is a proud 2015 graduate of the School at Steppenwolf, and is represented by Stewart Talent Agency.

Sydney Charles* (Actor, Thank You For Coming. Take Care.) is excited about her return to Court Theatre with Theatre for One. She was previously seen at Court as Tillie Binks in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Her other work includes Steppenwolf Theatre Company (directing): Bug (assistant director/dramaturg). Chicago (directing): His Shadow (associate director); The Shipment (associate director). Select credits (Chicago): Wally World (Steppenwolf Theatre); The Color Purple (Drury Lane); Nina Simone: Four Women (Northlight Theatre); Flyin’ West (American Blues Theater); Lottery Day, Father Comes Home from the Wars (Goodman Theatre); The Wiz (Kokandy Productions); and Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago). Regional: I Hate it Here (Studio Theatre). Television: The Chi, Shameless, The T, The Haven. She is the recipient of 3Arts’ “Make a Wave” award, a two-time NewCity “50 Players of the Year,” for Chicago theatre, a BTAA recipient for Best Actress in a Musical, and a four-time Jeff Award-nominated actress. She is a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. Represented by Stewart Talent. Sydney is forever grateful to God for the journey. www.sydneycharlesexp.com

Melissa DuPrey* (Actor, Pandemic Fight) is an actor, stand-up comic, activist, playwright, and musician from Humboldt Park, Chicago. She has four critically acclaimed solo shows (SEXomedy, SUSHI-frito, SEXomedy 2.0, Good Grief) and will be debuting a new piece, Rise of Thunderdome, in spring of 2021 through the Off-Broadway incubator program at Ars Nova. Her full-length play, Brujuja, was an official selection of 16th Street’s 2019 Pop Up Reading Series and is slated to premiere in 2021 with UrbanTheater Company, her artistic home, where she is an ensemble member. She was a new talent for the 2014 ABC Diversity Showcase in NYC. She is featured in the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls, in development with HBO. She has multiple credits in TV and film, and is currently recurring in Grey’s Anatomy on ABC. She has been seen at Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, and Free Street Theater, and is honored to be returning to Court Theatre for Theater for One.

Xavier Edward King* (Actor, Here We Are) is excited to make his debut with Court Theatre, albeit in a unique way! He’s a Chicago-based performing artist. Previous credits include The Winter’s Tale at Goodman Theatre, Dracula at Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Star at ACT (Seattle), Hamlet and Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Pericles at Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika and Incident at Vichy at Jones Playhouse (Seattle). Visit xavieredwardking.com

Elizabeth Laidlaw* (Actor, Before America Was America) has worked in Chicago professionally since 1993, appearing at Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Writers Theatre, Goodman and many, many others. Previous appearances at Court include The Adventures of Augie March, Life’s A Dream, Phèdre, and Thyestes. Regional credits include Indiana Repertory Theatre, Irish Classical Theatre Company, and American Repertory Theatre. Film: the features Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, Into The Wake, Eastern College, Dimension, and Three Days. Television: Chicago PD and Crisis (NBC), Betrayal (ABC), Boss (Starz), and The Chicago Code (FOX). She co-produces and stars in the dramedy web-series The Haven, available on Open TV (weareotv.com). Most recently, she starred as Officer Vic Renna in The Red Line on CBS. She serves as adjunct faculty at Tribeca Flashpoint Film Academy, teaching acting and directing; she also teaches acting for the camera at Vagabond Studios. Ms. Laidlaw is the founding artistic director of Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre. She received her BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University and completed post-graduate Shakespeare studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art of London, UK. 

Deanna Reed-Foster* (Actor, whiterly negotiations) is thrilled to be working with Court Theatre. She is an ensemble member of Shattered Globe Theatre (SGT) where her credits include: Be Here Now, Mill Fire, and Marvin’s Room. Other Chicago credits include: The First Deep Breath (Victory Gardens, Joseph Jefferson Award Winner), Nina Simone: Four Women (Northlight Theatre), HeLa (SideShow Theatre), The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963 (Chicago Children’s Theatre), Barbecue (Strawdog Theatre) and Even Longer And Farther Away (The New Colony Theatre). Regional credits include: Fences (Judy Bayley Theatre/UNLV) and Nina Simone: Four Women (Merrimack Rep). Deanna can be seen in films like Last Flag Flying, Widows, and Southside With You. She is also a recurring character on NBC’s Chicago Fire. Deanna completed the Gately Poole Acting Conservatory, where she studied the Meisner technique. She is a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA, and is represented by DDO Artists Agency. 

Jaclyn Backhaus (Playwright, Thank You Letter) is a playwright, educator, arts facilitator, and mother. She is one of five Creative Directors of the process-based arts facilitation group Fresh Ground Pepper, and she is one of 14 members of the current cohort of The Kilroys, a bicoastal collective that celebrates women, trans, and nonbinary presence in the American theater landscape. She is a Lincoln Center Playwright-in-Residence, and she was once a 2016 Tow Playwright Resident with Clubbed Thumb. She got a BFA from NYU, where she now teaches some skill sets of playwriting to brilliant students. She resides in Ridgewood, Queens, with her husband Andrew J. Scoville, a theater director, and their son, Ernie. www.jaclynbackhaus.com

Lydia R. Diamond’s (Playwright, whiterly negotiations) plays include Toni Stone (Audelco Award nomination for Best Play), Smart People, Stick Fly(Broadway), Voyeurs de Venus (Joseph Jeff Award), The Bluest Eye, The Gift Horse, Harriet Jacobs, The Inside, and Stage Black. Theatres include: American Conservatory Theater, Arena Stage, Arden Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Company One, Congo Square, Denver Center, Goodman, the Guthrie Theatre, Hartford Stage, three productions at Huntington Theatre Company, Jubilee Theatre, Kansas City Rep, Long Wharf, the McCarter, MPAACT, New Vic (New York), Playmakers Rep, Roundabout, Second Stage, Steppenwolf, TrueColors, two productions at Writers Theatre, and ACT. Commissions include: Arena Stage, Second Stage, four commissions for Steppenwolf, McCarter, Huntington, Victory Gardens, Writers Theatre, True Colors, and Roundabout. Diamond was a 2005-2006 W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard non-resident Fellow, a 2007 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf, an 2006-2007 Huntington Playwright Fellow, a 2012 Sundance Institute Playwright Lab Creative Advisor, a 2012-2013 Radcliffe Institute Fellow, 2013-2014 Playwright in Residence at Arena Stage, has been a five-time Sally B. Goodman McCarter Theatre Artist in Residence, and is the 2020 recipient of the Horton Foote Playwriting Award. Diamond is a 1991 Northwestern graduate, and has an Honorary Doctorate from Pine Manor College. Diamond was a Consulting Producer for Showtime’s 4th season of The Affair, co-writing episodes 406 and 407, and was nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award for Best Drama Episode. Diamond was on faculty at Boston University for nine years and is currently on faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Lynn Nottage (Playwright, What Are The Things I Need To Remember) is a playwright and screenwriter, and the first woman in history to win two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. Her include Floyd’s; Sweat; Mlima’s Tale; By the Way; Meet Vera Stark; Ruined; Intimate Apparel; Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine; Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por’knockers; and POOF!. Musical librettos include The Secret Life of Bees and MJ (upcoming). She has also developed This is Reading, a performance installation in Reading, Pennsylvania. Nottage is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, among other awards, and is an Associate Professor at Columbia University School of the Arts. 

Stacey Rose (Playwright, Thank You for Coming. Take Care.) hails from Elizabeth, NJ and Charlotte, NC. Her work has been presented at The Fire This Time Festival, The Lark, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, National Black Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, and Kansas City Rep. Rose has held fellowships/residencies with The Dramatists Guild, The Playwrights’ Center, Sundance Theatre Lab, Goodman Theatre, The Civilians, and Tofte Lake Center. She had two plays featured on the 2019 Kilroys list, with a third listed as an honorable mention. Her play Legacy Land was on the 2020 Kilroys list. She is a recipient of a 2019 Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Women’s Commissioning Grant in partnership with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. She is currently a staff writer for 9-1-1 on FOX. Rose’s work celebrates and explores Blackness, Black identity, Black history, body politics, and the dilemma of life as the “other.”

Nikkole Salter (Playwright, Here We Are & Performer, whiterly negotiations) is an award-winning actress, playwright, educator, and arts advocate. For her work, she has received an Obie, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Global Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations, a Selfdes-Kanin fellowship from the Theater Hall of Fame, and most recently a Lily Award for her contributions to the betterment of the theater field. Her writing has been produced on three continents in five countries, and been published in twelve international publications and has been featured on the WNET program Theater Close-Up. She is a graduate of Howard University and NYU. www.nikkolesalter.com.

DeLanna Studi (Playwright, Before America Was America) is a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She is an actor/playwright whose television credits include Dreamkeeper, Edge of America, Shameless, General Hospital, Z Nation, and the recent season of Goliath. Her theater credits include the First National Broadway Tour of August: Osage County, Off-Broadway’s Informed Consent and Gloria: A Life. She retraced her family’s footsteps along the Trail of Tears with her father and created her play And So We Walked, which has been touring for the last two years. And So We Walked was the first American play selected to perform at the Journées Théâtrales de Carthage in North Africa. DeLanna is the Chair of SAG-AFTRA’s National Native Americans Committee and the Artistic Director of Native Voices at the Autry, the only Native American Equity theater in the country devoted to developing and producing new work by Indigenous playwrights. 

Regina Taylor (Playwright & Director, Vote! (the black album)) is an actress, director, playwright, educator, and activist. She is the Andrew Mellon grant playwright in residence for Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Taylor is writing new plays for Audible and SMU (the black album). She recently curated and directed Love and Kindness in the Time of Quarantine (short plays by Magaly Colin-Christopher, Migdalia Cruz, Erik Ehn, Catherine Fillioux, Lyle Kessler, Yilong Liu, Eugene Lee, Rohina Malik, Chrystal Skilman, Chesney Snow, and Jose Rivera) for Planet Connections Zoom Festival. In addition, her playwrighting credits include Bread (Edgerton Award, Water Tower Theater), Crowns (four Helen Hayes awards including Best Director), Oo-Bla-Dee (Steinberg-ATCA Award), Drowning Crow (Broadway, MTC), The Trinity River Plays (Edgerton Foundation Award), and stop.reset (Signature Theatre Residency Five). Taylor received the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair Fordham University at Lincoln Center. An Artistic Associate of Goodman Theatre, Taylor is its most produced playwright. As an actress, Taylor is featured in Netflix’s All Day and A Night starring Jeffrey Wright and Ashton Saunders, directed/written by Joe Robert Cole (writer: Black Panther). She guest stars on Council of Dads (NBC) and Lovecraft Country (Jordan Peele, J.J. Abrams, Mischa Green), Red Line (Producer Ava DuVernay, CBS), and The Good Fight. For her television role as Lily Harper in I’ll Fly Away, she received a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress, three NAACP Image Awards, and two Emmy Award nominations. Her other television credits include The Unit. Taylor was the first African American lead in Masterpiece Theatre’s Cora Unashamed, starred as Anita Hill in HBO’s Strange Justice (Gracie Award), and A Good Day to Die with Sidney Poitier. She has co-starred in USA Networks’ Dig and guest-starred in Elementary and The Black List. Taylor’s film credits include Saturday Church, The Negotiator, Courage Under Fire, Clockers, and Lean on Me. Taylor was also the first Black woman to play Juliet in Romeo and Juliet on Broadway.

Carmelita Tropicana (Playwright, Pandemic Fight) has been performing in New York’s downtown arts scene since the 1980s, straddling the worlds of performance art and theatre with irreverent humor, subversive fantasy, and bilingual puns. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship (2017) for her current project Live Memoir and a Creative Capital Award (2016) for Give Me Carmelita Tropicana!, a collaboration with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Recent works include sci-fi performances Schwanze-Beast (2018) and Post Plastica (2013). Her publications include Memories of the Revolution: The First Ten Years of the WOW Café Theater (2015), edited by Holly Hughes and Jill Dolan, and Carmelita Tropicana: Performing Between Cultures (2000).

Chris Anthony (Director, What Are The Things I Need To Remember and Before American was America) is a director, teacher, actor, and producer working at the intersection of art and community empowerment. Now Assistant Professor of Acting at The Theatre School at DePaul University, she has worked in educational, professional, and community spaces. Professional directing credits include the original Off the Rails for Native Voices at the Autry, Lunch Lady Courage at Cornerstone Theater, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, and Othello at the St. Louis Black Rep, and Romeo & Juliet at the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. As Associate Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, she oversaw the development of the company’s Youth & Education programs, including Will Power to Youth.

Monet Felton (Director, Here We Are and whiterly negotiations) is a director, producer, writer, teaching artist, and company member at Jackalope Theatre. Monet earned their BFA in Acting at The University of Illinois at Chicago. They are currently studying on a scholarship to be certified in Alexander Technique. They have had the opportunity to work at theatres such as Jackalope Theatre, Writers Theatre, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, and Bluebird Arts. 

Miranda Gonzalez (Director, Pandemic Fight and Thank You For Coming. Take Care) is a playwright/director/performer and was born and raised in Chicago. She is currently a Producing Artistic Director at UrbanTheater Company (UTC) in Humboldt Park. She was a founding ensemble member of Chicago’s All Latina Theater company Teatro Luna and has devised and developed plays since 2000. She is a two-time 3Arts and ALTA nominee and a recipient of the International Centre for Women Playwrights 50/50 Award. Her most recent play Back In The Day: an 80’s House Music Dancesical, World Premiered as a part of Chicago Latino Theater Festival Destinos Festival at UTC in the fall of 2019. Previous directing, writing, and script development credits include; Ashes of Light by Marco Antonio Rodriguez, La Gringa by Carmen Rivera, Of Princes and Princesas by Paola Izquierdo at the 2010 Goodman Latino Theatre Festival, Lullaby by Diane Herrera, Crossed, GL 2010, The North/South Plays a workshop at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; F.O.P and Crime Scene Chicago with Collaboraction; and Melissa DuPrey’s Sushi-Frito at Free Street Theater. She is also an Executive Producer for the web series 50 Blind Dates with Melissa DuPrey and has written for the web series Ruby’s World Yo created by Marilyn Camacho.

Lavina Jadhwani (Director, Thank You Letter) is a theatre director, adapter, and activist. Recent directing credits include As You Like It at the Guthrie Theater, Peter and the Starcatcher at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Roe and The Cake at Asolo Repertory Theatre. Her adaptations include The Sitayana (upcoming production with East West Players), Shakuntala, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and A Christmas Carol (currently in development with the Guthrie). Lavina lives in Chicago, where she was recently named “One of the Top Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago” by NewCity.  She has a BFA/MA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University. www.lavinajadhwani.com / @lavinajadhwani 

Erica Friesen (Costume Design) does more than shorten hems as Court Theatre’s Costume Shop Manager. With 28 years of theatre-making experience, she’s obsessed with how the body and what adorns it tells a story and for the last 18 years, it has been a thrill to be able to bring that obsession to Chicago and Court Theatre. Shout out to her partner, Bayrex, and her two son’s August & Max for their constant support and enthusiasm. 

Emily Brown (Lighting Design) has enjoyed working with Court Theatre since the fall of 2016 as the Master Electrician. She is ecstatic to be the Assistant Stage Manager, Lighting Designer, Tech Support, and Tech Kit Coordinator for this new program in digital theatre.

Lara Musard (Props Design/Assistant Stage Manager) is proud to have served 13 years as Court Theatre’s Prop Manager and continues to find a creative home in Court’s virtual world as Assistant Stage Manager, Production Set and Props Designer, and Chat Room Moderator for Theatre For One: Here We Are.   Lara currently produces theater from her cozy Frankfort home where she shares pivotable space with her husband, son and doggie.

Erin Albrecht* (Production Stage Manager) Previously at Court: The Lady from the Sea; The Mousetrap; Oedipus Rex; King Hedley II; The Adventures of Augie March; For Colored Girls…; Photograph 51; Frankenstein; Radio Golf; The Originalist; All My Sons; The Belle of Amherst; Five Guys Named Moe; Harvey; Blues for an Alabama Sky; Man in the Ring; One Man, Two Guvnors; Long Day’s Journey Into Night; and others. Erin has worked Off-Broadway, regionally, and toured throughout Europe. She holds a Bachelor of Music from The Catholic University of America and a MFA in Stage Management from Virginia Tech. She’s an adjunct instructor of Stage Management at The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Christine Jones (Creator and Artistic Director) is a Tony and Olivier Award-winning set designer and the creator of Theatre for One along with Lot-ek Architects. She is a Tony and Olivier award-winning set designer, experience creator, and sometimes director having directed the immersive nightclub dining experience, Queen of the Night, which won a Drama Desk for Unique Theatrical Experience. Her award-winning scenography has been seen on Broadway and in the original London productions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as well as in the Broadway musical American Idiot.  Other Broadway credits include: The Cher Show (co-designed with Brett J. Banakis); Old Times; Hands on a Hardbody; On a Clear Day; Spring Awakening (Tony Nomination); The Green Bird (Drama Desk Nomination); and Everyday Rapture. Off Bway highlights include Cyrano (The New Group); and The Book of Longing, based on the poems of Leonard Cohen, with music by Philip Glass (Lincoln Center Festival).  Opera designs includeLa Traviata and Rigoletto (Metropolitan opera). Her work was featured in the 2008 exhibition Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designers at Lincoln Center Library. Along Brett J. Banakis, Jones redesigned The Lyric Theatre in NY, home to the production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  In 2015, she received an Obie for Sustained Excellence in Set Design. She has lectured at Princeton and teaches at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In addition to creating theatre, she has worked with the clothing line Rag & Bone to create a one of kind one-night event, and she is currently in collaboration with Steven Hoggett and David Byrne making a dance experience for these socially distanced times we are living in.

Jenny Koons (Co-Artistic Director for Here We Are). Recent Projects: Men on Boats (Baltimore Center Stage), Speechless (New Blue Man Group North American Tour), The Tempest (Juilliard School), Between Us: The Deck of Cards (Denver Center), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Public Theater Mobile Unit), Burn All Night (American Repertory Theater), Gimme Shelter (Why Not Theatre, 2015 Pan Am Games commission), Theatre for One: I’m Not the Stranger You Think I Am (Arts Brookfield), A Sucker Emcee (National Black Theatre, LAByrinth Theater Company), Queen of the Night (Diamond Horseshoe), The Odyssey Project 2012 (site-specific NYC). Koons was the 2017 curator of the Encores! Off-Center Lobby Project, co-curator of the 2016 ThisGen Conference, and co-founder of Artists 4 Change NYC (National Black Theatre). She has been an artist in residence at Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and The Invisible Dog Art Center and has developed new work at Ars Nova, Steppenwolf, Roundabout, and New Black Fest, among others. She has been a guest teaching artist at Princeton, ART Institute at Harvard, and NYU Tisch and has been a facilitator and educator in creating anti-racist spaces and engaging in conversations around race and equity for over a decade, in both non-profit and artistic spheres. 

Charles Newell (Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, Court Theatre)  is the Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director of Court Theatre. He was awarded the SDCF Zelda Fichandler Award, “which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer who is transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in theatre.” Charlie has been Artistic Director at Court Theatre since 1994, where he has directed over 50 productions. He made his Chicago directorial debut in 1993 with The Triumph of Love, which won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. Charlie’s productions of Man of La Mancha and Caroline, or Change have also won Best Production Jeffs. Other directorial highlights at Court include Oedipus Rex; The Adventures of Augie March; All My Sons; The Hard Problem; Man in the Ring; One Man, Two Guvnors; Satchmo at the Waldorf; Agamemnon; The Secret Garden; Iphigenia in Aulis; M. Butterfly; The Misanthrope; Tartuffe; Proof; Angels in America; An Iliad; Porgy and Bess; Three Tall Women; Titus Andronicus; Arcadia; Uncle Vanya; Raisin; The Glass Menagerie; Travesties; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; The Invention of Love; and Hamlet. Charlie has also directed at Goodman Theatre (Rock ‘n’ Roll), Guthrie Theater (The History Cycle, Cymbeline), Arena Stage, John Houseman’s The Acting Company (Staff Repertory Director), the California and Alabama Shakespeare Festivals, Juilliard, and New York University. He has served on the Board of TCG, as well as on several panels for the NEA. Opera directing credits include Marc Blitzstein’s Regina (Lyric Opera), Rigoletto (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Don Giovanni and The Jewel Box (Chicago Opera Theater), and Carousel (Glimmerglass). Charlie was the recipient of the 1992 TCG Alan Schneider Director Award, and has been nominated for 16 Joseph Jefferson Director Awards, winning four times. In 2012, Charlie was honored by the League of Chicago Theatres with its Artistic Achievement Award.

Angel Ysaguirre (Executive Director, Court Theatre) most recently served as Executive Director of Illinois Humanities. During his tenure there, the organization established a number of new programs demonstrating the contribution that the humanities can make in addressing today’s most pressing challenges. Previously, he was the Director of Global Community Investing at The Boeing Company and a program officer at the McCormick Tribune Foundation. He has served on the boards of the Theatre Communications Group, Donors Forum of Chicago, the Illinois Center for the Book, Horizons Community Services, Blair Thomas and Company, and Next Theatre.

Becca McCracken (Casting Director, Court Theatre) has worked hard to develop her casting career and is recognized for her commitment to the Chicago theater community and passion for the industry. During her tenure at Simon Casting, Becca was the director of the theater division as well as casting associate for film, television, and commercial. Her career in the industry includes work as Managing Director of Vagabond School of the Arts and a plethora of independent casting jobs. Chicago and Regional theatre credits include American Blues, Asolo Rep, Florida Studio Theatre, Infusion, Indiana Festival Theater, Indiana Rep, Lyric Opera, Madison Rep, Milwaukee Rep, New Theatre, Paramount, Provision, Silk Road Rising, Syracuse Stage, and Writers Theatre. Other credits include Spamilton, Million Dollar Quartet, Old Jews Telling Jokes, Evil Dead: The Musical Tour, Broadway In Chicago’s How To Train Your Dragon (National Tour), Peter Pan the Show (National Tour), Working, Dee Snyder’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale, Sister Act (National Tour), and Mozart the Rock Opera. She is an Artios Award winner for her casting of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Carousel

OpenEndedGroup (Platform Programing and Design) comprises two digital artists, Marc Downie and Paul Kaiser, whose long collaboration dates back to 2001. Their pioneering approach to digital art frequently combines two signature elements: non-photorealistic 3D rendering and the autonomy of artworks directed or assisted by artificial intelligence. Their artworks span a wide range of forms and disciplines, including dance, music, installation, 3D film, public art, text, and virtual reality. Outside collaborators have included Merce Cunningham, Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Ken Jacobs, Preeti Vasudevan, the Flux Quartet, Natasha Barrett, and Jarosław Kapuściński. They have presented their work at MoMA, Lincoln Center, Pompidou Center, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the New York Film Festival, Barclay Center, Barbican Center, Sadler’s Wells, Festival d’Automne, BAM, Hayward Gallery, ICA Boston, Sundance, Detroit Institute of Art, Rome Film Festival, EMPAC, MASS MoCA, the MIT Media Lab, Jacobs Pillow, NY Live Arts, and many other venues.

Octopus Theatricals (Producer). Founded by creative producer Mara Isaacs, Octopus Theatricals collaborates with artists and organizations to foster an expansive range of compelling theatrical works for local, national and international audiences. They eschew boundaries—aesthetic, geopolitical, institutional—and thrive on a nimble and rigorous practice. Current projects: Hadestown by Anaïs Mitchell (Broadway, eight Tony Awards including Best Musical; Grammy Award, Best Musical Theater Album); Iphigenia, a new opera by Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding (in development); Dreaming Zenzile by Somi Kakoma (in development); An Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare (Obie Award); the Ars Nova production of Underground Railroad Game; And So We Walked by DeLanna Studi; Bill Irwin’s On Beckett; Activist Songbook by Aaron Jafferis and Byron Au Yong; and Theatre for One. We are also proud to work with Fiasco Theater, Phantom Limb Company, Ripe Time, Song of the Goat Theatre and many more. The Octopus Theatricals team includes Sophie Blumberg, Victoria Detres, Michael Francis, Bryan Hunt, Adam Hyndman, Rob Laqui and Ronee Penoi. www.octopustheatricals.com.


ABOUT COURT THEATRE
Court Theatre is the professional theatre of the University of Chicago, dedicated to innovation, inquiry, intellectual engagement, and community service. Functioning as the University’s Center for Classic Theatre, Court and its artists mount theatrical productions and audience enrichment programs in collaboration with faculty. These collaborations enable a re-examination of classic texts that pose the enduring and provocative questions that define the human experience.

Court Theatre endeavors to make a lasting contribution to classic American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. Our theatre revives lost masterpieces; illuminates familiar texts; explores the African American theatrical canon; and discovers fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.

ABOUT THEATRE FOR ONE
Theatre for One was originally conceived as a mobile state-of-the-art performance space for one actor and one audience member. Conceived by Artistic Director Christine Jones and designed by LOT-EK architects, Theatre for One commissions new work created specifically for each venue’s one-to-one relationship. Embracing serendipity, Theatre for One is presented in public spaces in which audience members are invited to enter into an intimate theatrical exchange in which actor and audience member encounter each other as strangers and are equally dependent on each other. Theatre for One is produced by Octopus Theatricals and was originally produced by True Love Productions.

Theatre for One residencies have been seen in Times Square, Brookfield Place’s Winter Garden, Zuccotti Park, Grace Plaza, Signature Theatre, Fairfield University, Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, University of Arkansas, and the Cork Midsummer Festival. In October of 2020, a residency of Theatre for One took place at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. Here We Are marks Theater for One’s first ever virtual residency.  

www.theatreforone.com

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www.courttheatre.org

*Denotes a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Posted on February 23, 2021 in Uncategorized

2 responses on “Theatre for One: Here We Are”

  1. Eileen MillerGirson says:

    It was an awesome experience!

  2. Fred Wellisch says:

    I agree that the monologue was moving and extremely well-done. There was a true sense of intimacy that I would like to see repeated. I could do without all the “pre-show” lobby banter, which did nothing for me. It all seem disjointed and went on way too long. Chat bubbles are not the way to build community. If, on the other hand, you could make the other audience members visual, that might be a step in the right direction.

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