Saturday, January 6, 2018


JANUARY 4 – 27, 2018

Written by High School Students and Given a Staged Professional Production at Chicago Dramatists 

Here at ChiIL Mama, we're excited to be promoting and reviewing this excellent Fest again this year. I'll be out this Sunday, so check back soon for my full review. In the past I've been enthralled with the high caliber writing and diverse styles of the winning authors. Years ago the daughter of a close friend of mine won the Young Playwrights Fest in high school, and she went on to get her Masters from U of I and continue a lifelong love of theatre and literature. This year my 16 year old son's theatre class from Lane Tech is coming out to see the show this Wednesday, then they're going back to write their own submissions for next year! I'm thrilled we have such a stellar resource in Chicago, to spark the interest of our next generation of playwrights and creative thinkers.

All photos by Emily Schwartz

(L to R)Kristen Alesia and Meagan Dilworth in DECISION DAY by Abigail Henkin, directed by Jerrell Henderson

Pegasus Theatre Chicago is proud to announce the authors and plays being presented at the 31st Young Playwrights Festival, Jan. 4 – 27, 2018 at Pegasus’s resident home Chicago Dramatists, 773 N. Aberdeen. Each play is written by high school students and given a staged professional production. The winning productions are performed in tandem Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Previews are Thursday, Jan. 4 – Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. each night. 

Tickets are $18 for students, $25 for seniors and $30 for general admission and are available at or by phone at 866.811.4111.

All photos by Emily Schwartz

(L to R) David Flack and Peter Surma in PENCILS AND PENS by Aaron Powdermaker, directed by Ilesa Duncan

The Young Playwrights Festival (YPF) celebrates the 31st year of the program that inspires Chicago students to explore their histories, research their communities and mine their personal journeys to write dynamic one-act plays for the stage. YPF is the only event of its kind in Chicago and is the second largest in the country.

Under the auspices of Pegasus Theatre Chicago, the winning teen playwrights’ productions are work-shopped and staged as part of its main stage season with full casts and production teams. The competition enhances language arts, encourages independent, high-level thinking, strong personal values and influences career development for Chicago’s teens.

The competition received over 500 submissions in 2017 with this year’s selections being Maday Favela of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School and her play Bullet With Butterfly Wings; Mairi Glynn of Von Steuben High School, Monster; Abigail Henkin of Lane Tech College Prep, Decision Day and Aaron Powdermaker of Lane Tech College Prep, Pencils and Pens.

All photos by Emily Schwartz

(L to R) Gloria Petrelli and Meagan Dilworth in BULLET WITH BUTTERFLY WINGS by Maday Favela, directed by Emmi Hilger 


Bullet with Butterfly Wings
By Maday Favela – Whitney M. Young Magnet High School – teacher Elizabeth Danesh
Directed by Emmi Hilger
Leviathan takes advantage of Lexa’s anxiety and depression by coaxing her into ending her year-long friendship with Juno.

By Mairi Glynn – Von Steuben High School – teacher Margaret Sullivan
Directed by Ilesa Duncan
Alya, a Hijabi Muslim teen, is called into a police station for questioning after a bombing.

Decision Day
By Abigail Henkin -- Lane Tech College Prep – teacher Brian Telles
Directed by Jerrell Henderson
Lizzy, a high-achieving high school senior, is being wooed in this hilarious send up of college recruitment.  She struggles to decide which of the three is really her best option.

Pencils and Pens
By Aaron Powdermaker – Lane Tech College Prep – teacher Kirsten Hanson
Directed by Ilesa Duncan
Perry and Marshal are friends enjoying a simple life. However, when Perry wants to move up in the world it’s at the cost of leaving his best friend behind.

All photos by Emily Schwartz

(front L to R) Gloria Imseih Petrelli and Hunter Price, (rear) Amy Johnson and Peter Surma in MONSTER by Mairi Glynn, directed by Ilesa Duncan

The productions’ casts include Kristen Alesia. Meagan Dilworth, David Flack, Amy Johnson, Gloria Petrelli, Hunter Price and Peter Surma.

The production team includes Marisa Gil (scenic designer), Josh Wroblewski (lighting designer), Robert Kuhn (costume designer), Katy Vest (prop designer), AJ Chien (sound designer) and Kelly Butler (production manager).

Jerrell L. Henderson is a director and teaching artist. Recent directing credits include Bud, Not Buddy at the Children's Theatre of Charlotte and The Caucasian Chalk Circle at Franklin & Marshall College. Other credits include The Healer: A Workshop Production with Pegasus Theatre Chicago and In The Red and Brown Water at Northwestern University (co-director with Henry Godinez). As an assistant director, Henderson has worked with The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, and Lookingglass. He received a BA in Theatre Arts from The Pennsylvania State University, an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University, is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab and is currently a member of Victory Gardens Directors Inclusion Initiative.

Emmi Hilger has directed The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl, References to Salvador Dalí Make Me by José Rivera, Don’t Look by Gina Doherty and Johnny 10 Beers’ Daughter for Something Marvelous (where she is producing artistic director). Hilger has also recently worked with Ensemble Dal Niente, Stage Left, The Jades, 20% Theatre Company, Concordia University, and Collaboraction.  She is an associate artist and associate dramaturg with Chicago Dramatists and an artistic associate with Stage Left.

Ilesa Duncan is the producing artistic director at Pegasus Theatre Chicago. Her recent directing work includes Pegasus’ recent, Jeff-Recommended, sold-out Shakin the Mess Outta Misery, the world premiere of Jeff-Recommended Rutherford’s Travels and For Her as a Piano also for Pegasus, Broken Fences at 16th Street Theater, the Jeff Award-nominated The Nativity with Congo Square and the Jeff Award-winning Jar the Floor at ETA Creative Arts. Duncan has also worked with Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Lifeline Theater, Stage Left and Chicago Dramatists, as well as Contemporary American Theatre Company (Ohio), The Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Arena Stage (Washington DC) and Lincoln Center Theater (New York). Duncan’s creative nonfiction short stories have been published (Columbia College Chicago) and she’s written poems and screenplays.  For the stage, she co-adapted Rutherford’s Travels from the National Book Award-winning novel "Middle Passage," co-wrote and directed Blakk Love: Stoeez of A Darker Hue and facilitated the devised project Do You See What I’m Saying for Chameleon.

Pegasus Theatre Chicago has been a mainstay in the Chicago theater community for nearly 38 years. Its recent rebranded mission is to produce boldly imaginative theatre, champion new and authentic voices and illuminate the human journey. The theatre adheres to the core values of community engagement, social relevance, boldness, adventure and excellence.

Pegasus is also committed to initiating important conversations through the arts with strong community engagement and socially relevant programming, including the Young Playwrights Festival for high school-age scribes, which celebrated its 31st Anniversary this year. Pegasus Theatre Chicago has received seventy-seven Joseph Jefferson Citations since its inception.

The 31st Young Playwrights Festival is made possible with the generous support of The MacArthur Fund at the Richard Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, the Seabury Foundation, the City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

WIN a Pair of Adult Tickets To The Boat Show ($30 Value/ 2 winners) Kids 12 And Under Are Free


With over 600 power and sailboats and 100 RVs on display, plus educational opportunities and hands-on activities for all ages, the Midwest’s premier boat show brings a taste of paradise to Chicago this January

It may be below zero windchill in Chi, IL right now, but you can ChiIL out at The Progressive® Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show® and be summer dreaming in no time. ChiIL Mama's even giving away 2 pairs of adult tickets. 

Enter for your chance to win:
Enter early and often through midnight January 8th. 

Where else can you hang out on hundreds of boats and RVs and paddle board in the dead of winter in Chicago? The Progressive® Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show®, the Midwest’s largest indoor boat show, is dropping anchor at McCormick Place, 2301 South Lake Shore Drive, January 10 – 14, 2018. Packed with jaw dropping power and sailboats and high tech RVs, the show will offer attendees a glimpse of summertime fun without leaving Chicago. Show goers will have the opportunity to board, view, and shop over 600 boats and 100 RVs, ranging from inflatables to 50 ft. yachts, the latest in outdoor and marine accessories and technology, and attend a variety of free and paid educational seminars.

What better way to go boating in January than with virtual reality! This year's Progressive Boat Club allows attendees to put themselves at the helm of a virtual boat race, navigating simulated waters, all while trying to beat the clock! Be sure to stop by! 

“For 88 years the show has given Midwesterners a chance to get out of the cold, and gear up for the exciting outdoor season ahead,” said Keith Ogulnick, Show Manager, Progressive® Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show®. “We pride ourselves on showcasing the latest and greatest in boating and outdoor recreational vehicles, and educating attendees on the newest technology available. The show is a great opportunity for families to enjoy the best boating, sailing and RVing have to offer year after year.”

Show attendees are also invited to participate in a number of special features during the show. The Progressive® Insurance Boat School brings top-notch mariners from the Annapolis School of Seamanship on deck to teach an entertaining curriculum of hands-on boating courses including teaching guests to virtually dock a boat or tie a proper knot.  Paddlefest returns and invites attendees of all ages to test out the fun of stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking in an indoor pool. Young attendees will love trying their hand at fishing for real trout at the Huck Finn Trout Pond plus other activities for kids.  Attendees looking to beef up their boating IQ can do so during a variety of seminars, from DIY tips at Fred’s Shed Interactive Learning Center to an extensive lineup of boating and sailing seminars featuring some of the most recognized names in sailing such as John Kretschmer, Nigel Calder and Kimo Worthington. The show also boasts an extensive lineup of RV seminars hosted by leading RV expert and author of The RV Handbook David Solberg.

The Progressive® Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show® will be open Wednesday-Sunday, January 10-14, 2018.  Show hours are as follows: 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 10; 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Thursday, January 11 and Friday, January 12; 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday, January 13; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, January 14.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online for $15 for adults; children 12 years old and younger are free.

For more information on the Progressive® Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show visit or connect on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  #ChiBoatShow.

About the Progressive Insurance® Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show
The Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show is produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the world’s largest producer of boat shows and the leading association representing the recreational boating industry. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy advocacy, market statistics and research, product quality assurance and promotion of the boating lifestyle. For more information, visit

About Progressive
The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies makes it easy to understand, buy and use auto insurance. Progressive offers choices so consumers can reach it whenever, wherever and however it's most convenient—online at, by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE, on a mobile device or in-person with a local agent.

Progressive provides insurance for personal and commercial autos and trucks, motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles, and homes. Home insurance is underwritten by select carriers, including American Strategic Insurance Corp. and subsidiaries (ASI), our majority owned subsidiaries.

Progressive is the fourth largest auto insurer in the country; a leading seller of motorcycle and commercial auto insurance; and through ASI, one of the top 20 homeowners carriers. Progressive also offers car insurance online in Australia at

Founded in 1937, Progressive continues its long history of offering shopping tools and services that save customers time and money, like Name Your Price®, Snapshot®, and Service Centers.

Kohl Children's Museum Is Rockin' NYE With Their Early Family Friendly Celebration On 12/31


The Museum will Transform for the New Year’s Celebration Featuring
Holiday Activities Including a Confetti Drop

Kohl Children’s Museum is giving Times Square a run for its money with their New Year’s Eve “midnight” celebrations at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 31 at the Museum’s facility at 2100 Patriot Boulevard in Glenview. To kick-off 2018, an entire wing of the museum will be decorated “to the nines” for the full Times Square experience, complete with giant confetti drops at “midnight” and festive activities designed specifically for children throughout the day.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a New Year’s celebration without music. The morning celebration will include a performance by members of The Dreamtree Shakers. The group will perform some of their original songs on a variety of instruments such as the saxophone, flute, guitar and harmonica. A dance party, complete with a DJ playing kid-friendly music, will spice up the afternoon party. Kids will have the chance to dance with friends and there will be dance activities.

The New Year’s events will include a number of other holiday activities including party hat-making, noisemaker horns and free family photos. Also, guests are welcome to explore the entire museum. Families can visit the seven stages of block play in the museum’s temporary exhibit, “Build It!,” which includes a wide selection of interesting blocks of all shapes and sizes from Imagination Playground and Fat Brain Toys. “Build It!” will run through March 4.

“The annual New Year’s Eve event is one of our favorite, most high-energy events of the whole year.” said Museum President and CEO Sheridan Turner. “It is a great way for the whole family to celebrate 2018 without missing bedtime.”

The Museum will be closed to the public on December 31 except for those holding tickets to this unique event. Tickets purchased after December 21 will be $23 for members and $33 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased online at:

About Kohl Children’s Museum
Offering 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children age’s birth to 8, the Museum’s mission is to encourage young children to become effective learners through self-directed complex play. Kohl Children’s Museum is located at 2100 Patriot Blvd., in Glenview, Ill. at the corner of Patriot Blvd. and W. Lake Ave. in The Glen. The Museum can be easily reached by public transportation, including Pace bus and Metra trains.

For more information, visit the Museum’s website at or call (847) 832-6600. The Museum is open on Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Special members-only hours are from Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Admission prices are $12 for children and adults and $11 for senior citizens. Children under 1-year-old and members are free.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

ChiIL Holidaze Giveaways 11A: Ice Cool Award Winning Board Game By Brain Games ($39.99 Value)

 Most Awarded Kids Game of 2017 “Ice Cool” 

All unmarked photos by B. Kenaz-Mara, taken at ChiTAG 2017

At the core of Ice Cool are two significant innovations: the box-in-a-box setup and special flicking techniques. 

Open nationwide/USA through midnight 1/20/18.

A little more than a year has passed since Ice Cool was introduced to the US public at Gen Con 2016. Since then, the game has received 16 prestigious awards from all over the globe, mostly in the children’s games category. In June 2017, Ice Cool received the most significant prize in the board game industry: the Kinderspiel des Jahres Award as the Best Children’s Game of the Year. The game has also received UK Games Expo Award as the Best Children’s Game of 2016 and Deutscher Spielepreis 2017 as the Best Children’s Game of 2017.

This is the first year when Brain Games is exhibiting at ChiTAG Week, the largest toy and game fair in North America targeting families, where the company is presenting its award-winning flicking game Ice Cool. ChiTAG visitors will also have the chance to try out three new children’s games from Brain Games: Woo-Hoo, Reef Route and King Frog, as well as Game of Trains and Logic Cards, which are exciting games for all ages. 

Ice Cool is a children’s game for two to four players aged six and over, which takes approximately 30 minutes to play. It takes you to a penguin school, where rascal penguins have decided to skip class and sneak some fish. The main innovations of the game are the unique flicking technique and the new ‘box-in-a-box’ concept, enabling a 3D game board to be constructed in under a minute.


Egils Grasmanis, CEO of Brain Games, says: “As we constantly strive for innovation in every board game we release, ChiTAG’s slogan, ‘Connecting through play and innovation’, perfectly matches our work philosophy and vision. Chicago has one of biggest board game communities in the US, and we are happy and proud to present Ice Cool here. We think it’s great that ChiTAG targets families, given that our main aim is to create board games that help kids, parents and other family members spend quality time together.” 

About Brain Games
In 2004, three board game enthusiasts embarked on a mission to develop the board game culture in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Having started with the localization and distribution of the popular game “Settlers of Catan”, Brain Games is now the largest board game distributor in the Baltic Countries. In 2011, Brain Games began developing and publishing new original games and later established Brain Games Publishing. Since then, Brain Games Publishing has developed and released nine games, which are currently available in more than 40 countries.

Click image below for lots more opportunities to enter and WIN through 1/20/17.
ChiIL Mama's Holidaze 12 Days of Giveaways Gift Guide is LIVE

Holiday Gift Guide, Giveaways, Discount Codes, Product Reviews and More! 

Disclosure: Thanks to Brain Games for providing complimentary games for review purposes and for our giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

PHOTO RECAP: ChiIL Mama's Adventures at The Chicago Toy and Game Fair 2017

This year my 16 year old son, Dugan, took one camera and I took the other, and we tag teamed coverage of ChiTAG, the largest annual public Toy & Game Fair in the country. We've included all our collective shots in the SLIDE SHOW here and some of our favorites are embedded below, from meeting inventors to our Star Wars themed press/blogger lunch. Dugan did a fabulous job documenting the fun. His photos and mine are watermarked individually in case you're curious who shot what. Enjoy!

The ChiTAG fair is a great way to meet toy and game inventors, get great gift giving ideas, check out brand new releases, and revisit old favorites. They even have show deals and merch on sale on the spot. If you're still stuck for gifting ideas for the holidays, birthdays and beyond, let us be your guide. 

Full ChiTAG 2017 Slideshow Here:

Some highlights this year were: 
seeing Jane Labowitch: AKA Princess Etch and her amazing Etch a Sketch art again, 

meeting Adam Hocherman, the inventor of Playmonster's Tinkineer's Marbleocity,  

checking out the intricate, amazing buildable creations by UGEARS (They sent us two to build, The Theater and the train, and they're incredible!), 

and getting a lesson in how to play Charmed from one of the co-creators, .

Some of our favorite low tech play spaces were the cardboard creative area where kids could DIY anything out of discarded boxes and the Legos area.

Looking for great family game ideas to play in 2018? ChiIL Mama's giving away Chrono Bomb, myPad, and a buildable Mini Skate Park Maker Kit from Playmonster, the award winning IceCool game from Brain Games, Charms game from Studio 9, a Happy Salmon Card Game and more!

Click image below for lots more opportunities to enter and WIN through 12/20/17. 
ChiIL Mama's Holidaze 12 Days of Giveaways Gift Guide is LIVE

Holiday Gift Guide, Giveaways, Discount Codes, Product Reviews and More! 

Disclosure: I have sometimes been given complimentary games for our giveaways and for review purposes and/or I have been compensated for sharing with our readers. As always, all opinions, photos and adventures are my own.

 More ChiTAG Photo Favs Below:

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