Wednesday, April 3, 2019

ADULT NIGHT OUT: Midwest Premiere of UTILITY Via Interrobang Theatre Project at Rivendell Theatre April 5 – May 4, 2019

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Midwest Premiere!
Interrobang Theatre Project Presents
By Emily Schwend
Directed by Artistic Director Georgette Verdin

April 5 – May 4, 2019 at Rivendell Theatre

I'll be out for the press opening April 9th, so check back soon for my full review. Interrobang Theatre Project is pleased to conclude its ninth season, exploring “identity/crisis,” with the Midwest premiere of Emily Schwend's drama UTILITY, an intimate look at an East Texas woman's struggle to make ends meet, directed by Artistic Director Georgette Verdin*. UTILITY will play April 5 – May 4, 2019 at ITP’s new resident home, Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave. in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (312) 219-4140. 

UTILITY features ITP Ensemble Member Brynne Barnard* with Kevin D'Ambrosio, Barbara Figgins and Patrick TJ Kelly.

Amber is doing everything she can to keep her head above water, but no matter how hard she tries it never seems to be enough. Money is tight, her marriage is in turmoil, and she’s juggling two jobs just to make ends meet. As she struggles to plan her eight-year-old daughter’s birthday party, Amber must stay strong as she feels increasingly invisible in her own life. Meticulous and heartbreaking, Utility offers an empathic glimpse into America's' working poor. Winner of the 2016 Yale Drama Series Prize.

Comments Managing Artistic Director Georgette Verdin, “This play fits snugly into both Interrobang’s mission and our 9th season, whose theme is: identity/crisis. It’s important to remember that in large swaths of our country, whether it be small towns decimated by dying industries or inner cities, the concept of identity is frustratingly wrapped up in the fight for basic survival needs. And while Trump’s election has given many of us so much to be saddened by and infuriated about, I’ve come to believe that liberals are often entering into one-sided conversations with people we imagine to be like the characters in Utility. People who, in reality, are preoccupied with keeping food on the table, and the electricity flowing. If if we really want to shift the needle and get our country headed in a direction that feels inclusive, we'll have to reach out to the marginalized in all corners across all cultures and employ radical empathy.”

The production team for UTILITY includes Kerry L. Chipman (scenic design), Michelle E. Benda (lighting design), Erik Siegling (sound design), Adam Borchers (properties design), Lindsay Bartlett (dialect coach), Claire Bauman (assistant director), Richie Vavrina (production manager), Bryan Zoleta (technical director) and Nick Plakas (stage manager)

*Denotes Interrobang Theatre Project Ensemble Member or Artistic Associate.

Cast (in alphabetical order): Brynne Barnard* (Amber), Kevin D'Ambrosio (Jim), Barbara Figgins (Laura) and Patrick TJ Kelly (Chris).

Location: Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Friday, April 5 at 8 pm, Saturday, April 6 at 8 pm and Monday, April 8 at 8 pm

Subscriber/Board opening: Thursday, April 11 at 8 pm

Regular run: Friday, April 12 – Saturday, May 4, 2019

Curtain Times: Thursdays, and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 8 pm; Mondays at 8 pm.

Tickets: Previews: $16. Regular run: $32. Students $16 with ID. Group discounts available. Tickets are currently available at or by calling (312) 219-4140.

About the Artists:
Emily Schwend’s (Playwright) plays include Utility (The Amoralists in New York City, Orange Tree Theatre in London, 2016 Yale Drama Series Award, 2017 IT Award for Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play), The Other Thing (Second Stage Theatre Uptown), Take Me Back (Walkerspace), South of Settling (Steppenwolf's Next Up Rep) and Splinters (CUDC Source Festival). She was a 2016-2017 Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard University and the inaugural 2014 Tow Foundation playwright-in-residence at Second Stage Theatre. Her work has been developed at The New Group, Roundabout Theatre Company, ACT Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Partial Comfort Productions, Ars Nova, the Alliance Theatre, PlayPenn and the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, among others. She is a frequent contributor to Christine Jones’s Theatre for One booth. She is the recipient of a Bogliasco Fellowship, a MacDowell Fellowship, the ACT New Play Award, the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwrights Prize, the Lecomte du Nouy Prize, and the Heideman Prize. Her work has been commissioned by the Studio Theatre in D.C., the Ensemble Studio Theatre through the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Old Vic in London. She is a proud alumna of the playwriting programs at Juilliard and Tisch.

Georgette Verdin (Director) has been working with ITP since 2014 and currently serves as Managing Artistic Director. She is also a freelance director, theater and speech educator and arts integration specialist. She was the founding theater teacher at Polaris Charter Academy, an Expeditionary Learning School in West Humboldt Park, where she taught full-time for eight years. For Interrobang, Georgette directed last season’s Jeff recommended production of Grace by Craig Wright, season seven’s production of the 2013 Yale Drama Series winner, Still by Jen Silverman, as well as season six’s Katrina: Mother-In-Law of ‘Em All by Rob Florence and the Jeff recommended Recent Tragic Events, also by Craig Wright. Other recent directing credits include Jeff Recommended 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas (Assistant Director, Lookingglass Theatre Company), Jeff Recommended Time Stands Still (AstonRep), Phoebe in Winter (Assistant Director, Facility Theatre) and Goodman’s A Christmas Carol (Assistant Director). Georgette holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Performance from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA and a Master in Directing from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. 

About Interrobang Theatre Project

Now in its ninth season, Interrobang Theatre Project, under the artistic leadership of Georgette Verdin, has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as a “company to watch” and by Time Out Chicago as “one of Chicago’s most promising young theatre companies.” Chris Jones called Foxfinder, which kicked off Interrobang’s 2017-18 season, “...a ripping good yarn,” earning it 3.5 stars from the Chicago Tribune. Foxfinder also garnered seven non-Equity Jeff Awards nominations including Best Director and Production of a Play, and took home two awards for Best Original Music and Set Design. The company also earned seven non-Equity Jeff Nominations for their seventh season, including Best Director, Production of a Play, Solo Performance and acting nominations for Lead Actor, Actress (win) and Actor in a Supporting Role (win). Productions have included the world premiere of Calamity West’s Ibsen is Dead (Jeff Recommended), the Jeff Recommended The Pitchfork Disney, Orange Flower Water, Recent Tragic Events, The North Pool, The Amish Project, Falling, Grace, The Goat or Who is Sylvia? and I Call My Brothers. Director James Yost’s critically-acclaimed Really Really was one of six shows chosen for Chicago Tribune’s “Best of 2015 in Chicago Fringe Theater.”

What’s an interrobang?
An interrobang is the combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, joining the Latin for “question” (interro) with a proofreading term for “exclamation” (bang). Through the plays we produce, Interrobang Theatre Project aims to pose worthwhile and exciting questions which challenge our understanding and assumptions of who we are and the world in which we live.

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