ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
A NEW WAY TO SEE THEATER: CHICAGO’S
THEATER WIT TO VIDEO STREAM
EXPERIENCE MIKE LEW’S BRUTALLY FUNNY NEW COMEDY INSPIRED BY THEATER’S MOST FAMOUS DISABLED CHARACTER ONLINE THROUGH APRIL 19
**Teenage Dick runs 100 minutes, no intermission**
Tonight, while most Chicago theatre venues have gone dark during the pandemic, I'll be virtual ChiILin' with Chi, IL's Theater Wit for the press opening of Teenage Dick! You can have your theatre and practice social distancing too. The up side is, drinks are cheap and you can stay in your pajamas. Even better... there are no geographic constraints, so join us in Chicago, wherever you call home or got stranded. Check back with ChiILMama.com soon for my full review.
In response to Illinois State Governor JB Pritzker’s newest mandate to close bars and restaurants due to concern about COVID-19, Theater Wit is suspending live performances of its upcoming run of Teenage Dick .
“All the world’s a stage” takes on new meaning with Chicago’s Theater Wit’s announcement that it is selling remote viewing tickets to online, streamed video performances of its Chicago premiere of Teenage Dick.
Here’s how this new way of ‘attending’ theater works:
Patrons buy a ticket for their desired date and time, same as always. Ten minutes before the show begins, all remote view ticket buyers will receive an email with a private URL and password to watch the performance on Vimeo. The performance will be shot on two cameras, using mixed video to provide close-ups and full coverage of the staging. At the end of every performance, the video stream will conclude and no longer be accessible.
Starting Friday, March 20, performance/streaming video show times will adhere to the original schedule through April 19: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Remote view tickets are $28. For remote view tickets and information, visit TheaterWit.org or call (773) 975-8150. Theater Wit is located at 1229 N. Belmont Ave., in the Belmont Theatre District in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
In a statement posted on Theater Wit's website, Artistic Director Jeremy Wechsler wrote:
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary ingenuity. Theater audiences and artists are collateral damage in this global catastrophe. The unfolding disaster robs us of the simple joy of coming together for a shared story. So we asked ourselves—how can we safely bring everyone together?”
“Even before large gatherings were restricted in Chicago, we were thinking through issues of accessibility. Teenage Dick gives the disabled community its first true anti-hero. We wanted everyone, regardless of their health status or physical limitations, to see MacGregor Arney’s fantastic portrayal of the title role.”
“Mounting concern about coronavirus spurred our decision to make this option available to every audience member. The playwright, publisher, cast, and crew all got on board right away. We worked through the details with Actors’ Equity and now, here we go. We strongly encourage anyone who loves live theater, no matter where they are located, to join us and 97 other members of our community online or in person to experience Mike Lew’s devastatingly funny, sharply written new play.”
Playwright Mike Lew added, “Amidst a health catastrophe that's brought Broadway itself to a standstill, I'm thrilled Theater Wit has found a safe way to keep our show running and keep honoring the hard work and immense talent of our artists. I urge Chicagoans to witness Teenage Dick as much for the experience of the play as for joining this experiment in social connecting despite social distancing.”
“Now is the winter of discontent made glorious summer at Roseland High.”
In Teenage Dick , Lew revives theater's most famous disabled character, Shakespeare’s Richard III, like you've never seen him before: scheming his way through the brutal, no-holds barred world of high school. Picked on because of his cerebral palsy (and his semi-creepy tendency to monologue), Richard is determined to become class president. But the road to power is never smooth and Richard must decide: is it better to be loved? Or feared?
Director Brian Balcom and the cast in rehearsal for Teenage Dick
Brain Balcom, a Chicago and Minneapolis-based director and head of the Access Project at Victory Gardens, directs the Chicago debut of Teenage Dick at Theater Wit, Chicago’s “smart art” theater.
“We are thrilled to have Brian at the helm of Teenage Dick , his first full professional production in Chicago,” said Wechsler. “Brian is a young, disabled, Asian-American director who has brought a highly nuanced take to this new work by one of today’s most important young Asian-American playwrights. Brian, his design team a terrific cast of disabled and non-disabled theater artists have created a raw, hilarious, vitally important live theater experience that portrays disability issues in a radically new way.”
The cast features MacGregor Arney as Richard, Liz Cloud as Elizabeth, Ty Fanning as Eddie, Courtney Rikki Green as Anne, Kate Niemann as Clarissa and Tamara Rozofsky as Buck.
Wit’s production team is Jake Ganzer (choreographer), Sotirios Livaditis (scenic designer), Izumi Inaba (costume designer), Michelle Benda (lighting designer), Eric Backus (sound designer), Almanya Narula (intimacy/fight choreographer), Jonathan Berg-Einhorn (props designer), Clare Cooney (casting director) and Sean McStravick (stage manager).
Mike Lew's (playwright) works include Tiger Style!, Collin, Bike America (Alliance, Atlanta; Ma-Yi, NYC; Juilliard and Lark workshops, NYC; Kennedy Center/NNPN workshop, DC; Playwrights Foundation workshop, SF); microcrisis (Ma-Yi, NYC; InterAct, Philly; Next Act, Milwaukee); Stockton (AracaWorks and EST workshops, NYC); and People’s Park (Victory Gardens Ignition Festival). Shorts include Tenure (24 Hour Plays on Broadway), In Paris You will Find Many Baguettes but Only One True Love (Humana Fest, KY; InspiraTO Festival winner, Toronto), Roanoke (Humana) and Moustache Guys (Second Generation, NYC). He is a former resident writer for Blue Man Group and Bon Appetit . Several of his short plays are published by Playscripts. His awards include the Lanford Wilson Award (via the Dramatists Guild), Helen Merrill Award, NYFA Fellowship, Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award, AracaWorks Graduate Playwriting Award, Heideman Award, Sam French Festival and Battle of the Bards. He is co-director of Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab, the largest Asian-American playwrights’ collective in the country. Other residencies are Ensemble Studio Theatre, Youngblood, Old Vic New Voices and TCG Young Leaders of Color.He is married to playwright Rehana Lew Mirza. Training: Juilliard (2013), Yale (2003). mikelew.com
Brian Balcom (director), a disabled, Asian-American director, moved to Chicago to earn his MFA in directing at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Since graduating, he was a Multi-Cultural Fellow at Steppenwolf Theater, directed readings and short plays at Route 66, Broken Nose, The Gift, Silk Road, A-Squared, and La Jolla Rep, and currently works as the access coordinator at Victory Gardens Theater. He earned a BFA in directing from Carnegie-Mellon University, where he started a small theater company dedicated to commissioning work from Jerome and McKnight fellows from the Playwrights Center. He produced and directed seven new plays and his company was invited to present at the Southern and Guthrie Theatres. In Minneapolis, he also worked with Gremlin Theater, The Playwrights Center, Walking Shadow Company, Artistry, and Mu Performing Arts. He has upcoming productions with Mu Performing Arts and American Stage in Florida.
MacGregor Arney (Richard) received his BA in theater performance from Western Michigan University and his MFA in acting from the University of California, San Diego. Since then he has acted all around the country, most recently at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where he played Silvius in As You Like It and Lennox in Macbeth . He has also played Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Fielder in Hooded, Or Being Black for Dummies at Mixed Blood in Minneapolis. In Denver, Arney played the Baker in Into the Woods with Phamaly Theatre Company at the Denver Center of Performing Arts, and in Washington DC, he played Jonas in Going to a Place Where You Already Are with Theater Alliance at the Anacostia Playhouse. Arney lives with his wife in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he develops independent films with his production company, Rag n' Tag Productions.
Liz Cloud (Elizabeth) received an After Dark Award and a Joseph Jefferson citation nomination for her performance of Charlotte Bronte in Bronte . She regularly can be see performing in full habit as Sister in the long running one-woman (or more correctly one-nun) comedy Late Nite Catechism (Royal George Theatre). Credits include the Fool in King Lear (Redtwist Theatre), The Laramie Project (AstonRep), Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest (CenterStage), Letters Home (Griffin Theatre), Kathleen in Flanagan’s Wake (The Noble Fool Theater), Mrs. McBride in Bible Bingo (Nuns4Fun Productions), the Shepherd in The Winter’s Tale (Odds Bodkins) as well as the terse librarian in the independent film American Fable . She is a founding member of the improv comedy ensemble, The Free Associates.
Ty Fanning (Eddie) has crediting including Lindiwe (Steppenwolf), Short Shakespeare! Macbeth , Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare), She Stoops to Conquer , Three Sisters , Book of Will , Macbeth , A Midsummer Night’s Dream , Cyrano (American Players Theater), Utah Shakespeare Festival, Door Shakespeare Company, Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival and Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. Film credits include Secrets of a Psychopath , Home Run , Hollis , Dancing in the Chamber (Best Actor, Trail Dance Film Festival), Nora and Bob Dylan’s web video Like a Rolling Stone .
Courtney Rikki Green (Anne) trained as a youth at the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center, where she learned multiple styles of dance. In high school, her interests shifted to theater, though she still loves to dance. She recently graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in Acting and is an original member of Chicago's Drunk Shakespeare Society . Her most recent role was Queen Anne in The Three Musketeers at Syracuse Stage (Syracuse Area Live Theatre Nomination - Best Supporting Actress in a Play).
Kathleen Niemann (Clarissa) was recently seen touring the U.S. with Griffin Theatre’s Innovation Nation Live! and performed a solo show she wrote and choreographed herself called The Ones to Remember . She is a graduate of Ball State University and is proudly represented by Gray Talent Group.
Tamara Rozofsky (Buck) is a writer, teacher, performer and storyteller from Tallahassee, FL. She contributed to the "A Ramp is Not Enough: Religion and Disability Conference" at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and has given workshops, corporate trainings and presentations for BMO Harris Bank, Hyatt Hotels, Southern Shakespeare Company, Camp Horizon for adults with physical disabilities, Columbia College, Notre Dame De Namur University, University of the Pacific and California State University. She is a graduate of the Second City's Sketch Writing and Conservatory programs and iO Theater’s improv program. She was featured in The Bentwood Comedy Festival, Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival and Chicago Women’s Funny Fest. She has written and appeared in the original sketch comedy revues Wigs & Bad Accents, or Identity Politics , 16 and Pagan and A Box Full of Kittens . She improvises at iO Theater with the team “Bad Bear.” Since 2015 she has been involved with Tellin’ Tales Theater and has contributed to several productions, including Six Stories Up in a Snowstorm and Divercity , Lifeline Theatre’s Filet of Solo and Lyric Opera’s Chicago Voices, Community Created Performances .
Teenage Dick understudies are Jodi Gage (Elizabeth), Mikey Gray (Anne/Clarissa), Terri Lynne Hudson (Buck) and Matthew Schnitker (Richard).