15th Anniversary Season Wrap UP and the Year Ahead
September 13, 2007
August, 2007—Writers’ Theatre has a lot to celebrate it as wraps up it‘s 15th Anniversary and enters the 2007/08 Season. The previous season was deemed a success, both artistically and fiscally, and the company is well poised for an exciting upcoming year. Writers’ sold tickets totaling 106% of capacity and had 40,000 people in attendance overall, including The MLK Project and in-school residencies. Both Bach at Leipzig and The Puppetmaster of Lodz enjoyed extended runs. Writers’ operated “in the black” for the 15th consecutive season and welcomed new Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma.
The upcoming season will celebrate Writers’ first original world premiere play with Evan Smith’s The Savannah Disputation. Writers’ will also inaugurate Family Programming, which will continue the collaboration of director Jimmy McDermott and world-renowned puppetry artist Michael Montenegro. In addition to the upcoming subscription season, Writers’ is producing Crime and Punishment, directed by Michael Halberstam, in New York City, the company’s New York debut.
The following document contains upcoming press performances and some of the highlights of the previous season.
PLEASE JOIN WRITERS’ FOR THE FOLLOWING 2007/08 PRESS PERFORMANCES:
The Savannah Disputation by Evan Smith, directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam
Press Opening: September 26, 2007, at 7:30 p.m.
The Turn of the Screw adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the story by Henry James, directed by Jessica Thebus
Press Opening: November 28, 2007, at 7:30 p.m.
As You Like It by William Shakespeare, directed by William Brown
Press opening: February 13, 2008, at 7:30 p.m.
The Lion in Winter by James Goldman, directed by Rick Snyder
Press opening: June 4, 2008, at 7:30 p.m.
The 12th Annual A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted & performed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam
Press opening: December 19 at 8:00 p.m.
WRITERS’ THEATRE MAKES COMPANY DEBUT IN NEW YORK WITH ITS CELEBRATED
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, adapted by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus
Directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam
Featuring Susan Bennett, John Judd and Scott Parkinson
Designed by Eugene Lee (set), Keith Parham (lights) Theresa Squire (costumes), and Josh Schmidt (sound)
November 1–December 2, 2007 at 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th Street
Writers’ Theatre is making its debut in New York City this fall with a remount of the highly acclaimed award-winning production of Crime and Punishment adapted by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus from the Fyodor Dostoevsky novel. Following his New York directorial debut last season, Michael Halberstam will return to New York to direct this 90-minute adaptation featuring the original Writers’ Theatre cast— Susan Bennett, Scott Parkinson, and John Judd. Susan Bennett most recently performed at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C.; Scott Parkinson recently completed the run of The Coast of Utopia at Lincoln Center; John Judd most recently played Iago in Writers’ sold out production of Othello.
Crime and Punishment had its world premiere at Books on Vernon during the 2003 season and is a quintessential Writers’ Theatre production. Brilliantly literary and yet inherently theatrical, it manages to compress the essence of one of the world’s greatest novels into a three-actor, 90-minute performance without sacrificing the heart of the source material.
Designers include scenic designer Eugene Lee (Saturday Night Live, Wicked, Sweeney Todd, Ragtime), sound designer Josh Schmidt, (Othello, The Chosen, The Doctor’s Dilemma); costume designer Theresa Squire (Lieutenant of Inishmore, Orson’s Shadow), and lighting designer Keith Parham (The Savannah Disputation, Bach at Leipzig).
Performances will run November 1 through December 2, 2007 at 59E59 Theaters in New York. For tickets, contact the 59E59 Theaters Box Office at 212-279-4200 or www.59e59.org.
Writers’ Theatre is hosting a weekend in New York to celebrate the opening of Crime and Punishment, November 9-10, 2007. For more information, contact Jon Faris, General Manager, 847-242-8940.
MICHAEL HALBERSTAM TO DIRECT IN CHICAGO, NEW YORK AND MILWAUKEE AFTER TRIUMPHANT NEW YORK DEBUT WITH CANDIDA
Last season, Michael Halberstam directed Othello at Writers’ and Ten Little Indians for Drury Lane Oakbrook. This season, he will direct the world premiere of Evan Smith’s The Savannah Disputation at Writers’ followed by Crime and Punishment at 59E59 Theaters in New York City, NY, which will mark the company’s New York Premiere. Michael made his New York City debut in 2006 when he directed Candida at the Jean Cocteau Repertory. He will then direct Enchanted April at Milwaukee Rep, opening this February.
In December, Michael will perform in the 12th annual production of his one-man performance of A Christmas Carol at Writers’. He is also currently working on a musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Candida with Josh Schmidt (The Adding Machine) and Jan Tranen.
WRITERS’ WELCOMED KATE LIPUMA AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Writers’ Theatre welcomed Kathryn M. Lipuma as its new Executive Director. Lipuma began at Writers’ late March, 2007. She replaced Jennifer Bielstein, who left in October to assume the position of Managing Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Kathryn M. Lipuma was the Executive Director of the award-winning Signature Theatre Company in
New York. As Signature’s chief operating and administrative officer, during her tenure Lipuma directed the company through several milestones, and among its numerous awards and accolades, recognition as Outstanding National Theatre of the Year in 2003. Most recently, Lipuma was responsible for overseeing Signature’s strategic business and operations plans for the creation of a new, multi-venue performing arts center located at the redeveloped World Trade Center site, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Lipuma has consulted with not-for-profit theatres, hosted fundraising seminars for development professionals from across the country and has been a guest lecturer on arts management in the graduate programs at New York University and at Marymount Manhattan College. She has served on numerous arts and funding panels including the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Philadelphia Theatre Institute for the Pew Charitable Trust. Prior to moving to New York City, she spent six years with The Goodman Theatre in Chicago. She is a graduate of the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where she received her B.A. in radio and television broadcasting.
WRITERS’ INTRODUCES FAMILY PROGRAMMING
Continuing their collaborative relationship formed during The Puppetmaster of Lodz, Director Jimmy McDermott and puppet artist Michael Montenegro will join forces again to create a new family programming series which will enjoy a limited run on Saturdays in spring 2008. The piece will be an original work and will have appeal for the entire family. The creative team will stage a production that parents can enjoy as much as their children and that will derive its inspiration from the magical combination of words and artistry.
Last season’s production of The Puppetmaster of Lodz featured the memorably eloquent designs from the master puppeteer Michael Montenegro. Writers’ Theatre will reunite Montenegro with Jimmy McDermott, who was recently promoted at Writers’ to the position of Artistic Associate, to debut the first ever Writers’ Theatre Family Program. Joining this team is playwright Emily Schwartz, whose most recent work Mr. Spacky: The Man Who Was Continuously Followed by Wolves played to critical raves and packed houses for The Strange Tree Group at The Chopin. Her intelligent and uniquely humorous voice perfectly complements Montenegro’s incomparable, rough-hewn visual style. This exciting new piece is now in development under the working title The Last Elephant. The story’s topics will touch on themes of conservation, responsibility, change and acceptance.
Performances will run Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. from February 23 through March 29 at 325 Tudor Court. Tickets are $20 and can be ordered by contacting the Box Office at 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org.
WRITERS TO PARTICIPATE IN 365
Joining with hundreds of theatres all over the country, Writers’ Theatre presents its offerings in Susan Lori Parks’ 365 plays. Directed by Artistic Associate Jimmy McDermott, the dramatic plays will be produced as pre-show presentations to occur at Tudor Court in the upstairs dining room prior to performances of The Savannah Disputation. Performances will run the week of October 15 and admission is free. For more information, 847-242-6000.
MICA COLE NAMED DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION AT WRITERS’
Mica comes to Writers’ Theatre from the south side of Chicago. Since graduating from the Theatre School at DePaul University, she has become the co-founder of The POEACTRY PROJECT, an urban creative writing initiative for young women, co-founder of Cursed With Words Theatre Company and founder of The TRUTH About Us, a performance-based educational program. She has worked in arts-in-education for seven years and has taught in collaboration with Free Street Programs, Chicago Public Schools, Columbia College and After School Matters. She is an Artistic Associate at Free Street Programs.
WRITERS’ INITIATED THE MLK PROJECT; PRODUCTION REACHED ALMOST 9,000 STUDENTS
Last season, Writers’ Theatre introduced the world premiere of The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights, a one-woman play by Yolanda Androzzo, directed by Ron OJ Parson, featuring Sharyon Culberson. The play was commissioned by Writers’ Theatre to encourage students to explore the history of the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s within their own communities.
The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights, a touring one-woman show that weaves poetry, song, and oral-tellings, follows a young girl’s search for self-discovery through the American Civil Rights Movement. The MLK Project outlines the major events and ideas behind the civil rights movement, and illustrates how the Midwest experience mirrored that of the Southern states. The interactive performance includes excerpts of interviews with key figures and unsung participants of the civil rights movement from diverse backgrounds including M. Earle Sardon, David Hernandez, Dr. Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs and Reverend Jesse Jackson.
The Theatre collaborated with Urban Gateways and Chicago Communities in Schools to schedule the tour of schools. Writers’ also worked with Kathy Georgopolous, Theatre and Public Schools (TAPS) Coordinator at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) at the onset of the tour. David Roche, Director of Fine and Performing Art in the newly created CPS Art Department, attended the performance at the Cultural Center of Chicago. Writers’ Theatre worked with the Old Town School of Folk Music, Du Sable Museum of African-American History and the Chicago Cultural Center to bring several schools to their locations to experience the performance. The MLK Project is supported by a variety of corporations and foundations, including Ariel Capital Management, the Carol Marks Jacobsohn Foundation, Cornell/Weinstein Family Foundation, Credit Suisse Foundation, Steans Family Foundation, Target, and Winnetka Rotary Club. Writers’ Theatre hopes to continue these relationships and build upon them to bring The MLK Project and its important message of acceptance to students throughout Chicagoland.
WRITERS’ THEATRE COMMISSIONS NEW WORKS BY JOSH SCHMIDT AND JAN TRANEN, BRETT NEVEU AND CHAY YEW
To further its commitment to the creation of new works, Writers’ Theatre announces commissions for the following projects:
Josh Schmidt (music) and Jan Tranen (lyrics) are collaborating with Artistic Director Michael Halberstam on a yet-to-be-titled musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Candida. The piece is currently scheduled for workshops in the 2007/08 season and will premiere in the 2008/09 season. Soaring from his success with The Adding Machine at Next Theatre, Josh Schmidt will continue his longtime association with Writers’ as a sound designer and composer (The Puppetmaster of Lodz, Othello, The Duchess of Malfi, The Chosen, The Subject Was Roses, The Doctor’s Dilemma and Rough Crossing, among others) by collaborating with lyricist Jan Tranen. Halberstam returns to Candida in this new musical production after directing successful productions of Shaw’s comedy at Writers’ Theatre and, most recently, at The Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York.
Chicago playwright Brett Neveu will be writing a yet-to-be-titled piece for Writers’ Theatre. The play is in its early stages, and will result in workshops over the next two seasons as part of the play development initiative.
Chay Yew, an award-winning director and playwright, has been commissioned to write a play for Writers’ Theatre to be developed in workshops over the next two seasons. Yew’s plays include Porcelain, A Language of Their Own, Red, A Beautiful Country, Wonderland, Question 27 Question 28 and A Distant Shore. His work has been produced at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Manhattan Theatre Club, Wilma Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, LaJolla Playhouse, Intiman, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Singapore Repertory Theatre and TheatreWorks Singapore, among others.
WRITERS’ THEATRE CONTINUES SUCCESSFUL “FROM PAGE TO STAGE” IN CONJUNCTION WITH NORTH SHORE LIBRARIES
Writers’ Theatre will partner with ten North Shore Libraries for the third annual “From Page to Stage” program in conjunction with The Turn of the Screw. Last season, “From Page to Stage,” a partnership between Writers’ Theatre and eight North Shore Public Libraries reached out to new audiences with programming to enhance and discuss elements of Othello.
WRITERS’ CONTINUES TRADITION OF SPECIAL SERIES; NEW AFTERNOON TEA SERIES ADDED:
Before the show, participants will explore wines from the world of the play complemented by savory hors d’oeuvres at Gallery 659 (659 Vernon Avenue) in Glencoe. Wine tastings begin at 7:00 p.m. and are available with select Thursday evening performances. Price (including subscription tickets): $220
Writers’ Theatre guest artists will guide patrons through the inner-workings of each production. By providing details that enhance the Writers’ Theatre experience, each lecture will increase audience appreciation for the production to follow. The pre-show lectures begin at 5:00 p.m. and are offered at no additional cost with select Sunday evening performances.
Writers’ Theatre artistic staff and cast members will host lively post-show discussions. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions about the process, the characters and the production. Post-show discussions are offered at no additional cost and are available with select Tuesday and Wednesday evening performances.
As an add-on to any subscription package, each Writers’ Theatre visit can be enhanced by having dinner before or after the show at four of the North Shore’s finest restaurants. Each meal will include an appetizer, entrée, dessert and a glass of wine. The package includes one meal at each of the participating restaurants, DiPescara, Lincolnshire Gourmet, Mirani’s and Morton’s Steakhouse. Price: $175 (Tuesdays-Thursdays and Sundays); $200 (Fridays and Saturdays).
Afternoon Tea Series
Writers’ Theatre and The Celtic Knot partner in this exciting new social event to be enjoyed throughout the season. The first tea has been scheduled for November 14, 2007, at 4:30 p.m. The tea can be enjoyed as a post-show event for matinee-goers or a pre-show treat for the evening ticketholders. Price: $65 for performance and tea or $20 tea only.
WRITERS’ ANNUAL GALA CELEBRATED 15 YEARS OF WRITERS’ THEATRE
The Writers’ Theatre Board of Trustees and Gala Host Committee hosted the Writers’ Theatre 15th Anniversary Gala, a tribute to 15 seasons of celebrating the word and honoring the artist on Saturday, March 10, 2007, at the Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware Place, Chicago. More than 350 to attended and $240,000 was raised for the theatre.
The elegant black-tie event featured a special musical performance of original songs and favorite standards by the cast of Bach at Leipzig. The cast included: Ross Lehman, Rob Lindley, John Reeger, Tim Rock, Jonathan Weir and Larry Yando.
The 2007/08 Gala will be held April 4, 2008, at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago.
WRITERS’ RECEIVES MacARTHUR FOUNDATION GRANT
Writers’ Theatre received a $200,000 five-year gift from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The MacArthur Foundation is a private Chicago-based grant-making institution that is dedicated to large, long-term gifts that can deeply impact and strengthen organizations. Most of these gifts are for general operating support, which allows the leadership of the recipient organizations to allocate the funds as beneficially as possible.
WRITERS’ CONTINUES THE TRADITION OF THEATRE TOURS, HOSTED BY MICHAEL HALBERSTAM AND RICHARD CHRISTIANSEN
Writers' Theatre offered two sold-out theatre tours last season. Hosted by Michael Halberstam and Richard Christiansen, the tours traveled to London (December 28-January 5) for six productions on the West End, and exclusive discussions with Tony Award-winner Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) and Jeffrey Dench (Merry Wives--The Musical); and the Stratford Festival of Canada for four productions, including King Lear with Brian Bedford. A total of 49 people traveled with Writers’ last season and the theatre raised over $18,000 in donations from the excursions. Writers’ will again travel to London with hosts Michael Halberstam and Richard Christiansen over the upcoming New Year’s holiday, December 30, 2007-January 6, 2008.