WT presents the World Premiere of The Savannah Disputation
August 27, 2007
the World Premiere of The Savannah Disputation
by Evan Smith
directed by Michael Halberstam
Glencoe, IL— Writers’ Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma announce the world premiere of The Savannah Disputation by Evan Smith, directed by Michael Halberstam. The production opens the 16th season and runs September 18-November 25, 2007, at Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe. The official press opening is Wednesday, September 26, 2007, at 7:30 p.m.
The Savannah Disputation is sponsored by Urban Innovations.
This world premiere script comes to Writers' Theatre from the playwright of The Uneasy Chair. The story revolves around two sisters who forget all about southern charm when a young door-to-door evangelist comes proselytizing. Smith, known for his wildly eclectic thematic writing, employs his trademark sharpness of wit and draws a compelling portrait of the conflicts between dogma, faith and the wildly variant interpretations of biblical texts depending upon the point of view and needs of the reader.
“It’s a marvelous feeling to be producing a world premiere play from a living playwright with whom we have an ongoing relationship. We have a long history of World Premiere adaptations, but this is deliciously new territory for us,” says Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. “The Word and the Artist are very much at the forefront of The Savannah Disputation. Four of Chicago’s finest actors are collaborating to bring to life this play which manages to tackle the matter of faith without judging the actions of its characters. Consequently, we are left to ask our own questions and reflect on our own relationship to the issues at hand. Of course, because it’s an Evan Smith play, it also offers a landscape which is rich with laughter and sympathy.”
The cast includes Marilynn Bogetich (Mary), Linda Kimbrough (Margaret), Suzanne Lang (Melissa) and Robert Scogin (Father Murphy).
The designers are Keith Pitts (scenic), Josh Schmidt (sound), Keith Parham (lighting), Janice Pytel (costume) and Jenniffer Thusing (properties). LaRonika Thomas is the dramaturg. David F. Castellanos is the production stage manager.
Evan Smith (playwright) returns to Writers’ Theatre after The Uneasy Chair. He was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia where he attended Benedictine Military School. He has a BA in English from Vassar College and an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. His play Sevicemen was produced by the New Group in New York City and New York Stage and Film in Poughkeepsie, NY. Both The Uneasy Chair and Psych were produced by Playwrights Horizons in New York City. The Uneasy Chair was recently revived in a new version by 1812 Productions in Philadelphia prior to its production at Writers’. 1812 Productions also produced his play Daughters of Genius in 2006. His TV pilot Debs was produced onstage in Los Angeles by Naked TV, a joint venture of Fox TV and Naked Angels. His plays have been published by the Grove Press, the Dramatists Play Service, Smith and Kraus, Dell Books and soon by Playscripts.com. He is a recipient of a 2002 Whiting Award. He was resident playwright at the William Inge Center in 2005.
Michael Halberstam (director) is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Writers’ Theatre, where he has directed Love & Lunacy, A Play on Words, Dear Master, Not about Heroes, Diary of a Madman, My Own Stranger, Marriage & Bears, Blake, Memoir, Private Lives, Look Back in Anger, Candida, Fallen Angels, Nixon’s Nixon, Spite For Spite, The Father, A Phoenix Too Frequent, Rough Crossing, Crime and Punishment, Benefactors, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Seagull, The Uneasy Chair, The Duchess of Malfi and most recently Othello. Michael appeared in the Writers’ Theatre productions Two by Shaw, Oscar Remembered, Damon Ring & F. Scott, In the Heart of Winter, the title role in Richard II, Pinteracts, Loot and Misalliance. Previously, he spent two years performing at The Stratford Festival in Ontario. Michael’s other Chicago acting credentials include productions with Wisdom Bridge, Court Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. He spent two-and-a-half years teaching Shakespeare at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Elsewhere he has directed at American Theatre Company, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Jean Cocteau Repertory (New York), Northlight Theatre and Peninsula Players Theatre. His forays into opera have included The Rape of Lucretia (Chicago Opera Theater); Francesca Da Rimini featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and Le Freyschutz, a Berlioz adaptation of the Weber opera conducted by Christoph Eschenbach in its North American Premiere (Ravinia Festival). Michael has received awards for excellence in theatre management and artistic achievement from The Chicago Drama League, The Arts & Business Council and the Chicago Lawyers for the Creative Arts. Michael will perform in the 12th annual production of his one-man performance of A Christmas Carol. He will also be directing The Writers' Theatre New York premiere of Crime and Punishment at 59E59 Theaters in New York City this November and Enchanted April at Milwaukee Repertory Theater in February.
Marilynn Bogetich (Mary) makes her debut with Writers’ Theatre. She has appeared in Death of a Salesman, Bounce, A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), Maria Arndt (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Sunday in the Park with George (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Bubbe Meisus (Northlight Theatre), By the Bog of Cats (Irish Repertory), Fighting Words (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), Mousetrap, Deathtrap, Into the Woods (Peninsula Players), Oliver, Beauty and the Beast, Grovers’ Corners (Marriott’s Lincolnshire Theatre), Music Man and Damn Yankees (Drury Lane). Marilyn has performed with Court Theatre in My Fair Lady (Joseph Jefferson Award, Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical) and Happy End. She has also worked with Candlelight Theatre, appearing in Phantom, Follies (Joseph Jefferson Nomination, Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical), Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof.
Linda Kimbrough (Margaret) previously joined Writers’ Theatre in The Uneasy Chair and Fallen Angels. A selection of Chicago credits include She Stoops to Conquer, Red Herring (Northlight Theatre), Miss Witherspoon (Next Theatre), The Play about the Baby (Goodman Theatre), The Man who Came to Dinner (Steppenwolf Theatre Company and The Barbican Center in London, England), The Moliere Comedies (Chicago Shakespeare Theater at The Shubert Theatre) and All’s Well that Ends Well (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Movie credits include Spartan, State and Main and the soon-to-be-released Redbelt. Linda has volunteered for the past 20 years at CHRIS radio, reading the newspaper to the sight-impaired and the neurologically handicapped.
Suzanne Lang (Melissa) was recently seen at Writers’ Theatre in Othello and Bus Stop. Recent credits include Pride and Prejudice (Northlight Theatre). She has also appeared in Collaboraction’s The Life and Times of Tulsa Lovechild (Joseph Jefferson Award, Best Ensemble) and Defying Gravity (Brown Couch Theatre Company). Suzanne has performed with Estrogen Fest, Stage Actors’ Multicultural Fest, Chicago Dramatists, The Indiana Shakespeare Festival and the English American Theatre Festival in Düsseldorf, Germany. This past October, she completed filming for Elsewhere by Nathan Hope and in November, she appeared in An Open Door at this year’s 42nd Chicago International Film Festival. Suzanne has an MFA in acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University.
Robert Scogin (Father Murphy) returns to Writers’ Theater where he was seen previously in Seagull, The Doctor's Dilemma, Niedecker, Dear Liar and Richard II, and directed Pinteracts starring Michael Halberstam. He appeared on Broadway in Henry V and Off-Broadway in A Road Where the Wolves Run and Children of the Ladybug. Regional credits include American Shakespeare Festival, California Shakespeare Festival, Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, Notre Dame Summer Shakespeare, Missouri Repertory Theater and Indiana Repertory Theater. Chicago credits include Wisdom Bridge Arts Project, Northlight Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and Goodman Theater. Robert has appeared in more than 30 productions at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, most recently in Henry IV Parts I and II. He is Artistic Director of ShawChicago where he directed more than 35 Shaw plays. Robert taught and directed Shakespeare at the Turkish State Theater Conservatory in Konya, Turkey. He recently directed Arms and the Man for the Konya State Theater Conservatory's Second International Theater Festival.
Previews are September 18-25, 2007. The opening press performance is on Wednesday, September 26, 2007, at 7:30 p.m. The production runs through November 25, 2007. Curtain times are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Wednesday matinees will be available on October 10, 24 and November 14, 2007, at 2 p.m. There will be no performance on Thursday, November 22, 2007.
Ticket prices are $40 for all preview performances; $45 for Tuesdays through Thursdays; $50 for Sunday evenings; $55 for Fridays and Sunday matinees, and $58 for both Saturday performances. Weekday Matinees are $45. Tickets are available at the Box Office, 376 Park Avenue, Glencoe; 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org.
Discussions with artistic staff and cast members will follow the performances on October 2, October 3, November 6 and November 7, 2007. A pre-show lecture, designed to make the Writers’ Theatre experience even more enjoyable, will be given by Michael Halberstam or other members of the artistic staff on October 7 and 21, 2007. The pre-show lecture will begin at 5:00 p.m.
Writers’ is hosting an Afternoon Tea Series and a Wine Series this season. The Afternoon Tea event will be at 4:30 p.m. on November 14, 2007 at the theatre, 325 Tudor Court. The Wine Series will be held at 7:00 p.m. on October 11, 2007 at Gallery 659 (659 Vernon Avenue) in Glencoe. Both series are $20 in addition to the cost of a ticket to the production, are available from the Box Office.
Yalumba is the Wine Series partner for The Savannah Disputation. The Afternoon Tea partner is The Celtic Knot Pub.
DiPescara is the Writers’ Theatre restaurant partner. Patrons can enjoy a meal at Di Pescara in Northbrook Court, before the show, consisting of a salad, entrée, dessert and a glass of wine for only $35, including tax! For more details or to purchase your meal, contact the Box Office.
The Writers’ Theatre season is underwritten, in part, by a grant from The Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Writers’ Theatre is a professional company focusing on the word and the artist, with the playwright at the center of its mission. The 16-year-old company produces classic scripts and cultivates new works including literary adaptations, second productions and rarely or infrequently produced works of classic writers, invigorating them with new energy and a new approach. For its first 12 years, Writers’ Theatre performed in the anteroom of “Books on Vernon” at 664 Vernon Avenue in Glencoe. In the fall of 2003, the company opened its new 108-seat thrust stage performance venue at 325 Tudor Court, continuing its tradition of bringing audiences face to face with literature’s greatest creators and creations in an intimate environment.
The company continues to produce works in both spaces, maintaining an intimate theatrical experience for audiences while growing annual attendance to more than 30,000. In the past seven years, the subscriber base has grown almost 250%, from 1,500 in 2000 to more than 5,200 in 2007. With an operating budget of more than $3 million, Writers’ Theatre is supported by a staff of 16 fulltime employees and a 27-member Board of Trustees.