Greg Allen is the Founding Director of all three nationwide branches of The Neo-Futurists and creator of "Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind" and over sixty other productions. His work as director and playwright has been seen at the Goodman, Steppenwolf, The Public, Lincoln Center, HERE, Woolly Mammoth, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, as well as in dozens of store-front theaters in Chicago, all over North America, and around the world (just this year he had productions in Tokyo, Rome, Edinburgh, Korea, Australia, and Tanzania). His scripts include "The Strange and Terrible True Tale of Pinocchio (the Wooden Boy) as Told by Frankenstein's Monster (the Wretched Creature)", "Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious", "The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen", and "K.", his award-winning adaptation of Kafka's The Trial. Greg’s show “The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in an Envelope (partially burned) in a Dustbin in Paris Labeled “Never to be performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I’ll Sue! I’LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!!!” has had eleven international productions, and his adaptation of all 9 acts and 7 hours of “Strange Interlude” was met with hecklers and instantaneous standing ovations as part of the Goodman Theatre’s Eugene O’Neill Festival. His play "What Happened in Pinkville? (A Cubist Dialectic on the Massacre at My Lai)" was a finalist for the 2015 National Playwright's Conference, and this season his original adaptations of “Ibsen’s Ghosts” and “Moby-Dick” premiered in Chicago and Virginia. His current projects include adapting the works of Kafka for master-puppeteer Michael Montenegro and creating a show based on the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe with Blair Thomas and Company. Greg teaches performance and playwriting at University of Chicago, The Theatre School at Depaul University, and at the National Theater Institute at the O’Neill Center in Connecticut, as well as at his Neo-Futurist branches and in residencies worldwide.
Nathan Allen founded The House Theatre of Chicago with friends in 2001 and continues to lead the company as Artistic Director. Nathan’s writing and directing credits include Death and Harry Houdini, The Sparrow, Rose and the Rime, and The Hammer Trinity (The Iron Stag King, The Crownless King, and The Excelsior King.) He also wrote and starred in The Valentine Trilogy (San Valentino and The Melancholy Kid, Curse of the Crying Heart, and Valentine Victorious) and directed The Magnificents by Dennis Watkins, with whom he created the weekly magic show, The Magic Parlour. Nathan's work has been seen on the stages of The House, The Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, The Arsht Center of Miami, The Stoneham Theatre in Boston, Strawdog Theatre, The Neo-Futurarium, Collaboraction, and The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Nathan’s work has been acknowledged by the Joseph Jefferson Awards, The Orgie Awards, and The American College Theatre Festival. Additionally, he has been named an Associate Artist at The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, and received the Emerging Leader Award from his alma mater, Southern Methodist University. Nathan served as the co-writer and director for the plays of The Hammer Trinity in Season 13.
Seth Bockley's plays include 2666, co-adapted from Roberto Bolaño’s novel with Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls, which held its world premiere at the Goodman earlier this year; Ask Aunt Susan, which held its world premiere at the Goodman in 2014; February House, a collaboration with composer and lyricist Gabriel Kahane, which premiered at The Public Theater in the spring of 2012; Wilderness with En Garde Arts (premiering fall 2016); adaptations of George Saunders’ short stories CommComm, commissioned by the Goodman and further developed by New York’s Page 73 Productions, and Jon, winner of a Jeff Award for Best New Adaptation; The Twins Would Like To Say for Dog & Pony Theatre Co. and Laika’s Coffin and The Elephant and the Whale with Redmoon. Directing credits include Caught and The Ugly One with Sideshow Theatre; Basetrack Live with En Garde Arts; Samsara and Failure: A Love Story at Victory Gardens Theater; hamlet is dead. no gravity with Red Tape Theatre; The Box with The Foundry Theater; Jason Grote’s Civilization (all you can eat) for Clubbed Thumb’s Summer Works Festival; Jon and Jason Grote’s 1001 for Collaboraction; numerous Redmoon events and spectacles and the clown play Guerra, developed with Devon de Mayo and Mexico City-based troupe La Piara. He is a Playwright in Residence at the Goodman Theatre.
Heidi Coleman, Director of University Theater and Director of Undergraduate Studies for Theater and Performance Studies, has worked professionally as a director and dramaturg in New York City and San Francisco as well as Chicago. She has collaborated with Anne Bogart, Andrei Serban, Tina Landau, Frank Galati, and Tony Kushner; taught in Columbia University’s Theater MFA and English departments; and most recently participated in Steppenwolf’s First Look Series. At the University Theater she has curated the New Work Week and initiated the summer arts residency program, Summer Inc., and co-curated the University of Chicago Presidential Fellows in the Arts Program as well as the TAPS Commissioning Project. Her work focuses on the integration of theory and practice, in both artistic and programmatic arenas.
Shoshona Currier is a Chicago-based curator and producer. She is currently the Director of Performing Arts for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. In her four years with the department she has been integral in the development and integration of dance and theater into Chicago’s civic programming. She created and curates SpinOff, a festival of contemporary dance made in the Midwest and OnEdge, a series of boundary-pushing performance. Her venues include The Chicago Cultural Center and Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. She has also directed and overseen such large-scale civic events as the Chicago World Music Festival, SummerDance, Downtown Sound, and Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz. She oversees a robust performance residency program at The Chicago Cultural Center.
Prior to her role at DCASE, Ms. Currier served in Producer positions at Dance New Amsterdam and Performance Space 122 in New York City. She has worked as an independent producer and director for ten years, touring performances nationally and internationally and working with such artists as Anne Bogart, Richard Maxwell, Charles Mee, Adam Rapp, Deb Margolin, and Judith Malina and the Living Theater. Shoshona holds an Associates Degree from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, a B.S. in Liberal Arts from the New School University in New York City and was a member of the inaugural class of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University. She has taught, directed, and lectured at New York University, Wagner College, Ramapo College, and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Ms. Currier advocates nationally for contemporary performance through service on multiple boards and funding panels. She is an Advisor for the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, a Consortium Member of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum and serves on the board of High Concept Labs in Chicago.
Devon de Mayo is a director, devisor and teacher. She is currently directing You on the Moors Now for The Hypocrites. Most recently, she directed Animals Out of Paper for Shattered Globe Theatre and You Can't Take it With You for Northlight Theatre. Last year, Devon worked as the Resident Director under Stephen Daldry on the Broadway production of The Audience. Other Directing credits: Jet Black Chevrolet (side project); Compulsion and Everything is Illuminated (Next); Roadkill Confidential, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Clouds (Dog & Pony); Infiltrating Bounce (Luminaria, San Antonio); and 52 (Canal Café, London). Directing & devising credits: Guerra: A Clown Play (performances in Chicago, New York, Albuquerque, Madrid, Bogota, and Mexico City); The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls (Dog & Pony), and The Twins Would Like to Say (Dog & Pony, Steppenwolf Garage Rep). She received her MFA from Middlesex University in London with further studies at the Russian Academy of Dramatic Arts in Moscow and the Indonesian Institute for the Arts in Bali. She has been a Lecturer at the University of Chicago since 2012 where she also directed An Actor Prepares.
Mike Durst has designed the lighting for plays at venues including The Huntington Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Broad Stage, The Black Dahlia, Theater Wit, Remy Bumppo, The Neo-Futurists, About Face Theatre, and A Red Orchid Theatre, where he is an ensemble member. His work has been seen Off-Broadway with Primary Stages, Cherry Lane, and 59e59. His national Tours include 'It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s' The Nightman Cometh and Buyer&Cellar as Associate Designer. His RocknRoll work includes Pete Townshend in concert at La Jolla Playhouse and X 25th Anniversary Live at The House of Blues Sunset Blvd. Mike has also served as a lighting consultant for theatrical renovations including The Gray Center at The University of Chicago and The Circle Theater in Los Angeles. His awards include Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award, Los Angeles’s Ovation Award, and San Diego’s Craig Noel Award. Mike is a member of I.A.T.S.E Local #2 and United Scenic Artists #829.
Audrey Francis, founder and owner of Black Box Acting, has worked as an actor, director, and instructor for nearly ten years. In addition to teaching at Black Box Acting’s ACADEMY, Audrey also teaches advanced acting at the University of Chicago as well as the the Meisner Technique and Ensemble Scene Study at the School at Steppenwolf. Audrey is a Jeff Nominated actor who was has worked at Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Victory Gardens, Writers Theatre, Northlight, The Hypocrites, and American Theater Company. Audrey has worked on several television shows, most recently including the NBC Network Series Chicago Med and Chicago Fire (Seasons 1 &2). Film credits include: Signature Move, Medal of Victory, Dig Two Graves, Dustclouds, and Chicago Overcoat. Voice Over work includes campaigns for: Kenmore, Moen, Verizon, Citibank, Ford, Quaker Oats, American Family Insurance, and K-12 Online Education. Audrey has also directed multiple Chicago productions, most recently with the University of Chicago, Pine Box Theatre, Step Up Productions, and First Floor Theater. Audrey is a graduate of Colorado State University and couldn't be more proud to bring Black Box Acting to artists.
Mikhail Fiksel is a Chicago based designer, composer and performer. His recent Chicago work includes projects with Writers’ Theatre, Victory Gardens, Redmoon Theater, Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Albany Park Theatre Project, The Hypocrites and Timeline Theatre. His regional and Off-Broadway credits include American Conservatory Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Second Stage Theatre. His international credits include Tukkers Connexion (Arnhem, Holland) and International Festival of Londrina (Londrina, Brazil). Recent film composition credits include The Wise Kids and In Memoriam. The recipient of seven Joseph Jefferson Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, A Garland Award and an After Dark Award for an Original Musical, he was also nominated for the Henry Hewes Design Award and was honored with The Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. Fiksel is an ensemble member of 2nd Story, an Artistic Associate with Collaboraction, Wildclaw Theatre and Redmoon Theatre. www.mikhailfiksel.com
Amanda Frederick is in her second season as the Production Stage Manager at Court Theatre following eight years with Milwaukee Repertory Theater, three of them as the Production Stage Manager. Amanda has also spent two summers with Utah Shakespeare Festival and seven summers with Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN. In Chicago she has worked with Lookingglass Theatre Company and Chicago Shakespeare Theater in addition to Court Theatre. Amanda has been a guest lecturer for Illinois State University, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Hope College in Holland, MI as well as a stage management adjudicator for the American College Theatre Festival and a portfolio respondent for the University of Illinois. Amanda was recently a panelist for the Actors’ Equity “Acting with Dignity” seminar and has been a proud member of Actors’ Equity since 2007.
Sean Graney is a Chicago-based director who concentrates on staging modern versions of classic plays to create relevant theatrical pieces for our contemporary society. He currently serves as the Artistic Director of The Hypocrites, a company he founded in 1997. In 2013 he was fortunate enough to be a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University where he completed writing All Our Tragic, a twelve-hour adaptation combining all thirty-two surviving Greek Tragedies, which was presented by The Hypocrites the summer of 2014 and remounted during the summer of 2015. It garnered six Joseph Jefferson Awards, including best Director and Best Adaptation. Most recently he adapted and directed Yeomen of the Guard at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival completing the direction of his fourth highly-popular Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. He attended Emerson College and taught at University of Chicago, DePaul University and Columbia College Chicago. Other works include Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses, an adaptation of all seven surviving texts of Sophocles, which had successful runs in Chicago, Providence and at the Flea in NY. As a director, Sean has helmed over 75 productions. He was a participant in the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors in 2004. He has won four Joseph Jefferson Awards. His directing work has been seen at American Repertory Theater, Actors' Theatre of Louisville, Berkeley Rep, Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Court Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Steppenwolf for Young Audiences, Chicago Children’s Theatre and currently running at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival until October 2016.
Ike Holter’s work has been produced at The Steppenwolf Garage, A Red Orchid, The New Colony and The Inconvenience, where he is a founding member and resident writer. His shows "Hit The Wall" and "Exit Strategy" have both transferred to Off Broadway. He was recently named the "Chicagoan of the Year in Theater" by The Chicago Tribune, and his monologues have been published in The New Yorker and several editions of Applause Books. Holter recently became the newest resident writer at Victory Gardens Theater.
Emily Hooper Lansana is an arts administrator, educator and performing artist, who has held a range of leadership roles in the arts. Currently she serves as the Associate Director of Community Arts Engagement for the Arts and Public Life Initiative at the University of Chicago under Social Practice Artist and Scholar Theaster Gates. The Arts and Public Life Initiative works to build community through arts and culture and is developing programming across Chicago’s south side, an initiative that includes the Arts Incubator in Washington Park and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. Her previous experience includes roles as the Theater/Literary Arts Curriculum Supervisor at the Chicago Public Schools Office of Arts Education and the Director of Education at the Lincoln Center Theater and consulting roles at institutions from The Field Museum of Natural History to ETA Creative Arts Foundation. As an adjunct professor, Ms. Lansana has taught at Columbia College, the University of Chicago, DePaul University and Chicago State University. Ms. Lansana is a nationally recognized performance artist who has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Black Storytellers and as President of the Chicago Association of Black Storytellers. She received her BA in Theater Studies with a certificate in Teacher Preparation/Education from Yale University and an MA in Performance Studies from Northwestern University.
Evan Linder is a founding member and the Co-Artistic Director of The New Colony. He works as a playwright, actor and director and also teaches playwriting at the University of Chicago. Evan’s first play produced in Chicago, FRAT, was named as one of the Best of 2009 in the Chicago Tribune, Windy City Times and Newcity. His other works include 11:11, The Warriors, The Bear Suit of Happiness, B-Side Studio and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, which was named Best Overall Production at the 2012 NYC International Fringe Festival and published by Samuel French. 5 Lesbians also enjoyed an Off-Broadway run as part of the Soho Playhouse’s 2012-2013 season. In 2013, he was listed on Chicago Magazine’s Power List of Theater Scene Stealers. In 2014, Evan originated the roles of Jonathan in The New Colony's reWILDing Genius for Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep and Orville in Orville and Wilbur Did It! with The New Colony. 2014 also saw his play The Bear Suit of Happiness published by Chicago Dramaworks and his play Byhalia, Mississippi named the winner of the New Works Competition at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN. Seven North American cities will participate in a World Premiere Conversation of Byhalia, Mississippi in January 2016 when it receives three simultaneous world premieres and four staged readings at theatres around the country. Works in development include The Hunted, co-written with Paul Oakley Stovall, and The Issue, which is in currently in workshops with The New Colony. www.evanlinder.com
Frank Maugeri is a designer of community, art, education, and events. Maugeri’s life revolves around the arts and how the arts brings people together. As an artist, his work is visual and interactive, ranging from intimate productions to mammoth spectacles. When he’s not bringing art to life, he’s bringing art to lives through his work as an expert collaborator, community builder, ritual maker, educator, and innovator of curriculum and artistic programming.
Prior to his appointment as the Community Programs Artistic Director at Chicago Children’s Theatre, Maugeri spent two decades as Producing Artistic Director at Redmoon Theater, where he mentored hundreds of young designers, artists, performers and educators from across the nation, while simultaneously helping to guide the institution's art, education, and community engagement. Maugeri proudly co-directed a number of Chicago-centric events, such as the culminating ritual of the 2016 Great Chicago Fire Festival and created art and experiences for The White House, City of Chicago, Los Angeles Music Center and other cultural institutions.
In his time at Redmoon Theater, Frank authored, designed, and created Redmoon's longest running production, The Cabinet, and led Redmoon’s celebrated annual events Boneshaker and New Year’s Revolution, employing objects of his own creation, including his inventions The Momentary Opera, Nickelodeon’s, Mechanical Scrolls, The Libation Machine, The Bubble Man, Cake Hats, Redmoon’s interactive installations, and collaborative objects like The Drum Cart.
Collaborative credits include directing productions which toured to Charleville-Mézières, Brazil, Japan, and Amsterdam as well as original works developed for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Maugeri is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and trained in animation, sculpture and object design. He currently makes his teaching home at The University of Chicago.
Derek Matson is a dramaturg and translator of theater and opera. His dramaturgical work has included productions for Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Metropolitan Opera, Lookingglass Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, About Face Theatre, American Theater Company, the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Strawdog Theatre, Vancouver Opera, Chicago Opera Vanguard, DePaul University, and Northwestern University. Derek studied acting at the Cours Florent in Paris, France. His translations of French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, German, and Catalan have been featured at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Wolf Trap Opera, the Montreux Comedy Festival, and Cornell University, where he earned his M.A. in Theater and Performance Studies.
Susan Messing, a New Jersey native and graduate of Northwestern University’s Theatre School, has been an improviser and comedian for over twenty-five years. She is an alumna of the iO Theatre, Second City’s Mainstage, and a founding member of Chicago’s infamous Annoyance Theatre. Susan created and teaches her curriculum at iO Chicago, iO West in Hollywood, The Annoyance Theatre, The Second City, and around the country. Susan is an adjunct instructor for DePaul University and The School at Steppenwolf in addition to The University of Chicago. Her standup act with her puppet, Jolly, was featured at the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend and NBC’s Late Fridays. Her best noted bit movie role was as a bad stripper in a halo brace in Let’s Go to Prison! Tuesday nights she performs at the iO with Blaine Swen in Blessing; Thursday nights in her own critically acclaimed show, Messing with a Friend, now in its 9th year at The Annoyance; and Friday nights with The Boys at The Second City. She was in the lineup for the TBS/Just For Laughs festival all five years of its residence in Chicago. She has been named “Improviser of the Year” by the Chicago Improv Festival; “Best Improviser” by Chicago Reader; and “Funniest Woman in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine.
Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen have been musical collaborators on and off since they were in high school. Broadway credits include music composition and sound for No Man’s Land & Waiting for Godot, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Miracle Worker, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Speed of Darkness; music for My Thing of Love; and sound for Larry David’s Fish in the Dark, This Is Our Youth, Of Mice and Men, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Superior Donuts, reasons to be pretty, A Year with Frog and Toad, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Hollywood Arms, King Hedley II, Buried Child, The Song of Jacob Zulu and The Grapes of Wrath. Off Broadway credits include music and sound for Guards at the Taj, Sticks and Bones, Checkers, How I Learned to Drive, Inked Baby, After Ashley, Boy Gets Girl, Red, Space, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Marvin's Room; sound for The Spoils, Brundibar, The Pain and the Itch and Jitney; and music direction and sound for Eyes for Consuela and Ruined. Recent collaborators include directors Amy Morton, Anna Shapiro, Sean Mathias, Pam MacKinnon, Kate Whoriskey, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Terry Kinney, Tina Landau, Maria Aitken, Emily Mann, Greg Boyd, Chey Yew, Scott Elliot, Jonathan Demme, Theresa Rebeck, Eric Ting, David Esbjornson, Marion McClinton, Sharon Ott, James Black, Joe Hanreddy, Richard E.T. White, and Gary Griffin. They have created music and sound at many of America's resident theatres (often with Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre) including the Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre and Arena Stage in D.C., Guthrie Theatre and the Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis, Huntington Theatre in Boston, the Public Theatre, The New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park, Circle in the Square, Second Stage, Atlantic Theatre Company and Playwrights Horizons in New York, Brooklyn Academy of Music, McCarter Theatre in Princeton, Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, Baltimore’s Center Stage, the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Dallas Theater Center, Hartford Stage Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Rep., Seattle Rep., Yale Rep., Trinity Rep., Arizona Rep., Milwaukee Rep., Rep. of St. Louis, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Writer’s Theatre, Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, ACT in SanFrancisco, Geffen Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson in L.A., Their music or sound have traveled to the Comedy Theatre in London's West End, The Barbican Center, the National Theatre of Great Britain, the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv, the Subaru Acting Company in Japan and festivals in Toronto, Dublin, Galway, Perth and Sydney. Please visit milbomusic.com
Shade Murray's directing credits include work at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, A Red Orchid Theatre, Writers' Theatre, Second City, The Inconvenience, Wildclaw, Next Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, Roadworks, the MCA, Shattered Globe, About Face Theatre and Chicago Moving Company. Shade has collaborated on the workshop and development of new work with playwrights Marisa Wegyrzyn, Carlos Murillo, Joel Drake Johnston, Brett Neveu, John Fournier, Janine Nabers and Scott Barsotti. Shade is an MFA candidate in directing at Northwestern University, an associate artist with A Red Orchid and has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, Act One Studios, National Louis University, National High School Institute, Piven Workshop and the Actor's Gym.
David New graduated from The Goodman School of Drama, DePaul University with a BFA in acting. Since then he has worked in Chicago and regionally as an actor, director, arts educator, and administrator. He has appeared in over 70 productions at theatres such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Northlight, Marriott Lincolnshire, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens, Writer’s Theatre of Chicago, Apple Tree Theatre, Body Politic, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, and Wisdom Bridge. Regionally, he has appeared in productions at the Ontario Stratford Festival, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Huntington Theatre, Madison Repertory Theatre, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, and Peninsula Players. In addition, he has appeared on Broadway in Thou Shalt Not (Lincoln Center) and in the National Tour of Scrooge with Richard Chamberlain. David’s television credits include: Law & Order SVU, All My Children, Walker, Texas Ranger, and the NBC mini-series A Will of Their Own. He was associate artistic director at Steppenwolf Theatre Company from 2004-2009. He is a multiple-time Jeff Award nominee, Sarah Siddons Award recipient, Chicago Stratford Associates Fellow.
John Petrakis is an associate adjunct professor in the Film, Video and New Media Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he has been teaching screenwriting since 1993. He is currently teaching a lecture class at The Gene Siskel Film Center at SAIC on “The History Of The European Art Film.” Previously, John taught screenwriting at Chicago Filmmakers, The Center for New Television and the Chicago Dramatists Workshop. John was a regular film reviewer for the Chicago Tribune for 10 years, including three years writing the weekly “Screen Gems” column. He currently writes film essays for Christian Century Magazine and was the lead critic at New City from 1988 through 1993. John is a member of the Writers Guild of America, East. His script for Song of Songs, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, played on Showtime as part of its “Picture Windows” series.
Julia Rhoads is the founding Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions, a dance-theater company recognized for its layered choreography, nuanced dialogue, surprising humor, and socially relevant content. Lucky Plush has been presented in over 40 US and international cities, and commissioning partners include Harris Theater (IL), Krannert Center at University of Illinois, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (IL), Clarice Smith Center (MD), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), and Links Hall (IL). Independent choreography credits include Steppenwolf Theater, Lookingglass Theatre, Walkabout Theater, Redmoon, and River North Chicago Dance Company.
Lucky Plush received the prestigious 2016 MacArthur Award, and the company’s work has been been supported by National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, National Performance Network, Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Chicago Dancemakers Forum, and Illinois Arts Council. Rhoads was also awarded a 2013 Alpert Award in Dance and a 2014 Fractured Atlas Arts Entrepreneurship Award for spearheading a shared fundraising model between Lucky Plush, Grammy-winning Eighth Blackbird, and puppet theater company Blair Thomas & Company. She received her BA in History from Northwestern University and her MFA in Performance from School of the Art Institute Chicago, and is Part-Time Lecturer and Dance Advisor in Theater and Performance Studies.
Joanie Schultz is a Chicago-based freelance director. This season in Chicago she is directing Venus in Fur at the Goodman Theatre; Northanger Abbey for Remy Bumppo Theatre; The Hundred Flowers Project at Silk Road Rising; and A Small Fire at Steep Theatre. Last year season she directed the Chicago premiere of The Whale at Victory Gardens (where she is an artistic associate), Neighborhood 3 at Strawdog Theatre, and Luther at Steep Theatre, where she is also an artistic associate. Her previous directing credits there include The Receptionist and the Jeff Award winning productions of A Brief History of Helen of Troy and In Arabia We’d All be Kings. Recently she also directed the world premiere of fml: How Carson McCullers Saved My Life at Steppenwolf Theatre for Young Adults; Ask Aunt Susan at the Goodman Theatre (as part of New Stages Amplified); The Girl in the Yellow Dress and The Metal Children at Next Theatre; the Jeff award winning world premiere of The Kid Thing by Sarah Gubbins; and The Ring Cycle for the Building Stage. She has also directed operas, including Acis and Galatea at Chicago Cultural Center, the first fully staged opera on the Pritzker Pavilion Stage in Millennium Park; Suor Angelica for Italian Operatic Experience in Tuscany; and Carmen for the Bay View Music Festival. Ms. Schultz has been a Drama League Fellow; The Goodman Theatre's Michael Maggio Directing Fellow and the SDCF Denham Fellow. A proud member of the SDC, she was also a participant in the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and a 2013 Artistic Curator for Theater on the Lake. Ms. Schultz holds an MFA in directing from Northwestern University.
Vanessa Stalling is the Artistic Director of Oracle Productions. She began work with Oracle as a guest director in 2015, directing a production of The America Play, by Suzan-Lori Parks. Vanessa’s Chicago area directing credits include: The House Theatre, Stage Left, Red Tape, Actors Gymnasium, TimeLine Theatre Company, and Redmoon Theater. She is also the current Michael Maggio Directing Fellow at The Goodman Theatre. Most recently, Vanessa adapted and directed United Flight 232 from Laurence Gonzales’ Flight 232 for The House Theatre. Vanessa is also known for her work as a core artist of Redmoon where she enjoyed performing, directing, and serving as Associate Artistic Director. Her Redmoon directing credits including a remount of The Cabinet, which toured Brazil as part of the FILO Festival, Last of My Species, Winter Pageant, Princess Club, Twilight Orchard, and roaming performances for President Obama’s White House Halloween Celebrations.
Jessica Kuehnau Wardell is a Chicago based scenic, costume and puppet designer, as well as a scenic and fine art painter. Her Chicago credits include Steep Theatre, Hypocrites, Lifeline Theatre, Rivendell Theatre, Griffin Theatre, A Red Orchid, The Building Stage, Pegasus Players, Circle Theatre and Metropolis Performing Arts Center. International credits include set/costume design for the UK premiere of Andras Visky’s Juliet presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Edinburgh, Scotland). Jessica is a founding ensemble member of Adventure Stage Chicago and artistic associate with MPAACT where she was awarded the Black Theatre Alliance Award for the best scenic design (2012). Jessica earned her MFA from Northwestern University, and is currently lecturer and Director of Design for TAPS at University of Chicago. Her online portfolio can be found at jesskdesign.com.