Sideshow Theatre Company, in partnership with the Greenhouse Theater Center, is pleased to announce casting for the world premiere of J. Nicole Brooks’ dazzling new play HeLa, directed by artistic director Jonathan L. Green*. HeLa will feature Sideshow ensemble members Matt Fletcher* and Ann James*, artistic associate David Lawrence Hamilton*, with Ayah Sol Masai Hall, Nicole Michelle Haskins, Carolyn Nelson and Deanna Reed-Foster.
Launching Sideshow’s 2018-19 Season, HeLa will play November 18 – December 23, 2018 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at greenhousetheater.org, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336. The press opening is Friday, November 23, 2018 at 7:30 pm.
1951: A mother of five visits the “colored” gynecology ward of Johns Hopkins, knowing something unusual is happening in her body. 1981: A child watches Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on a basement television in Chicago as her auntie plays bid whist upstairs with the neighbors. The Distant Future: A gold-plated flying saucer hovers over the Earth, its pilot watching and waiting patiently as stars gently twinkle in her hair. All three stories connect, collide and expand, blending Afrofuturism with the true story of Henrietta Lacks and one little girl’s love of science. This winter, journey from East Baltimore to Chicago’s West Side to outer space, as J. Nicole Brooks’ new play explores who has the power over the stuff we are made of.
HeLa was commissioned and developed by Sideshow Theatre Company.
Comments Sideshow artistic director Jonathan L. Green*, “J. Nicole Brooks and Sideshow have been fans of each other for over a decade now, and we've spent years finding the right project for a collaboration. I feel lucky to be able to work with Nicky on this fascinating new play, commissioned and developed through Sideshow's Freshness Initiative, about race, science, time and the effects they have on each other.”
The production team for HeLa includes: Yu Shibagaki (scenic design), Noël Huntzinger* (costume design), Sim Carpenter (lighting design), Michael Huey* (sound design/composer), Justin J. Sacramone (dramaturg), Catherine Allen (production manager) and Emily Ioppolo (stage manager).
Playwright: J. Nicole Brooks
Director: artistic director Jonathan L. Green*
Cast: (in alphabetical order): Matt Fletcher* (Doctor, Major Tom and others), Ayah Sol Masai Hall (Little Girl), David Lawrence Hamilton* (Steve, Husband Man and others), Nicole Michelle Haskins (Bird, Woman and others), Ann James* (Nurse, Researcher and others), Carolyn Nelson (Big Titty Pat, Cousin and others) and Deanna Reed-Foster (Jata, Patient and others)
Location: Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Sunday, November 18 at 2:30 pm and Wednesday, November 21 at 7:30 pm
Press Performance: Friday, November 23, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Saturday, November 24 – Sunday, December 23, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving); the performance on Saturday, November 24 will begin at 2:30 pm (instead of 7:30 pm).
Tickets: Previews: Pay-what-you-can (online or at the door). Regular run: $20 – $35. Students/seniors/industry: $15 for all performances (excluding opening). Tickets are currently available at greenhousetheater.org, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336.
*Denotes Sideshow Company Member.
About the Creative Team:
J. Nicole Brooks (Playwright) is an actor, author and director born on the West Side and raised on the South Side. HeLa marks her debut collaboration with Sideshow Theatre Company. Selected playwright credits include Black Diamond: The Years Have Eaten, Fedra: Queen of Haiti, Shotgun Harriet, The Adventures Of Yuri Kochiyama and Her Honor Jane Byrne. As a director, she’s staged acclaimed productions of Thaddeus & Slocum, Black Diamond and Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting. Acting credits include productions at Lookingglass Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and Court Theatre. Brooks has recurring roles on The Chi (Showtime) and South Side (Comedy Central). She is an award-winning artist creating original work in the US, China and Hungary. This play is dedicated to the memory of Henrietta Lacks, Olivia Brooks Banks, Samuel O. Lewis and all those who bravely battle cancer.
Jonathan L. Green (Director) has been the artistic director of Sideshow Theatre since its founding in 2007. He has directed and assisted for Sideshow, Greenhouse Theater Center, Lookingglass, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Diversionary Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Theatre Seven of Chicago, Pavement Group and the Earl Hamner, Jr. Theatre. Recent projects include truth and reconciliation (Jeff Award nomination for direction), The Happiest Place on Earth, Antigonick, Stupid F##king Bird, and Idomeneus (Jeff Award for ensemble). Recent dramaturgy credits include Blind Date, Objects in the Mirror, Gloria, War Paint, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window and Disgraced, all at Goodman Theatre. Jonathan is a graduate of the University of Virginia, currently serves on the board of directors of the League of Chicago Theatres, and is the literary manager for Goodman Theatre.
About Sideshow Theatre Company:
Sideshow Theatre Company: Theatre for the Curious. It is the mission of Sideshow Theatre Company to mine the collective unconscious of the world we live in with limitless curiosity, drawing inspiration from the familiar stories, memories and images we all share to spark new conversation and bring our audiences together as adventurers in a communal experience of exploration.
Over its 10+ year history, Sideshow is proud to have distinguished itself as a vital member of the Chicago theatre community. Sideshow was awarded the 2016 Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theatre Award by the League of Chicago Theatres. Sideshow is a multiple Jeff Award-winning theatre and has been listed on the “Best of” lists in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by Time Out Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times. Sideshow continues its multi-year residency at Victory Gardens in the historic Biograph Theater in the 2018/19 season.
Sideshow is also the producer of Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLLAW), a wildly popular fundraiser held in benefit of Sideshow Theatre Company and other local community organizations. CLLAW has been featured in local and national press, including The Washington Post, Reuters and the Chicago Sun-Times and on WGN Morning News, ABC 7’s Windy City Live and CBS 2. The next CLLAW match will be held Friday, October 12, 2018. For more information about CLLAW, visit cllaw.org.
For additional information on Sideshow Theatre Company, visit sideshowtheatre.org.
About the Greenhouse Theater Center
The Greenhouse Theater Center (GTC) is a producing theater company, performance venue and theatre bookstore located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
GTC began its producing life in 2014 with the smash hit Churchill, followed by 2016’s much-lauded Solo Celebration!, an eight month, 16 event series highlighting the breadth and depth of the solo play form. In 2017-18, the Greenhouse presented its first full subscription season, including Machinal (4 stars from Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones) and the Chicago premiere of Birds of a Feather.
As a performance venue, the Greenhouse complex offers two newly remodeled 190-seat main stage spaces, two 60-seat studio theaters, two high-capacity lobbies and an in-house rehearsal room. GTC also houses Chicago’s only dedicated used theatre bookstore, located on the second floor the complex.
The Greenhouse Theater Center’s mission is first and foremost to grow local theatre. GTC seeks local theatre companies and artists to partner on co-productions, offering partners a multitude of resources including an equitable split of production costs, production manager, full-service box office and front-of-house staff, artistic consultation, marketing and public relations support and a full-service bar with concessions. For additional information, contact Bill Spatz at (312) 637-5323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With new ideas always incubating, the Greenhouse is flourishing. Come grow with us!
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