The Gift Theatre will conclude its 2019 Season with the Chicago premiere of Leah Nanako Winkler’s dark comedy KENTUCKY, directed by ensemble member Chika Ike*, playing October 17 – November 16, 2019 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Single tickets are currently available at theaterwit.org, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office. The press opening is Sunday, October 20 at 2:30 pm.
KENTUCKY features ensemble members Paul D’Addario, Martel Manning and Hannah Toriumi with Maryam Abdi, Ian Voltaire Deanes, Emjoy Gavino, Helen Joo Lee, Michael E. Martin, Emilie Modaff, Ana Silva and Jess Vann.
Two Sisters, Eccentric Parents, A Chatty Cat, And A Born-Again Wedding... What Could Go Wrong?
Hiro is a self-made single, almost 30 woman making it in New York while estranged from her dysfunctional family who lives in Kentucky. When her sister, a born-again Christian, decides to marry at 22, Hiro decides to do whatever she can to stop the wedding and salvage her sister's future. The themes of identity, religion and love collide in this unique coming-of-age story.
“You can't go home again – but sometimes you have to. Kentucky explores the ways in which we try to escape our past and what happens when confronted by it, particularly in the bizarre and stressful setting of a wedding,” comment The Gift Artistic Director Michael Patrick Thornton and Associate Artistic Directors Emjoy Gavino and Paul D’Addario.” “Playwright Leah Nanako Winkler explodes stereotypes (Southerners, born again Christians, the immigrant parent, the prodigal daughter), endowing each character with growing shades of humanity. The idea of a female Asian protagonist in a decidedly American setting, in a show that is not about race is somewhat of a revolution in American theatre. That she does it through searing humor, music and movement is what makes Leah an incredibly exciting voice in American Theatre.”
The production team to date includes Ryan Emmons (scenic design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), Rachel Levy (lighting design), Aaron Stephenson (sound design), Emilie Modaff (music director), Jess Vann (choreographer), Dwight Sora (dialect coach), Sarah Luse (production manager), David Preis (technical director), Lena Aubrey (master electrician) and Alex Oparka (stage manager).
Playwright: Leah Nanako Winkler
Director: ensemble member Chika Ike*
Cast (in alphabetical order): Maryam Abdi (Bridesmaid 2, Laura), Paul D’Addario (James), Ian Voltaire Deanes (Da’Ran), Emjoy Gavino (Hiro), Helen Joo Lee (Masako), Martel Manning (Adam, Slyvie), Michael E. Martin (Ernest), Emilie Modaff (Nicole, Grandma), Ana Silva (Bridemaid 1, Larry), Hannah Toriumi (Sophie) with and Jess Vann (Amy).
Understudies: Kim Fukawa, Tamarus Harvell, Gabrielle Maalihan, Wil Whebee and Harmony Zhang
Location: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Thursday, October 17 at 7:30 pm, Friday, October 18 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, October 19 at 7:30 pm
Press opening Sunday, October 20 at 2:30 pm
Regular run: Thursday, October 24 – Saturday, November 16, 2019
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm.
Tickets: Previews $32. Regular run $42. Students $25. Seniors $35. Tickets are currently available at theaterwit.org, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office.
*Denotes Gift Theatre ensemble member
About the Artists
Leah Nanako Winkler (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright from Kamakura, Japan and Lexington, Kentucky. Her plays include God Said This (Winner: 2018 Yale Drama Series, World Premiere: Humana Festival, Off Broadway Premiere: Primary Stages/Cherry Lane), Kentucky (2015 Kilroys List/World premiere: Ensemble Studio Theatre in coproduction with Page 73 and the Radio Drama Network. West Coast Premiere: East West Players) Two Mile Hollow (2017 Kilroys List, simultaneous world premiere with Artists At Play in La, Mixed Blood/Theater Mu in Minneapolis, First Floor Theater in Chicago and Ferocious Lotus in SF), Death For Sydney Black (terraNova Collective, Thinking Cap Theater, 2014 Kilroys Honorable Mention) Diversity Awareness Picnic (Clubbed Thumb/Playwrights Horizons Superlab, 2014 Kilroys Honorable Mention), Double Suicide At Ueno Park (EST/Marathon 2015), Linus and Murray (EST/Marathon 2017) and more.
Chika Ike (Director) is an ensemble member with the Gift Theatre Company, where she is also the Director of the 4802 Residency. She has worked with Public Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Victory Gardens, About Face Theatre Company, Chicago Inclusion Initiative, Chicago Dramatists, and Prologue Theatre Company. Fellowships: Gielgud Directing Fellowship, the Bret C. Harte Directing Fellowship and Victory Garden’s Directors Initiative. Recent productions: A Swell in the Ground (The Gift Theatre), In the Blood (Red Tape Theatre), No Child (Definition Theatre Company), Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea (First Floor Theatre) and Franklinland (Jackalope Theatre Company).
About The Gift Theatre
Since 2001 and over 70 productions, The Gift Theatre has pioneered the frontiers of the American theatre via the most intimate professional Equity theatre in the country, leading to national acclaim and a cultural revolution on Chicago’s northwest side.
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