Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma, presents the World Premiere of Witch, written by Jen Silverman, inspired by The Witch of Edmonton by Rowley, Dekker & Ford. Witch, directed by Marti Lyons, runs September 26 – December 16, 2018 in the Gillian Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe.
Mischief is afoot in the sleepy village of Edmonton and the fate of the world is at stake in this smart modern fable. When the emotionally conflicted son of the local lord and an ambitious newcomer come into conflict, help presents itself to both of them in the same guise—as the Devil himself. But while these two young men take advantage of the Devil’s bargain to accomplish their own questionable ends, someone else in town stands her ground—Elizabeth, an outcast whom everyone believes to be a witch.
Rising playwright Jen Silverman boldly transforms this classic play by Jacobean playwrights William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford, using a contemporary lens to make the machinations of the distant past strikingly relevant to today. Directed by Marti Lyons (The Mystery of Love & Sex) in the intimate Gillian Theatre, this wickedly funny, slyly subversive play will captivate you with the question: would you know what to ask for if the Devil came knocking on your door?
“We’re tremendously excited to have Jen Silverman premiering her new play Witch at Writers Theatre,” said Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. “This project is a testament to the superb leadership of Bobby Kennedy, our Director of New Work. He and I have long held a desire reinvigorate work by the contemporaries of Shakespeare, taking otherwise well-crafted plays that were bogged down in archaic language, difficult thematic constructs or that were simply dwarfed by the majesty of Shakespeare. Witch provides us a wonderful opportunity discover one of these hidden jewels from a fresh, contemporary perspective. Bobby has guided Witch from inception to commission, into pre-production and will be using his considerable dramaturgical skills to help take the show from rehearsal into production.
“Jen is one of the country’s most exciting and celebrated young playwrights and she will be working in collaboration with Marti Lyons, whose directorial prowess has been on display in Chicago for some years, and who is now working in some of the county’s most important regional theatres. Jen’s re-imagining of this classic play is witty, generous, bold, exhilarating, fresh and filled with surprise, paying considerable homage to the original story while adding a vital contemporary edge in her own distinctive and compelling voice. This is very much a classic Writers Theatre project, but with a new and decidedly re-invigorating energy, and we look forward to sharing it with our audiences.”
The cast of Witch includes David Alan Anderson (Sir Arthur), Audrey Francis (Elizabeth), Steve Haggard (Cuddy), Ryan Hallahan (Scratch), Arti Ishak (Winnifred) and Jon Hudson Odom (Frank Thorny).
The creative team includes Yu Shibagaki (scenic design), Mieka van der Ploeg (costume design), Paul Toben (lighting design) and Mikhail Fiksel (sound design). Katie Spelman is the Choreographer, Matt Hawkins is the Fight Director and Cara Parrish is the Stage Manager.
Tickets are priced $35 - $80. Subscriptions and individual tickets may be purchased online at www.writerstheatre.org, by phone at 847-242-6000 or in person at the box office at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Jen Silverman (Playwright) makes her Writers Theatre debut. Jen is a New York-based playwright and writer. Born in the U.S., she was raised across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Her theatre work includes The Moors (Yale Repertory Theatre premiere, off-Broadway with The Playwrights Realm, Susan Smith Blackburn finalist), The Roommate (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville world premiere, produced widely across the U.S. including productions at South Coast Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Steppenwolf) and Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties (Woolly Mammoth premiere, The Theater @ Boston Court, Southwark Playhouse in London). Jen is a member of New Dramatists, a Core Writer at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, an affiliated artist with SPACE on Ryder Farm, and has developed work with the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, New York Theatre Workshop, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, The Ground Floor Residency at Berkeley Rep and the Royal Court in London among other places. She’s a two-time MacDowell fellow, recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts grant, the Helen Merrill Award, an LMCC Fellowship and the Yale Drama Series Award. She is the 2016/17 Playwrights of New York (PoNY) Fellow at the Lark. Her plays have been published by Samuel French (US) and Oberon Books (UK), and she has a two-book deal with Random House for a collection of stories called The Island Dwellers and a novel. Education: Brown, Iowa Playwrights Workshop, Juilliard.
Marti Lyons (Director) returns to Writers Theatre, where she previously directed The Mystery of Love and Sex and assistant directed Days Like Today and The Letters. Lyons most recently directed The Wolves at Studio Theatre in D.C., Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías for Victory Gardens Theater, Twelfth Night for Montana Shakespeare, Short Shakes! Romeo and Juliet for Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Wit for The Hypocrites, Give It All Back by Calamity West for Sideshow Theatre and The City of Conversation by Anthony Giardina for Northlight Theatre Company. She directed Wondrous Strange by Meg Miroshnik, Martyna Majok, Jen Silverman and Jiehae Park for the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, as well as Will Eno’s Title and Deed for Lookingglass Theatre Company and a reading of Martín Zimmerman's On the Exhale for the New Stages Festival at Goodman Theatre, where she received the 2015 Maggio Directing Fellowship. Other projects include Laura Marks’ Bethany, Marks' Mine, Will Nedved’s Body and Blood (The Gift Theatre), Catherine Trieschmann’s Hot Georgia Sunday, Theresa Rebeck's Seminar (Haven Theatre), Prowess by Ike Holter, The Peacock by Calamity West, The Last Duck by Lucas Neff (Jackalope Theatre), The Play About My Dad by Boo Killebrew (Raven Theatre), Mai Dang Lao by David Jacobi, 9 Circles by Bill Cain, Maria/Stuart by Jason Grote and co-directing The Golden Dragon (Sideshow Theatre). Lyons will next direct Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner for Court Theatre and Botticelli in the Fire by Jordan Tannahill for Woolly Mammoth Theatre. She is an ensemble member with the Gift Theatre Company, an Artistic Associate with Sideshow Theatre Company and a proud member of SDC.
David Alan Anderson (Sir Arthur) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Other Chicago credits include Gem of the Ocean (BTAA winner) and The Mountaintop (Jeff Nominee), both with The Court Theatre. David is a recipient of the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship sponsored by the Ten Chimneys Foundation. He has over twenty-five seasons with The Indiana Repertory theatre in Indianapolis, where his many credits include Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, What I Learned in Paris, Julius Caesar, The Whipping Man, Romeo and Juliet, A Christmas Carol and many others. Recent works include Troy in Fences (Indiana Rep, Denver Center, Arizona Theatre Company and Milwaukee Rep), Morning After Grace (Asolo Rep), Radio Golf (Cleveland Playhouse) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Indiana Rep and Syracuse Stage). Other regional credits include The Guthrie, Baltimore Center Stage, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, KC Rep, Geva Theatre and many others. Directing credits include MVP, The Color of Justice (Indiana Rep), Topdog/Underdog and Two Trains Running (Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis). He is a company member with Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, MN. Recent television works include Showtimes new hit series The Chi.
Audrey Francis (Elizabeth) returns to Writers Theatre where she previously appeared in Othello and Another Part of the Forest. Audrey is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre and most recently performed there in The Doppelgänger, You Got Older, The Fundamentals, Between Riverside and Crazy and The Herd. Audrey is also a director who recently received a Jeff nomination for her production of The Invisible Hand at Steep Theatre. Film credits include: Signature Move, Medal of Victory, Dig Two Graves, and the upcoming independent feature, As With Knives and Skin. Television Credits include: Empire, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Written Off. Audrey is the proud co-founder of Black Box Acting.
Steve Haggard (Cuddy) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in The Importance of Being Earnest, Doubt: A Parable, Old Glory, The Subject Was Roses and Our Town. Chicago credits include 33 to Nothing, 3C, Sender, The Mutilated, Accidentally Like A Martyr, The Aliens, Kimberly Akimbo and The Mandrake (A Red Orchid Theatre), Tribes (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Funnyman, Season’s Greetings and She Stoops to Conquer (Northlight Theatre), Wasteland (Timeline Theatre Company), Alias Grace and Winter (Rivendell); King Lear, As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare). Regional credits include Arcadia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Tempest, Hay Fever, Comedy of Errors and Ah Wilderness! (American Players Theatre), Almost Maine (Milwaukee Repertory Theater) and Fallen Angels (Indiana Repertory). Steve is an ensemble member of A Red Orchid Theatre and a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University.
Ryan Hallahan (Scratch) returns to Writers Theatre, where he previously appeared in A Streetcar Named Desire and The Real Thing. Some recent Chicago credits also include Pass Over, Straight White Men (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cyrano de Bergerac, Pericles (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Posh (Steep Theatre, Jeff Award Winner: Best Ensemble), The Body of an American (Stage Left, Jeff Award Nominee: Best Actor in a Principal Role), Octagon (Jackalope Theatre) as well as work with The Goodman Theatre, Definition Theater, Theater Seven, Broken Nose, Cold Basement, The Metropolis Performing Arts Center, Livewire! and Theater on the Lake. Television credits include Chicago Fire and Chicago Med (NBC). Film credits include Workingman and Pass Over, directed by Spike Lee. He is represented by Actors Talent Group.
Arti Ishak (Winnifred) returns to Writers Theatre where she previously appeared in Buried Child. Arti Ishak is an actor, writer and teaching artist originally from Detroit. Recent Chicago credits include Men On Boats (American Theater Company), Johnny 10 Beers’ Daughter (Chicago Dramatists), Venus in Fur (Circle Theatre), Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno (The Second City), Harbur Gate (16th Street Theatre) and A Story Told in Seven Fights (The Neo-Futurists). She is a graduate of Western Michigan University's Theatre and Business schools.
Jon Hudson Odom (Frank Thorny) makes his Writers Theatre debut. Chicago credits: A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre). Regional credits include: An Octoroon, Botticelli in the Fire (Woolly Mammoth Theatre), Angels in America parts 1 & 2 (Round House and Olney Theatre Center), The Magic Play (Actors Theatre of Louisville), A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre Center), Twelfth Night (Baltimore Center Stage), The Magic Play, Piano Lesson, Our Town, Hay Feverand Colossal (Olney Theatre Center) Nat Turner in Jerusalem, Passion Play (Forum Theatre) Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts 1, 2 & 3 (Round House Theatre), Yellowman (Rep Stage), You Can’t Take It With You (Everyman Theatre), A Christmas Carol, Our Town (Ford’s Theatre), 2-2-Tango (Studio Theatre), Under the Skin (The Public Theatre ME), A Few Good Men (Keegan Theatre), Reals (Theater Alliance DC), The BFG (Imagination Stage, The National Children's Theatre) and The Ramayana (Constellation Theatre). He is a three-time nominee and a recipient of the Helen Hayes Awards. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, an Artistic Associate at Olney Theatre Center and a member of The Ensemble at Forum Theatre in DC. Education: University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Open-Captioned performance: Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 7:30pm
ASL-Interpreted performance: Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 7:30pm
REINVIGORATING A CLASSIC
Sunday, October 28, 2018 at 11:30am
Jen Silverman’s Witch is the most recent example of a play developed through the Literary Development Initiative, and it joins the ranks of other world premieres produced by Writers Theatre as a result of this program. Many LDI works refresh classic pieces through a new contemporary lens, and with Witch, Silverman has taken a Jacobean-era play and given it modern relevance and bite with its themes of revolution, feminism and morality. Join Director of New Work & Dramaturgy Bobby Kennedy and guests as they break down the process of reinvigorating a classic through fresh eyes, shedding light on how a play from 1621 can be adapted for today’s world. This free one-hour event begins at 11:30am, leaving you plenty of time for coffee or lunch before the 2pm Sunday matinee performance begins (though you may attend even if you are not staying for the performance). Seating is limited, RSVP is required.
The Making of... Witch
WITCHCRAFT THEN & NOW
Monday, November 12, 2018 at 6:30pm
Before The Wizard of Oz introduced the idea of “good witches” and “bad witches,” beyond Wicked and The Crucible and Harry Potter, witchcraft has mystified humankind for centuries and has always been present in popular culture and media. At this installment of The Making Of series, Director of Education Kelsey Chigas will walk through a brief history of witches and witchcraft across time periods and cultures, exploring the deeper meanings behind the accusations and celebrations of witches throughout history and exposing the cultural misogyny so often at the root of the persecution of women who defied social norms. We’ll also examine what witchcraft looks like in today’s society, busting myths about this spiritual practice. Seating is limited, RSVP is required.
Post-Show Conversation: The Word
Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
Post-Show Conversation: The Artist
Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
RIDE METRA TO WRITERS THEATRE
In an effort to promote taking public transit to the Theatre, Writers Theatre launched a new promotion in 2013. Any audience member who purchases a ticket to a Writers Theatre production and rides Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to the Theatre may snap a photo of themselves on the train and post it to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account with a tag of @WritersTheatre (@Writers_Theatre on Instagram) and #WitchWT, and upon showing the post at the Writers Theatre Box Office, receive $5 in cash to put toward the cost of your fare as a thank you for going green.
This promotion is available for a limited time only and may end without warning. Ticket must have been paid for in advance. Not valid on comp tickets. More information available at writerstheatre.org/metra.
WRITERS THEATRE PARTNERS
Writers Theatre is pleased to recognize BMO Harris Bank as the 2018/19 Season Sponsor and ComEd as the Official Lighting Sponsor of the 2018/19 Season. The Major Production Sponsor for Witch is Mary Pat Studdert, and the Artists Council Sponsors are Susan and Don Belgrad. Additional support is provided by the Director’s Society Sponsors.
For more information about Writers Theatre’s 2018/19 partners, visit writerstheatre.org/our-supporters.
ABOUT WRITERS THEATRE
For more than 25 years, Writers Theatre has captivated Chicagoland audiences with inventive interpretations of classic work, a bold approach to contemporary theatre and a dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible.
Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has grown to become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence, being called the top regional theatre in the nation by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of more than 60,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry—providing the finest interpretations of both classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues.
In February 2016, Writers Theatre opened a new, state-of-the-art facility. This established the company's first permanent home—a new theatre center in downtown Glencoe, designed by the award-winning, internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by Founder and Design Principal Jeanne Gang, FAIA, in collaboration with Theatre Consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. The new facility has allowed the Theatre to continue to grow to accommodate its audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy. The new facility resonates with and complements the Theatre’s neighboring Glencoe community, adding tremendous value to Chicagoland and helping to establish the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.
Find Writers Theatre on Facebook at Facebook.com/WritersTheatre, follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter or @Writers_Theatre on Instagram. For more information, visit www.writerstheatre.org.
Fact Sheet / Witch
Written by: Jen Silverman
Directed by: Marti Lyons
Featuring: David Alan Anderson (Sir Arthur), Audrey Francis (Elizabeth), Steve Haggard (Cuddy), Ryan Hallahan (Scratch), Arti Ishak (Winnifred), and Jon Hudson Odom (Frank Thorny).
Creative Team: Yu Shibagaki (Scenic), Mieka van der Ploeg (Costumes), Paul Toben (Lighting), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound), Katie Spelman (Choreography) and Matt Hawkins (Fight Direction). The Stage Manager is Cara Parrish.
Dates: First performance: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Press opening: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 7:30pm
Closing performance: Sunday, December 16, 2018
Schedule: Tuesdays – Fridays: 7:30pm
(with select 3:00pm Wednesday matinees)
Saturdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm
Sundays: 2:00pm and 6:00pm
Location: The Gillian Theatre
325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Prices: Prices for all performances range from $35 - $80
Purchase early for best prices
Box Office: The Box Office is located at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe;
Notes of Interest
Jen Silverman’s Witch is the most recent example of a play commissioned by Writers Theatre and developed through the Theatre’s Literary Development Initiative. It joins the ranks of other world premieres produced by Writers Theatre as a result of this program, many of which have gone on to multiple productions across the country.
Jen Silverman’s The Roommate recently received its Chicago premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre under the direction of Phylicia Rashad. The Roommate premiered in 2017 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where it starred S. Epatha Merkerson and Jane Kaczmarek.
Director Marti Lyons returns to Writers Theatre, where she previously directed The Mystery of Love & Sex and assistant directed Days Like Today and The Letters. Lyons most recently directed The Wolves at Studio Theatre in D.C., Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías for Victory Gardens Theater, Twelfth Night for Montana Shakespeare, Short Shakes! Romeo and Juliet for Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Wit for The Hypocrites, Give It All Back by Calamity West for Sideshow Theatre and The City of Conversation by Anthony Giardina for Northlight Theatre Company.
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