Let’s Build Forts!

Julie Ritchey, the founding artistic director of Chicago’s Filament Theatre, and scenic and installation designer Eleanor Kahn are two members of the team that created Forts!, the play that turns the audience loose in a controlled environment to create their own event. Julie and Eleanor discuss the creation of Forts! and how it changes despite somehow staying the same; how they’re exploring the intersection of play (the noun) and play (the verb); the challenge of creating a Forts! signature cocktail; the important question of why only toddlers get to wear fun fashions; and why Forts! is a play, not a show, and definitely not an experience. Welcome to podcasting on the edge! (Length 17:23)

Playwright Sarah Ruhl

Award-winning playwright, author, and professor Sarah Ruhl discusses her playwriting philosophy and influences ranging from Ovid to Alice in Wonderland and beyond. Sarah shares her reluctance to categorize her plays and reveals how her theatre heart lives in the mix of comic and tragic modes; opens up about the origins of her popular version of Eurydice; discusses how she wants to put the “play” back in “playwriting;” expounds on her wonderful book, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write; graciously puts up with impertinent questions; and talks about her journey from poet to playwright, her discovery that plays can be three-dimensional poems, and her strong feeling that Chicago is her artistic home. (Length 15:30)

Eurydice’s Sarah Price

Sarah Price stars in the Writers Theatre production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice (directed by Braden Abraham) and discusses the challenges of playing a character out of myth. As an actor with a background in improvisation and comedy, Sarah talks about finding a balance between modern and classical; how she finds the magic within the realistic (and vice versa); the fun of making physical choices; why being a big comedy nerd helped lead her to Chicago; the value, importance, and absolute necessity of listening; and the complete inability of acting programs to teach ‘adorable’. (Length 18:05)

Meet Braden Abraham

Braden Abraham, the new artistic director of Chicago’s Writers Theatre, just announced the theater’s 31st season, the first one he’s programmed since joining the company. Braden talks about what goes into planning a season (and how that thinking never really ends); how a theatre season is like a great album; the importance of being in a learning and discovery phase; remaining in conversation with various overlapping communities; how programming a show in one city leads to a different show in another; the challenge of making each show an event; finding the right balance of scale and intimacy; and the value of bring some west coast energy to the north shore. (Length 19:18)

Staging “Athena”‘s Fencing

David Blixt is the co-fight choreographer of the Writers Theatre production of Gracie Gardner’s Athena, directed by Jessica Fisch and featuring two stand-out performances by Aja Singletary (right) and Mary Tilden (left). David discusses the things that make this production unique in his experience; the importance of being a storyteller; the language of the body; the value of creating theater as an ensemble; how distance equals danger; why the actors had to actually hit each other; and how stage violence is always a story of desire and denial. (Length 16:24)

Theatre Communications Group

Theatre Communications Group exists to strengthen, nurture, and promote professional theatre in the U.S. and globally and Kathryn M. Lipuma is the Chair of TCG’s Board of Directors. A past executive director of New York’s Tony-winning Signature Theatre and current executive director of Chicago’s Writers Theatre, Kate talks about her work for TCG, how she ended up in Chicago theatre, how the lessons learned locally can be shared nationally (and vice versa), gives a shoutout to Michael Halberstam’s taste in kicks, reveals her Chicago roots, discusses the importance of the shared experience and establishing communities, how theatre connections can be made at sporting events, the rise of American Theatre (our industry’s journal of record) and its companion website, how theatre contributes to the country’s culture, and what theatre does as it approaches the crossroads of people’s shifting relationships with the arts. (Length 23:50)

Episode 558. Theatre In Chicago

On the occasion of its world premiere (and Broadway-bound) production of Trevor: The Musical, Writers Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam talks about the Chicago theatre community, its evolving so-called “style”, and the state of musical theatre (and theatre generally) in America. Featuring comparisons to London, cynical imperatives, lifeguard metaphors, and Read more…

Episode 531. Thinking Shakespeare’s Text

”Scott Parkinson is one of the truly great American interpreters of Shakespeare, and certainly the only one we know personally who will talk to us. While chatting about his recent Writers Theatre production of Julius Caesar (which he adapted, co-directed, and appeared in as Cassius), Scott discussed the method he uses Read more…

Episode 527. The Writers Theatre

”Recently dubbed “Company of the Year” by Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal, the Writers Theatre in the Chicago suburb of Glencoe began in the back of a bookstore and in its 25th anniversary season opened its brand new multi-million dollar performing arts venue — which is also an award-winner! Michael Halberstam, Read more…

Episode 515. Baby Wants Candy

”Baby Wants Candy creates a completely improvised musical at every performance based on a single audience suggestion, and Tim Sniffen is one of its featured players in addition to being a playwright and parodist. Tim talks about what goes into creating musicals on the spot, his latest Wagner parody, whether improv Read more…

Episode 411. Meet Shannon Cochran

”Shannon Cochran is one of the great American actresses: she did the national tour of August: Osage County and created the role of Agnes in Bug (both by Tracy Letts); she’s played a variety of roles in (nerd alert!) six episodes (plus a movie!) of different Star Trek series, in addition to roles in Fringe and The Ring; Desiree Read more…

Episode 340. Directing A Comedy

”We share thoughts about comedy with director William Brown, who talks about his Writers’ Theatre production of David Ives’ The Liar which is earning rave reviews this month in Chicago. Featuring the joys of being at the epicenter of the action, the advantages of actor investment, the truth about technique, the Read more…

Episode 309. The UnReduced Hamlet

”Scott Parkinson is one of those great stage actors you’ve probably never heard of, and he’s playing the title role in an amazing production of Hamlet at the wonderfully intimate Writers Theatre in the Chicago suburb of Glencoe. Austin Tichenor sits down with Scott (you know, one Hamlet to another) and Read more…

Episode 175. Playwrights Who Direct

”Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin are writing The Complete World of Sports (abridged), which the Reduced Shakespeare Company will premiere in September 2010. But they’re in rehearsals now, directing a non-RSC production in California. They talk about this unusual process, and about the wisdom of playwrights directing their own work. Read more…