Friday, December 11, 2009

Auditions: Fresh Eyes Project

Sunday, December 20th 6pm-10pm

Red Tape Theatre is seeking actors to be a part of their “Fresh Eyes Project” which is an exciting playwright-centric workshop process designed to nurture the creation of new plays. Our directors in conversation with actor's and dramaturgs, facilitate a structured and focused investigation of the playwrights work, tailoring the workshop to the artist's process. The Fresh Eyes Project is an exciting fresh take on the workshop model functioning as an incubator for new Chicago playwrights.

Rehearsals are held the month of January and culminate in a celebration of the work, which takes place as part of Red Tape’s annual Chicago Fringe Artists Networking Night (CFANN), which is on February 6th.

Please submit a headshot and resume and what time your prefer to audition on the 20th to Paige Sawin, Cast Director at

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Playing with Plays – The Discussion

Red Tape Theatre’s panel, Playing with Plays, was presented on Sunday, October 11, alongside the world premiere of Mouse in a Jar. The play was developed in our Fresh Eyes Festival and our guests represented a diverse group of companies devoted to new work.

Panelists included:

Mission Statements were a recurring theme in the discussion. About Face Theatre’s xyz festival and Tympanic Theatre’s Bastards of Young selected scripts focused on queer issues and science fiction respectively. American Theatre Company’s play initiatives focus revolve around the question “what does it mean to be an American.” Each company receives hundreds of submissions and depend upon their missions to select works for further development. Emerging playwrights were encouraged to target their submissions to companies with similar focus rather than bending their work to a conflicting mission or aesthetic. Companies seeking experimental and non-linear works have to engage in extensive outreach to like-minded playwrights. Mr. Perez commented that 30 years ago Chicago Dramatists felt the odd man out for focusing on new work, whereas now they part of an exciting local and national movement.

When asked about the process of securing a second production the panelists agreed that the focus on emerging work made this a challenge. They agreed with Ms. Davis’ statement that a play is not “done” when the first production closes and that a second production can allow a playwright to utilize what they learned from the first audience. Mr. Gerace stated that for this reason the second production is as important as the first.

Mouse in a Jar is Jeff Recommended and runs through October 31.
Purchase tickets through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Managing Director

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jeff Recommended!

Mouse in a Jar opened last night after a gut-busting tech week and three sold out previews!

We are thrilled to announce that the production has been Jeff Recommended!

The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 50 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre, the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors.

Come see Mouse in a Jar, Thursdays through Sundays till October 31. Tickets are available through our website and selling fast!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Playing with Plays - Meet our Oct 11 Panelists!

Playing with Plays

Sunday, October 11, following the 3:00pm matinee of Mouse in a Jar.

Join Mouse in a Jar's playwright, Martyna Majok and Director Daria Davis in a discussion with local theatre artists on the topic of creating new and original work. Moderated by Red Tape's Paul Miller, this is an event for theatre practitioners and theatre enthusiasts alike.

Our panel includes:

Stephanie M. Acosta, Founding Artistic Director of the Anatomy Collective. With TAC Stephanie has directed the multi-disciplinary performances such as Many Things are Destroying Me, the Prometheus Myth, Orphan Works Series w/Chicago Underground Library & Monster/girl. Currently showing Gone created in partnership with the Chicago Parks District for Chicago Artists Month, running Oct. 2-17.

Daniel Caffrey is Artistic Director of the Tympanic Theatre Company, which he founded in 2007. He has worked as a writer, director, and occasional actor with companies including Chicago Dramatists, Dramatis Personae, Dream Theatre, Hobo Junction, iO, The Side Project and Victory Gardens. Upcoming projects include Bags Of Blood (WildClaw Theatre), Yukon Cornelius (ARFTCO), Folkfire (Tympanic), and writing and directing for Tell It & Speak It & Think It & Breathe It (The Ruckus).

Jason W. Gerace is Artistic Associate of American Theater Company. At ATC Jason has assistant directed Speech & Debate (Jeff nomination for Best Direction, PJ Paparelli) and the 2008 production of It’s a Wonderful Life under the direction of Damon Kiely; He has produced and directed the inaugural production of the Chicago Chronicle project directed the most recent remount of Oklahoma, produced and directed in this year’s Big Shoulders Festival, produced the first 10X10 Festival, and is curating the upcoming 25 Festival of new plays.

Internationally produced playwright M.E.H. Lewis is author of Fellow Travellers (Jeff award), Creole (5 BTA nominations), and Burying the Bones (Jeff nomination), an ensemble member at Stage Left and Infamous Commonwealth, resident at Chicago Dramatists, and member of the Dramatists Guild. She's currently workshopping Musica Mundana with InFusion and preparing for SLT's production of Here Where It's Safe.

Richard Perez is the Associate Artistic Director for Chicago Dramatists. He recently ended his seven year tenure as the Producing Artist Director of the Bloomington Playwrights Project in Indiana. In that time he oversaw the production of over thirty new mainstage plays, with at least sixteen of those being world premieres.

Dav Yendler is a director, illustrator, playwright, and graphic designer living in Chicago. Originally from Northern California, Dav moved to the city to explore the fascinating new theatre that only this city can make. As Artistic Coordinator for About Face Theatre, Dav works closely with Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar to develop AFT’s most innovative work.

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Tickets are available through our website.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stage Violence - A Fine Line

Have you ever seen a fight on stage and just not believed it? Have you ever seen someone fall on stage and worry that they may be really hurt. These are the two extremes directors and actors strive to avoid in presenting any sort of violence onstage. The audience must believe that the fight is real, but must never believe that anyone is truly hurt. To master this thin line of believability, the process begins with rehearsal.

In the initial rehearsals, a fight choreographer is utilized. Their job is to break the fight into beats. In these beats, the actors know exactly where they are at all times. Usually the appearance of violence is the job of the receiver. It is not the person who throws the punch who must “sell” it, but the person being punches who must provide the reality in their reaction. If a person grabs someone by the lapel and pins them to the wall, it is the person pinned who is supporting their own weight and who is giving the appearance of struggling and gasping for breath. Throughout the rehearsal process, these beats are rehearsed over and over and over until the involved actors can go through the beats without hesitation or trepidation.

It is important to note here that stage combat is not always a complex choreography. In Enemy of the People, there was a simple move made by Cliff to intercept Sandy when she becomes overexcited at Tammy’s discovery of the polluted spa. What appeared to be a simple matter of stepping in between the two ladies, had to be choreographed as intricately as a sword fight or a slugfest. If Cliff is too early in his interception of Sandy, the scene loses the intensity. If Cliff is too late, Sandy runs over Tammy.

Once the scene is choreographed and rehearsed to the point that the show is ready to open, there is a new process of preparation which happens every night before the start of the show. Fight call is a walk though of all the stage combat in the show just before the show starts. Usually this is done at a slower speed, building up to full speed with each repetition.

When you see physical staging in Mouse in a Jar or any other Red Tape show, you can be certain that the safety of the performers in the primary objective. Every move is well rehearsed to make you believe that the fight is real. Every move is well rehearsed so you can fear for the safety of the characters without fearing for the safety of the actors.

Errol McLendon
Company Member

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009
Tickets are available through our website.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chiaroscuro Mouse

“‘s not a game’s a plan not like you’d understand. Jerk.”

When I first heard Mouse in a Jar almost a year ago, what struck me was the playwright’s visceral application of language and image like “a scene told in chiaroscuro.” I felt plosives, guttural vowels and words repeated ‘til they were gibberish. And each of these utterances seemed to further my understanding of the complex relationships between the characters. In that initial encounter, I experienced much more through the implicit meaning rather than explicit meaning in the dialogue. I wasn’t surprised then to learn that the playwright, Martyna Majok, is also a poet.

In Mouse, images are fragmented by language and experienced in surprising ways. Soldiers are “boots” or “Men With Boots.” A daughter recalls life before she had a mouth or her eyes had met. “Boots kick out the lights,” she says. Martyna’s sophisticated use of metaphor is as moving as it is unexpected. And these image-fragments accumulate as Mouse bursts with connotative expression.

Her use of repetition strips away explicit meaning until there are only consonants and vowels and the tension between people. In the opening scene, the word ‘peel’ is used six times in six lines, saying more about what the characters are doing to each other, rather than the act of preparing food. The same is true of the word ‘jerk.’ Through brute repetition, words transcend their meanings and become little primal utterances of unmet emotional needs.

There is much to admire in the sheer vitality of Martyna’s language. It is language which demands to be expressed in more than words. I’m very excited to see, that after almost a year, Mouse is finally being realized in a full theatrical production with Red Tape Theatre.

Rob Oakes
Company Member

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Tickets are available through our website.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In this Basement

A lot of people ask why Mouse in a Jar is an important play to me, why I've been drawn to the text. I think I am more than willing to talk about how caught up I was by Martyna's language the moment I turned over page one, what a visceral punch her text packs, what a treat her rich and complex world of rhythm, image and sound are to me, I am less likely to mention that I see scraps of myself in her story.

Now it is important to note that this is not a play about domestic violence. If it was the story would follow a more conventional path dumping us off at the moral: hitting people is bad. Instead this story happens to be grounded in a darker family dynamic, but the narrative investigates how these people chose to negotiate their lives against the backdrop of dysfunction, not the dysfunction itself.

That being said, it's probably worth mentioning that I often come home from rehearsal with my stomach in knots because some of the work we do unearths shards of memory for me. A different time in my life where one false move only seemed to lead to another to another to another, until I found myself painted pretty desperately in to the corner not even sure what a way out would look like.

It's a gut reaction as the viewer to boil these women's problem's down to victimization, but we are doing the story a huge disservice if we allow that. The truth here is that people are frustratingly complicated and they want things that often seem to nullify or eclipse other desires.

What is love in this basement? There's nothing cheap or shallow about it. It's got the same complexity as any other love, perhaps the stakes are just higher, perhaps there's just so much more to lose here. But I would guess that's not the truth, we all want the same things when we love someone, consistency, reciprocation, perfection. Often we will turn a blind eye to the imperfections of our partners or the complaints of others just to hold onto the dream of our love. I think it's hard to admit how little perspective we can have in those situations, how much we will sweep under the carpet for a shot at connection. That's what's going on in this basement and sometimes those knots in my stomach as I bike home are in recognition of my own story and sometimes there about all of us.

Daria Davis
Company Member and
Director of Mouse in a Jar

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Tickets are available through our website.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Haunted Hijinx

Halloween is right around the corner. It may be one of my favorite holidays these days. It wasn’t that way when I was a kid though. When I was 10 yeas old, I remember going to Amlings Haunted House with my mother, my father, my aunt and uncle. Back in the day, Amlings was THE place to go for garden fare in the northwest burbs and it had one of the best haunted houses in the Chicagoland area.

I don’t remember much about the haunted house with the exception of one room, a room with five doors. To get to the next room, I had to choose a door. I remember opening the fourth door only to have a person dressed as Frankenstein behind bars let out a loud groan, which scared the living hell out of me. My uncle howled with laughter. I eventually opened the right door and went to the next room of haunted hijinx, but I’ll never forget those doors.

Our lifetime presents us with a myriad of doors. Some are easy to open and walk through. Others, however, terrify us with real or imagined consequences that can debilitate us. For example, maybe we want to start our own gig, but is it worth leaving a comfortable job that pays well and has good benefits? Should we stay single because we don’t want to make ourselves vulnerable or settle in a relationship because our biological clock is ticking? An MBA sounds great, but what if I can’t pay off the loans? I’ll start writing that script, novel, play, etc. tomorrow. I’ll give up smoking, start working out, drink less, love more, try harder on January 1. Sound familiar?

While it can be hard enough to walk through scary doors ourselves, convincing someone else to walk through the door with us adds a whole new challenge.

How far would you go to win someone’s love? What steps would you take to protect someone you loved from danger? What would you do to save someone who didn’t want to be saved? Would you walk through the door when you had the chance?

Mouse in a Jar, a new play produced by Red Tape Theatre, poses these questions. It opens October 5th. I invite you to check it out so you can think about these questions and how you would answer them.

Robert A. Lynch
Company Member

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Purchase tickets through our website.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Digging Deep

Now that we are rounding the corner and tech looms on the horizon I'm enjoying these last few days of rehearsal with just the cast. Our rehearsal room may be a massive gym, but the feeling when we get down to work in there is intimate and warm. It is not necessarily unique that we've grown into a close knit group, that is what rehearsal does to people, but the process of cracking this new play has afforded us an opportunity to dig deep within the text and each other. As we fold our designers into the day to day of rehearsal, I'm eagerly anticipating expanding our conversations. I can't wait to see what we all get up to as the gym transforms into a tiny New Jersey basement.

Daria Davis
Company Member and
Director of Mouse in a Jar

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Tickets are available through our website.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Meet Fip: Actor Ben Gettinger

When reading Mouse in a Jar for the first time, what are some of the first images or words that resonated with you?
Dampness, mold, meat, blood, puss, scars, and stench.

Mouse is a new work, has that changed how you approach the script?
Yes. Everyone is intensely engaged, discovering how to bring this piece to life for the first time. It's not like doing an established play, where we ask ourselves what's our take on this piece? What else has not been touch upon? Other than the well known themes, what facets do I want to bring to light? In a new piece I am obliged to ask myself on a deep level and really search to find, what is this at it's core? It is just not as clear, because it has not been done before and there is a greater responsibility to find it.

What feels like the greatest challenge for you in this play?
The writing is highly stylized, the cadence so unique, and the suffering is layered so richly; A world is created which is unreal, dark, but surprisingly beautiful. Because my imagination runs rampantly I can easily be swept up by the world and start playing my character, Fip, very obscurely. Almost too obscure for anyone to relate to. The challenge is to exist in this abstract world, while playing the real emotional undertones that will connect with the audience and help ease them into this strikingly different environment.

How would you characterize the world of the play?
A festering, moldy sausage locked in a basement oozing its acrid grease over a handful of innocent human souls, corroding all sense of the word, purity.

Have you learned anything new so far in this process? (about you, about your character about the world)
Yes definitley. There are a lot of street kids that migrate into Chicago in the summer. I would always just look at them as dirty, wandering, begging hippies, who can't get over thier ideals enough to just get a job. However, now I am playing one of these punks in a play and after researching the lives of runaways I understand why they do wander aimlessly. They come from broken homes and have suffered immensely from all froms of abuse. I came from a practically perfect, loving american family. For me it is easy to adere to the starndard of living that my society would classify as normal. It's really sad because they just have not been conditioned to function in the adult world. By making the effort to investigate the lives of those that are extremely adverse to that of my own, I have discovered new areas of understanding and empathy in my being. I am much more likely to toss some money into their hats on the street.

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009
Tickets are available through our website.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dance Puppets, Dance!

I love puppets. From the fanciest creation at Jim Henson’s studio to the humblest sock. I’m thrilled that both shows in Red Tape’s season feature prominent roles for puppets, and they are used in ways one wouldn’t expect. The puppets in Mouse in a Jar and The Love of the Nightingale are meant to disturb, rather than amuse.

A quick search for the History of Puppets reveals tales of the Shadow puppet epics of Indoneisa, the years of training spent on Japanese bunruku, and the rod and string puppets used in Italian morality plays, the backstage antics behind the film Team America: World Police, and the latest Broadway outings by Julie Taymor.

Puppets as figures of fright go way back. The uncanny valley hypothesis of 1906 has studied the level of discomfort prompted by puppets, robots, CGI effects and other objects that look and behave similar to humans. The more human it looks, the less we trust it.

Paul G. Miller
Managing Director

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Purchase tickets through our website.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Deep, Dark Woods

We're in the thick of it now. With a week before tech we're coming to the end of our exploratory rehearsal time. As always with things like this, the time feels too short, I think I can speak for everybody when I say this group loves to explore and talk and experiment, and would be perfectly happy to do just that for the next three weeks!

But regardless we're jumping into our first real run through this week and I'm excited to see what kind of shape our hard work is taking. I've been returning again and again to a certain metaphor in rehearsal this week (ask any one in our cast about my metaphors. I tend to either hit the nail on the head with them, or produce some odd expressions) about the deep dark woods. I am probably returning to the idea because of the dramaturgical research our assistant director Caitlin has been generously providing about Mouse's strong ties to a fairy tale structure. I've found the image well suited to this play. Certain scenes seem to lend themselves to the different parts of the Forest, scene seven for example is the deepest darkest part, and scene three a clearing ringed in shadowy under growth. We've also been talking about how these characters pick a path through the woods and then find themselves willingly or unwillingly lead astray in the arc of a scene or in the play as a whole. Much the same things can be said of our rehearsal process it seems to me. And equipped with all the tools necessary to venture deeper, I am excited to strike out into new territory in the coming week and see where the path leads us!

Daria Davis
Company Member and
Director of Mouse in a Jar

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Meet Zosia: Actress Irene Kapustina

Where I'm from:
Minsk, Belarus

Education or training:
Loyola University’s Theatre School, Act One Studios, Laura Kessler Agency

What I do when I'm not doing theatre:
Study, study, study and study

One fun fact I would like to share:
When I do not get enough of sleep, or when I am hungry, or cold, my Russian accent gets out of control.

Irene on Mouse in a Jar

When reading Mouse for the first time, what are some of the first images or words that resonated with you?
The basement. It reminded me of a doorway in an apartment building I once lived. I still remember the smell.

Mouse is a new work, has that changed how you approach the script?
The fact that Mouse in a Jar is a new script did not change the approach. The essence of the script, however, shaped that approach a lot.

What feels like the greatest challenge for you in this play?
Stay true to Martyna’s language. It is poetry in verse, with its own rhythm.

How would you characterize the world of the play?
The world of dreams, soaked with sweat and disappointment, coated with fear and love, drowned in misunderstanding, cruelty and indifference, washed in a ray of hope.

Have you learned anything new so far in this process? (about you, about your character about the world)
Mouse made me look at a lot of things in my past: choices I made, people I met, my immigration to the States and how much it changed me. I think that the circumstances of our lives are able to drastically change our own personalities uncontrollably, and pass unnoticed, until it is too late.

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mouse in a Jar - The First Readthrough

Walking in from the humidity on an abnormal Chicago Sunday morning, I found myself walking into a cozy one bedroom apartment occupied by the young, hip, semi-indie style of the Davis'. Welcomed by hugs and the comfy smell of fresh baked goods I knew I was in for a treat (no pun intended). Having been to thousands of read-throughs, from college fold out tables to basement floors to one of the greatest regional theatre's in the country, I found myself in a living room and I’ve never felt so comfortable. As Martyna Majok arrived (playwright/Yale Grad. student) the energy of the room was filled with high hopes, nervousness, and of course potential.

Gathered around in the living room the normal process began. We got a chance to listen to Miles Polaski’s chilling sound design. Martyna's face was filled with joy as we heard tracks from his computer. Striking bars from the violin were played from the sound track to There Will Be Blood. The best part was the excitement that this sound designer was giving off; he truly has a passion for his work and this piece. Next came a slideshow from company member Kyle Land, who said, "I’m not a lighting designer, I’m a shadow designer." His images had a modern feel of what Hitchcock would create if he was alive today. Next, Kat Powers, the props designer, who is in the early stages of the process, let us know that if we or anyone we know has stuff from the basement to get in contact with her. This image of shadows and darkness set the tone for Bill Anderson’s set design. This guy's model was something out of a book. The Red Tape space will be transformed into a basement, a dark, water dripping from the walls, horror film style kind of basement. Everyone was gathered around this model, there was a silence and the designer was just keeping his eyes on the model, sort of waiting to see if people liked it. Trust me people were in amazement. This model represents where Red Tape is going and how we will take an audience by the throat and won't let them go until we are done!

We then, of course, did a reading of the play. I don't want to give anything away other then this play is a must see. Strong women roles filled with incredible talent. Be ready for a ride. In my opinion, this play is the bastard child of Sam Shepard and Adam Rapp. Martyna is able to keep us slightly uncomfortable while being fully engaged and wanting more. The designers will keep you in this play without even noticing them. I cannot wait until this play opens.

Nicholas Combs

Company Member

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Purchase tickets through our website.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Wild Ride

I have been with Mouse in a Jar since last November. It has been an exciting wild ride to watch it change and grow into this wonderful piece. During rehearsals, I work with Daria while she works with the actors to understand more about the different themes running throughout the story. I find it fascinating how many people have a connection with the script. The other night I was discussing with Daria how we all are touched by different aspects of Mouse in a Jar; be it things from our own past, stories we know, the past of another, every single one of us has a different connection. I myself have a Polish background and was inspired to learn more about my history. As we all explore our connections we each help the story grow and take on more life. My favorite part about stage managing this show is how I get the opportunity to watch the set being built, the puppets crafted and the characters refined. What I can say is that this show will truly encompass your senses. As Mouse in a Jar’s stage manager, I am very excited to have the chance to work in this world. Martyna has written a play where not only are the characters a major presence but the surroundings as well can surprise you.

Cynthia Carney
Company Member and
Stage Manager of Mouse in a Jar.

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Purchase tickets through our website.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Nightmare Man

One of the things that initially drew me to Mouse in a Jar was my overwhelming visceral reaction to Martyna's text. The character of HIM for example is one of the scariest things I’ve imagined since I was a child terrified to leave my bed in the middle of the night. Once or twice I've found myself walking through the blocking for some of Ma and HIM's scenes, tracking how we will try to execute his catastrophic entrances and exits, I am often overwhelmed by the image of this nightmare man.

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of watching our puppet designer Sarah Bendix lead a workshop with Kathleen Powers and Don Markus, our two actors playing Ma and HIM respectively. We had our first real chance to play with the imagery Martyna has so artfully woven through the text. And as the day progressed we all began to tap into the raw-er aspects of MOUSE that Martyna's words and images conjure. As we pressed on into Monday my assistant director Caitlin Parrish presented the first in a series of dramaturgical conversations investigating the idea of storytelling through the lens of original fairy tales. By the end of the rehearsal, suitably mired in the plays psychological roller coaster we transitioned in to some blocking. I don't think I was the only one maybe, possibly, a little scared of the dark.

Daria Davis
Company Member and
Director of Mouse in a Jar

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009
Purchase tickets through our website.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Talking the Talk

When speaking in real life, we pause, we interrupt, we overlap, we start and stop. If we are to recreate life onstage, the same speech patterns should exist. But do they? Often language onstage is very polite and neat with each performer taking his turn, rarely fishing for words or ideas.

A playwright friend of mine once told me she spent every day listening to the way people talk on the bus and every night trying to capture that on paper. It is an age old challenge tackled by playwrights, directors and actors. How to talk like real people onstage.

Shakespeare sometimes included directions on how to speak his lines in the lines themselves. Hamlet gives the players the instruction to “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc'd it to you, trippingly on the tongue.” If only there were a Hamlet in every play to convey the playwright’s wishes.

Pinter makes a heroic attempt to help the actors speak the words as he hears them in his head by loading his scripts with pauses, silences, ellipses and dashes. Numerous essays and books have been written to explain what each of these designations imply, but which book or essay to follow becomes the dilemma.

Sometimes the reality slips in during the rehearsal process. There was a wonderful overlapping of lines in Red Tape’s Enemy of the People. Peter Stockman is arguing with his sister and states “You are contractually obligated to receive the approval of the commission before disclosing information to the public” to which Tammy replies “I have the right to speak the truth.” Even though this was not written as an overlapping line, it evolved into one during the rehearsal process. The overlapping built the tension and accentuated each character’s emotional investment in the argument. Rather than seeing two people expressing their opinions one after the other, you saw each person verbally swinging at the other simultaneously, creating one of the most electrifying exchanges in the show.

In Mouse in a Jar, Matyna Majok has created an inspired shorthand which gives the actors and director a clear roadmap of how she hears the voices. Below is her “Dialogistics”.

Brackets [ ] indicate words unspoken but intended.
Slashes / indicate overlap or quickly followed speech.
Double-columned dialogue is spoken simultaneously.
Non-traditional spacing and floating words are requests for poetics and extra syllables. Speed bumps, in essence. Please feel encouraged to experiment – they’re mostly suggestions.

With this innovative scripting, Matyna has made great strides in bridging the gap between the speech we hear in public and the speech we hear on stage.

Come hear the speech as Matyna intended it to be presented.

Errol McLendon
Company Member

Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Purchase tickets through our website.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Behind the scenes at "Mouse in a Jar"

Rehearsals are underway for Mouse in a Jar. Director and ensemble member Daria Davis has started a journal about the rehearsal process. Click here to check it out!

Mouse in a Jar runs Oct 5-31, 2009.

Tickets are available through our website.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Red Tape Theatre Announces 2009-2010 Season!

Red Tape Theatre Company is thrilled to announce our sixth season!

October 5-31, 2009 - Mouse in a Jar

A world premiere by Chicago playwright Martyna Majok.

Directed by ensemble member Daria Davis.

Daga tries to pry Ma away from her nightmarish home in a tiny basement apartment. But Ma's past keeps her chained to this world.

Mouse is a magical play featuring Irene Kapustine, Tamara Todres, Kathleen Powers, Benjamin Gettinger and Don Markus.

With designs by Myles Polaski, William Anderson, Sarah Bendix, Kat Powers and ensemble member Kyle Land.

Stage Managed by ensemble member Cynthia Carney.

January 2010 - Fresh Eyes Project

Fresh Eyes Project is an incubator for new and experimental work. It focuses on the needs of playwrights, providing them with a director, actors, dramaturgical support and rehearsal space. Excerpts of the final scripts will be performed at the annual Chicago Fringe Artists Networking Night.

Fresh Eyes is produced by ensemble member Daria Davis.

February 6, 2010 - Chicago Fringe Artists Networking Night (CFANN)

This one night only event brings together Chicago artists from all forms to network and share their talents. Live performances are showcased amongst visual art and installation pieces from classic to quirky. CFANN is for artists, by artists and not to be missed.

CFANN is produced by ensemble member Myah Shein.

May 3-29, 2010 - The Love of the Nightingale

Written by Timberlake Wertenbaker

directed by Artistic Director James Palmer

This modern retelling of the Philomele myth features a large ensemble cast and employs dance, puppetry, music, multi-media and expressionistic design.

Featuring ensemble members James Palmer (Director), Myah Shein (Choreographer), Robert L. Oakes (Male Chorus), Victor May (Tereus), Rob Lynch (King Pandion), Lona Livingston (Queen / Niobe) and Errol McLendon (Theseus / Captain).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Red Tape Members Around Town!

Red Tape Theatre will soon be announcing our 2009-2010 season! Meanwhile have a look at what our Company Members are doing around town!!!

Mackenzie Brown May is beginning rehearsals for the world premiere of The Hundred Dresses with Chicago Children's Theatre.
Performances are Sep 25- Nov 1, 2009

Nicholas Combs is in Boys Life with Hanger9 at Gorilla Tango Theatre.
Aug 7-29, 2009

Rob Lynch performs with the improv troupe Paul 'n the Family at iO
June 28-Aug 16, 2009. Sundays at 9pm

Victor May performs in Cyrano de Bergerac at Oak Park Festival Theatre
July 15-Aug 15, 2009.

Paul G. Miller plays the Skull in The Last Unicorn at Promethean Theatre.
Oct 16-Nov 14, 2009
and in Promethean's Free Incubator Showcase of new plays on Monday, Aug 31, 2009, 7:30pm at the DCA Theatre.

Read more about Red Tape on our website.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Ibsen Award

The International Ibsen Award for 2009 goes to French director Ariane Mnouchkine (pictured)

Their website says that "The International Ibsen Award honors an individual, organization or institution in the fields of arts and culture for exceptional achievements defined within the spirit of Ibsen`s work."

Any Ibsen scholars reading this? What would you predict the parameters of such an award would be?

Final performances of Enemy of the People are Fri-Sat, 7:30pm, May 29-30.
Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Picking Sides

The Doctor and the Mayor in Enemy of the People have very different solutions to their towns problems, and everyone in the play is forced to pick a side. How about you? Where did your sympathies turn during the course of the play?

Final performances of Enemy of the People are May 28, 29 and 30th. Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Monday, May 25, 2009

Green Night of Theatre - The Discussion

Red Tape Theatre’s Green Panel was presented on Sunday, May 24, alongside our adaptation of Enemy of the People. The play concerns the fallout from an environmental disaster, so we asked our guests to discuss green advocacy in our homes and community.

Stacy Meyers-Glen from Chicago Openlands suggested that the most important things an environmental advocate can do is volunteer and lobby. There’s lots of work to be done and not enough people to do it. Chicago Openlands protects the natural and open spaces in and around northeastern Illinois.

She announced that the Illinois Envronmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has proposed stronger water quality standards which would require the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to disinfect treated sewage that flows into Chicago’s waterways. This would reduce pathogens, such as giardia and salmonella, that can infect people and wildlife. She encouraged supporters to write to:

John Therriault, Assistant Clerk
Illinois Pollution Control Board
100 W. Randolph Street, Ste 11-500
Chicago, IL 60601

More information on the proposals can be found at the Friends of the Chicago River website.

Courtney Bennett, who plays Dr. Stockman, spoke of her work at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The museum hosts a Savannah prairie and the largest butterfly haven in the Midwest. The blue Rubbermaid bin she brought with her contained a sanitary, smell-free, compost bin containing red wiggler worms, brown paper, and fruit and vegetable food scraps that would ordinarily be preserved in a landfill. By balancing the food to worm ratio the bin provides compost for lawns and house plants.

Workshops on indoor and outdoor bins, green house cleaning, recycling 101 and other fascinating topics are taught at the museum and can be read about here. The nature museum is one of many organizations seeking volunteers to care for animals, clean up parks, and educate the community.

Their green careers are full of opportunities and surprises. Ms. Glen-Meyers recounted a public hearing asking for a river cleanup. One of the scientists asked to speak brought the judges a sample of the polluted river water. Some stuck their fingers in, and were given handwipes. “You’ll want to disinfect your hands.” They quickly complied. Ms. Bennett recounted a surprising conversion with an adult visitor at the haven who refused to believe that caterpillars and butterflies are the same creatures, despite footage suggesting the contrary. “He’d made up his mind.” Education will always be needed.

Final performances of Enemy of the People are Thu-Sat, May 28-30.
Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Friday, May 22, 2009

Green Night of Theatre - May 24

This Sunday, May 24, following the matinee of Enemy of the People, Red Tape will host our Green Night of Theatre

Ibsen’s play examines the fallout from an environmental disaster. Join our guests from Chicago Open Lands and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum as they show us how to be greener in our homes and our community.

Courtney Bennett, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum inspire people to learn about and care for nature and the environment. The Academy improves quality of life in Chicago and the region by delivering superior environmental and science education programs to students and teachers, by offering Museum exhibitions and conducting public programs that foster green living, and by restoring local ecosystems and advancing scientific knowledge through collections and research.

Stacy Meyers-Glen, Policy Coordinator, Chicago Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives.

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30.
Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tribune covers "unusable" nature preserve

Enemy of the People concerns the fallout from an environmental disaster. We recently highlighted the parallels to the incidents in Crestwood County. This morning I came across a story in Maywood.

'Dangerous' conditions at preserve
by Gerry Smith, Chicago Tribune
May 20, 2009

And after visiting Miller Meadow last fall to look into allegations of
open dumping, an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency inspector determined
that there were no violations, said state EPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson.

But Cox said the debris on the site is widespread and "physically
dangerous" for people who want to use the area for recreation.

"Purely from a public-use point of view, it makes the site unusable," Cox

And Dye said she worries about the threat to wildlife at Miller Meadow
after seeing how erosion on the restoration site has carried debris and
biosolids toward the river banks.

"I'm not an expert, but if you dump a bunch of construction debris and soil
near a river and it starts to erode into the river, I think that's a problem,"
Dye said

Our Green Night of Theatre is Sunday, May 24 after the 2:00 pm performance of Enemy of the People. Panelists from Chicago Openlands and the Notebaert Nature Museum will discuss how to be green in our homes and community.

Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller

Season Dramaturge

Monday, May 18, 2009

Robert Oakes on Adapting Ibsen

We asked Red Tape Ensemble Member Robert L. Oakes to discuss his reasons for adapting Henrik Ibsen's Enemy of the People.

There are a several reasons I chose to adapt this play. First, was the sense that the play had not aged well. In spite of being dramatically compelling, it seemed to lack the psychological weight of some of Ibsen's other scripts.

Second, was a desire to re-imagine the play in a contemporary setting. How would the themes and ideas of script be realized in a contemporary context? And how could those themes and ideas be presented in a way that was compelling and dramatic for a contemporary audience.

Third, was the desire to re-imagine Dr. Stockmann as an Ibsenian woman. I some respects, I think Dr. Stockmann is the woman character Ibsen would write if he were alive today: feminine, intellectually powerful, emotionally independent and deeply conflicted.

Lastly, there was one particular aspect in the original script which I felt needed to be developed and that was the relationship between the two siblings. What does it mean to this story if those two characters actually love each other?

Robert L. Oakes

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30,
Tickets are available through our website.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Welcome Our New Company Member!

It is with great joy that we announce Red Tape's newest company member Kyle Land.

Kyle hails from Kansas City and comes to Chicago via Emporia State University, where he served as Technical Director for four years before arriving here last August. He is a freelance designer, director, carpenter/welder, TD, and stage manager. He has worked with several theatres in the Chicago area: including Adventure Stage, Metropolis, Noble Fool, Next, New World Rep.

Kyle's lighting design can currently be seen in our production of Enemy of the People.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Norway's Economy Makes Headlines

Company member Mark Jacob Chaitin brought this piece of news to our attention:

Thriving Norway Offers a Lesson in Frugality
New York Times
May 13, 2009

The global financial crisis has brought low the economies of just about every country on earth. But not Norway. With a quirky contrariness as deeply etched in the national character as the fjords carved into its rugged landscape, Norway has thrived by going its own way. When others splurged, it saved. When others sought to limit the role of government, Norway strengthened its cradle-to-grave welfare state.

And in the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway’s economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent and its ledger is entirely free of debt. By comparison, the United States is expected to chalk up a fiscal deficit this year equal to 12.9 percent of its gross domestic product and push its total debt to $11 trillion, or 65 percent of the size of its economy....

Instead of spending its riches lavishly, it passed legislation ensuring that oil revenue went straight into its sovereign wealth fund, state money that is used to make investments around the world. Now its sovereign wealth fund is close to being the largest in the world....

Eirik Wekre, an economist who writes thrillers in his spare time, describes Norwegians’ feelings about debt this way: “We cannot spend this money now; it would be stealing from future generations.” Mr. Wekre, who paid for his house and car with cash, attributes this broad consensus to the country’s iconoclasm. “The strongest man is he who stands alone in the world,” he said, quoting Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009
Tickets are available through our website!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ibsen's Women - The Discussion

Red Tape Theatre's panel, Ibsen's Women, was presented on Sunday, May 10, alongside our
gender-swapped adaptation of Enemy of the People.

Prof. Jacob Juntunen (UIC Dept of Theatre), began with Nora from A Doll's House, who abandons her husband and children. The revolutionary aspect of this may be lost in a time of 50% divorce rates but Nora's action was unthinkable at the time and caused fierce debate among the audiences.

Mr. Robert Scogin (Artistic Director, Shaw Chicago) compared Ghosts to a Greek Tragedy, citing Mrs. Alving as a modern Clytemnestra who kills her husband with her moralizing only to be punished by her children. Mrs. Alving's resignation to stay with her husband despite their incompatibility has also branded her as "Nora grown up."

Prof. Julie Ward (Loyola Dept of Philosophy) commented that this made Hedda Gabler into "Nora on steroids." Unhappy with her timid husband, but unwilling to submit to her immoral admirers she sabotages their lives then ends the life of life of herself and her unborn child with her fathers pistol.

Mr. Scogin argued that in Ibsen's time evil springs from boredom as society leaves his women with nothing to do. Prof. Ward countered with the heavy responsibilities Nora takes by running the finances of her household. Mr. Scogin agreed, but added that society left Nora no legal way to do so, forcing her into forgery. Ibsen's plays critique aspects of a society that does not allow one to make a moral choice.

When asked if these women are still relevant, Prof. Juntunen answered that the plays present
women who actively reject their socially prescribed roles. The plays still has the power to make husbands and wives very afraid.

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009
Our next panel, Green Night of Theatre, will be Sunday, May 24.
Tickets are available through our website!

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ibsen's Marriage

The Stockman’s marriage in Enemy of the People has its share of troubles but they are one of the healthiest couples in Henrik Ibsen’s canon. At today’s panel, Ibsen’s women, we will discuss the fraught relationships in A Dolls House, Ghosts and Hedda Gabler. Critics have enjoyed contrasting these plays to Ibsen’s own marriage.

Henrik Ibsen married Suzanna Thoreson in 1858, at age 30. His one time friend Martin Scheneekloth saw the marriage as a tragedy. In his letters about Ibsen he wrote:

“To find that one does not really love the woman one has married, that one’s requirements for a happy co-existence are so opposed to one’s wife’s that no reconciliation is possible, must be a desperate situation for a man, and that is Ibsen’s. He is a domineering character, egocentric and unbending, with a passionate masculinity and a curious admixture of personal cowardice, compulsively idealistic yet totally indifferent to expressing these ideals in his daily life… She is unwomanly, tactless, but a stable, hard character, a mixture of intelligence and stupidity, not deficient in feeling but lacking humility and feminine love. They can not find peace through love, so they wage war on each other, ruthlessly coldly, and yet she loves him, if only through their son, their poor son, whose fate is the saddest that could befall any child, to see divided what should be reconciled in him.

Whose is the fault if not the man? He took her from her father’s house, led her out into the strange world, and instead of devoting his life to finding some form of reconciliation he gives all his mind and passion to a demonic pursuit of literary fame. It is disturbing to hear him describe his plans to send his wife and child home so that he may work in peace abroad. He lacks the courage to pursue his career without abandoning his domestic responsibilities, to face up to the consequences of his ambition, to work incessantly to give her life fulfillment, to suffer and strive to educate his son. Thus he, who so loudly and brilliantly condemns the cravenness of our age, who in mighty poems proclaims the strength of human will, is himself a craven vacillating weakling. "

However their son Sigurd painted a very different picture. He saw his mother as Ibsen’s greatest champion who forced him to write in the many time she was tempted to give it all up. “The world can thank my mother that it has one bad painter the fewer and got a great writer instead.”

Henrik stayed with Suzannah till his death in 1906. While she encouraged the publishing of his work, she did her best to burn all his letters to her declaring their correspondence private. The letters that have survived are very affectionate. Ibsen referred to her by pet names such as his “cat” or “eagle.”

In 1914, a few days before her death, she spoke to an interviewer. “When we were young, many so-called friends came to Ibsen, but I sent them away… I had many unkind words for it, but I didn’t care. He had to have peace for his work… Ibsen had no steel in his character- but I gave it to him.”

Most likely glimpses of the truth remain in all his late plays of the joys and the sorrows, while the rest remains a mystery.

Our panel on Ibsen's Women is today, May 10, after the 2pm matinee.

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009.
Ticket are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Scottish "Enemy" in 1980

It’s the first Saturday after opening. Time to do the laundry, clean the dishes, and clean the apartment. I pop in a DVD for background noise. It’s a BBC adaptation of Enemy of the People buried in an Ibsen collection. I’ve put off watching it and it’s due back at the library soon. Turns out I’m in for a treat.

There’s Peter Stockman, speaking for a crowd in a large factory, about the board’s decision to bottle and sell the water from Scotland’s Baikie springs. As the crowd applauds, the mayors brother rolls his eyes. Then the mayor pushes a button and conveyor belt springs to life filled with bottles of poisoned spring water. As the line of bottles fills the camera the ABBA song “Money, Money, Money” starts to play on the soundtrack. I realize I’ve stumbled on a delightfully irreverent modern adaptation.

Broadcast in 1980 on the BBC, Maggie Allen’s adaptation sticks close to the structure of Ibsen’s original but steers towards comedy and rewrites the text in local dialect.

Dr. Stockman to the crowd: “Yeh kinnae be that stupid!”

Billing to Stockman: “Yer talkin’ like a bloody fascist!”

Horster to Petra: “Ach, ye kin buy spa water anywhere in the world, but
there’s very little truth on view.”

I was also pleased to see that Maggie Allen’s Stockman, like ours, considers moving to Canada. “The air is freshest and a chemist can get work!”

Red Tape Theatre’s Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009
Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hedda's First Impressions

The protagonist of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler agrees to an unsuitable marriage, then destroys everyone in her path trying to get out. The premiere in 1891 was met with hostility by the critics who failed to understand Hedda's behaviour. Their sometimes hysterical responses mirrored a line in the play: "People don't do such things,"

Ibsen scholar Michael Meyer found insight in Gerhard Gran's review for Samtiden:

Gran: “It is a law, or anyway has until now been a law, that drama, in its present state of technical development, can only present comparatively simple characters… Everything that should make this curious being intelligible to us, her development, her secret thoughts, her half-sensed misgivings and all that vast region of the human mind which lies between the conscious and the unconscious – all this the dramatist can no more than indicate. For this reason, I think a novel about Hedda Gabler could be extremely interesting, while the play leaves us with a sense of emptiness and betrayal."
Meyer: "Gran’s remarks explain why people who accepted Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina and Dorothea Brooke wre baffled by [Ibsen's heroines] Ellida Wangel, Rebecca West and Hedda Gabler. Neither actors nor audiences, nor even those who bought the play in book form, were able to read between the lines of dialogue as we can today."

One of Ibsen's worst reviewed works went on to become his most produced among new generations of actors and audiences who wanted to "read between the lines."

I'll be hosting the panel on Ibsen's Women this Sunday, May 10 after the 2pm matinee.

Raven Theatre's Hedda Gabler runs May 3 - June 27, 2009

Red Tape Theatre's Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Augusto Boal 1931-2009

May 2, 2009 saw the passing of Brazilian director, writer and activist Augusto Boal.

His first book, Theatre of the Oppressed (1973), was the subject of disucssion at one of my first meetings at Red Tape Theatre.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Opening Night Artwork!

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Enemy of the People!

We run May 4-30, 2009.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ibsen's Inspiration

Ibsen scholar Michael Meyer discusses the incidents that inspired the plot of Henrik Ibsen's Enemy of the People.

He reveals that the father of Ibsen's colleague was stoned and chased out of the town of Teiplitz after speaking up about an outbreak of cholera at their spa in the eighteen-thirties.

Ibsen was also in Norway in 1874 when chemist Harald Thaulow waged ware on the Christiana Steam Kitchens "for neglecting their duty towards the city's poor." The chairman and the crowd prevented him from speaking at their annual meeting. The newspaper account read:

THAULOW: "I won't cast my pearls into the sand. This is a damned insult being inflicted on a free people in a free society. Now I'll go! Stand in the dunce's corner and be ashamed of yourselves!"

Meanwhile in 2009, as swine flu sweeps the news and the poisoned water investigation in Crestwood, IL continues to unfold, Red Tape Theatre's production grows more topical by the day.

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009
Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Meet the Cast! - Courtney Bennett

Part seven in a series of interviews with the cast of Enemy of the People at Red Tape Theatre.

Name: Courtney Bennett

Role: Dr. Tammy Stockman

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I went to college in a town near there. I lived very briefly in New York City, but I moved to Chicago in October 2007.

What is the first stage play you remember seeing?

My folks aren't very interested in plays or movies, so those weren't a very big part of my childhood. Once I showed an interest in acting, my mother took me to see a traveling production of Chicago. After that, I think she got me every possible piece of Chicago merchandise-- hats, posters, t-shirts, etc. Little did I know I would inhabit the city one day.

When/why did you start acting?

I was always driven to entertain. In elementary school I vied for the speaking parts in assemblies, and in high school, I began taking drama my freshman year. My first real part was at 14 as a munchkin in the school's production of The Wizard of Oz. After that I was hooked; I attended every drama tournament and auditioned for every play.

Tell us about your character in Enemy of the People.

Tammy is an idealist. She believes in people and their ability to make big decisions with ease. I think she is naive, but she believes so deeply in the greater good that she often is willing to break rules to make things happen. I admire her willingness to take risks for what she believes in and her appreciation of the world around her.

What's next for you?

I plan to go back to school this fall. I got into the MFA in Physical Theatre Acting program at the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy. The next couple years are going to be a blur of European cities, and hopefully I'll come back to the US with a broader mind and soul. After that I really want to teach acting for college. I can't wait to get started!

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009.

Tickets are available through our website!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Meet the Cast! - Kieran Kredell

Part six in a series of interviews with the cast of Enemy of the People at Red Tape Theatre Company.

Name: Kieran Kredell

Role: Patrick Stockman

Where are you from?

I was born and raised on the southern end of the New Jersey shore, in a town called Barnegat. But I went to school in Connecticut, and currently live in Ukrainian Village.

What is the first stage play you remember seeing?

Seriously? I'm not sure if I have an answer for this one. Does the Cecil S. Collins Elementary School's adaptation of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure count?

[Paul: It does indeed!]

When/why did you start acting?

My first performance was in eighth grade. It was the drama club's annual show: Krazy Kamp, a children's musical about rival summer camps. In retrospect, I'm sure it was charming. But at the time, I was convinced I was destined for bigger and better things. I started working at summerstock and community theaters in the area, and I guess the rest is history. I'm still not entirely sure why I started acting (besides the fact that I really really liked it), but it's grown to be a pretty important part of how I think about the world.

Tell us about your character in Enemy of the People

Patrick is Tammy and Peter's cousin (originally, Petra was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Stockmann). An openly liberal queer, he is somewhat of an outcast in Cherokee. A substitute teacher frustrated with the politics of his field, he firmly believes in the potential for education to create positive social change. Amidst the overwhelming lack of like-minded voices in town, he looks to Tammy for inspiration and guidance. To Patrick, she embodies the strength, determination, and selflessness required to be heard in such a stifling environment. And when the was reinvented as a radical leftist publication, Patrick began to think the odds were turning in his favor

What's next for you?

I have been working for the past several months with About Face Youth Theatre's Outreach Tour, traveling to schools in the greater Chicago area (and nationwide) introducing kids to sex-positive sex-education, and encouraging adults to push their administrations to support similar efforts. We will continue touring throughout the school year. Also, I will be interning at Redmoon Theater, participating in several guerrilla street performances and helping to create spectacular things. And I'll be auditioning, of course, and looking for representation...

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009

Tickets are available through our website!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Meet the Cast! - April Pletcher Taylor

Part five in a series of interviews with the cast of Enemy of the People at Red Tape Theatre.

Name: April Pletcher Taylor

Role: Connie Allen, President of the Homeowners Association and Board President of The Sun.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Niles, Michigan.

What is the first stage play you remember seeing?

I remember taking a class trip to Chicago to see Much Ado About Nothing when I was in elementary school.

When/why did you start acting?

I’ve possessed a fascination with acting since I was a child. A very shy and quiet person, acting and make believe provided a means for self expression. Also, I just plain loved the endless possibilities that existed on stage--still do.

Tell us about your character in Enemy of the People.

Connie Allen is an active board member in a number of community organizations. She has a great deal of pride in Cherokee and aims to protect this community from anything that may jeopardize its blooming prosperity. Experience has taught her that often times it’s not always what you say but rather how you say it that really counts, so she tries very hard to present any threatening issues in such a way that will prompt a remedy while at the same time not rocking the boat too much. Moderation is her motto and preferred method of handling opposition. However, when the stakes are high, moderation has been known to get thrown right out of the window....well, actually…it just gets placed on the window ledge and nudged off like a little bird…yes, that sounds much nicer.

What's next for you?

On June 1 I will be performing in Rubicon Theatre Project’s Becoming Ingrid as part of the Chicago DCA Theater Incubator Series. After that, who knows?

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009.

Tickets are available through our website!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Meet the Cast! - Errol McLendon

Part four in a series of interviews with the cast of Enemy of the People at Red Tape Theatre.

Name: Errol McLendon

Role: Dan Horster

Where are you from?

Born in Starkville, MS - raised in Cleveland, MS - also lived in Atlanta and Dallas.

What is the first stage play you remember seeing?

Some Dallas Summer Musical - first play I chose - The Me Nobody Knows.

When/why did you start acting?

Found out in high school that there was an alternative to jock, brain or class leader. I had not really found my place in high school until I was cast as the lead in my junior year. I finally found out the beauty of not belonging to a specific group and that individuality was vital in the world of the theatre. My grandfather spent his entire life saying "I could have been in vaudeville", "I could have been in theatre". I vowed not to reach the end of my life saying "I could have . . ." I would rather say "I tried . . .".

Tell us about your character in Enemy of the People.

I represent the person who puts friendship above all else. Politics, public opinion and religion pale in comparison to loyalty to friends and family. I am a member of the town, but not of the town, because I have seen the world driving a truck across country. Because of this exposure, I have a broader world view than most of the people in town. Quick to anger, slow to forgive, Dan would risk everything for Tammy.

What's next for you?

Directing You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown for a teen group in Libertyville and spending the summer enjoying the weather, cooking out and working in the yard and around my house.

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009.
Tickets are available through our website.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Director's Note

Enemy of the People is a twisting journey that will provide the audience with a provocative story and many deep questions. Questions that will hopefully lead to circumstances we are all facing on a daily basis. From little things like how much paper do I burn through in my office each day when I know full well that we are decimating the rain forests to obtain it? Should I go on strike? If a shirt at Gap is made in Indonesia by the hands of small children, should I boycott? How much of my life and my creature comforts am I willing to give up for my beliefs? Should I stand complicit while our country profits off the wars in Africa? Should I hold accountable the politicians who failed to see levy’s breaking in New Orleans? Why did I only participate in two anti-war protests during the eight years of the Bush administration?

And at what point do I stop being a concerned citizen and become a dangerous fanatic? It’s fascinating that our protagonist and antagonist are brother and sister. That sibling rivalry which dates back to Cain and Abel has long been a dramatic motif. But in Enemy it illustrates how ideology can tear families apart. Can tear towns apart. Can tear countries apart. I think of the inflexibility of the those in favor and opposition to Proposition 8.

This is a play that I believe will captivate, resonate emotionally, enhance spiritual value, and ask a lot of really relevant questions. I am so excited to be going on this journey with you guys. It is a complex play but at the heart of it is this idea of beliefs. Of the irrationality of truth. Of the individual versus the mob. These are questions that lie at the very heart of what we as artists do. This is an important play to be doing right now and I am so proud that we are doing it.

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30.

Tickets are available through our website.

James Palmer

Artistic Director

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gender Swapping the Stockmans

In Henrik Ibsen’s original An Enemy of the People there are two female roles: Dr. Stockman’s free-thinking daughter Petra and his long-suffering wife Katherine. They lack influence in Ibsen’s society and are relegated to the roles of cheerleader and confidante respectively. Both are punished for the Dr’s defiance of authority and remind him what he stands to lose. Red Tape Theatre’s contemporary adaptation flips the genders of five key characters including the protagonist, Dr. Stockman, placing her against women and men of influence in the town.

Two other productions recently experimented with the gender politics of the work.

In 2007 Strawberry Theatre Workshop in Seattle produced Arthur Miller’s adaptation of the script but swapped the roles of Katherine and Thomas making her the Doctor and him the loyal “househusband.”
"Women began to earn medical degrees in Europe in the early 1700s. And a female whistle-blower who can't get men to listen to her entreaties? That isn't much of a stretch." ~ Misha Berson, The Seattle Times.
"Amy Fleetwood brings something new and invigorating to this traditionally male role; with her piercing blue eyes and surging spiritual energy, her portrayal tips the familiar on its head, injecting Ibsen's portrait of moral outrage with a transformative dose of humanizing charm and understated feminist fury." ~ Richard Morin, Seattle Weekly.

Strawberry’s production left the text virtually unchanged. A more radical rewrite occurred in 2006 at the Rinkogun Theatre Company in Japan.

"Set in modern Japan, the classic play from 1882 was fully recognisable, save for a few modifications. Among Tokyo’s neon lights and skyscrapers, the originally masculine main character Dr. Stockman had become a woman… Nora [from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House] wanted to help her sick husband, just as Dr. Sudo wishes to help her painter husband suffering from mental problems. When Dr. Sudo wants to open an “onsen,” the townspeople and Dr. Sudo’s sister, the town mayor, thoroughly support her. Tests reveal however that the spring water is bacteria-infested." ~ Ibsen in Japan
"Nowadays, in Japan, many of the leaders of citizens' campaigns are women, and also the leader of the Social Democratic Party has been a woman for a while. So it was necessary to change it to a heroine to be in tune with the modern day." ~ Director/Adaptor Yoji Sakate, The Japan Times

Sakate found the work more than relevant in the contemporary setting.

“Well, if you look at current society in Japan, for example the scandal over forged documents regarding the earthquake resistance of new buildings, or the scandals over financial corruption that happen every day and everywhere, these lies routinely pass by with hardly any fuss…”

In other words, political corruption never goes out of style.

Red Tape’s production of Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009.
Tickets are available through our website!

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge