Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Thinking Caps Q&A: Laura Stratford

We sat down recently with Laura Stratford, who plays Maggie Cusick in Strangeloop's current production, Thinking Caps, and chatted about Cabaret, dogs and what it would be like to connect with the entire world.

Q: What do you like about your character and Thinking Caps
A: Maggie is a passionate, vibrant person who's a lot of fun to play, and the possibilities of the Thinking Caps world are nearly endless for her.

Q: What have been your biggest challenges? 
A: Trying to really feel what it would be like to be connected to the entire world and then have them turn on you. That's embarrassment and terror on a scale that's hard to imagine.

Q: What are you working on after Thinking Caps
A: Producing the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival with Underscore Theatre Company.

Q: What are you favorite highlights on your resume?
A: I was Sally Bowles in Cabaret in college and convinced them to put Maybe This Time back into the stage show.

Q: Any interesting hobbies when not acting? 
A: For awhile I was taking aerial silks classes; I'm out of the habit right now but would love to get back into it.

Q: Anything else about Thinking Caps you'd like to add? 
I'm really excited for this show I think it has everything, from humor to horror to heart. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about where you live and what you like most about your neighborhood.
A: Andersonville is the perfect blend of small-town feel, families, inclusive LGBT storefronts and visibility, and interesting stores and restaurants. Plus lots of dogs.


See Laura in Thinking Caps through May 31 at The Charnel House, 3421 W Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. The show is at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $18 for general admission and available at the door or in advance through Brown Paper Tickets. Discounts are available for students and seniors.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thinking Caps Q&A: Drew Wancket

We sat down recently with Drew Wancket, who plays Charles Cusick in Strangeloop's current production, Thinking Caps, and chatted about the future of technology, his alter ego and the challenges of acting with actors who are not physically in the same room.

Q: What do you like about your character and Thinking Caps?
A:I love that Charles is, more than anything, so grounded. In a seemingly inevitable future where technology is slowly replacing every aspect of human interaction, Charles is an anachronism. He seems to exist in a world completely different than the rest of the characters. I love how he is so disinterested in keeping up with the times. He only cares about his family, and their happiness. Thinking Caps are the future, maybe not 20 years from now, but they seem inevitable. They frankly kind of terrify me. For all the reasons the play exhibits. I am much like Charles, I love old things, and losing such simple objects as books is not something that appeals to me.

Q: What have been your biggest challenges?
A: My biggest challenge has been figuring out how to relate to this world. Much of the script involves interacting with this headnet space, which is something I have no experience with.  It kind of like how I imagine acting with a green screen is like. The give and take is difficult without the other present.

Q: What are you working on after Thinking Caps?
A:  I am moving to New York City the day after this show closes. I am looking forward to finding new experiences in this city.

Q: Before you leave for NYC, tell us about your Chicago experience.Where do you live and what do you like about that neighborhood?
A: I live in Rogers Park, which I believe is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country. Even block to block can have a different feel to it. It feels much more family oriented than other neighborhoods I have lived in. In addition, it is pretty convenient, but it is far enough away from the city center to still be affordable.

Q: What are you favorite highlights on your resume?
A: I am immensely proud of my improv teaching, both at Columbia College and Independence. I also produce and host a variety comedy show every Sunday Night at the Underground Lounge. 

Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies when you're not acting?
A: I work on my blog, the taoofsteven, and have interdisciplinary projects I work on, involving my alter ego, Steven. I also write theater reviews for chicagostagestandard.com

Q: You have a masters degree in Interdisciplinary Arts. What does a program like that look like?
A: It is a one year MA program. It is focused on giving artists from various disciplines a chance to increase their artistic knowledge. For me, is was incredibly rejuvenating. I have always considered myself more than an actor, and now I am involved is so many different projects, ranging from writing to art installations and performance art.
 
See Drew in Thinking Caps through May 31 at The Charnel House, 3421 W Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. The show is at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $18 for general admission and available at the door or in advance through Brown Paper Tickets. Discounts are available for students and seniors.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ada Grey reviews Thinking Caps

Photo by Chris Owens/For Strangeloop Theatre
If you aren't familiar with Ada Grey's reviews, you're missing out.

The 10-year-old reviewer has been seeing theater and sharing her thoughts with the internet since she was 4, and her youthful curiosity and enthusiasm brings a unique perspective to theater. Her reviews are a delight to read. They are cute and funny and at the same time insightful in a way adult reviewers often miss.

She recently saw Thinking Caps and she had a lot to say about the show (including more than a few spoilers, so consider yourself warned).
People who would like this show are people who like virtual reality, scifi, and Superman. I think people should definitely go see this show. I think it is an amazing low-budget production and I really want you to go see it. I had a lot of fun.
 Read her full review here.

Thanks to those who attended the reading of The Odyssey

Thanks to everyone who came out on Monday evening and packed the house for our staged reading of The Odyssey. We're looking forward to receiving additional feedback as we continue to develop this script and concept with an eye toward production.

The reading, which took place at Black Rock Pub on Damen Avenue, was directed by Maria Burnham with movement direction by Miona Lee and Carrie Campana. The script is being written by Tim Lee and Maria Burnham.
Actors for the reading were: Brian Barber, Tara Bouldrey, Gilly Guire, Cassandra Hannan, Nellsyn Hill, Arti Ishak, Andrew McClelland, Karissa Murrell Myers, Kyla Norton, Kamron Palmer, Howard Raik, Madeline Schmit and Audra Yokley.

Strangeloop Theatre is in the process of developing a movement-driven adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey.

We are working toward a production that will use a chorus of about 15 to 20 actors who will embody not just the human characters in the story, but the gods, monsters and inanimate objects – from storms and ships to bows and looms – on a bare stage. Lighting will be the primary technical storytelling element in our production with minimal assistance from costumes, props and sound. This is not a dance piece. We are developing a physical theater piece that relies almost completely on the ensemble of actors telling the story.

The Odyssey tells the story of the Greek hero Odysseus and his 10-year journey home after the fall of Troy, as well as the political situation in his homeland of Ithaca during his 20-year absence.

Select scenes from this work in progress have been presented as part of Strangeloop's short play and new works development series, Loopshop, in 2013, and at a staged reading last year. Revisions to the script are already underway and the creative team plans to present a second, more movement-enhanced reading later this year.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Strangeloop presents a new adaptation of The Odyssey

Strangeloop Theatre will present a staged reading of its original movement-driven adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 18, at Black Rock Pub.

The Odyssey centers on the Greek hero Odysseus and his 10-year journey home after the fall of Troy, as well as the political situation in his homeland of Ithaca during his 20-year absence.

Strangeloop is in the process of developing a movement-driven adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey. This free staged reading of the first draft of our script is part of that process. We welcome and need your feedback.

Our adaptation, conceived by Company Member Carrie Campana, will eventually use a chorus of actors to embody not just the human characters in the story, but the gods, monsters and inanimate objects. This physical theater piece relies almost completely on the ensemble of actors telling the story. As part of the reading, we will be presenting examples of this style of theatre.

Actors for the reading are: Brian Barber, Tara Bouldrey, Gilly Guire, Cassandra Hannan, Nellsyn Hill, Arti Ishak, Andrew McClelland, Karissa Murrell Myers, Kyla Norton, Kamron Palmer, Howard Raik, Madeline Schmit and Audra Yokley.

The development team for The Odyssey is: Maria Burnham, Carrie Campana, Miona Lee and Tim Lee.

More information is available is available on our Facebook page.