Thursday, May 12, 2016

Join us this weekend as we say αντίο to 'Mitera'

Mitera closes this weekend and you only have three more chances to catch this world premiere show.

Due to the intimate nature of this production, seating is extremely limited and tickets are going fast for closing weekend, so get your tickets in advance.

Mitera, an examination of love set amongst a small Greek community in Mississippi, concludes May 14. Remaining performances for this site-specific production take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the North Mansion in Berger Park (6219 N. Sheridan Road) in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago.

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased in advance through Brown Paper Tickets or at the door. Discounts are available for seniors, students and industry members.

Set during the months preceding the Supreme Court's landmark decision on gay marriage, Mitera tells the story of the Sheridan sisters who discover their mother, upon her death, has left their entire inheritance contingent on the youngest sister marrying within a year. If she fails to do so everything goes to their oldest male cousin in Greece. Mitera examines the idea that sometimes the people we’ve known our entire lives are the people we know the least.

Mitera was written by Chicago playwright Maria Burnham and directed by Letitia Guillaud. It stars Allison McCorkle as Olga Sheridan, Holly Robison as Nitsa Sheridan, Lilly Apostolou as Dimitra Sheridan, Patricia Tinsley as Sharon Kaskalis and Michael Wagman as Dimitris Kokkinakis.

Berger Park does not have public parking; however there is a cul-de-sac on Granville Avenue on the south side of the park, which allows for handicap accessibility drop-off. Metered street parking is available on Granville Avenue and also on North Broadway. Permit-free neighborhood parking is also available on the streets just west of Sheridan Road. More on parking and transportation options can be found here.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Strangeloop proud to help support Center on Halsted

Strangeloop Theatre is proud to support Center on Halsted, the Midwest's most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people of Chicagoland.

We will be collecting donations during the run of Mitera to support this important organization that provide a safe and welcoming environment with programs and services for the entire community.

Programs range from volleyball, dance performances and cooking classes to rapid HIV testing, group therapy and vocational training. Center on Halsted also serves as an incubator for a number of smaller LGBTQ non-profit organizations. The Center provides operational support, space and resources for organizations that may otherwise find it difficult to interact and grow.

Please email us at loop@strangelooptheatre.org, visit our box office, or talk with any Strangeloop member to learn how you can give. ‪

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Reviews for Mitera are coming in

Reviews are in for Mitera, an examination of love set amongst a small Greek community in Mississippi, and both audiences and critics are responding favorably to this new work.

According to the Chicago Reader, playwright Maria Burnham "creates a compelling, layered world where ossified ethnic traditions provide comfort and trauma."

Windy City Times calls Mitera "an appealing play" and " a nice production, as directed by Letitia Guillaud in the extremely cozy living room of Berger Park's Gunderson Mansion, which we share with the actors in fly-on-the-wall intimacy."

And audience members have written to say they enjoyed "the production and the plot and the twists and the ACTING!"

Mitera runs through May 14 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. All performances for this site-specific production take place at 7:30 p.m. at the North Mansion in Berger Park (6219 N. Sheridan Road) in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased in advance through Brown Paper Tickets or at the door.

Set during the months preceding the Supreme Court's landmark decision on gay marriage, Mitera tells the story of the Sheridan sisters who discover their mother, upon her death, has left their entire inheritance contingent on the youngest sister marrying within a year. If she fails to do so everything goes to their oldest male cousin in Greece. Mitera examines the idea that sometimes the people we’ve known our entire lives are the people we know the least.

Mitera stars Allison McCorkle as Olga Sheridan, Holly Robison as Nitsa Sheridan, Lilly Apostolou as Dimitra Sheridan, Patricia Tinsley as Sharon Kaskalis and Michael Wagman as Dimitris Kokkinakis.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mitera: Note from the Playwright

For most of my life, I thought my mom was an ordinary, boring mom who embarrassed me on a regular basis in front of all the upper class Southern white girls with whom I was forced to go to private school. Yes, the photos of her from her youth were mesmerizing. She had an early 60s movie star beauty like you wouldn’t believe. But she had been just a girl working in a shop, waiting for her placement papers at a hospital in Athens when she met my dad, an American military man stationed overseas. Boring.

Then one night, out with my family in Greece, I heard my aunt say to my mom, “I saw your movie on TV the other night. It still gives me nightmares seeing you die in the ditch.” We were stunned. Mom? In movies? My dad looked at me and said, as if the biggest mystery in the world had been solved, “Well, I guess that’s where you get it from.”

 Only the mystery wasn’t solved. It just led to more mysteries. She had been a dancer. She was discovered in Italy. She left home when she was 16 to live in the city with an aunt. Her father went to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. WHO WAS THIS WOMAN? I still don’t know who she is, my mother. She is a mystery to me. She keeps her stories to herself. And it makes me feel like I don’t know my own story any more. It was the realization that this woman I had known my entire life was actually the person I knew the least that first inspired the story of Mitera. We can spend every day of our lives with someone, share the same biology, the same home, but not know them at all.

People often tell me they can see my mother in me. I wish I knew who we were all looking at.


—    Maria Burnham

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mitera: Cast and Crew Bios

Cast

Olga Sheridan:             Allison McCorkle+
Nitsa Sheridan:            Holly Robison^
Dimitra Sheridan:         Lilly Apostolou
Sharon Kaskalis:          Patricia Tinsley+
Dimitris Kokkinakis:      Michael Wagman^

Production Team


Playwright:                   Maria Burnham^
Director:                       Letitia Guillaud^
Production Manager:   Keith Gatchel^
Stage Manager:           Lisa Uhlig^
Production Designer:   Brad Gunter^
Dialect Coach:             Kate Jordan*
Costume Design:         Molly Mason
Marketing:                   Jean Burr+, Maria Burnham^
Graphic Design:           Mike Wozniak
Photographs:               Austin D. Oie

^Denotes a Strangeloop Company Member
+Denotes a Strangeloop Associate Company Member 
*Member of Actors Equity Association.

Mitera Bio: Allison McCorkle

Allison McCorkle (Olga) studied theatre at Texas Wesleyan University and stuck around the Fort Worth/Dallas theatre scene for years before being lured to Chicago in 2007. Her credits include Piccolo Theatre, Black Ensemble Theatre, Polarity, Red Tape and GreatWorks Theatre, among others. Allison has joined Strangeloop onstage for The Robbers, Loopshop, Nutcracker Nightmare, Christmas Clueseau and Krampus! Much love to her newly bound theatre widow.

Mitera Bio: Holly Robison

Holly Robison (Nitsa) is thrilled to be appearing in the world premiere of Mitera. As a Company Member with Strangeloop Theatre, she has performed in a number of the Strangeloop's productions, including Rossum's Universal Robots, As You Like It and The Robbers, as well as directing the mainstage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and several other short productions. Holly regularly exercises her comedy chops as a member of Improvised Jane Austen. Other favorite roles include Ellen in In the Wake, Jo in Independence, Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Martha in The Children’s Hour. She has studied with Chicago organizations including Remy Bumppo, TUTA Theatre, Victory Gardens, Second City and First Folio Technique with Susan Hart and Jeffrey Carlson. When not acting or directing, she can probably be found reading, watching British costume dramas, eating too much Indian food and talking to her cat (don't judge, OK?).

Mitera Bio: Lilly Apostolou

Lilly Apostolou (Dimitra Sheridan) is so excited to be making her debut with Strangeloop in her very first production. She is in the advanced student program at The Second City studying improv, acting and sketch comedy writing. She is the host of Wards, a show filmed in Evanston, IL. She is also a vocalist with experience with musical theatre. She is an avid volunteer, most notably being a part of the SitStayRead literacy program serving low-income elementary schools in Chicago. She has a B.A. in Criminology from the University of New Mexico (Go Lobos!). Born on the Northside of Chicago, Lilly hails from a big Greek family and speaks the language fluently. She wants to thank her family, especially her Dad, her super supportive friends and her amazing boyfriend Shane.

Mitera Bio: Patricia Tinsley

Patricia Tinsley (Sharon Kaskalis) holds a BFA in performing arts from Rockford University and an MA in speech from Northeastern Illinois University. Favorite Chicago area acting credits include, The Gin Game (Bowen Park Theatre and Rebekah Theatre Project); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lightninghead); The Shadow Box (Rebekah Theatre Project); The Tempest (TheatreHikes and Performing Arts at Oakton); The Sandbox (InnateVolution); the web series, Ped Crossing and the happiest acting job in the world: playing Mrs. Santa Claus at Navy Pier. Her directing credits include work with the Women’s Theatre Alliance of Chicago, Stockyards Theatre Project and NUFAN. She is a proud Strangeloop artistic associate, serves as co-artistic director of the Rebekah Theatre Project and is very excited to be part of this wonderful production.

Mitera Bio: Michael Wagman

Michael Wagman (Dimitris Kokkinakis) is thrilled to once more act with Strangeloop where he has been a company member since 2010. Previous Strangeloop acting credits include The Millionaire Farmer, The Maid of Orleans, As You Like It and his personal favorite, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other favorite acting credits include Cash on Delivery (Saint Sebastian Players), Some Air (Nothing Without a Company) and The Contract (Janus Theatre Company). Michael would like to thank Lisa, Ticha, this wonderful cast, his amazing teachers at Second City, iO and Acting Studio Chicago, and Maria for her brilliant script and for helping him get in touch with his inner Greek.

Mitera Bio: Maria Burnham

Maria Burnham (Playwright) grew up Greek in Mississippi where one makes their baklava with pecans instead of walnuts and never wears white before all of the Easters, just to be on the safe side. Opa, y'all! A writer, director, sometimes stage manager, full-time theater monkey and all around jack-of-all-trades, Burnham studied creative writing and theater at Louisiana State University and now makes her home in Chicago where she has worked with such companies as Appetite Theatre Co., New Millennium Theatre Co., Stockyards Theatre Project, Nothing Special Productions, TUTA and Red Theater, where she is also a company member and the literary manager. Her mother remains very much alive and disappointed in her ongoing childlessness.

Mitera Bio: Letitia Guillaud

Letitia Guillaud (Director) is an Artistic Associate of TUTA and one of the Co-Artistic Directors and founders of Strangeloop Theatre.  This is the second production she has directed for Strangeloop. Previous credits include props design for Bo Thomas and the Case of the Sky Pirates (Babes with Blades), The Edge of Our Bodies and The Jewels (TUTA), directing The Sound of a Yellow Flower (Strangeloop) and acting in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Robbers (Strangeloop).  She would like to thank her family (in-law and out-law), husband and little Felix for allowing her to continue in her theatrical experiments.

Mitera Bio: Kate Jordan

Kate Jordan (Dialect Coach)* happily reunites with Strangeloop Theatre, after coaching dialects for Living Quarters and The Sound of a Yellow Flower. Kate is an actor, director and acting/voice coach who has performed/worked with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Second City ETC, Heartland Theatre Company, Zebra Crossing Theatre and Equity Library Theatre. She has taught acting and voice at Illinois State and Ball State Universities. Favorite roles include Mother in How I Learned to Drive, Joanne in Company and her multiple roles in Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. Congratulations to the entire company!

Mitera Bio: Brad Gunter

Brad Gunter (Production Designer) is Co-Artistic Director of Strangeloop Theatre, where he is most often directing or production managing, as well as doing a whole bunch of other stuff. With his other theatre family, TUTA, Brad serves as Grants Manager, as well as doing a whole bunch of other stuff. He shares both of these groups with his actual family, where he is husband to Ticha and father to Felix, as well as doing a whole bunch of other stuff. You should also check out a TUTA show they are a pretty amazing theatre company and you should say hi to his family they are a pretty amazing family.

Mitera Bio: Lisa Uhlig

Lisa Uhlig (Stage Manager) has been a company member with Strangeloop Theatre for nearly 5 years. She loves her artistic family, and some of the very cool work she has been a part of while working with them. She stage manages and directs in the Chicago area, and is also a company member with Muse of Fire Theatre Company in Evanston. Other work has included companies such as Project 891, The Gift Theatre and more. This show is a wonderful slice of life, and it is fantastic you've come to be a part of it! Go you! Enjoy the show :)

Mitera Bio: Mike Wozniak

Mike Wozniak (Graphic Design). Born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., Mike is a Chicago-based graphic designer and illustrator. He is a graduate of Mercyhurst College. He co-wrote Strangeloop's 2015 holiday show, Krampus! and has thoroughly enjoyed working with Strangeloop this season.

Mitera Bio: Molly Mason

Molly Mason (Costume Design) is so excited to be working with Strangeloop Theater again! Previously working as the costume designer on last season’s Thinking Caps she is excited to return and work on such a great show. She is a graduate of Carthage College majoring in theatre with an emphasis in costume design. Most recently Molly worked at the Shawnee Summer Theatre in Bloomfield, Ind., as costume designer for their annual Shawnee Melodrama and The Boys Next Door. While at Carthage she worked as the designer of The Inn, a new student work as well as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead on the main stage. She has also participated with Carthage Theatre in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as assistant designer and head of wardrobe. Molly thanks Strangeloop for this opportunity and her friends and family for their support!

Mitera Bio: Jean E. Burr

Jean E. Burr (Marketing) is originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, but moved to Chicago in the midst of the 2013 polar vortex. Although always in pursuit of theatrical endeavors, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a major in Film Studies and a minor in Japanese. She is an actress, singer and dancer, but she also enjoys costuming and set design/construction. You can find her under the alias Harley Darling, performing with burlesque companies like Gorilla Tango, Vaudezilla! and Plan 9. When not performing or solving problems at her muggle job, Jean loves superheroes, her cat, mozzarella sticks and trying to live every day like she’s Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road.

Mitera Bio: Keith Gatchel

Keith Gatchel (Production Manager) comes to us from Rockford, IL, by way of Southern Illinois University (with a few stops in Florida). Since 2005, Keith has worked tech at various theatres, including The Goodman, Collaboraction, Teatro Vista, Victory Gardens, Pegasus Players, Blue Man Group and most recently, the Kiss Kiss Cabaret at the newly opened Uptown Underground. He was also a writer for Big News at iO and Second City, and contributor to several Loopshop productions, as well as Strangeloop's Our Perfect Holiday 2012 with the cast, and just recently, Thinking Caps.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

McCorkle plays the long game in her latest role — onstage and off

It’s rare that an actress gets to spend years developing a character, but Edgewater actress Allison McCorkle has done just that in her latest role as Olga in Strangeloop Theatre’s Mitera.

“I am so excited to take part in the sharing of this wonderful story,” McCorkle said. “I've watched this script develop for a while and it has been really cool to watch it evolve.”

Read more about Allison and her character development in the Lincoln Park Patch.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

For Wagman, acting is personal

Michael Wagman always tries to find the personal in the characters he portrays.


But for his latest role as the conniving Dimitris Kokkinakis in Strangeloop Theatre’s Mitera, the Wicker Park actor has struggled to make that connection.

“One of my biggest challenges has been playing someone who thinks so little of the people around him that he literally gives them and their views no credence,” Wagman said. “I’ve always tried to keep an open mind, so playing someone who is so resolutely closed-minded has forced me to find those areas of myself – those few relationships where I became closed-minded – and exploit them to understand this character.” 

Read more about Michael, including how he brought his character to life, in the Bucktown-Wicker Park Patch

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Good to know: Transportation options if you're coming to Mitera

Mitera, which started tech this week, takes place in Berger Park in Edgewater. There are two mansions and a coach house on this property. Our production takes place in the building to the north on the property (known as the Gunder House, at 6219 N. Sheridan Road)

If you go to the south building also known as the Downey Mansion you'll wind up seeing Ulysses by our friends at The Plagiarists. If you go to the coach house, you'll be sad because the beautiful Waterfront Cafe doesn't reopen until May 16.  

Berger Park does not have public parking; however there is a cul-de-sac on Granville Avenue on the south side of the park, which allows for handicap accessibility drop-off. Metered Street Parking is available on Granville Avenue and also on North Broadway. Permit-free neighborhood parking is also available on the streets just west of Sheridan Road.

Public transportation, bicycling or utilizing one of the city's ride-sharing or taxi cab companies is greatly encouraged.  

Public transportation options include:

  • Red Line Train: Granville stop. Exit station and walk three blocks east to the Lake.            
  • Bus: 151 Sheridan. Stops right in front of the park at Granville Avenue and Sheridan Road

 Bike racks are also located throughout Berger Park.   

Monday, March 28, 2016

Tinsley finds deep connection in theatre by, for women

Actress Patrica Tinsley likes to be called just that – actress.

“I greatly dislike being called a ‘female actor,’” Tinsley said. “I feel that women find too many ways to diminish themselves and wish more women would embrace the term actress instead of seeing it as lesser title.”

But for the Glenview resident it goes beyond just a title. She feels a strong connection to theatre by and for women. 

Read more about Patricia, including more about her role in Mitera, in the Chicago Tribune.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It actually is all Greek to Apostolou in her latest role

Lakeview resident Lilly Apostolou left behind her corporate job a few months ago to pursue a full-time career in the arts and immediately landed a role that seemed made for her in Strangeloop Theatre’s production, Mitera

Mitera really is an accurate depiction of Greek life, no matter where you live,” Apostolou said. “My parents are both from Greece and I was born in Chicago. These characters were raised in Mississippi, but I feel that same Greekness in the words of these characters, as it all stems from their mom – their Mitera.

Read more about Lilly, including more about her role in Mitera, in the Lakeview Patch and in the Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Robison balances accents, tradition and sisterhood in latest role

Actress Holly Robison is very much at home with period dramas, Shakespearean verse and English accents, but for her latest role she finds herself in less familiar territory – the Deep South circa 2015.

The Lincoln Square resident plays one of three sisters in Strangeloop Theatre’s production, Mitera, which premieres in April at the North Mansion at Berger Park in Edgewater. And while the Southern accent wouldn’t normally be a problem for Robison, her character Nitsa also tosses in a few Greek words for good measure.

Read more about Holly, including her thoughts on what audiences will like about Mitera, in the Lincoln Square Patch 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Meet Maria Burnham on Windy City Greek

Windy City Greek recently spoke with playwright Maria Burnham about writing, her play Mitera our spring show opening in a few weeks and what it was like to grow up Greek in the Deep South.
“Major parts of the characters are made up, though the world they inhabit, and some of the ideas, personalities are based on people in my life. The Godmother is based on my godmother, who isn’t Greek but is married to a Greek. There’s a male cousin who is like a conglomeration of some of my relatives in Greece. Threads of my life are in this play.”
Read the full interview here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Strangeloop announces production team for Mitera

Rehearsals are underway and the production team is in place for Mitera, Strangeloop's spring show, which opens in April.

The team includes: Letitia Guillaud (director), Lisa Uhlig (stage manager), Molly Mason, (costume design), Kate Jordan (dialect coach), Keith Gatchel (production manager) and Brad Gunter (production designer).

Set amongst a small Greek community in the American Deep South during the months preceding the Supreme Court's landmark decision in the gay marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges, Mitera tells the story of the Sheridan sisters who discover their mother, upon her death, has left their entire inheritance contingent on the youngest sister marrying within a year. If she fails to do so everything goes to their oldest male cousin in Greece. But the youngest sister is an unattached romantic who believes in marrying for love.

Mitera runs Thursdays through Saturdays April 7 through May 14 at 7:30 p.m. The site-specific production takes place at The North Mansion in Berger Park (6219 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660).

Tickets are $5 for previews and $18 for the regular run and are available in advance through Brown Paper Tickets.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Casting announced for world premiere of Mitera, opening at Berger Park's North Mansion in April


Casting has been announced for Strangeloop Theatre's world premiere of Mitera by Maria Burnham.

Directed by Company Member Letitia Guillaud, Mitera stars Allison McCorkle as Olga Sheridan, Holly Robison as Nitsa Sheridan, Lilly Apostolou as Dimitra Sheridan, Patricia Tinsley as Sharon Kaskalis and Michael Wagman as Dimitris Kokkinakis.

Set amongst a small Greek community in the American Deep South during the months preceding the Supreme Court's landmark decision in the gay marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges, Mitera tells the story of the Sheridan sisters who discover their mother, upon her death, has left their entire inheritance contingent on the youngest sister marrying within a year. If she fails to do so everything goes to their oldest male cousin in Greece. But the youngest sister is an unattached romantic who believes in marrying for love.

While the script is steeped in Greek-American culture and deals with the familial politics of same-sex relationships, Burnham said the script will be accessible to anyone who has ever disagreed with a family member, and especially to anyone who has ever been in love.

“Ultimately this is a story about love. Love between family members, the things people do for love, the bad choices people make in the name of love, the ridiculous lengths we go to out of love. That’s what makes all stories relatable regardless of setting,” Burnham said.  “It’s not the trappings of a play that make a story compelling or interesting to an audience, it’s the heart of the story being told.”

Burnham, who was raised in a small Greek-American community in Jackson, Mississippi, by her Greek mother and American father, said she pulled from her own life to create the characters in this play, but they are not based on any one person, and the story is completely imaginary.

“Although,” she added, “I could totally see my mom pulling something like this because she is really getting desperate for grandchildren.” 

You can find more backstory on Mitera via this blog or in this interview with the playwright from our fall fundraiser.

Mitera runs Thursdays through Saturdays April 7 through May 14 at 7:30 p.m. The site-specific production takes place at The North Mansion in Berger Park (6219 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660).

Tickets are $5 for previews and $18 for the regular run and are available in advance through Brown Paper Tickets.

Monday, February 15, 2016

French With Me 6: A success!

Thanks to everyone who packed the house on Saturday, February 13, for French With Me 6: Le Salon. We so enjoyed sharing the love of the holiday with you.
 
Were you there? Want to relive the evening and see the photos of yourself from the event? Check out our photo gallery on Facebook. Tag yourself and share with your friends.

If you missed the event — that included a romance story involving the moon and sun, another featuring an extremely overprotective cat, a heartfelt monologue about rejection and a soul-stealing circus...well, there's always next year. 

Thanks again to all our sponsors, who played cupid to all this love: Chef Thom Ramirez, 525 Executive Sweets and Finch's Beer Co., and to the gentlemen of Arcana, who closed out the night with a crash, boom, bang!

Next up for Strangeloop? Mitera. Stay tuned for more information!


Friday, February 12, 2016

Theatre Week is HERE! Join us on the cheap


Strangeloop Theatre is participating in Theatre Week this year, which celebrates Chicago’s world-class theatre scene.

 Presented by the League of Chicago Theatres in partnership with Choose Chicago, Chicago Theatre Week is returning for its fourth year and takes place through February 21, 2016. Theatre lovers will again have the opportunity to choose from more than 100 productions (including ballet and opera)  with tickets ranging from $15 to $30 and, in some cases, even less..

Follow this link to get discount tickets to Strangeloop's production of French With Me 6: Le Salon at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). And while you're there shop around for tickets to other amazing shows all over the city. 

French With Me tickets are ordinarily $25 and include free drink and food. But you can snag a Theatre Week ticket for only $15. Hurry. Supplies are limited!





Thursday, February 11, 2016

French With Me 6: The Inexhaustible, Unpredictable, Amaranthine Shadow Circus

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages! Welcome to the Inexhaustible, Unpredictable, Amaranthine Shadow Circus. Prepare to be amazed, astounded, mesmerized! 

Here at the circus that always was and always will be, two people walk a dangerous tightrope known as love. Haunted by the circus itself, Edgar (Tim Lee) discovers that to win his beloved's heart, he only has to give up his soul.

Created by Strangeloop Company Member Maria Burnham, The Inexhaustible, Unpredictable, Amaranthine Shadow Circus is: The Ringmistress (Stefanie Johnsen); The Enchanting Empress of Elevation, Eliana (Ellen DeSitter); The Great Bela Ignato (Brian Rohde); The White Clown (Richie Schiraldi); The Red Clown (Orion Lay-sleeper), The Black Clown (Nicole Jordan) and The Clown Possibly Not Appearing In This Production (Casey Kells).

The circus rolls into town as part of French With Me 6: Le Salon at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). Tickets are $25 in advance or at the door, and are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.  

French With Me 6 Bio: Nicole Jordan

Nicole Jordan (The Black Clown) is a performer, instructor, choreographer and director, working with several theatre companies and schools in Chicago. Nicole holds an M.F.A. in Physical Theatre from the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy. She is well-versed in devised movement, various circus arts and Commedia dell'Arte. She is currently a circus arts instructor and the Manager of Operations for CircEsteem, a Chicago nonprofit youth circus. You can catch her movement direction in play at North Park University's upcoming production of Hotel Cassiopeia later this spring. She sends many thanks to Maria's engaging imagination and to this superbly sinister cast of innovators.

French With Me 6 Bio: Richie Schiraldi

Richie Schiraldi (The White Clown) holds a BFA in Physical Theatre from Coastal Carolina University, and he has been clowning his way through Chicago for a little over a year now. He has studied intensively for a year in Italy, learning Comedia, traditional European Clown, and Circus Arts. Recently, he has been part of a few ensemble-devised pieces such as Drunk Donkey, The Titus Andronicus Project and some solo work and performances. Now he teaches children to be spectacular circus stars. In his spare time, he enjoys embarrassing himself in public, telling bad jokes and long walks on the beach.

French With Me 6 Bio: Tim Lee

Tim Lee (Edgar) is very excited to be joining The Inexhaustible, Unpredictable, Amaranthine Shadow Circus. After studying theatre at Evangel University, he toured and performed as a part of the Skinny Improv. He decided to move to Chicago to pursue acting. Some of his most recent roles include, Busman in Strangeloop Theatre’s production of Rossum’s Universal Robots and as Andy in 101 Ways to Fall in Love with Bard and Fool Theatre. He is very proud to be an Associate Member of Strangeloop Theatre and part of Under the Gun Theatre’s ensemble. Thanks to Miona for always being there with love and support.

French With Me 6 Bio: Orion Lay-sleeper

Orion Lay-sleeper (The Red Clown) has been clowning around this broad shouldered, bustling city for the better part of three years now. He's played many roles, as varied as a murderous Shakespearean henchman, a  patriarchal shape-note singer, a crazed ringleader and a bulldog named Herman. He can be seen this March as Banquo with Nothing Special Productions. He is currently taking advantage of the burgeoning circus scene to hone is clowning and pick up a few new tricks. He'd like to thank the creative team for bringing him in to this delightful circus and hopes you enjoy the show!

French With Me 6 Bio: Ellen DeSitter

Ellen DeSitter (The Enchanting Empress of Elevation, Eliana) is an actress, movement performer, and visual artist. She studied theatre at Northern Illinois University and also studied performance abroad at the Moscow Art Theatre. Over the past few years, she has had the pleasure of working with Chicago companies Steep Theatre, Manual Cinema, Redmoon, Strangeloop Theatre, Collaboraction, Navy Pier, Suitcase Shakespeare, Cave Painting Theatre, The Windy City Players, and Starlight Radio Dreams. To learn more about Ellen, check out her webpage at ellendesitter.com.

French With Me 6 Bio: Brian Rohde

Brian Rohde (The Great Bela Ignato) is excited to be performing with Strangeloop for the first time. When not appearing in random one-off fundraisers and galas, Rohde is the Producing Director of Nothing Special Productions. You may recognize him as the host of NSP's FIGHT NIGHT (at which Strangeloop has performed on numerous occasions). Rohde has also appeared in numerous NSP shows, including 2014's immersive theatrical romp The Most Ado: A Party Play. He's also guilty of having written and directed all four installments of the Nightmare in Paradise series. If theatre had rules, it would be a sport.

French With Me 6 Bio: Stefanie Johnsen

Stefanie Johnsen (The Ringmistress) is the Dark Ringmistress of everything. EVERYTHING, PEOPLE!  She fought Krampus in Krampus! with Strangeloop. She ruled as the evil queen in Once Upon a Mattress at Starlight Bowl in Wilmette. She creeped out audience members at last years' Strangeloop French with Me as an inept mime. She broom battled as an S&M zombie witch in Witch Slap! with Babes with Blades. She hopes she has lived up to her idols Elvira, Divine, John Waters and Maleficent. Enjoy the show!!!

French With Me 6 Bio: Casey Kells

Casey Kells (The Clown Possibly Not Appearing In This Production) is glad to be working with Strangeloop Theatre once again! He most recently worked with them on their original production, Thinking Caps. Casey is a graduate of Roosevelt University and does theatre around Chicago.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

French With Me 6: Cat Man Don't

This week, leading up to French With Me 6: Le Salon on Saturday, February 13, we'll be spotlighting the original performance pieces that have been created for this event.
 
In Cat Man Don't, Jean and Daryl have been dating for a few months now and they are finally at that point where things are about to get serious. They have a beautiful night out and Jean takes Daryl back to her place for some post-date recreation. It is here that Daryl meets Jean's beloved cat, Deirdre, for the first time. Unbeknownst to Jean and Daryl, Deirdre is not as cute and cuddly as she seems.

Written by Company Member Michael Wagman, Cat Man Don't stars Megan Donahue as Jean, Ben Page as Daryl and Erin Colleen Gordon as Dierdre.
 
French With Me 6: Le Salon takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). Tickets are $25 in advance or at the door, and are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.  


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

French With Me 6: An Open Letter of Rejection

This week, leading up to French With Me 6: Le Salon on Saturday, February 13, we'll be spotlighting the original performance pieces that have been created for this event.

A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. To that end, Strangeloop Company Member Keith Gatchel will be working to increase your knowledge through his discussion of how Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young still applies to those who are single when you consider it on a quantum level, which or may not involve drinking a Pepsi.


French With Me 6: Le Salon takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). Tickets are $25 in advance or at the door, and are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.

Monday, February 8, 2016

French With Me 6: Lover's Eclipse

It wouldn't be French With Me without the love-based stories that started it all. So this week, leading up to the gala on Saturday, February 13, we'll be spotlighting the original performance pieces that have been created for this event.

First up, Lover's Eclipse - The Untold Story of the Sun and the Moon conceived by Letitia Guillaud, is the silly, unscientific and unseen love story that unfolds between the sun and the moon during an eclipse.

Performers: Letitia Guillaud, Tim Lee and Miona Lee.



French With Me 6: Le Salon takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). Tickets are $25 in advance or at the door, and are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.

Monday, February 1, 2016

French With Me 6: Spotlight on Arcana

No French With Me would be complete without a musical act. This year, we are pleased to announce, the Chicago-based brass band Arcana will perform at French With Me 6: Le Salon.

Arcana combines the fun and energy of a street brass band with the intimacy of an instrumental chamber quartet. Whether through crusty folk music, undanceable alt rock or brain-melting originals, Arcana endeavors to musically answer life's most important question: What would Werner Herzog do?

The band features the talents of Joe Clark (trumpet), Mark Hiebert (bari sax), Will Russell (tuba) and David Agee (drums).

French With Me 6: Le Salon takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). Tickets are $25 in advance or at the door, and are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.

Arcana can be heard monthly at the High Hat Club, including on February 18. So if you like what you hear at French With Me on February 13, you only have to wait five days to hear them again.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Strangeloop announces auditions for its spring show, 'Mitera'


Strangeloop Theatre is seeking 1 male and 4 female actors for the world premiere production of Mitera by Maria Burnham. The play will be directed by Letitia Guillaud and performances will take place at Berger Park North Mansion in Edgewater, beginning in April.
 
Auditions are scheduled for Wednesday, February 3, and Thursday, February 4, at the Theatre School at DePaul University (2350 N Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60614).  Email headshot and resume to casting@strangelooptheatre.org to reserve an audition spot. Sides will be provided.
 
Roles include:
Olga Sheridan - 40, the eldest sister, unmarried, Greek-America, spent life taking care of her parents
Nitsa Sheridan - 35, the middle sister, unmarried, Greek-American, works in family sweet shop
Dimitra Sheridan - 31, the youngest sister, unmarried, Greek-American, jewelry artist
Sharon Kaskalis - 65, godmother to Dimitra, American, husband was Greek
Dimitris Kokkinakis - 40's, Greek cousin to the Sheridan sisters
 
Please note the role of Dimitris Kokkinakis will require a Greek accent. 
 
Mitera is the story of three, single adult Greek-American sisters who live at home and have their lives turned upside down when they find out their mother is still micromanaging their lives from beyond the grave.
 
More information about the audition can be found here.
 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

French With Me 6: Spotlight on Chef Thom Ramirez

Strangeloop is excited to have Chef Thom Ramirez as our French With Me food sponsor! Chef Ramirez has some delectable dishes in store for attendees.

A Chicago native and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Ramirez is the executive chef of Four Star Lounge in Lincoln Park and is the executive chef and owner of Chef Thom's Custom Catering.

He is bringing his specialty in upscale urban food to our revamped gala, which will weave the intimate storytelling of Strangeloop seamlessly around the creative cuisine of Chef Ramirez.

French With Me 6: Le Salon takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). Tickets are $25 in advance or at the door, and are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.

We are elated to have this rising star of the Chicago culinary world join us for French With Me. Come sample his delicious dishes and start your new love affair with food. What you and your hors d'oeuvre do in the dark corners of Vagabond is entire up to you... 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

French With Me 6: Spotlight on 525 Executive Sweets

Also returning to this year's French With Me is our dessert sponsor, 525 Executive Sweets, whose divine baking had us all dreaming of red velvet Oreo cookie crust cupcakes all year long. You don't know love until you've had it this heavenly sweet form!

525 Executive Sweets, owned by baker Jenna Douglas, is a Chicago storefront bakery and sweets truck that creates customized branded sweets for businesses and social events. Her company allows clients to create their own flavor blends and toppers.

French With Me 6: Le Salon takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). Tickets are $25 in advance or at the door, and are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.


We are so thrilled to have 525 Executive Sweets back with us this year. Come sample Douglas's succulent treats and you'll forget about all those other cupcake trucks you've seen around town. But don't blame us if you're sweetie ditches you to elope with a carrot cake cupcake. We don't blame her.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

French With Me 6: Spotlight on Finch's Beer

Strangeloop is pleased to announce that Finch's Beer is returning as the beer sponsor of French With Me, providing an array of home-brewed beverages for our gala.

Finch's, a craft brewery that opened in Chicago in 2011, has worked with us since 2013, when French With Me evolved from a Valentine's Day-themed short play festival to the celebration of love it is today. As Finch's has continued to grow into one of the premiere cannery brands, so French With Me has grown, attracting larger and larger crowds interested in celebrating love, community and the arts.


French With Me 6: Le Salon takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). Tickets are $25 in advance or at the door, and are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.

We are honored to have Finch's along on this journey with us. Come sample their delicious beers at French With Me drinks, food and performances are included in the price of your ticket then take the love with you and buy Finch's all year long!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

French With Me 6: Le Salon

French With Me 6: Le Salon will dazzle all your senses as our popular gala returns with a slightly different twist. 

For the last five years, French With Me has featured short, original works by up-and-coming playwrights and showcased the amazing talents of Chicago storefront actors and directors. This year, performances will be integrated with the event in a style evoking 18th Century French salons.

Pieces, created and conceived by Strangeloop Company Members, range from sonnets and short plays to monologues, movement and music. Love comes in all shapes and sizes at French With Me. It's for couples or friends, singletons or marrieds. We have platonic love, maddening love, Shakespearean love and, of course, the love of a good pet. Plus, the Inexhaustible, Unpredictable, Amaranthine Shadow Circus will terrify and amaze us with its unique brand of storytelling.

Musical act, Arcana a Chicago-based brass band featuring the talents of Joe Clark (trumpet), Mark Hiebert (bari sax), Will Russell (tuba) and David Agee (drums) will close out the night. 

But it's not a gala without food and drinks! We'll have fantastic food by Chef Thom Ramirez, delectable deserts by 525 Executive Sweets, blissful beers from Finch's Beer Co. (plus other beverage options for our non-beer drinking friends).

French With Me 6: Le Salon takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, at Vagabond School of the Arts (4001 N Ravenswood Ave #504, Chicago, IL 60613). Tickets are $25 in advance or at the door, and are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.

Strangeloop is also thrilled to be part of the League of Chicago Theatres' Theatre Week, once again. Chicago Theatre Week celebrates the rich tradition of theatre-going in Chicago. Returning for the fourth year, Chicago Theatre Week 2016 will be held February 11-21, and includes specially-priced tickets to more than 100 shows, including French With Me. For more information on all the participating shows, visit the Theatre Week website.