2010-2011 Season

Choose Thine Own Adventure

Adapted from William Shakespeare by Allison Powell*
October 2010-December 2010 at the Underground Lounge

Production Team:
Director: Julie Ritchey*
Scenic Design: Amy C. Gilman
Costume Design: Kristen Ahern
Lighting Design: Will Dean
Stage Management: Kathleen Wenzlick

Dromio: Marco Minichiello
Antiono: Ped Nesari
Bernardo: Omen Sade*
Rosalind: Mary Spearen*

Arlecchino’s Odyssey

Conceived by Omen Sade*
Written by Julie Ritchey* & Omen Sade*
April 2011 at the Den Theatre

Production Team
Director: Julie Ritchey*
Lazzi Director: Elizabeth Bagby
Costume Design: Mieka van der Ploeg
Set Design: Omen Sade*

Arlecchino: Omen Sade*
Musician: Mary Spearen*


by Sarah Ruhl
April 2011-May 2011 at the Lacuna Artist Lofts

Production Team:
Directed by Julie Ritchey*
Stage Management by Luke Heiden
Original Music by Peter Oyloe* and Shannon Bengford
Costume Design by Mieka van der Ploeg
Lighting Design by Kyle Land
Set Design by Joe Schermoly
Sound Design by Andrew Surasky, Peter Oyloe*, and Shannon Bengford

Eurydice: Carolyn Faye Kramer*
Orpheus: Peter Oyloe*
Eurydice’s Father: Patrick Blashill
Nasty Interesting Man/Lord of the Underworld: Nathan Pease
Loud Stone: Brandon Cloyd
Big Stone: Ted Evans
Little Stone: Ashley Alvarez

Orpheus: Featuring DJ Puzzle as Fate

conceived and directed by Omen Sade*
April 2011-May 2011 at the Lacuna Artist Lofts

Production Team:
Adapted and Directed by Omen Sade*
Original Music by Jason Donnelly (“DJ Puzzle”)
Additional music by Kevin Crowley
Stage Management by Kiri Palm
Costume Design by Mieka van der Ploeg
Original Mask Design by Jeff Semmerling
Lighting Design by Kyle Land
Set Design by Joe Schermoly

Fate: Jason “DJ Puzzle” Donnelly
Orpheus: Kevin Crowley
Eurydice: Audrey Bertaux-Skeirik
Lead Bouffon: Lindsey Dorcus
Second Bouffon: Jack Novak*
Third Bouffon: Nathan Paul
Nymphs: Alyssa Duerksen, Becca Drew Emmerich, Ashley Moret

Coming Home

Ensemble member Carolyn Faye Kramer recently returned to Chicago after five months studying in Israel.  Here she shares her experiences abroad – and jumping right back into life with Filament.  See Carolyn as the title role in Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, coming to the Lacuna Artist Lofts April 20-May 29.

Remember when you were little and you would try and sit at the bottom of a pool? Cross legged, blowing bubbles through your nose, pushing your arms up against the forces of not-gravity in order to keep yourself planted. In this space, if you open your eyes, the whole world is blue. And if you listen to the words of your best friend as she passes you a cup of imaginary tea, it sounds like a strange, muffled, far away, almost-but-not-quite song.  Your hair lifts off your neck, the stinging of the chlorine subsides, and you can see things as they must be seen from the eyes of a fish (a fish who happens to live its life in a swimming pool). Coming up from your tea party, your eyes burn from the shock of the chlorine, and your shoulders are cold from the wind, and you are so relieved to be taking in this familiar atmosphere: air!

Coming home to Filament was an experience similar to that of coming up for air.

In October of 2010, I made my way to Pardes Hanna, Israel, jumped in, and swam at the bottom of that pool for five months. Everything in this new place was stirring and strange to me: the sounds, the tastes, the rich red color of the dirt and the shape of the trees (the best of which looked like Jurassic Period heads of broccolini). At night, bats would furiously wing their way through the cover of the branches. My favorite houses were the ones without roofs that solitarily stood in abandoned fields or orange groves – peeling cement blocks that nature had decided to take back, so that trees and vines grew wild through their windows and up towards the sky. Strangers invite you into their homes for Friday night dinners and offer you cup after cup of nana tea, a kind of mint that grows wild in virtually everyone’s backyard. For the first two months, whenever I opened my mouth to speak a word of Hebrew, I would immediately begin to speak in Spanish (a language that I had not explored since high school).

Before I arrived in Israel, I decided to study dance, movement, and performance at a school called Artness, and so spent most of my time in a

Movement at Artness

sun filled studio, finding strength I did not know that I had, and experiencing the biggest moments of frustration in my life so far; “Don’t explain to me what you are doing with your face. Use your body.” So, each day I would enter the studio and try, try, try, to steer away from the form of expression to which I was most accustomed. Soon afterwards, I came to realize that my words were not something I could rely on either: when I chose to use them, so much of their significance was lost in the translation of things. What I did have was my body. So I learned to swim – metaphorically, that is.

To say that landing in Logan airport in late February was a bit disorienting would be a great understatement. As soon as I returned to the States, I experienced reverse culture shock in a major way. Starbucks and shopping malls, and business men reading English newspapers – English newspapers! For the first time in months, I could read the news – I suddenly went from sounding out street signs, to communicating with the world around me in a way that I had taken for granted my whole life. Furthermore, the in-flight movie on my way home was Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. This is not to say that these things do not exist in Israel – shopping malls, coffee chains, and consumerism of all kinds – but, I had been living in such a way that I did not interact with them nearly as much as I do here. I was in class for most of my time and living very simply the rest– with few belongings, attachments, and little spare cash to spend on anything other than bus and train fare – in what could be described as a green, bohemian, “Artness” sort of atmosphere.

Making new friends.

What’s more, I had not “acted” since the summer. Fears and doubts peeked their way between my ribs and up under my collar bones, but I swallowed them as best I could. I was scared. Towards the end of my time abroad, I would speak with my family over the phone and find myself feeling like English was my second language. What if I had forgotten? By this, I mean everything: how to interact with English speakers; how to be in a rehearsal process; how to approach a script; how to return to everything I had loved and worked towards before I left. My shape had changed. I knew this. If I were a cookie (surely snicker-doodle), I would not fit into the same shaped cookie-cutter as I did before. So, how would things be different? How would I be different in this new, but familiar space?

What I did not anticipate, was just how much returning to Filament would be like returning home to a family. It is simply the truth, as cheesy as it may sound. And I do not say things that I do not mean. It was as relieving, joyful, and necessary as coming up for that first gulp of air. Filament is a group of the most open hearted, positive, kind, capable, energetic, spirited, passionately and limitlessly creative individuals that I have ever met. Again, this is just the truth. The first meeting of the Eurydice and Orpheus design teams, production teams and casts, was a pancake-breakfast-potluck party, held at the “Crow’s Nest” – artistic director, Julie Ritchey’s, second story apartment that has a Neverland-esque whimsicality to it, rocking between ancient Pirate Ship and the Lost Boys’ Home Under the Ground, with as much over arching greenery as would be imagined if J. M. Barrie had decided on a house above the  ground instead. Twenty-five people tucked their way into the living room, on couches, floor cushions, chairs and laps.

That afternoon went on to be the warmest welcome back to Filament and the Chicago theatre scene that I could have imagined. After everyone had their plates piled with pancakes, syrup, fruit, chocolate chips and the like, introductions were made and designers passed around sketches and shared lap-top slide shows of their plans. A few hours later, Julie, Peter, managing director, Christian Libonati, and I braved the wind and

Photo for "Eurydice"

the chill at North Shore Beach, in order to capture the beaming sun and the storybook-like, cloud-filled sky for Eurydice’s promotional photos. The day concluded with all of us going out for sushi and seeing a show down town (the first play that I had seen since being in Israel!). In the morning was our first rehearsal/read through, followed by more promotional photos (this time in a comparably toasty elevator) and cozy soup and sandwiches at the Birchwood Kitchen, before we all fell asleep at the Crow’s Nest. We woke up from our power-two-hour-nap (unfortunately for Christian, in whose lap I feel asleep on the couch, I woke up in a small puddle of drool), rested and ready for the Ensemble meeting that was called for that evening. Kettle corn, oranges, and tea kept us going into the wee hours of the evening after our meeting “ended”, and we split off into separate teams in order to work on press packets, website content, grants and the like. I arrived home at 3am exhausted, satisfied, and grinning like a ninny. Those two days were epically fun, and I was finally in the right place. I was home.

If it is not quite obvious how much Filament welcomed me under its wing as part of a family, I will break it down:  in those two days we spent virtually all of our waking hours together, shared all our meals, had family nap time, quality bonding time, played (not board games, but theatre games!), helped support each other, and challenged each other to do better work.

Filament’s mission statement emphasizes their commitment to sustainability, asserting, “we strive to make choices that have a long-lasting

Carolyn Faye Kramer as Eurydice

positive impact across a broad spectrum, and not just ‘pieces in isolation.’” This theme of  seeing the whole picture, especially from an environmentally aware perspective, is quite different from the bleak, first impression I had of the United States upon my return, one which highlighted the wasteful, utilitarian, self-serving qualities that are indeed present here. However, I am pleased to report that my culture shock has mostly subsided. With the help of some family, I can see that strip malls, fast food, and unconscious consumption do not occupy the landscape of the States as much as I felt when I first arrived. I also realized that my fears about remembering how to interact with the world as I had known it prior to living abroad were unfounded – Yay! I discovered my voice again, and not only as a theatre artist (my ability to socialize and communicate was not as stunted as I had anticipated it would be – Yay times two!). Filament welcomed me home with support for where I had been and encouragement for where I am now, asking me to share my experience in Israel and honoring the newly shaped cookie (okay, last reference to the metaphor, I promise) that I have become.

Meeting Shakespeare

This week the Filament Blog asks the question, “What was your first experience with Shakespeare?” Ensemble members and the Choose Thine Own Adventure cast weigh in on middle school plays, boring high school English classes, and Leonardo diCaprio. Sharing all these stories has made us wonder – What was your first encounter with Shakespeare? Comment below and let us know!

CHOOSE runs through Dec. 11!

My most memorable Shakespeare casting was as a dancer in a Maui production of Comedy of Errors. It was set in New York’s 1970’s Studio 54 club, complete with drugs, boas, glitter, plenty of polyester and numerous Diana Ross dance numbers. It was hilariously awful and yet fabulous as only a room lit with a mirror ball can be. To this day, every time I hear Amii Stewart’s cover of “Knock On Wood” I expect to see twin Dromios in white bell bottoms dancing on a bar.
-Allison Powell, Business Manager and Adapter of Choose Thine Own Adventure

When I was seven, my mom took me to a production of The Tempest at a local college. The images from that play have stuck with me ever since. I don’t think I knew at that point that Shakespeare was supposed to be “hard” to understand, so I understood the meaning of every moment. That experience fixed Shakespeare in my mind as something thrilling. Seven years later I played Puck in my highschool’s Midsummer. Inhabiting the words and actions of Shakespeare at that moment caught me hook line and sinker and I’ve been caught ever since!
-Omen Sade, Associate Artistic Director and Bernardo in Choose Thine Own Adventure

The first Shakespeare play I was ever in was Much Ado About Nothing. I was twelve years old, and I played Benedick. After that, I thought I knew everything there was to know about Shakespeare and probably annoyed the bajeezus out of all of my friends. That continues to this day.
-Reggie Gowland, Ensemble Member

Village Hypochondriac: “The Queen has demanded a new Will Shakespeare play.”
Will Shakespeare: “But I don’t have one ready. Can’t she just write one herself!”
Village Hypochondriac: “I’ll give her your reply sir!”
Will Shakespeare: “NO no no no”

Thus begins every performance of Instant Shakespeare performed at Renaissance Festivals across the country. After this set up, the actors launch into creating a new Shakespeare play based on one of the classics (the first one I saw was Romeo & Juliet); however Shakespeare would ask the audience for help through the process. Names, circumstances, and insults from the audience filled in this Madlib Shakespeare that would then unfold before the audience full of improvisations in Iambic pentameter and audience involvement. To give an idea of the atmosphere, when the audience was asked for an insult, a jolly portly gentleman holding a huge smoked turkey leg (you know the guy) yelled out: “YOU VOMITUS PENNY PINCHING SCUM!” (That insult has been a part of my family’s vocabulary ever since.) At 6 years old, this was my first exposure to Shakespeare and quickly became something I looked forward to every year when my family attended the Renaissance Festival. From that point on, I knew that there was an underlying joy and playfulness in Shakespeare’s plays, and later when I read my first Shakespeare play in English class (you guessed it… Romeo & Juliet), I was able to connect with the joy and irreverence inspired by Instant Shakespeare.
-Christian Libonati, Managing Director

My first experience with Shakespeare was in 7th grade when we were required to read Romeo and Juliet, I distinctly remember hating the play. I get so angry at how silly the whole thing is, all of it could have been so easily avoided. What made it worse was when our teacher made us sit through the 1968 film version. That was pure torture. It wasnt until my senior year of high school that I would learn to love the bard. I read Macbeth, which to this day, is my favorite Shakespeare play.
-Shayna Kamilar, Production Manager

My first “Shakespeare encounter” occured in 7th grade, and was the result of two simultaneous events. First, as part of our English cirriculum, we were to cover both Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar. Second, there was a speech contest which occured each year for 7th graders and encompassed several topics – one of those was dramatic interpretation (in other words, a monologue). I chose Cassius’ monologue from I.ii, which begins “Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world/Like a colossus…” So there I was reading Romeo and Juliet in class, as well as working on a Shakespeare speech for the speech contest. A Shakespeare nerd from the start, you might think. Well, that simply was not the case! I still had glorious dreams of being a professional baseball player, and was riding high on skipping a level of the local leagues due to my great tryout the previous fall. In my free time I was most likely playing video games, sports, or chasing girls – theatre, Shakespeare in particular, was the least of my interests.

The speech contest went well (I scored high, but did not win), and I received high marks in English. I can’t say that some seed was planted at that moment, but I certainly can remember that I felt an affinity for the language (even if I didn’t understand a lot of it). I don’t know when I first really considered acting seriously as a field of study, and eventually a profession, but I do know that every time I have come across an opportunity to study Shakespeare, or work on a Shakespearean production, there has been some unseen pull toward his language. If you went back in time and told my 11 year-old self that he would be an actor, and have an affinity for Shakespeare’s works, he would probably laugh at you, and yet still have some subconscious understanding of that future reality.
-Marco Minichiello, Dromio in Choose Thine Own Adventure

When I was about eight, my grandparents showed me Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. I was instantly obsessed (I mean, John McEnery’s Queen Mab speech is killer, right?!).  I spent an enormous part of the subsequent months performing the balcony scene in my house, using the staircase landing as the balcony and my four year old sister as Romeo. She had a pretty impressive speech impediment at the time, and to this day I can hear her little voice saying “He jests at scaws that nevew fehwt a wound!” In the two decades since then, my sister has outgrown her speech impediment, but I’m still going strong with my love of the Bard.
-Julie Ritchey, Artistic Director and Director of Choose Thine Own Adventure

When I was just a few years old my mom–who is a theatre teacher at a private school in San Diego–directed a production of Hamlet. My dad guest-starred as the Ghost. I don’t remember very much from the production, but I do have a few blurry images in my head. I certainly liked the sword-fighting (which, I believe, my dad also choreographed). Sword-fighting may have played a big role in drawing me into the theatre–when, as a kid, I had to keep myself entertained while my mom finished a rehearsal, I’d get to play with some of the prop swords that were always lying around.
-Jack Novak, Ensemble Member

I read Othello in high school with my remedial English class and I do not remember if I understood what happened in the play but I remember that I was mad at everybody for not acting the parts out.  How could they just read this stuff without any emotion?

The second most memorable moment was when I read Merchant of Venice unassigned one summer before my senior year of college.  It was the first Shakespeare play I read on my own accord and the first time I understand the story.  I remember the moment I finished the play.  I was sitting in an upstairs part of the library where I worked during the summer and the sun was coming in on my face.  I remember being very hungry and I was poor at the time so I kept myself busy that week with this play.  I needed nourishment and this play supplied it.  I never told anybody about this but I guess I have now.  I really saw this play happening as I read which was the first time visualization had happened throughout an entire Shakespeare play.  I want to re read it now just thinking about this moment.
-Mary Spearen, Development Director and Rosalind in Choose Thine Own Adventure

Shakespeare is to the English language as the moon is to the sky, it is as though the two always belonged together, describing love and the pain that comes with the journey that is the path of life.  I must say that my early experience with the Bard was as an explorer of words, as a creature in love with the texture and smell of old books and the oceans of words upon the shelves. It is from some such exploration that a weathered copy of the Complete Works cast its breath upon my face like some volume of sacred text, calling forth the boy to worship at its soft and faded page. And with its voice taking my hand and softly whispering some reminder of what I was to come to know. I don’t think I fully understood at the time what I was looking at, but I knew right away that it was a very important part of the history of life. I knew even then that it had the power to change lives.
Peter Oyloe, Marketing Director

My first encounter with Shakespeare was more tangible than most, it was not by reading any of his plays or even attending one of them.  At age 10 I visited Stratford-upon-Avon and have fond memories of visiting the various landmarks around the town, my favorite being Anne Hathaway’s cottage.  Here I purchased a beautiful, picture book edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Upon returning home, I immediately rented the movie edition, read the actual play and thus began a love of “the bard.”
-Kristen Ahern, Costume Designer of Choose Thine Own Adventure

My sister put up a giant poster of Leonardo DiCaprio from Romeo + Juliet behind the fish tank on her wall – when I say giant, I mean takes up half the wall space giant. I was 10. I would sneak into her room and kiss the poster!
-Carolyn Faye Kramer, Ensemble Member

High school sucks and here is why. I had the greatest English teacher in the world. Did I know or appreciate it at the time, no. Example, in addition to reading poetry, and studying drama, this guy brought us on field trips to the Ruth Page Theatre (now Chicago Shakes) to see incredible productions. As a 15 year old (at least in 1996) there is nothing more uncool than liking Shakespeare. So, I distinctively remember sitting in the front row of a matinee of Comedy of Errors with my arms folded across my chest, slumped into the chair with my coat still on, acting way too cool for school. This was all for show (or at least to keep the bullies at bay). Inside I was dying with excitement. I LOVED every second. The mistaken identities, watching the Dromios get pummeled, the prat falls, the lights, the costumes, the music, the oh so happy ending… it was awesome! Those matinees have a lot to do with how and why I’m an actor today. The coolest part is I’ve now shared the stage with some of those guys I grew up watching and admiring. So to Mr. T. I thank you. Even though there was no way you could have known it then, I was deeply in love (and still am) with the things I was exposed to in your class.
-Ryan Reilly, Ensemble Member

I don’t remember my first encounter with Shakespeare but it must have been much like my first encounter with chocolate. That stalwart and king of sugary treats has always been in my sensory memory just as Shakespeare seems to have always been a part of the ether of my nostalgic subconscious, sweetly satiating the appetite of my intellectual curiosity and theatrical cravings. Over the years I’ve tasted chocolate in a plethora of forms — dark, milk, white, with peanut butter, rice crispies, jalapenos, etc — and have similarly seen Shakespeare’s works in classical theater style, post-modern interpretations, recontextualizations of all sorts, and in Japanese samurai cinema. That’s the deliciously beautiful thing about chocolate and Shakespeare, they go well in almost any form. The reason, I think, is because at some very basic level, they hit us in the pit of our brains, arousing some fantastic and cathartic feeling in our cores, satisfying a primal human desire to feel joy. And although too much chocolate can lead to a number of health concerns, too much Shakespeare only makes me wish the Bard was still around to share the second Twix bar with.
-Ped Naseri, Antonio in Choose Thine Own Adventure