Writers Theatre’s 25th Season Opens with JULIUS CEASAR

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Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma, opens its 25th Anniversary Season with a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed and adapted by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Scott Parkinson. The show runs September 7 – October 16, 2016 in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. 

Shakespeare’s masterpiece of power and conspiracy, friendship and betrayal, stands as the greatest political drama ever written. Caesar has made Rome the world’s most powerful Empire through his brilliant military strategies, and upon his return from the wars the citizens of Rome wish to abandon the Republic and crown him king. When his fellow senators decide that his advancement must be halted, they come to a brutal and extreme solution: the great man must fall.

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With a newly streamlined adaptation by Michael Halberstam and Scott Parkinson that is both epic in scale and arrestingly intimate, this fresh and innovative look at the text will immerse audiences in the struggle for global supremacy, raising important questions about the responsibilities of a citizenry when confronting radicalism and tyranny.

“Caesar has been on my bucket list of passion projects for some years,” says Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. “But the way I have wanted to stage it has always been beyond the capabilities of our venues. That is, until now! Now that we finally have a home where the sophistication of our theatres matches the sophistication of our artistic ambitions we can take a serious look at a play that has never been more relevant. We are in the heart of an election season unlike any in my lifetime and, therefore, I cannot think of a better time to explore Shakespeare’s remarkable play about global politics, world power and the nuances and grayness of great political movements. Scott Parkinson’s considerable knowledge of the play and his expertise with the language has made him an ideal collaborator in manifesting an adaptation that seeks to streamline the play and lift the relationship between Brutus and Cassius, creating an actor-driven realization of the political landscape in which they find themselves.”

The cast includes: Kareem Bandealy (Brutus), Christine Bunuan (Calphurnia/Metella Cimber), Arya Daire (Portia/Decia/Soothsayer), Sydney Germaine (Cinna/Octavius Caesar),Matt Hawkins (Caius Ligarius/Lepidus), Thomas Vincent Kelly (Mark Antony/Trebonius), Julian Parker (Cobbler/Caska), Scott Parkinson (Cassius) and Madrid St. Angelo (Julius Caesar).

The creative team includes: Courtney O’Neill (Scenic Designer), Mara Blumenfeld (Costume Designer), Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (Original Music and Sound Design), Mike Tutaj (Projections Designer), Breon Arzell (Movement Director) and Bobby Kennedy (Dramaturg). David Castellanos is the Production Stage Manager.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

William Shakespeare (Playwright) was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. He rose to fame in London as a playwright, actor and partner in a company of players known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. King James I, after ascending to the throne in 1603, would eventually patron the group, thereby changing the name to The King’s Men. During Shakespeare’s career, he wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets and several other famous epic poems. There are many apocryphal plays thought to be Shakespeare’s and he alone is credited with contributing close to 2,000 words to the English language. He is without question the most highly regarded and studied playwright in the history of literature. In 1613, Shakespeare is said to have retired to the place of his birth. It is believed that he died there on his birthday, April 23, 1616. Past WT productions of Shakespeare’s plays include Hamlet, As You Like It, Othello and Richard II.

Michael Halberstam (Adapter, Director) is the co-founder and artistic director of Writers Theatre. He has directed over 35 productions for the company, including Not About Heroes(starring Nicholas Pennell), Private Lives, Look Back In Anger, Candida, The Father, Crime and Punishment, Benefactors, The Seagull, The Duchess of Malfi, Othello, TheSavannah Disputation, the world premiere musical A Minister’s Wife, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, She Loves Me, The Real Thing, Hamlet, Sweet Charity, Days Like Today, Isaac’s Eye, Arcadia and Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody (which he co-directed with Stuart Carden). Halberstam has appeared in numerous Writers Theatre productions, including Richard II (title role), Loot and Misalliance. Previously, he spent two years at The Stratford Festival in Ontario and performed in Timon of Athens, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (title role), Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It. Halberstam’s other Chicago acting credentials include productions with Wisdom Bridge Theater, Court Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Elsewhere he directed The Gamester (Northlight Theatre), A Man for All Seasons (Peninsula Players Theatre), Hamlet(Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Candida (Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York), Ten Little Indians (Drury Lane Theatre), a highly acclaimed revival of Crime and Punishment, which Writers Theatre produced off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters in New York City, Enchanted April and State of the Union (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). In 2011 he directed AMinister’s Wife at Lincoln Center Theater, and also directed the west coast premiere at San Jose Repertory Theatre in 2013. His forays into opera have included The Rape of Lucretia (Chicago Opera Theater), Francesca da Rimini featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and Le Freyshutz, a Berlioz adaptation of the Weber opera conducted by Christoph Eschenbach in its North American Premiere (Ravinia Festival). He spent two and a half years teaching Shakespeare at The Theatre School at DePaul University and has received awards for excellence in theater management and/ or artistic achievement from The Chicago Drama League, The Arts & Business Council, Chicago Lawyers for the Creative Arts and The Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival. He also received the 2010 Zelda Fichandler Award, the 2013 Artistic Achievement Award from the League of Chicago Theatres, and was named Chicago Tribune‘s 2013 “Chicagoan of the Year” for Theater. He currently serves on the board of the Arts Club of Chicago.

Scott Parkinson (Adaptor, Director, Cassius) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in Arcadia, Hedda Gabler, Hamlet, Crime and Punishment, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Booth, Candida, The Glass Menagerie and Marriage and Bears. Chicago credits include 16 productions at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, including the title role inRichard II, the Fool in King Lear, Caesar in Antony & Cleopatra and Speed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Other Chicago credits include Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream,Guys and Dolls (Court Theatre), Angels in America (The Journeymen), Northlight Theatre, Goodman Theatre, title roles in Hamlet and Richard III, Iago in Othello (Shakespeare on the Green). Regional credits include An Iliad, Cock (Studio Theatre), Angelo in Measure for Measure, Cassius in Julius Caesar, The Persians (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Treplev in The Seagull (The Old Globe), The School for Scandal (Mark Taper Forum), Hartford Stage and La Jolla Playhouse. Off-Broadway credits include Hamlet (Classic Stage Company), You Belong to Me (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Stage Manager in David Cromer’s Our Town, Orson’s Shadow (Barrow Street Theatre), The Third Story (MCC Theater), Rose Rage and Crime and Punishment. National tours include The 39 Steps. Broadway: The Coast of Utopia (Lincoln Center Theater). Featured interviews include North American Players of Shakespeare.

Kareem Bandealy (Brutus) has appeared at Writers Theatre in Hamlet, The Caretaker and Heartbreak House. Chicago credits include A Christmas CarolRock ‘N’ RollGas for Less and King Lear (Goodman Theatre), The Wheel (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Oklahoma! (Paramount Theatre) The Good Book, The Illusion (Court Theatre), Moby DickThe Little PrinceBig Lake Big CityBengal Tiger at the Baghdad ZooThe Last Act of Lilka KadisonPeter Pan, Blood Wedding (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Edward II, Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Blood and Gifts (TimeLine Theatre Company), Othello (The Gift Theatre) and many others. Regional credits include The Merry Wives of WindsorThe Three Musketeers, The Tempest (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Notre Dame Summer Shakespeare), Julius Caesar, Stuff Happens (Pittsburgh Irish & Classical) and four seasons at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. He has appeared in several films including The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton. Television credits include Chicago Fire (NBC). He is an artistic associate of Lookingglass Theatre Company and a recipient of the 2011 3Arts Artist Award.

Christine Bunuan (Calphurnia/Metella Cimber) is thrilled to make her debut at Writers Theatre. She was most recently seen in Chimerica at TimeLine Theatre Company. Her other credits include the first national tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (David Stone Productions), Avenue Q (Mercury Theater Chicago), Frederick (Chicago Children’s Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), Kafka on the Shore (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Jade Heart (Chicago Dramatists) and many more. This December she will be performing her solo cabaret show called Christmas at Christine’s (Silk Road Rising). Special thanks to Stewart Talent, her family and the love of her life, Sean. christinebunuan.com

Arya Daire (Portia/Decia/Soothsayer) is delighted to be making her Writers Theatre debut. Chicago credits include Samsara and Disconnect (Victory Gardens Theater), Principal Principle (Stage Left Theatre), Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical (Emerald City Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Rasaka Theatre Company) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Beverly Arts Center). Television credits include A Christmas Carol—The Concert (PBS holiday special, Emmy Award-nominated) and Chicago Fire(NBC). Arya received her B.S. in Radio/TV/Film and English Literature at Northwestern University. Warmest of thanks to my mom and dad, friends, Michael Halberstam, Stephen Schellhardt, Cheryl Graeff, Ross Lehman, Jeremy Sonkin and an inspiring cast and crew. Arya is represented by Stewart Talent.

Sydney Germaine (Cinna/Octavius Caesar) makes their Writers Theatre debut in Julius Caesar. They were recently seen as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (First Folio Theatre), as Minnie Fay in The Matchmaker (Goodman Theatre), the world premiere of Zipped and Pelted by Lucas Baisch (2015 Chicago Fringe Festival), as well as a couple of web series about queer life (Afternoon Snatch and In Real Life). They have a background in fire breathing, aerial arts and other forms of circus, as well as burlesque. They are represented by Gray Talent.

Matt Hawkins (Caius Ligarius/Lepidus) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. Matt is a Chicago-based director, actor and fight choreographer. He is a Founding Member of The House Theatre of Chicago and an Artistic Associate with Strawdog Theatre Company. He is on the music theatre faculty at Northwestern University and is also an adjunct lecturer at Loyola University Chicago. He holds a B.F.A. in Acting from Southern Methodist University and an M.F.A. in Directing from The University of Iowa. He has been nominated for 12 Joseph Jefferson Awards and has received five. This upcoming year he will direct Going to a Place Where You Already Are (Redtwist Theatre) and choreograph violence for The Great Gatsby, Urinetown (Northwestern University); Tug of War: Civil Strife, Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare in Love (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). He is married to actress Stacy Stoltz.  

Thomas Vincent Kelly (Mark Antony, Trebonius) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in Look Back in Anger. Chicago credits include Hotspur in Henry IV, part 1, Pistol in Henry IV, part 2 and Henry V (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), A Touch of the Poet, Zoot Suit (Goodman Theatre), Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Hildy Johnson in The Front Page, Almost Blue and Coriolanus (Next Theatre), Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), and as a founding member of Irish Theatre of Chicago (formerly Seanachai Theatre Company) he played Joe Hynes in Scenes from the Big Picture, Anton Chekhov in Chekhov in Yalta and Charlie Doyle in And Neither Have I Wings to Fly. Regional credits include Good People, A Steady Rain (Alliance Theatre), A Steady Rain (Guthrie Theater), The Wind Cries Mary (San Jose Repertory Theatre and East/West Players), Bell, Book and Candle, Opus, (Ensemble Theatre), Eastville (Connecticut Repertory Theatre), As You Like It, Hamlet (American Players Theatre) and Shakespearean festivals in Utah, Florida, Illinois and Idaho. Television credits include Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (CBS), Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC), Saving Grace (TNT), The Closer (TNT), 24 (FOX), Without a Trace (CBS) and numerous other guest appearances. Tom is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. thomasvincentkelly.com 

Julian Parker (Cobbler, Caska) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in Hamlet and the reading of Saint Joan in collaboration with The Chicago Inclusion Project. Chicago credits include GenesisDutchmanThe Brothers’ Size (Definition Theatre Company); Prowess (Jackalope Theatre); Hairy Ape (Joseph Jefferson Award—Actor in a Principal Role, Oracle Productions), Charm (Northlight Theatre), The Royale (American Theater Company); Gospel of Franklin (First Look Series—Steppenwolf Theatre Company); BlackTop Sky (Garage Repertory—Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Head of Passes (understudy—Steppenwolf Theatre Company). Television credits include Chicago P.D. (NBC). Julian is a Founding Member and Casting Director of Definition Theatre Company. He received his B.F.A. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Represented by Grossman & Jack Talent.  

Madrid St. Angelo (Julius Caesar) makes his Writers Theatre debut in Julius Caesar. He is an award-winning and Joseph Jefferson Award-nominated actor. A graduate of New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse and the New School for Acting, he trained under Sanford Meisner and William Alderson. He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Guild of Italian American Actors and Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. Chicago credits include Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Silk Road Rising, Vitalist Theatre and UrbanTheater Company. Television credits include ER (NBC), Boss (Starz) andChicago Fire (NBC). He is represented by Paonessa Talent (commercial, film/television/theatre) and Grossman & Jack Talent (voiceover).

AUDIENCE ENRICHMENT

Accessible Performances

ASL-Interpreted performance: Saturday, October 15 at 7:30pm

Open-Captioned performance: Sunday, October 16 at 2:00pm

Post Show Conversation: The Artist

Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding previews and extensions) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

Post Show Conversation: The Word

Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding previews and extensions) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.

Sunday Spotlight—Sunday, October 2, 2016

This one-hour event will follow the matinee performance and feature an expert in a field related to the themes or setting of Company, moderated by a member of the WT Artistic Team. Seating is limited. RSVP is required.

The Making of… Series—Monday, October 17, 2016

Writers Theatre will once again host its popular The Making of… Series, providing insight into a different aspect of creating the productions seen on our stages. The Making of…events are FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited. RSVP is required.

For more information about Writers Theatre Audience Enrichment programs visit writerstheatre.org/events

RIDE METRA TO WRITERS THEATRE

In an effort to promote taking public transit to the Theatre, Writers Theatre launched a new promotion in 2013. Any audience member who purchases a ticket to a Writers Theatre production and rides Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to the Theatre may snap a photo of themselves on the train and post it to their Facebook page or Twitter feed with a tag of @WritersTheatre and #[the title of the show], and upon showing the post at the Writers Theatre Box Office, receive $5 in cash to put toward the cost of your fare as a thank you for going green.

This promotion is available for a limited time only, and may end without warning. Ticket must have been paid for in advance. Not valid on comp tickets. More information available at writerstheatre.org/metra

WRITERS THEATRE PARTNERS

Writers Theatre is pleased to recognize BMO Harris Bank as the 25th Anniversary Season Sponsor for the 2016/17 season. Northern Trust and NES Rentals will serve as Major Corporate Sponsors for Julius Caesar and ComEd will be the Official Lighting Sponsor of the season. Additionally, Writers Theatre is grateful to the following individuals and organizations for their support of Julius Caesar: Maryellen and Richard Keyser as Artists Council Sponsors; and Carol and Joel Honigberg, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Seth Traxler and Jessica Aspen and an anonymous donor as Director’s Society Sponsors.

For more information about Writers Theatre’s 2016/17 Partners, visit writerstheatre.org/our-supporters.

ABOUT WRITERS THEATRE

For 25 years, Writers Theatre has captivated Chicagoland audiences with inventive interpretations of classic work, a bold approach to contemporary theatre and a dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible.

Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has grown to become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence, being called the top regional theatre in the nation by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of more than 60,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry—providing the finest interpretations of both classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues.

In February 2016, Writers Theatre opened a new, state-of-the-art facility. This established the company’s first permanent home—a new theatre center in downtown Glencoe, designed by the award-winning, internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by Founder and Design Principal Jeanne Gang, FAIA, in collaboration with Theatre Consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. The new facility has allowed the Theatre to continue to grow to accommodate its audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy. The new facility resonates with and complements the Theatre’s neighboring Glencoe community, adding tremendous value to Chicagoland and helping to establish the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.

Find Writers Theatre on Facebook at Facebook.com/WritersTheatre or follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter. For more information, visit www.writerstheatre.org. 

Notes of Interest:

Julius Caesar opens Writers Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Season.

The new streamlined adaptation is co-adapted and co-directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Scott Parkinson.

This production is the first Shakespearean work performed in Writers Theatre’s new theatre center. Among his many directorial credits, Michael Halberstam previously directedHamlet (2012) and Othello (2007), along with Tom Stoppards’ Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (2009).

Julius Caesar marks Scott Parkinson’s 10th production with Writers Theatre.

Kareem Bandealy, Julian Parker and Scott Parkinson return to the stage together at Writers Theatre in Julius Caesar, having previously appeared together on the WT stage inHamlet. Of the cast of nine, four will be appearing at Writers for the first time: Christine Bunuan, Arya Daire, Sydney Germaine and Madrid St. Angelo.

2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

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