Rivendell Theatre Ensemble presents the Midwest Premiere of Grizzly Mama Sept 8 – Oct 15

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Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (RTE), Chicago’s only Equity theatre dedicated to producing new work with women at the core, announces the Midwest premiere of Grizzly Mama by George Brant. The production, directed by RTE member Megan Carney, runs September 8 – October 15, 2016, at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago.  

Set in an Alaskan cabin where Deb, a divorced suburban mom is attempting to reinvent herself as a righteous, liberal avenger is Grizzly Mama — the final production of Rivendell’s 2016 season “The Body Politic” in which the political is deeply personal. Deb is fresh from the funeral for her recently deceased, famous activist mother. Her daughter, Hannah, is a typical texting teenager – that is, until she discovers the real reason why mom moved them next door to a certain Alaskan presidential candidate. A dark comedy about motherhood, murder and moose.

“The Republican nominee for president recently called for ‘some second amendment people to do something about Hillary Clinton.’ Maybe he was just cracking a joke about gun owners stepping up and taking aim against our first female presidential candidate. Who knows, right? Well here is one thing Ido know, this kind of rhetoric and the terrifying state of our current political climate has made George Brant’s darkly comic play suddenly more relevant than ever,” comments Tara Mallen. “These days it seems we all think of ourselves as “activists” simply because we repost someone else’s good idea on Facebook or align with a hashtag movement. Very few of us actually get our hands dirty. Very few of us take action. So telling stories about what it means to actually put action behind our beliefs is not just important these days, it’s essential.”

The cast includes Artistic Director Tara Mallen (Deb), Taylor Blim (Hannah) and Jenna Ebersberger (Laurel).

The design team includes RTE members Megan Wilkerson (set), Janice Pytel (costumes), Diane Fairchild (lights), with Sarah Putts (sound) andJamie Karas (props). The fight choreographer is David Blixt. The stage manager is Jenniffer J. Thusing.

George Brant (Playwright). His plays include Grounded, Marie and Rosetta, Elephant’s Graveyard, The Mourners’ Bench, Any Other NameOne Hand Clapping, Night of the Mime and Three Voyages of the Lobotomobile. An Affiliated Writer at the Playwrights’ Center, his scripts have been produced internationally by the Atlantic Theater Company, Trinity Repertory Company, the Studio Theatre, Cleveland Play House, the Alley Theatre, Gate Theatre, Page 73, and the Traverse Theatre, among others. His plays have received a Lucille Lortel Award, the Smith Prize, a Fringe First Award, a Creative Workforce Fellowship, an Off-West End Theatre Award, three OAC Individual Excellence Awards, an NNPN Rolling World Premiere and the Keene Prize for Literature. He is published by Samuel French, Oberon Books and Smith & Kraus.  Brant is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Michener Center at UT-Austin.

Megan Carney (director) has a Rivendell Theatre Ensemble member since 2005. Most recently she directed Body/Courage by Danielle Pinnock and wrote WOMEN AT WAR, which premiered last season and continues to tour. Megan also directed American Wee Pie and The Walls, two premieres by Lisa Dillman. Carney’s playwriting and directing credits include eight years with About Face Theatre creating original works based on true stories and topics ranging from queer youth experiencing homelessness, creation of chosen families, identity development, and the evolution of language that were produced in Chicago and toured around the country to schools and conferences (About Face Theatre, Goodman Theatre, MCA, Theatre Building Chicago, etc.), Open Systems, a commission from The Goodman Theatre Education and Community Engagement Program examining impacts of Hurricane Katrina in Baton Rouge and Chicago, Let Them Eat Cake, debating same sex marriage with Holly Hughes and Moe Angelos (Dixon Place, NYC), and Pittsburgh Project Remix on the legacy of the steel industry in her hometown (Pump House, Homestead Steel Mill). Carney’s work as an artist and educator has been recognized with multiple After Dark Awards, a TCG Observership Grant, the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, an APA Presidential Citation, induction in Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, a Rockefeller Foundation MAP Grant, and a GLAAD Media Award nomination. Megan is currently the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change, where she designs and facilitates programs and directed resources to reveal LGBTQ identities and histories in order to strengthen the capacity of individuals and communities and create positive social change. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Theatre & Music at UIC and has a MFA in Theatre Arts from Virginia Tech with a focus on Directing and Public Dialogue.

Tara Mallen (Deb), an actor, director, producer and the Artistic Director at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, was most recently seen on stage in the world premiere production of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat at Arena Stage.  She appeared in RTE’s world premieres Look, we are breathing and Rasheeda Speaking; and the Steppenwolf SYA production of How Long Will I Cry: Stories of Youth Violence. Tara was part of the ensemble in Rivendell’s critically acclaimed, World Premiere productions of The Walls and Self Defense, or the Death of Some Salesmenboth performed in the Steppenwolf Garage as part of their Visiting Theater Initiative.  Throughout Rivendell’s 23-year history, Tara has produced and acted in over 25 productions. She received two Joseph Jefferson awards for Supporting Actress and Best Ensemble for the RTE World Premiere of WRENS and was nominated the following year for “Actress in a Principal Role” for her work in My Simple City.  Tara co-conceived in partnership with Megan Carney and directed the critically- acclaimed World Premiere of Women At War, a theatrical exploration of women in today’s military that is now touring throughout the mid-west; directed the Midwest premieres of The Electric Baby; 26 Miles (in co-production with Teatro Vista); Fighting Words; Psalms of a Questionable Nature; and the co-production of Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue with Stageworks/Hudson in Hudson, New York. Screen credits include Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion; Boss (STARZ), both Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. (NBC); Sense8 (Netflix); and the CBS/Sony Pictures pilot Doubt.

Taylor Blim (Hannah) is working at Rivendell for the first time. Chicago credits include: Mary Page Marlowe (Steppenwolf) and Sucker Punch (Victory Gardens Theater), along with several productions at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Her film and TV credits include “Chicago Med,” Forever, The Disposal, The Year That Changed Us and They Wake Up. 

Jenna Ebersberger (Laurel) is making her professional debut at Rivendell. She is an alumna of Columbia College Chicago and The Second City Conservatory program. She was previously an understudy for Feathers and Teeth at The Goodman and Bad Jews at Theater Wit.

About Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

Founded in 1994, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble advances women’s lives through the power of theatre. Rivendell cultivates the talents of women artists — writers, actors, directors, designers and technicians – by seeking out innovative plays that explore unique female experiences and producing them in intimate, salon environments.

Rivendell fills an important role in the Chicago region as the only Equity theatre dedicated to producing artistically challenging and original plays created by and about women. After years of being an itinerant company, we moved into our own theater space in 2010 in Edgewater. As new members of the neighborhood, we are focused on becoming an integral community partner and serving as a catalyst to engage our audiences in a discussion of local social issues.

For more information about Rivendell Theater Ensemble, http://rivendelltheatre.org.  Follow RTE on Facebook at Facebook.com/rivendelltheatre and on Twitter @RivendellThtr.

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is supported by generous grants from The Alphawood Foundation; The Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development; The Chicago Community Trust; The Chicago Foundation for Women; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; The Reva and David Logan Foundation; The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust; Cultural Outreach Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events; and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is also very grateful for the support received from 100 Women Who Care.