AMERICAN THEATER COMPANY CONCLUDES 2012-2013 SEASON WITH THE REPRISE OF SPEECH & DEBATE, May 10th – June 23rd

banner_speechAmerican Theater Company concludes 2012-2013 Season with a revised remount of Speech & Debate, written by Stephen Karam, and directed by Artistic Director PJ Paparelli. Speech & Debate will run May 10 – June 23, 2013, at American Theater Company, 1909 W Byron St, Chicago, IL.

Speech & Debate is a quick-witted and timely comedy that tells the story of three misfits who team up to expose their teacher’s online secrets while forming their high school’s first Speech and Debate club. With a searing script by columbinus co-writer Stephen Karam, Artistic Director PJ Paparelli remounts this hysterical yet touching tale of three teens’ quest for fame and free speech. Under newly-appointed Artistic Director PJ Paparelli’s direction, Speech & Debate made its Chicago Premiere at ATC in 2008 to critical and popular success, garnering 3 Jeff Award nominations for Best Mid-Size Play, Best Director, and Best Actress

for Sadieh Rifai’s portrayal of Diwata.

This production replaces the previously announced restored & revised Hair, which has been moved to Spring 2014.

“Stephen Karam’s Speech & Debate was my first show in Chicago and the first time I worked with Ensemble member Sadieh Rifai – and there are not two funnier artists to collaborate with then Stephen & Sadieh,” says Paparelli. “It is a unique theatrical experiment to produce this play right after our work together on columbinus. Both of Karam’s plays are searches for identity– one extreme tragedy, one extreme comedy– but both speak directly to American adolescent experience.

The production will feature original cast member Sadieh Rifai reprising her original role (Diwata), as well as Patrick Riley (Howie), Janet Ulrich Brooks (teacher/reporter), and Will Allan(Solomon) in their ATC debuts.

The creative team of Speech & Debate includes William Boles (Set Designer), Sally Dolembo(Costume Designer), Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer), Scotty Iseri & Lindsay Jones (Original Sound Design), Andrew Wheatley (Sound Designer), Rasean Davonte Johnson (Projection Design). Deborah Chesterman is Stage Manager.

Sadieh Rifai (Diwata) is an ensemble member at American Theater Company where she has performed in columbinus, The Catholic Rep: Doubt and Agnes of God, The Amish Project, The Original Grease, Welcome to Arroyo’s, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Distracted, and Speech and Debate for which she won an After Dark Award for Outstanding Performance.

Other credits include The Piano Teacher (Next Theater), Merchant of Venice (Silk Road Theatre),Ski Dubai (Steppenwolf Theatre First Look) and understanding the role of Johanna Monevata inAugust: Osage County (Steppenwolf Theatre). Sadieh is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf. Film credits include: the award winning The Wise Kids (New Fest, Out Fest and NYC LGBT Film Festival) and the feature film Nate and Margaret. She’s also a recurring character in the mockumentary Bad Sides, which was recently a finalist in the Chicago Comedy TV Pilot Competition. Sadieh was most recently awarded the Princess Grace Theater Award.

Will Allan (Solomon) is making his American Theater Company debut with Speech & Debate. His recent Chicago credits include The Whale (Victory Gardens); Good People, The March, and A Separate Peace (Steppenwolf); The Seagull and Dartmoor Prison (Goodman); The History Boys(TimeLine Theatre – Jeff Award for Ensemble and Production); The Goat Or, Who Is Sylvia?(Remy Bumppo – Jeff Award for Production); and Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing(First Folio). Will is an Associate Artist with TimeLine Theatre Company, a graduate of North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and this fall, he will begin working toward his M.F.A. in Acting at the Yale School of Drama.

William Patrick Riley (Howie) is very excited to be making his Chicago theatre debut at American Theater Company. Regional credits: The Tempest (Hartford Stage); Ah, Wilderness! (Arena Stage); Hoover Comes Alive! (La Jolla Playhouse); Measure for Measure (A Noise Within). Other credits include: The Tempest, Twelfth Night, As You Like It (Shakespeare Santa Cruz); The Seagull, Camino Real, The Misanthrope, As You Like It (UCSD). Recent TV credits include appearances on Chicago Fire, Torchwood, 90210 and the HULU series Pretty/Tough. He is the co-founder and former Artistic Director of Lonesome No More! Theatre in Los Angeles, where he most recently directed a highly acclaimed production of Spring Awakening. Education: MFA, University of California, San Diego.

Janet Ulrich Brooks (reporter/teacher) was recently seen at Victory Gardens in Failure: A Love Story and Jacob & Jack. She is a TimeLine Company Member and has appeared there in more than 10 productions, most recently A Walk in the Woods and All My Sons. Other credits includeSouth of Settling (Steppenwolf Theatre), Ten Chimneys (Northlight Theatre), The Original Grease(American Theater Co.), Pony (About Face Theatre), The Seagull and A True History of the Johnstown Flood (Goodman Theatre). Other Chicago credits include Golda’s Balcony (Pegasus Players, Non-Equity Jeff Award – Outstanding Solo Performance) and work with Strawdog Theatre, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Writers’ Theatre and Collaboraction. Janet’s film credits includeFools, Conviction, Polish Bar, I Heart Shakey, and One Small Hitch, and her television credits include Boss, Underemployed, The Chicago Code and The Playboy Club.

Synopsis:

Speech & Debate is a quick-witted and timely comedy that tells the story of three misfits who team up to expose their teacher’s online secrets while forming their high school’s first Speech and Debate club. With a searing script by columbinus co-writer Stephen Karam, Artistic Director PJ Paparelli remounts this hysterical yet touching tale of three teens’ quest for fame and free speech. Under newly-appointed Artistic Director PJ Paparelli’s direction, Speech & Debate made its Chicago Premiere at ATC in 2008 to critical and popular success, garnering 3 Jeff Award nominations for Best Mid-Size Play, Best Director, and Best Actress for Sadieh Rifai’s portrayal of Diwata.

AMERICAN THEATER COMPANY

American Theater Company is an ensemble of artists committed to producing new and classic American stories that ask the question, “What does it mean to be an American?”

American Theater Company is supported by a CityArts Program 2 Grant and a Cultural Outreach Program Grant from the City of Chicago Office of Tourism & Culture, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, Pauls Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and the generous support of Prince Charitable Trusts and Barbara Kipper.