Chicago Slam Works Ensemble Theatre proudly presents the third in its three-performance 2015-16 season, “This Great Nation, Much Enduring”, opening Friday, May 6at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. “This Great Nation, Much Enduring” follows the political path of an ambitious young Senator as he struggles to connect in the Midwest. Chicago Slam Works Ensemble Theatre (formerly Chicago Slam Works House Ensemble) incorporates elements of spoken word, movement, drama, music, and sketch comedy in each production. Using a central theme, each show is created and performed by the cast members using performance poetry as a stepping stone to produce an original and cohesive evening of theater. J.W. Basilo directs and the lead writer for this production is Shelley Elaine Geiszler. Performances are Fridays at 8:15 p.m. through June 10. Tickets are $20. For tickets and information visit or call 773-327-5252.

“Chicago Slam Works is creating something that no one else in the city is doing” said artistic director of Chicago Slam Works J.W. Basilo. “Our foundation is performance poetry but we’ve taken that out of the coffee shop and on to the main stage through incorporating other artforms and having everyone’s work revolve around a central theme. This production goes one step further by expanding to include a central character too. The cast is having a ball with it.”


“This Great Nation, Much Enduring” follows the path of the well-meaning presidential hopeful Senator Thomas Denton on his battle for traction in the middle of the country. As he meets the citizens of the tiny county of Dullish, he learns how in the endless cycle of war, politics and distraction, showmanship is king. Will he be up to the challenge to play the game? Or will his dignity and search for truth overrule his ambitions?


Cast members for “This Great Nation, Much Enduring” include: Lauren Deaton, Osiris Khepera, Felix Mayes, Kyla Norton, Dru Smith and Teagan Walsh-Davis. Bios below.
Chicago Slam Works Ensemble Theatre presents “This Great Nation, Much Enduring”, opening Friday, May 6 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. Press Night is May 6. Shows run Fridays at 8:15 p.m. through June 10. Tickets are $20. For tickets and information or call 773-327-5252.


“This Great Nation, Much Enduring”
Presented by Chicago Slam Works Ensemble Theatre
Head writer: Shelley B
Directed by J.W. Basilo
Fridays, May 6 through June 10
8:15 p.m.
Stage773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Tickets are $20
For tickets or information visit
J.W. Basilo (Director) is the Executive Director of Chicago Slam Works and founder and Artistic Director of the CSW Ensemble Theatre. He serves as co-writer and director of the company’s 6 original shows to date. Basilo is also a National and World Poetry Slam finalist, a PushCart Prize Nominee, and a company member with Red Theater Chicago. His work has appeared on NPR, CNN, CBS, WGN, in the Chicago Tribune, NewCity, numerous literary journals, and in hundreds of theaters, dive bars, prisons, schools and comedy clubs across the world. Recently, Basilo was honored by NewCity as one of Chicago’s “Lit 50.” Currently, Basilo co-hosts the world famous Uptown Poetry Slam everySunday at the Green Mill in Chicago.
Shelley Elaine Geiszler (Head writer for “This Great Nation, Much Enduring”) is a founding member of the CSW House Ensemble, contributing writing & performance to six productions since 2014. Her performances have featured in The Fly Honey Show, at Salonathon, and numerous other venues around Chicago. She competed with The Green Mill Slam Team, and has performed in Europe with The Speak’Easy Ensemble. Playwrighting collaborations include the puppet shows Ichthyodyssey, Into the Uncanny Valley, and an upcoming adaptation of Ubu Roi with Rough House Theater. Shelley earned her B.A. in Acting at UCLA.
Lauren S. Deaton earned her BFA in Acting from Wright State University. Her Chicago credits include: Play with Glass Apple Theater (Emily), The Factory Theater’s The Last Big Mistake (Roxy u/s), The Sonnet Projects’ Letters to Antonio (The Girl), and Reservoir Dogs with Bare Knuckle Productions (Brown). As a lover of words and a lover of the collaborative art of theatre, in general, she is thrilled to be making her Chicago Slam Works debut!


Osiris Khepera is a renaissance artist: Actor. Poet. Playwright. Singer. SGI Buddhist: Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Cooker of Things. Abstract Painter with no Canvas. Creator of Hullabaloo. Hater of Sycophants. Practitioner of Healing Magic. Gender Fluid Queer Freedom Fighter. Fairy Godfather. Speaker of Truths. Lover of Acts of Nobility. Encourager of Courageous Freedom. Leo. Lives in / Works from the Heart Chakra. Seeker of Knowledge. Generally Chill Individual. Recently worked with: Second City, THTR Unspeakable, MPAACT, the Hypocrites, Pavement Group, Pegasus Players, Peninsula Players, Lincoln Center, and. Basements Jook Joints the world over.


Felix Mayes is honored to have his Chicago premier be with Slam Works. Felix has had the opportunity to perform on stages from NJPAC to the Lincoln Center to Dvorák Hall in Prague, as a singer, actor, and dancer. Some of his credits include: Angel (Rent), Edgar (Bat Boy), Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Franklin Shepard (Merrily We Roll Along), and The Mummy (Ghost Sonata). He has participated in the Philly Fringe Festival and Irene Ryan Acting Festival, as well as the American College Dance Festival. Felix is a graduate a Muhlenberg College.


Kyla Norton is currently an Acting major/Playwriting Minor at Columbia College Chicago. Recent credits include 15 Breaths (AFYT) Getting Out (Columbia College Chicago), All Girl Edgar Allen Poe (Chicago Mammals) and Checking Boxes (AFYT)


Dru Smith graduated from SUNY Purchase with his BFA in Theatre Arts before moving back to the Midwest. He attended The School at Steppenwolf in 2010 and has been working as an actor, teacher and writer in Chicago for the past five years.
Teagan Walsh-Davis is an actor, poet, and playwright who is originally from Ohio. She holds a BFA in acting from Columbia College Chicago, and she has performed with Cold Basement Dramatics, The Mammals, The Right Brain Project, The Living Canvas, and others. She is a member of The Electric Brain, as well as the spoken word/acoustic duo The Loving Blood.