The Den Theatre Reopens with Chi Premiere of THE QUALITY OF LIFE

The Den Theatre is thrilled to reopen its doors to a new and expanded home and its first full season with the Chicago premiere of THE QUALITY OF LIFE by Jane Anderson, directed by Lia D. Mortensen, playing October 26 – December 1, 2012 at 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. THE QUALITY OF LIFE features ensemble members Ron Wells and Liz Zweifler with Steve Spencer and Jen Taylor.  Tickets are available at 

Left Coast Living Meets Midwest Values

Red and blue state worlds collide in this compassionate and humorous drama that confronts the fundamental human challenge of losing a loved one. Jane Anderson’s hilarious, stirring play puts deep focus on two couples: one dealing with a recent loss and another under the specter of it. Struggling to keep their marriage intact after the death of their daughter, Dinah and Bill, devout church going conservatives from Ohio, visit their left-wing cousins Jeannette and Neil, who’ve just lost their home in the Berkley Hills to a wildfire. Adding fuel to the wildfire, Neil is dying of cancer. But to their cousins’ surprise, the couple, now happily living in a yurt on their burn site, continue to celebrate life with hits of pot and a steady flow of red wine. Sympathy turns to rage, however, when deep-seeded values and uncompromising beliefs are put the ultimate test. Ethical, religious, and moral beliefs about the right to both life and death are on full display in Anderson’s gripping play.

The First Production of an Expanded Home

The Den Theatre provides a creative gathering place, an actors’ and artists’ den, a comfortable and affordable home to create and explore, and home to a young storefront company that shares the name. Founder and Artistic Director Ryan Martin saw a diamond in the rough when he first walked onto the bare and empty wood-floored 2nd story of 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. With the potential for innovative live performance in a neighborhood that has long been known for its creative heartbeat, this formerly empty space is now fully equipped with a bar and café, and boasts five unique, intimate theatre spaces on two floors, and enveloped by a never-ending field of lounge space for audiences and like-minded culture hounds to drink, talk, read, watch, think, listen and live. In addition to The Den Theatre Ensemble, Black Box Studio, with its new conservatory program, also calls The Den home, as well as Seanachi Theatre Company, who will be producing their upcoming season at The Den. Theatre and dance companies from Chicago and beyond have also called The Den home, utilizing our theatres, mirrored studio space and easily convertible cabaret space to accommodate a stream of programming, including plays, musicals, film screenings, classical and jazz performances, dance, improv and stand-up, seminars and speaking engagements

The production team for THE QUALITY OF LIFE includes: Zachary Gipson (Scenic Design), Andrew Vanderbye (Lighting Designer), Melissa Schlesinger (Sound Designer), Jon Buranosky (Props Design), Ginger Leopoldo (Production Manager), Shelley Crosby (Assistant Director) and Jennifer Bukovsky (Stage Manager).

Title:                           THE QUALITY OF LIFE

Playwright:                Jane Anderson

Director:                    Lia Mortensen

Featuring:                  Ensemble members Ron Wells (Neil) and Liz Zweifler (Jeanette) with Steve

                                    Spencer (Bill) and Jennifer  Taylor (Dinah).

Location:                   The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Dates:                         Previews: Friday, October 26 & Saturday, October 27 at 7:30 pm; Sunday, October 28 at 3 pm; Tuesday, October 30 at 7:30 pm

                                    Press Opening: Thursday, November 1 at 7:30 pm

      Regular run: November 2 – December 1, 2012

Curtain Times:          Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets:                      $25.  Available at

About the playwright:

Jane Anderson’s published plays include Looking for NormalThe Baby DanceDefying GravitySmart Choices for the New CenturyLynette at 3AM and The Last Time We Saw HerThe Quality of Life premiered at the Geffen Playhouse and was directed by Ms. Anderson. Her plays have been produced Off Broadway and in theaters across the country, including Actors Theater of Louisville, The McCarter Theater, Long Wharf, ACT, the Geffen Theater and The Pasadena Playhouse.  As an actor, she appeared in the New York premiere of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago. She has also written for film and television, including her award winning film adaption of The Baby Dance, produced by Jodie Foster.

About the director:

Lia D. Mortensen has been an equity actress in Chicago for the last 25 years.  She most recently appeared in Northlight’s Ten Chimneys, for which she received a 2012 Best Actress nomination.  She was honored to be a part of the 2011 Jeff Award winning ensemble of ATC’s Big Meal. Other Chicago credits include The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Hiding Place at Provision; the Pulitzer prize-winning Rabbit Hole at Goodman Theatre; Rivendell Theatre: Fighting Words; Northlight Theatre: Lady Windermere’s Fan, Sky Girls and Talley’s Folly; Chicago Shakespeare Theater: All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure;  Steppenwolf Theatre: Closer and Faith Healer; Remy Bumppo: Night and Day (premiere production); Organic:  Aristocrats; Classic American Theatre: Voice of the Turtle and Glass Menagerie (w/Celeste Holm); Next Theatre: Well, A Doll’s House, Macbeth  and The Illusion; and several productions at Court Theatre. Directing Credits:  Bus Stop by William Inge (co-directed with Ryan Martin and Quality of Life by Jane Anderson, both at The Den Theatre.  Film credits:  the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) and Blink.  Television credits: The Chicago Code, Family Practice, Early Edition and Missing Persons.  She has numerous commercial credits.  Lia is an ensemble member of Provision Theater and The Den Theatre.

The Den Theatre's full 2012/13 Season:

February/March 2013

The world premiere of CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT

By Don Nigro, directed by ensemble member Ron Wells

It’s hot on the heels of World War II when a small time New York hood’s paranoia reaches the breaking point. Convinced that his girlfriend Anna is hiding something from him, Gus enlists his younger brother Tony, a shell-shocked veteran, to start tailing her, unraveling a chilling tale of mystery, romance and suspense. The Den Theatre dims the lights and breaks out the popcorn for this rich and stylish throwback to the days of post-war intrigue and classic film noir.

 May/June 2013

The Chicago premiere of A FISH STORY

By Jon Tuttle, directed by Artistic Director Ryan Martin

fish story · noun, an exaggerated or incredible story. syn: bunk, cock-and-bull story, farfetched fable, yarn.

It’s all of the above in Jon Tuttle’s hilarious and touching outburst of home-cooked storytelling. George shoots a schnauzer and brings it triumphantly back to Zee, who proceeds to stuff his pillowcase with bloody fish parts. Surprisingly, their teenage daughter Annie longs to leave her socially impaired family behind. As the floodwaters rise outside, a stranger arrives to make this loony domestic-dramedy even more dysfunctional!

The Den Theatre is committed to producing theatre that explores our very human search for identity, companionship, and most importantly, a place to call home. Our productions reflect this shared need to find our purpose and to understand our place in the world. By way of this mission, The Den seeks to welcome artists of all disciplines to join our ensemble and our audiences in creating a welcoming atmosphere that we can all call home.