image001 (5)During last night’s Season Release Bash at Fischman Liquors and Tavern, artistic director and co-founder Michael Patrick Thornton proudly announced The Gift Theatre’s 2015 season of three world premieres. The all-new season will include the debuts of David Rabe‘s expanded Good For Otto, Gift Ensemble member William Nedved‘s Body and Blood and Naperville native Mat Smart‘s The Royal Society of Antarctica.

“The Gift’s fourteenth season is dedicated to the searchers; everyday people who are compelled to traverse the icy Antarctic continent, the bright heavens and the dark interior of the human mind for identity, family and peace,” said Thornton. “It is a season of existential tailspins, epic journeys and rebirths. Each play manages to be hilarious, heartfelt and absolutely enchanting.

“At The Gift, we always say that every great play was once a new play. For me, the most powerful stories remind us of our power to create a new self; to choose to be the phoenix. I’m ecstatic that our 2015 season will be our first season dedicated entirely to the New.”

The season kicks off in March 2015 with the world premiere of intriguing and touching drama The Royal Society of Antarctica by Mat Smart (Samuel J. and K.), directed by Gift Ensemble member Sheldon Patinkin. Smart is the winner of the 2014 William Inge Theatre Festival’s Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theatre Award, which recognizes emerging writers who are helping shape contemporary theater.

“I went to the bottom of the world to find this play – working as a janitor for three months at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. It’s perfect that it will premiere in my hometown at The Gift,” Smart says.


Director Marti Lyons (Mine, the upcoming Bethany) returns in July for The Gift’s world premiere of Body & Blood, a smart, searching and hilarious new play from The Gift co-founder and playwright of The Gift’s critically acclaimed production of Northwest Highway, William Nedved. The cast includes ensemble members Jim Farruggio and Gabriel Franken, both of whom appeared in Northwest Highway, as well as ensemble member Lynda Newton (Thinner Than Water) and guest artists Cyd Blakewell (Mine) and Nicholas Harazin (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s Henry V).

And in September, The Gift continues its remarkable relationship with renowned American playwrightDavid Rabe (HurlyburlyStreamers) as Thornton directs the newly expanded full-length version of his play Good For Otto, which celebrates the aching wounds and tiny triumphs that make up a life.

Of his decision to choose The Gift for the world premiere of the full-length Good For Otto, Rabe said, “What every playwright wants to know is that the people doing their play will love it and care for it. I watched The Gift do a cold read of Good For Otto and was thrilled by what they did and revealed; the level of their acting is exceptional. Given their previous productions of my work as well as their strong reputation of supporting new plays, I’m excited by this opportunity to work with The Gift on the world premiere of Good For Otto. It needs a true ensemble with heart and smart, humor and hurt, and that is precisely what The Gift is.”

As usual, The Gift’s year begins in January with TEN, the theater’s annual roundup of world premiere ten-minute pieces by The Gift and guests, curated by Thornton and associate artistic director Paul D’Addario.The Season closes in December with an as-yet Untitled Santa Show by Natural Gas, The Gift’s house improv team.

The Gift Season Subscriptions, including admission to the two remaining plays of 2014, Othello andBethany, are available by calling The Gift Box Office at 773-283-7071.

March 2015

THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF ANTARCTICA, written by Mat Smart, directed by Gift Ensemble member Sheldon Patinkin

Dee returns to her birthplace at the blindingly bright McMurdo Station in Antarctica to work as a janitor and seek answers to her mother’s disappearance in this wonderfully weird and touching new play perfectly suited to The Gift’s intimate space.

July 2015

BODY & BLOOD, written by Gift Ensemble member William Nedved, directed by Marti Lyons

Dan finally finds his calling in life – and it sends all of his loved ones spiraling into a spiritual crisis in this smart, searching and hilarious new play from The Gift co-founder and playwright ofNorthwest Highway.

September 2015

GOOD FOR OTTO, written by David Rabe, directed by Gift Ensemble member Michael Patrick Thornton

The Gift continues its remarkable relationship with renowned American playwright David Rabe (HurlyburlyStreamers) in this world premiere where a therapist is bombarded for meaning and closure by patients past and present. Mythic and musical, Good For Otto celebrates the aching wounds and tiny triumphs that make up a life.

The Gift’s 2014 Season kicked off in March with the Chicago premiere of Melissa Ross’s dysfunctional family comedy-drama Thinner Than Water, directed by Gift Ensemble member John Gawlik (2013 Jeff Award-winner for When the Rain Stops Falling at Circle Theatre). Director Jonathan Berry (Dirty) returns for The Gift’s first Shakespeare production; Othello runs July 10-August 31 and is dramaturged by Shakespeare scholar Michael Petersen, PhD. The season closes with the Chicago premiere of Laura Marks’ new shocker Bethany, directed by Marti Lyons, September 25-November 23. Subscriptions for the entire 2014 season, which includes two Chicago premieres, are available for as little as $75. The Gift subscribers (“Gifters”) receive admission to three shows, free parking at Gale Street Inn, free admission to allWednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at or call 773-283-7071.

The Gift Theatre is conveniently located at 4802 N. Milwaukee, in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood, and is easily accessible by the CTA Blue Line, the Lawrence and Milwaukee Avenue buses and the Kennedy Expressway. For more information about The Gift Theatre’s productions and programs, visit