The Gift Theatre’s 2017 season includes three world premieres by women playwrights

During Saturday’s Season Release Bash at Fischman Liquors and Tavern, co-founder and artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton proudly announced The Gift Theatre’s 2017 season of three world premieres by women playwrights. The all-new season kicks off in February with the debuts of Mona Mansour’s war-torn drama Unseen, Claire Kiechel’s futuristic Pilgrims and Janine Nabers’ time-hopping love story A Swell in the Ground.

“The Gift’s season is dedicated to epic intimacy which explores the question: Who Have We Become?” said Thornton. “From a pioneering spacecraft to explosive Istanbul to intimate spaces in New York, our 2017 season is about wounded lovers trying their best to recover from trauma. I’m ecstatic that this will be our first season comprised entirely of world premieres by women playwrights.”

The Gift Theatre also announces funding for 4802—the new play research and development wing of The Gift—is complete. In 4802, artists/artistic teams will be given residencies in the Gift Theatre’s storefront, providing dedicated tailor-made time, space, and support for their work.  Applications for 4802 will be live at on September 1, 2016.

4802 exists for one purpose: to nurture the creation of vital works of theater that explore and explode what is possible in a storefront space,” 4802 co-director Andrew Hinderaker said. “We want to nurture the development of theater pieces that celebrate the strengths of storefronts while dreaming the boundaries of our form bigger. Plays that draw on the unique resources and talents of The Gift Theatre, while furthering the growth of our own company and ensemble. Plays that kick the door open to populations all too often left out in the cold. Plays that make the Chicago storefront—and The Gift Theatre—a center for vital new American plays.”

As usual, The Gift’s year begins in January with TEN (Jan. 5-8, Jan. 12-15), the theater’s annual celebration of world premiere ten-minute pieces by The Gift and guests, curated by Thornton and associate artistic director Paul D’Addario.


February 10–April 19, 2017 

UNSEEN, written by Mona Mansour, directed by ensemble member Maureen Payne Hahner

Conflict photographer Mia wakes up in the Istanbul apartment of her on-again, off-again girlfriend after being found unconscious at the scene of a massacre she was photographing. Mia can’t even remember being there, but she wired photos of the site hours before being found. The two women resume their volatile push-pull when Mia’s well-meaning Californian mother arrives from the United States, trying to help unravel the mystery of what happened to her daughter.

June 2-July 30, 2017

PILGRIMS, written by Claire Kiechel,

directed by ensemble member Michael Patrick Thornton & guest artist Jessica Thebus

On a spacecraft on its way to colonize a newly discovered planet, a soldier and a young girl live together in one of the ship’s cabins with only an outdated robot and each other for company. When they are quarantined in their close quarters due to a potential outbreak, they’re forced to explore their own traumatic pasts in a dying society through risqué role playing and dangerous games. PILGRIMS was most recently honored by inclusion in the Kilroy’s List.

October 13-December 10, 2017

A SWELL IN THE GROUND, written by Janine Nabers, directed by guest artist Chika Ike

In intimate rooms throughout New York, four friends from college fight through 17 years of love affairs, shattered dreams and compromised lives. Flipping back and forth through time like a photobook, this play—whose title is from a line of Emily Dickinson poetry—

is equally breathtaking and heartbreakingly spare as Olivia, Nate, Abagail, and Charles try to reconcile the lives they imagined with the lives they live.

The Gift Season Subscriptions, including admission to the two remaining plays of 2017, The Grapes of Wrath and A Life Extra Ordinary, are available by calling The Gift Box Office at 773-283-7071 

About The Gift Theatre

TEN, The Gift’s annual kickoff celebration of ten-minute plays curated by artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton and associate artistic director Paul D’Addario took place in January. The season proper began March 3 with Richard III, directed by Jessica Thebus. Director and ensemble member Erica Weiss (Vigils) returned for The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, adapted by Frank Galati (June 16- August 14). The season closes with the world premiere of Melissa Ross’ haunting and heartfelt mystery A Life Extra Ordinary (September 29- November 20) directed by ensemble member John Gawlik(The Royal Society of Antarctica). Subscriptions for the entire 2016 season 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 all Wednesday night “Natural Gas” improv shows and invitations to special subscriber-only special events. Subscribe at or call 773-283-7071.

About giftLIT.

Curated by ensemble member Maggie Gawlik, giftLIT is the literary extension and iteration of The Gift Theatre. Its ambitious season of live literature programming planned at Community Tavern features Chicago writers exploring themes connected to The Gift Theatre’s 2017 Season. Additional information is available at