Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It has been ten years now since our current team took over running the Prop Thtr; twelve years since we moved into the current venue. Meanwhile we are a core of producers and  an ensemble of committed performers, designers, choreographers, directors, composers and writers; an incubator for new work and new workers. Home of the Rhinoceros Theater Festival and core member of the National New Play Network.  If you have not seen us in a while, come and see all the changes!

opening on September 23rd and running Fridays and Saturdays at 8p:

"Oracle of the Gutterpunks" by Paul Carr.  Directed by Lee Peters.  Original compositions by Kyle Greer. Designed and choreographed by Diane Hamm.  Lighting by Jeremy Campbell.

! And With:                                    

 Don Schroeder, Arin Mulvaney, Rick Reardon, Jill Matel, Jeremy Campbell, Zoë Pike, Taryn Smith, Tyler Nielson, Sharon Waltham, Rory Jobst, Alex Iacobucci, Paul Brennan, Maiko Terazawa, Izzy Tortuga, Brittany Stokes, Austin Ebert, Britta Schlicht, Aleksandra Pavlovic

Songs are abundant in this highly irreverent musical which casts a jaundiced eye at politics. 

And OPENING Sept 30 at 10p, Fridays and Saturdays at 10p:



Monday, March 26, 2012

It is an event worth noting,  Prop Thtr's 31st Season and our production of "drumming in the night" by Bertolt Brecht.  Not only another in our own long series of plays by Brecht, starting with Puntila and Matti, his Hired Man in 1981, "The Exception And The Rule" in 1982 and, again, in 1987, "Beggar or the Dead Dog" in 1983 and, again, in 2004, "Demise of the Egoist, Johann Fatzer" (in the world premiere of the English Translation) in 1996 and "Saint Joan of the Stockyards" and "Baal" ( at Trapdoor) in 2001; this year's choice in production follows upon a year of inspiring Chicago highly qualified theatermakers taking on their versions of early Brecht plays:  "The Wedding" by Tuta and "In The Jungle of the Cities" by Ka Tet to name just two  - inspired us to plumb further the early works of the author, long before a theory was formed, in the heat of practice... produce now the very first play Brecht ever had produced... it is inspiring to have a local context, though it be underrated by this day's scriveners, as well as by its own, that is of highest quality.


Lesson to playwrights!:  this "first play" (it actually is not by any means the first play, it is the first produced) got a chance because the wife of the director, to whom a mentor of Brecht's had given the manuscript, was sick at home and had lost her magazine.  She picked up what happened to be atop the neglected heap and was transfixed, talking her husband into reading it.  In this way,  one of the important playwrights of the 20th century was launched...

"drumming in the night" was originally titled "Spartakus" and was written in the thick of collapse following world war one and the political chaos which the collapse of the monarchy, the struggle between different factions of Business and the inspired working class who saw the events in newly Soviet Russia.  It is written out of seeing the grotesque sideshow which cultural and social behavior perform in times of extreme stress.

A soldier, Andrew Kragler, returns in a time of crumbling employment - when returning is already betrayal.  He claims only to have escaped defeat and imprisonment and being stationed in African colonies,  because of his love of his Anna, who has been otherwise engaged and is now pregnant, and promised, to another - father's associate at the erstwhile munitions container factory,  postwar retooling for baby buggies...the chaos outside always threatens to rudely interrupt this private grotesque with a larger social eruption, the collapse of which is equally grotesque.  Ideals wake up homeless, when the fabric of decency and peace are torn, heroics make victims like a factory grinding out sausage.

Nick Leininger plays Andrew Kragler as a spiritual PTSD zombie brought to ignoble life and judged fit for duty, by the authorities. Arin Mulvaney plays Anna Balicke, his beloved, who has been bartered away by family, astonished at what has become of her men, and what she now wants and does not, in the new circumstance.  Through a single night, we follow their re-acquaintance amidst popular explosion.  As her parents, (Don Schroeder as Karl Balicke and Karin Fort as Emily Balicke)and her betrothed (Joe Bunke as Frederic Murk) panic, at the unraveling of their deal, a new gust of wind draws us to the news district, where uprising is fomented, again, but for all time.

This wind, which somehow succeeds in tugging Anna to chase after the forlorn soldier, also pulls him into a revolutionary company, who need him to lead, to succeed. He must choose.  Whether -  to heroically continue fighting, this time against the authorities who had sent him into industrially punishing war - or to take the girl, now with that baby, and retire to bed, hands over his head. 

Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm and on Sunday afternoon at 3pm, please come see this disorder of a comedy, our five scenes adapted from many brecht versions into one, for here at Prop Thtr and now in America, with its nearness to, and for the distance from, our time. 

In respect to our time:  our tickets are suggested $15 but at the door we take "pay what you can".  We join a significant number of other theaters, of recent years here in Chicago, who follow a similar ticket policy.  As an Illinois Not For Profit (501C3) Corporation, we feel that in this time no one should miss a performance for lack of the means to do so.  We also remind our audience that there is no more immediate investment into our work, than buying tickets in advance http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/232848

Either way, ahead of time or at our door on the spur of the moment, please come visit this wonderful play that is dedicated above all to the Theater of Chicago,  it plays through April.  Please don't miss it.

Follow here,  for further bloggage about the others in this 14 Performer show, about our show experiences, about the singular work of the show's composer Edward Reardon (who composed Legend of the Dead Soldier and Marie She Sat Upon A Stone" for our "drumming...". ), of Diane Hamm's costumes of the period and set dressing details, and about further arcane Brecht and historical background, about Rosa Luxemburg, as the run progresses.  Photos of course of course...

This is the stage, five days before we opened!  (wait till you see what became...)

and here an early photo, as we were still rehearsing, by Chicago's wonderful Johnny Knight

So... come see the show, and watch here as our run unfolds.  Weekly blog updates!  Thank-you for having a look...Stefan G. Brün.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: big season launches 4th decade!

A season so phenomenal we think you should not miss any part of it!  We open, as we have done for a number of years now, on January 13th, yes Friday!, with the 24th annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival curated by Curious Theatre Branch.  Chicago's oldest fringe festival brings you over 30 shows - solo, ensemble, plays, music - Thursday through Monday for five thrilling and packed weeks

for schedules, descriptions, reservations

plus lots of wonderful pictures:


And when the Rhino Fest is over, February 12th - the weekend immediately following Prop Thtr opens a very special co-production with Practical Theatre veteran Rush Pearson:

adapted from a story by Nikolai Gogol
opening February 17th, playing Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm four weeks only! 

The "Diary" is the record of a gradual invasion of its writer's mind by delusions of grandeur.  In this adaptation, Rush Pearson is the madman and we are his diary. A masterwork of immediate theater, developed by this, one of Prop Thtr's favorite theater artists, over many years and numerous venues.

Late Nights will feature Lupe Sanchez and The Taco Flavored Eggrolls in their new revue: "IT TAKES JUAN TO KNOW WONG (A Colored Commentary)  Fridays at 10:30pm through April 6th and in his original play "Porque No ComesSaturdays at 10:30 through March 24th

Following these Prop Thtr Artistic Director Stefan Brün will direct another in his series of productions of the plays of Bertolt Brecht,
"Drumming In The Night"

Written as the dust of World War One kicked up the German revolutions of 1918, this is the very first of Brecht's plays to have received professional production and attention.  Following a Soldier who returns home, unwelcomed and no longer wanted, to the convulsions of revolution: 
 Opening March 23rd and playing Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Sundays at 3pm
 Featuring the New Prop Thtr Ensemble!

"My flesh should putrefy in the gutter so that your idea gets into heaven? Are you all drunk?"       

"Mein Fleisch soll im Rinnstein verwesen, dass eure Idee in den Himmel kommt? Seid ihr besoffen?"


(Watch this space for a running dramaturgical journal of this production; for details of the rest of this incredible season, including: 

"The Feast" by Tony Fiorentino

 "Music Mad, How Chief O'Neill saved the Soul of Ireland" by Adam Bernard Whiteman

"Innervation Dance Company"

"Mass Murders"   .....and much more!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Conjured Worlds/ Embodied Terrain; Embodied Composition: movement theatre laboratory

Above an example of a score for a work in progress by the Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman Duo, who bring a wealth of experience and years of practice in a number of crafts together to lend a seldom seen virtuosity of composition and execution of movement based performances.  A delight leading audiences to euphoric participation in their taking apart "natural looking" behavior and what follows in a moment - subjecting these to contortions, subversions and convolutions, letting 'what's natural' show its socially constructed fa(r)ce.

"...dazzling sophistication, virtuoso level of characterization..." wrote Kyle Gann in The Village Voice

Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman Duo
A composing and performing movement based theatre duo since 1991, who apply composed structures to ordinary human behavior. Contradictions play out with an air of stubborn continuity.

LINKS HALL has joined with the Prop Thtr to offer two extraordinary workshops led by this Duo, a valuable opportunity to experience the well founded craft they have refined:

1. Conjured Worlds/ Embodied Terrain, a one day workshop on Saturday October 1st which introduces both their compositional and their performance work. They will demonstrate and then allow participants to experiment with, the relationship between score, performer and audience.  Compositional propositions (conjured worlds) and performance techniques (embodied terrain) will coax forth new ground for live performance and present challenges to the performing body.  This workshop is open to all.  Materials provided.  

2. Embodied Composition: movement theatre laboratory, Oct 4th-8th is an intensive which immerses participants in an experimental movement theatre laboratory.  The work is meticulous while open to surprises, counter-intuitively small, analogue, acoustic and on a fine scale - leading to performance pieces by the participants best seen in intimate settings -like that of Links Hall - where what seems impossible, is undeniably live.  Composition and timing of each frame is needed for the whole to work, like with animation.  Then those will be developed into movement theatre pieces: embodied composition.  Participants should be ready for a rigorous hands-on compositional laboratory with an emphasis on the performance of laboratory generated work.  This workshop will culminate in an open performance at Links Hall on October 8th.

See The Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman Duo perform from their repertoire at the Prop Thtr, 8pm Thursday, September 29th, Friday, September 30th and Saturday, October 1st.  $15 or pay what you can! 

"Surreal Vaudeville, Lisa Fay 
and Jeff Glassman belong in 
some kind of genius category.
One is reminded of silent film
comedians and European circus
clowns, who hone their material
to its essence"

                               David Cuthbert 
                              New Orleans Times-Picayune 

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October 8th at 10:30pm Prop Thtr presents the second of four nights honoring and looking at the video, film, painting, graphic, photographic work of Tom Pallazzolo, our Lolapalooza. Our lobby is at its historic finest as a gallery of his work and we will show his media work that Saturday night as well as the second Saturdays of November and December.  A gifted Chicago Artist!

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Our October guest Company: the Consortium Project with Den Of Thieves:

What: Den of Thieves 

Why: Maggie is a newly single, junk-food-binging shoplifter looking to change her life and herself-hating ways. Paul is her passionately convicted, formerly four-hundred-poundcompulsive-overeating sponsor in a twelve-step program for recovering thieves. Maggie's jealousex-boyfriend is a charismatic wannabe Puerto Rican small-time thief of uncertain ancestry namedFlaco who spins a grammatically challenged but persuasive yarn about seven hundred and fiftythousand dollars in unprotected drug money sitting in a safe in a downtown disco guarded by aneasily distracted crackhead. This dubious and ragtag would-be criminal crew is rounded out byFlaco's new girlfriend, the fabulous Boochiea malaprop-slinging topless dancer who refuses to lether troubled childhood or her third-grade reading level stand in the way of her inevitable path tofame, fortune and fur. When things don't quite go according to plan, this bickering quartet ofhapless thieves finds themselves at the mercy of Louie "The Little Tuna" Pescatore, a reluctant,
donut-ingesting heir to the criminal empire run by his father"The Big Tuna"who has left him incharge for the weekend. The penalty for stealing from the Tuna is death"Ba Da Bing, Ba Da Boom." ButLouie offers them a break: "I need one body and three thumbs, you can choose the who, whys andwherefores among yourselves." Tied to chairs and able to move only their mouths, they must now fightfor their lives by out-arguing each other as to who deserves to live. Verbal gymnastics and thestruggle for self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-love produce a high-octane battle for survivalthat's not resolved until the last donut falls. - Dramatist Play Service, Inc. 

When: Oct 06, 2011 8:00 PM - Oct 23, 2011 2:00 PM 

Where: Prop Theatre, 3502 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 

Followed by: Point Of Contention's   "All The Girls Love Bobby Kennedy"  look out for that opening Friday October 28th!

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Coming in 2012:  The longest running fringe festival in Chicago, January 13th - February 12th, 2012.

Coming January 13th - RHINOFEST- February 12th, 2012

Friday, September 2, 2011

Still In Play - in many more than one way!

This September 15th, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art sees the opening of three days of a scripted and devised play, "Still In Play, a performance of getting ready", which the Curious Theater Branch has developed over a year long residency, text and lyrics written by Jenny Magnus, music by The Crooked Mouth (who will give a special RELEASE concert after the Friday September 16th performance of "Still In Play") and directed by Prop Thtr Artistic Director and Curious Theater Branch founding associate artist Stefan Brün with Jen Moniz and Briana Finegan and with Choreography by Jayita Bhattacharya and Judith Harding.  Featured are many of the performers who make up the Curious Theater Branch: Jayita Bhattacharya, Jeff Bivens, Sidonie Greenberg, Judith Harding, Cat Jarboe, Troy Martin, Nia O'Reilly-Amandes, Beau and Colm O'Reilly, Matthew Rieger, John Starrs, Matt Test, Vicki Walden and, of course, Jenny Magnus.  Acoustics are designed by Joseph Fosco, lights are designed by MCA and Trap Door resident designer Richard Norwood, Videography and documentation by Jeffrey Bivensand Costumes are designed by Prop Thtr Managing Director Diane Hamm. 
"Still In Play, a performance of getting ready"

BACK at the PROP THTR, our very valued guests from the Silent Theatre Company, who have offered Chicago a distinctive vision and style for over six years now and have become regular presenters at the Prop Thtr, with their Wild Party Variety Hour every final Saturday night of the month, now join forces with us to present two amazing productions in the inimitable Silent Theatre Style:  "NOIR" and "ACME"

ACME: (live) Action Cartoon with Music and Entertainment
pays homage to the cartoon genre. From classical tomfoolery to neo‐animation, this
production is sure to strike a chord with the child inside you. Comedy, satire,
whimsy and parody all band together for a nostalgic evening of stylized vignettes. ACME: (live) Action Cartoon with Music and Entertainment features
Chelsea Brand, Jenna Dalgety, Gillian Hastings, Matthew Massaro, Nathan
Thompson and Samuel Zilitch. Created and Directed by the ensemble.
Production Stage Manager: Shannon Evans
How do you find hope in a city that doesn't want to be saved? It's Chicago in 1930. The city revels in its celebrity, refuses to play by the rules and scoffs at
the rest of the country's distaste. When his ex partner shows up with a plan which would thrust him into the thick of the mob, private investigator Frank
McClellan must decide to walk the line between trust and hope. At stake is five thousand dollars, the life of an old friend and a final chance to help take down public enemy number one.
NOIR: city of big shoulders was written out of love for the detective story and fascination with Chicago's most recognizable era. Of the cinematic styles that have crossed over to the stage, film noir remains one of the most compelling. This is Silent Theatre's second venture into this genre and pays homage to the city of the gangster while it delights in asking the most spine tingling question in literature: "Who done it?"
NOIR: city of big shoulders features Brendan Balfe, Chelsea Brand, Scott Coyne, Joanne Dubach, Brian Parenti, Nathan Paul, Evan Sierminski and Joe Vonderhaar. Written and directed by Brendan Balfe. Videographer: Krzysztof Piotrowski. Costumes by Stephanie Schultz. Production SM: Shannon Evans.

And that is not all....

From the very first days of the Prop Thtr, way back in 1981, an artist we have admired and whose work we have shown is Tom Palazzolo
Throughout the rest of 2011, the lobby of Prop Thtr has been turned into a gallery of paintings, print work, photography by Tom Palazzolo.  The second Saturdays of September, October, November and December will feature showings of the many films and videos he has created, in a wide array of styles, over the years.  We call this whole series Lolapaloozza and we are kicking it all off with a reception, Gallery Vernissage, special showing of his newest movie and other special surprises on Sept 10th starting at 7pm and going late!

 Also do not miss our longtime resident, FACTORY THEATRE'S "Black and Blue" which is having the final performances of this hit summer play right NOW!