Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Company Member Update: The Adventures of Sean Thomas

Ruby Wilder is opening this weekend at Teatro Luna produced by Tympanic and directed by my buddy James Palmer (who recently directed me in Red Tape Theatre's production of Elephant's Graveyard ). Brooke Allen has written a non-linear piece that races along much like our memory and feelings do. This is a wonderfully dark and sometimes humorous dive into the human psyche as told by a survivor of an abduction by a serial killer.

I've had a great time exploring my role, Ozzie and discovering what makes him tick while avoiding the trap of playing him as "evil".

Right after Ruby opens, I will be delving into to the abuses and atrocities of communist Romania in Theatre Y's production of Porn by Andras Visky. It's a beautifully written poetic telling of a true story by one of Romania's most celebrated artists. I will be playing the role of Anti who is the father figure, artistic sponsor, and omnipresent conscience of Porn, the heroine. We are slated to take the show to LaMama in NYC in the Fall of 2013.

And lastly, I will be jumping into A Christmas Carol this holiday season at Drury Lane Oakbrook playing Old Joe and Charity Man while understudying Scrooge. What an exciting Fall and early Winter!

Hope to see everyone while House Managing for Pygmalion at Theatre Wit or monitoring auditions for Hauptmann and Kiss of the Spider Woman with my home team, BoHo Theatre.

-- Sean Thomas is a company member of BoHo Theatre. Past credits include Big River and last seasons production of Tartuffe. Keep an eye out for Sean and his theatrical adventures through the holidays.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spitfire Grill: Nancy Kolton, On Healing Old Wounds

“You think if a wound goes real deep, that the healing can feel just as bad as what caused it?” -- Percy

Through the course of ones life we all must go through a healing process at some point. From early childhood when we get a boo-boo, which often can magically be healed with a well placed kiss from a loved one. As we grow and learn we sometimes suffer broken bones, broken hearts, even broken spirits, which can’t always be healed with a well placed kiss.
I work for a clinical psychologist, so this theme really struck a chord in me. Day in and day out, I watch wounded souls begin their journey to well being in mind and body through healing and redemption. Some are so injured that they cannot bear to even acknowledge the wound. To do so is far too painful, so they must deny its existence, guarding it from discovery, and wearying of its care.

The healing requires that we let go of our denial and reopen the wound. Which, as Percy says, “can feel just as bad as what caused it.” The brave souls willing to take that journey are not unlike those we encounter in this show. The sorrows and wounds of their lives are deeply felt. Their hearts cry out for the chance to begin again and find healing for their souls.
There is an old hymn that states: “There is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sin-sick soul. There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.” All the characters in this show experience that healing balm through the love and care of, sometimes the most unlikely of people, who eventually are willing to open their hearts to others in need of a new chance to begin again.

May all your wounds find the magic of a well placed kiss from a loved one!

-- Nancy Kolton is a Chicago based actor who is proud to say, unlike her character, that she has never waited tables in her life! Come join us at the Grill!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spitfire Grill: Laura Savage, Inside the Process of the Actor & the Yogi

 “Did I mention that I spent the last five years in Prison? And I only got locked up solitary three times. Imagine that.” -- Percy

People are often curious to know how actors relate to the characters we portray. For me, it’s all about observation: what does it take to imagine a prison sentence? When I received the role of Percy, I was unsure of where to begin. How could I possibly comprehend everything that this woman has gone through? I will admit that I watched a few episodes of “Beyond Scared Straight” which features inmates giving at risk teens an up close and personal prison experience. This was a great start for me- to see the isolation that Percy endured. But incarceration is not the worst of Percy’s harsh past. How was I to delve into her darkest secrets, and more importantly, how was I to bring her experiences to life? The path for me, believe it or not, is through yoga.

“I will positively receive what the universe brings to me.”

This has been my mantra for the past five years. Living day to day with this thought has had an enormous impact on my creative process. It has made me what I call a “hyper-observer”. Yoga allows me to release daily stressors and see the world more openly. The batman tattoo on your husband’s arm, is it on the right side or the left? Your co-worker with that boisterous laugh, does the inflection rise or fall? These are the observations that help actors to create fully realized characters. Whether we know it or not, we are all learning from each other all the time. So next time you order that cup of coffee, take a glance at your waitress. She may just be your next inspiration.

-- Laura Savage is a Chicago based actor and yoga instructor. She is grateful to everyone who inspires her daily and cannot wait to share Percy’s journey with you. The Spitfire Grill runs September 14- October 14 at Boho Theatre’s Heartland Studio.

Friday, August 10, 2012

BoHo Welcomes New Company Member: Meg Love

At the opening night party for The Rainmaker, Peter Sullivan asked me why I wasn't a company member yet. I remember quickly scanning my brain- Why wasn't I a company member yet? I've been hanging around BoHo so long, I already felt like I was one of the family. I just hadn't made it official.

I started my journey at BoHo with the remount of Songs for a New World at The Theatre Building (now the site of Stage 773) in 2008. When the show remounted at Theatre on the Lake, I was excited to be a part of it. After that, I jumped at the chance to work with BoHo any time I could. After stage managing Bernarda Alba, La Cage Aux Folles, The Glorious Ones, Hello Again, Dirty Blonde, Icarus, and Tartuffe, I accepted The Rainmaker. While I have been very proud of every single production I've been a part of, I have to say that Rainmaker took the cake. Every show has been a step up in some way. Each time, new goals have been set and BoHo continues to exceed them.

So in the midst of the celebration of the opening of the Rainmaker, it dawned on me that this is where I belong. Between the aforementioned artistic integrity and the fact that I adore the company members and others that BoHo surrounds itself with, I knew that I couldn't go wrong. I said yes and I was home.

It is almost needless to mention that the next show was Floyd Collins, which once again went above and beyond the bar that had been set. Gaining national acclaim from critics, I, once more, could not be prouder to be a part of this company and it only cemented my decision to officially hop on board!

Before joining the company, I was only able to work on so many shows per season due to the time demands of stage managing a show. Now, I get to do every show! I'm sure that you'll all see me around - house managing, papering the town or running around at special events, but fear not, you will still see me in the booth. I'll be stage managing The Spitfire Grill and Kiss of the Spider Woman this season and I can't wait to see where another year will take us!

Please join us in welcoming Meg Love to the BoHo Family!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Company Member Update: Charles Riffenburg designs Hero the Musical

We like to think we keep our staff pretty busy over here at BoHo, but Media Director/Graphic Designer Charles Riffenburg is too great a commodity to keep to ourselves. For the past few months he has been diligently working with the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire on the new musical currently being produced, Hero, The Musical.

Charles was hired by the Marriott to not only design a show-specific website, but also to create a full comic book based on the story of the main character in the musical! Charles' comic book is available for sale in the lobby of the Marriott Theatre, and there has been quite a rush on them.

But the website and the comic book are not his only contributions to the brand new production. Charles has also been blogging weekly for Hero, The Musical. You can follow along with his blog and receive a behind-the-scenes look at how the show, the props, and the Hero comic book were made.

Hero, The Musical is playing through August 19 at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire - it's too good to pass up!

-- Charles Riffenburg, IV is BoHo Theatre's Media Director. In addition to his work on Hero, The Musical, he also owns his own Media Design company, Grab Bag Media. His clients include Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Emerald City Theatre, the Chicago Fringe, and Backstage Theatre Company. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

From Artistic Director, Peter Marston Sullivan: A Note of Thanks

Peter Blair (left) and Peter Marston Sullivan (right)
during Tech Week for BoHo Theatre's
Floyd Collins

"I just want to make sure you understand what you're getting in to..."

I distinctly remember the moment when I received the phone call asking me to be the next Artistic Director of BoHo Theatre. I suppose it's not something you easily forget. After surviving the initial phases of elation and fear, I realized that I was tasked to unearth an Executive Director; a partner that would challenge, collaborate and create with me as BoHo ventured into a new era. The decision was immediate and obvious, but the task of convincing would, surely, be a daunting one. It is a role that requires an intense amount of passion, time, leadership, intelligence, and most importantly... patience.

I was taken aback by the willingness of Peter Blair to step into the Executive Director position after minimal convincing. Perhaps it was the company itself that drew him in. Or, perhaps it was an opportunity to do something truly remarkable as a team that we had considered many years ago when I was but an intern and he a stage manager. Even with my words of warning about the workload, the stress, the heartache and the often thankless work that lay ahead... he accepted the position, and at that moment I knew BoHo's future would be bright.

Two Peter's in an award winning picture

The two years that followed are now a blur, but in that time we created a multitude of stories and memories together. We've shared long days building sets and painting walls, and even longer nights debating shows, casts and budgets... From the first sound collage of GHOSTS, to the final silhouette of FLOYD COLLINS... the moments of anguish, sorrow, strife and stress are greatly overshadowed by those moments of joy, revelry, laughter and success. As the lights dimmed down on Floyd, I knew it was the end of this chapter, and I could not be more proud of what we've achieved.

Though we are an ensemble, there are those that pass among us that provide the kind of leadership and friendship that allows us to learn, to grow, and to become exemplary through their guidance. It has been an honor and a joy to work alongside Peter these past two seasons, and while I look forward to this new chapter for BoHo, I cannot help but to look back at the accomplishments and, most importantly, the friendship this past chapter has fostered. To an amazing leader, artist, and friend... thank you.

-- Peter Marston Sullivan - Artistic Director, BoHo Theatre

Click here to read the full press release.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BoHo Theatre Welcomes New Executive Director - Kaela Altman

Coming off of their successful 2011/2012 season at Theater Wit, BoHo Theatre today announced its new Executive Director, Kaela Altman, who will be taking over the position from Peter Blair. Blair served as the company's Executive Director for two seasons following the tenure of founding Executive Director Tom Samorian in 2010. Blair will remain an active company member with BoHo.

Under his leadership, Blair helped steer the company through a dramatic period of growth and recognition. Having performed primarily in its intimate 30-seat home at the Heartland Studio in the Glenwood Arts District in Rogers Park for its first six seasons, BoHo Theatre became one of the inaugural resident companies at Theater Wit in Lakeview following its renovation in 2010. At Wit, Blair produced such hits as Big River, Pippin, The Rainmaker, and the recently acclaimed Floyd Collins, as well as the remounting of Big River at last summer's Theater on the Lake.

Floyd Collins, which closed its successful run on July 15th, was for Blair a high point and defining moment in his time as Executive Director. He and BoHo Artistic Director Peter Marston Sullivan had been enthusiastic fans of the show for years, prior to their involvement with the company, and BoHo's production and the overwhelming response to it was the perfect ending to his time as Executive Director. Floyd Collins garnered both regional and national acclaim, with the Wall Street Journal labeling it "a major event" and "a masterpiece," the Chicago Sun-Times declaring it "utterly enthralling," and WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight proclaiming "BoHo's production is absolutely perfect."

Reflecting on his time with BoHo and the impact he has made, Blair remarks, "Even more than the shows, my relationships with the company members mean the most to me. Peter Marston Sullivan is a great leader and a great friend... I believe in the company and I want to stay affiliated with BoHo"

Remarking on their artistic partnership, Sullivan believes that BoHo "has proven itself capable of producing incredibly challenging shows in all categories, and we have continued to build our reputation as a successful company. Our 'success' is in both the process and the product. Yet the family we've fostered at BoHo is what is most successful to me."

Blair is stepping away from the Executive Director position to spend more time with his family and allow for a new voice in the company's leadership. "I think that as an ensemble," Blair says, "the responsibilities (and rewards!) of the company should be passed around. My successor, Kaela Altman, is extremely smart and capable and I can't wait to sit back and enjoy her productions. "

Kaela Altman
Incoming Executive Director Kaela Altman's professional background is rooted in non-profit administration and she is currently completing a Master's Degree in Arts Management. She joined BoHo's board in 2010 after experiencing BoHo's production of Big River at Theater Wit. "Chicago's theater scene was one of the reasons I moved here and I had always enjoyed BoHo's work," Altman says. "Volunteering for the BoHo Board was the best way to mingle my passion for the performing arts with my professional skills in non-profit management." In her time on the board, she has been a pivotal member of the company's marketing team and helped lead BoHo's successful fundraising campaign "Make It Rain" during this season's production of The Rainmaker.

Her first goal in her new position will be to focus BoHo's strategic plan for the future and strengthen its ties to its community, including partnering with local schools to introduce more students to the power of the performing arts. "I think BoHo is an important pillar in the Chicago Theater Community and I'm excited to broaden our reach and champion our contribution in the coming years," she says.

Artistic Director Sullivan is also excited to begin the next chapter in BoHo's story. "Kaela's vast knowledge in arts management and marketing will be invaluable to the company," he says. "Her drive, passion, and leadership boosted her quickly to the top, where she can implement a multitude of strategies to make BoHo even more successful."

"We've also been a company largely run by men in leadership positions," he continues. "This is an opportunity to have a female voice guiding how BoHo evolves in the coming years."

Altman's first production as Executive Director and lead producer will be The Spitfire Grill by James Valcq and Fred Alley, which will open BoHo's 2012/2013 Season on September 16th and represent the Bohemian Pillar of Freedom. The Spitfire Grill will be produced at BoHo's old home at the Heartland Studio in Rogers Park. "One of our strengths is the intimate quality of our productions, and returning to the Heartland Studio is the best way to serve the art in this production," explains Sullivan.

Read more:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rebecca Mauldin: The Benefits of Improv

Here at BoHo Theatre, we love it when our company members are out and active in the local theatre community. What better way than to take classes? 

From the desk of Casting Associate, Rebecca Mauldin: The Benefits of Improvisation 

I've been taking improv at the Second City since the Fall of last year, and I have to say it is one of the most exciting acting adventures I've embarked on of late.

I'm always of the mind that as artists, we should do something that challenges us. And improv has always been that for me. In a play, we have lines to memorize and blocking and structure. In improv, nothing is set. Is it scary? YES! Is it absolutely thrilling? YES! I am in love.

Acting teachers have enocuraged me to take improv classes in the past, to which I have always responded, "Why would I do that? Oh, God!". However, I have completely changed my mind. It has made me a more flexible, creative actor. I am able to listen better and live in the moment more fully.

Also, if you take improv, your agent will love you. True story.

Anyway, this is my long-winded way of saying that improvisation will strengthen your acting abilities and is also super fun! And who knows, you may find you want to explore this art even more. I'm hooked.

-- Rebecca Mauldin is a Casting Associate at BoHo Theatre. Keep your eyes pealed for her as she continue to explore her talents throughout Chicagoland.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Floyd Collins: Steve O'Connell: Processing Floyd Collins

I came into the process of Floyd Collins late. No, I wasn’t a last minute replacement or anything, but I wasn’t called during the first few weeks of music rehearsal because my character, the engineer H.T Carmichael, head of The Kentucky Rock and Asphalt Company, doesn’t sing.

There is a reason behind every choice a playwright makes while writing a script. As an actor is is my job to interpret those choices. How I interpret and shape those choices, along with the director and fellow actors, is how the story of the play is told and it’s the story that is most important. You could watch an actor give a great performance on stage, but if it’s not part of a larger whole, the actor’s job is not done properly.

So why doesn’t Carmichael sing? There is a reason, and that reason must be specific.

As I continue to search for this answer, I have been met with more questions, but that is the beauty of this process: the challenge! Carmichael offers a unique challenge though, because many of the answers I am searching for are not in the script. Not much is said about Carmichael beyond the fact that he is an “outlander”. We also learn that he is a licensed engineer who is up for a promotion at his company. But why him? Why does he come to help? Who asked him? Did he decided to do this himself? Does he want to be here? What does he get out of this? What’s at stake for him both personally and professionally.? What surprises him about the town, the townspeople, the rescue operation and how does he feel about that? These are only some of the questions I have asked myself during the rehearsal period.

Much is said about an actors “process.” It can be an illusive term and one that has been given an air of mysterious import. Stories of Hoffman, DeNiro and Day-Lewis have been passed around rehearsal rooms like a game of telephone:

“I heard he stayed up for three days before he shot that scene.”
“I heard he stayed in character for three months and made everyone call him Travis.” 
“I heard he worked as a butcher for a year before he played that role.”

The truth behind any of this is inconsequential. At the end of the day, every actor’s process is unique and personal. But I would venture to guess that every actor’s process starts with a single question, which leads to another and another and another. I can’t speak for Mr. Day-Lewis, but that’s how it starts with me. And who knows... if there was more time in our rehearsal period, perhaps I would be in Kentucky, on a rig drilling a hole right now, singing a song about saving a man’s life and realizing it doesn’t sound quite right... Nah. Probably not. No offense, Daniel... But I think I’ll just use my imagination.

-- Steve O'Connell is a Chicago based actor, writer and musician and will be seen playing the role of Carmichael in Floyd Collins. This is the third show he has collaborated on with Boho. For more information please visit his website at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Floyd Collins: Sarah Bockel: From the Perspective of a Little Sister

"Lucky, is what I am."
Inevitably when working on a show that’s all about family you start to think of your own. When rehearsals first started I found myself struggling to identify with Floyd and Nellie’s unique relationship; brother and sister who accept and understand each other without words. Nellie even says they "think the same thoughts." Naturally, the relationship I have with my own brother came to mind. My brother and I have recently grown much closer than we used to be. He's eighteen years older than me, he was already out of the house by the time I was born. Until I moved to the city two years ago I wondered if we had much in common. It wasn't until our holiday car rides home would we talk and catch up. As time went by I could see that we have the same anxieties and opinions, even our stomach problems are the same! Perhaps we don't share thoughts as Floyd and Nellie, but I know we understand each other.

What I love so much about Floyd and Nellie's relationship is that once Floyd finds himself trapped he relies on Nellie for comfort and a sort of protection. Its not often us little sisters get to help our big brothers, they seem to have everything figured out all ready(at least mine does.) Both of Floyd's younger siblings, Nellie and Homer are forced to step up to help Floyd the best they can. During this difficult time, we get to witness their love and unbreakable connection to each other. That's family. I'm not sure there will ever be a situation where my brother needs me as much as Floyd needs Nellie, but that's what big brothers are for, right? Floyd Collins has certainly given me a new perspective on family, I am so grateful to have mine close to me (and above ground).

-- Sarah Bockel is a recent graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University's music theatre program currently living in Chicago. Please visit BoHo Theatre's website for ticket and production information.

Floyd Collins: Greg Foster, Truth be Told

What have I set in motion here?

Ever wonder what you're meant to be? Or what your part is in this world? Or you think you have it all figured out, but then a surprise awaits you around the corner? In a single moment that surprise can be something that can change your life forever. Fate perhaps? Destiny. These are all questions that Skeets Miller discovers the answers to within a short period of time.

Behind every good story is truth. Skeets Miller is an honest, sincere man who finds himself thrown into a story like nothing he's ever encountered before. A story that not only changes the media, but himself all together.

This role has been such a challenge, doing all the historical research, getting the accent down with such words as Louisville, or "Luville," and actually putting myself in the darkest, blackest, claustrophobic hole ever imaginable. Truly living that and doing everything in my power to save a mans life. Thats pretty deep stuff. Its a blast! I love it! Even more so, I think the thing that gets me more than ever is that this all actually happened. It's real. It really is something to let that reality sit in you. These people went through this together, Floyd and Skeets, Floyd's family, the world and I just want I honor and respect that and give it justice.

That's what I want to accomplish, playing Skeets Miller like he really was.

The truth.

-- Greg Foster , is a Chicago actor playing "Skeets Miller" in BoHo Theatre's production of Floyd Collins. Greg is "so pumped" to be working with BoHo and sends love and thanks to his family, friends, and God. Tickets are on sale now!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Floyd Collins: Russell Alan Rowe, A Family Redefined

This is a story of how a family comes together and re-defines itself in the wake of impending tragedy. I experienced this first hand when my mother passed away one day after Thanksgiving last year (and a day before her 84th birthday).

 My sister, (who I hadn't communicated with in 15 years) came to Chicago to assist with the arrangements. Not being sure how well this would go, I entered in to the situation with complete trust in the good intentions that I knew would possibly get me through this difficult time. Miraculously, all of the perceived 'built-up tensions' between my sister and I melted away as we reunited for a common family purpose. My Father, generally rather stoic and non-emotional, now, had a new found respect and admiration for the redefined family unit. "I wish your mother could have seen this", he remarked, refering to the newly built relationship between my sister and I.

This shifting family dynamic is what fascinates me and attracts me to Floyd Collins...I truly believe that Lee, Floyd's father, loves his children immensely, but finds himself in changing times and doesn't always understand their motivations. This was true of the relationship between my father and I. Lee and my father? very 'old school'. Floyd and myself?...not so much... As we work on this piece, it seems clear that 'truth' must be told and 'freedom' should be alluded to...left in the hands of the audience member to hopefully reflect on as they absorb this work. Whatever the reaction, I feel confident that in the loving hands of Peter Sullivan, we have all come together for a common good- to tell a story that isn't easy but might possibly make us look to the sky for further answers and assistance- whatever you may beleive in.

There is a pivotal scene towards the end of this play that bears SO much information and really 'colors' the relationships between Lee and his three children. In my work on this play, I continue to come back to the 'family scene' to obtain more clues about the Collins Family dynamics; over and over again. The escalating tensions in this scene are further underscored by the family's mounting concern about Floyd.

It all comes back to Floyd.

"How many times I gotta tell him? Cavin' never comes to nothin'"...(pgs. 9-10)

Floyd lives within us all...a gentle dreamer, a hopeful soul and a tireless laborer who knows that something more exists; either 'out there' or within is with his example that we can all move forward to be closer to our own personal destiny. This is the brilliant piece of work that Adam Guettel and Tina Landau place before us for our lucky we are to have this 'wake -up' call...and not a moment too soon.

-- Russell Alan Rowe is a Chicago actor last seen in BoHo Theatre's production of The Rainmaker. He can be seen playing Lee Collins in Floyd Collins, opening June 15 at Theater Wit.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Floyd Collins: Jim DeSelm, Alone in the Dark

If I could self-diagnose for a moment, I believe I have a nasty case of restlessness.  I stopped wearing a watch because I would constantly, nervously check the time, even when I had nowhere to go, no future event to anticipate.  This would cause my wife to ask reasonable questions like, “I’m sorry, am I keeping you?”  I am a disciple of my smart phone, because it allows me to talk to someone, listen to something, and do something completely different all at the same time.  I’m fidgety; I’m easily distracted. I’m frequently overextended, and find myself in a culture that seems intent on allowing me to exercise all of these habits.

Have you ever found yourself forced to be still?  Ever had your phone taken away, ended up in a place with no television, found yourself alone in the dark, forced to stop moving, to be silent, to simply be?  Who do you meet there? What do you see?

Floyd Collins is a man who is chasing things.  He’s done with being a farmer, and believes wholeheartedly that his “glory” is awaiting him in the next crawl.  He wants to show his father that he’s wrong about Floyd being a “crazy caving fool.”  It drives him to move, to push harder.  And then, in that cave, call it a twist of fate, call it the Hand of God, call it plain bad luck, he is forced to stop, to hold still.  He can’t move his feet, he can’t help himself, he can only fill the dark, cold space with his own thoughts.

Floyd’s story invites us to put ourselves in that dark, cold space, and this prospect can be downright terrifying.  Not just because you’re trapped, but because the person you meet when you’re alone in the dark is yourself.  And what if that’s company you’re not actually willing to keep?  Maybe I’m chronically restless because the motion keeps me from communing with the hard things I know to be true about myself.  And maybe being forced to be still is really the cure.

-- Jim DeSelm can be seen in the title role of BoHo Theatre's production of Floyd Collins which opens June 15 at Theater Wit. Jim lives in Chicago with his lovely wife, Karri.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Rainmaker: Building a Family with Strangers

Relationships are one of the most important aspects of a play for me. A play is also about theme and plot and conflict, sure, but it is the people who inhabit the play; their individual personalities and beliefs in relation to one another that create the heart of the story.  One of the most challenging relationships to create on stage is that of a family unit; complete with a sense of life long history and personal interaction with all its quirky banter, ugly warts and love for one another.

After being cast in BoHo Theatre's the Rainmaker, my mind instantly jumped to these questions: who will play my father, my brother, my sister? Who are these people, these strangers; and will my personality and style fit in with theirs to make this family work? Thankfully both the playwright and the director did an amazing job, and most of the hard work; Mr. Nash, by writing four wonderfully unique yet intertwined characters, and Steve, by casting three wonderfully talented actors to comprise the rest of the family unit.

As I read through the script for the first time and in our initial rehearsals, one of the most challenging aspects of Noah was that, on the surface, he seemed very archetypal.  I discovered I had to try to avoid playing the obvious with Noah, not allowing him to become only grumpy and angry.  I had to find the love.  As he is written, he is very literal and opinionated in his interactions with others. So, how do I find the love in Noah and not betray the way he is written?  My hope, as you watch this play, is that you will be able to see the wonderfully deep relationships that have been forged between these characters - this family, and the incredible love they bare for one another in times of need.  And that in Noah you see a concerned son and brother who, despite his rough nature, truly does love and care for his family.

-- Daniel Gilbert, who plays Noah, is originally from Oklahoma. He moved to Chicago from Nebraska, where he attended grad school at UNL, in the fall of 2010 with his lovely wife Sara and their disingenuous cat Electra. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Rainmaker: Bill Starbuck, A Peddler of Dreams

Bill Starbuck is a liar and a con man.


For me, the biggest challenge with this show has been trying to understand this Rainmaker, this peddler of dreams. He arrives in a whirlwind of fast-talk and misdirection, telling people what they want and need to hear. He offers hope to the hopeless… for a nominal fee. How can anything be trusted that comes out of the mouth of such a man? How do you trust a man who tells you he can do the impossible? A man who believes he can do the impossible?

Everything we know about Starbuck comes from Starbuck himself. The man and the myth are so intertwined can they really be separated from each other? How would you even try? Most of this process for me has centered on trying to discern the lies from the truth, and the why behind each; because to a man who deals in dreams, there is nothing more dangerous than the raw, unadorned truth.

At the end of the day, it’s simply a matter of figuring out how the card trick works. Because no one can make rain.


 -- Matthew Keffer will be playing the role of Starbuck in BoHo Theatre's production of the Rainmaker

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Rainmaker, Designing a Drought With Theresa Ham

When I first heard that BoHo would be producing Richard Nash's The Rainmaker, I knew I wanted to design it. I had been in love with this story of discovery, chance and hope for years.

At the first production meeting the director, Steve Genovese, made the statement that the world of this play is "desolate, not desperate." The idea that, even in these difficult times, this family still has $100 to give to Starbuck says they may be down, but they are certainly not out. The challenge then became how to represent their extreme situation, while maintaining a stronghold on hope. These characters are experiencing both a literal drought and a symbolic drought, so we decided to use the symbolism of rain in a drought to inspire the design.

We decided that the costumes needed to have color and texture that helped the audience feel the dryness and hopelessness of the drought. The outer garments all have rough textures, such as leather and denim, and bland colors that would match the dry earth. Yet, if you were to dig beneath the surface, you will see cool tones of water beneath. This helps us see the hope that lies at the core of all of these characters.

When Starbuck appears, he looks and feels different than the other characters. The color and texture of his clothing is light  to  symbolize the hope that he brings to this family. Lizzie also goes through a significant color change, she sheds her dry outer shell and dons a dress that is lighter and brighter showing how the hope of change lightens her life.

I am so fortunate to be working with such a talented team, both production and cast. I hope that as the audience watches the play unfold, these subtle costume touches allow them to get more deeply connected to these characters. I hope that as people walk away, they are inspired to take a chance on hope even if it means taking a great risk.

-- Theresa Ham is a Chicago based costume designer and adjunct faculty member at Wilbur Wright College. She has been working with BoHo since 2005. In 2010, she won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Outstanding Costume Design for The Glorious Ones. She lives in Beverly with her husband Patrick and their son Cole.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Rainmaker: Anna Hammonds Explains Why Everyone Needs a Rainmaker

Every person needs a Rainmaker. Whether it be a friend who encourages, an advocate who gives confidence, or a significant other who unconditionally loves beyond faults, we are all in search of someone who will make us believe we are worthy of having simple, wonderful things.  Such is the case with Lizzie Curry, a girl past the prime of courtship, on the brink of losing hope that her dreams will come true.  I have had a wonderful time rehearsing this role, and I have found that at the heart of who Lizzie is, lies every woman’s story.

From my perspective, this piece is a sort of homage to a time when women were given worth solely by their roles as a homemaker and a wife.  Lizzie has a wonderful honesty that sets her apart from other women of her day, but at the heart of who she is, she secretly longs for someone to know her and consider her beautiful apart from her two brothers and loving father.

Now, in the year 2012, I am a woman who is enjoying the independence and luxury of choice that so many women have gone before me fought hard to gain.  A woman’s worth is no longer found in only her husband or how she stitches a dress.  However, over the course of history, nothing has changed the fact that women are still in search of someone to believe in them, outside of those who are seemingly obligated to want good things for us.  We want to be considered beautiful by an outside source. But more importantly, in Lizzie’s case, we need a rainmaker to help us believe it within ourselves that we are, in fact, beautiful.
I am overwhelmed to share Lizzie’s story in this simple, timeless story!

Hope to see you there!

-- Anna Hammonds is thrilled to portray her real-life family dynamic as she is the sister to two brothers and daughter to a loving father.  Her amazing mother taught her how to clean a house, but also encouraged her toward her dreams.  She dedicates this show to her family, and to the Rainmakers in her life who help her believe.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Rainmaker: The Three Perspectives of H.C.

I enter the rehearsal process for The Rainmaker bringing at least three perspectives to my role as H.C., Lizzy Curry's, father. One brings to bear my two previous experiences with this play, both as Starbuck. The second relates to my personal experience on a quarter-horse ranch. And the third perspective is my 24 years as a father. I’m anxious to see how they will help me.

The first thing that hits me as we read through the script for the first time is my love for this play – the story of hope, dreams, love requited, family. I also realize that every time the director talks about Starbuck, I slowly start to shift mentally from the purveyor of dreams (Starbuck) to a safe harbor for dreams (H.C.).

The first couple of weeks are spent in blocking – learning where and when to move. It’s a small set – an implied ranch house and a tack room. We learn that we’ll be playing to an audience of sixty in a three-quarter thrust and that means it will be a very intimate night of theatre. I love this kind of acting – where every eyebrow twitch means something. It reminds me of my days on the quarter horse ranch – the small house where I shared a room for a year, the heat and hay-scented air, mucking stalls and walking horses. It feels at once familiar and comfortable.

I’m working with three terrific actors playing my two sons and a daughter. In real life – I have the same!  I can feel that my role of father in this new family will mean balancing the needs of each child as they work through their dreams and obstacles. Not so different than my real life. And with the chemistry we’re building nightly, our family is steadily growing.

Tickets are on sale now - please join us for this magical production BoHo Theatre's the Rainmaker.

 -- Robert Frankel, will be playing the role of H.C. in BoHo Theatre's production of the Rainmaker. Originally from Chicago, Rob is returning from Minnesota where he’s acted and written plays for the past 25 years.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Rainmaker: A Director's Dream

When choosing a show to direct, so many things play into the decision to do so. There are the logistical elements (i.e. does this fit into my life, time-wise? Will it be difficult to commit?), but more important are the artistic ones: Does the story interest me? Are there actors who can handle the roles? What do I do with the piece to make it my own, while honoring the integrity of the work? 

Every once in a while, a show comes along that answers those questions quickly and easily. For me, The Rainmaker is one of those shows. Not only is it a rich and beautifully written piece, but I have been fortunate enough to have a cast that embodies the characters fully and with gusto.

A director’s dream.

From the minute the show was cast, I had the idea that these actors needed to have a stage space that was intimate enough to allow their nuanced-yet-dramatic performances to shine. By seating the audience on the stage itself (instead of using the house seating that is in the space), we are bringing the actors and the text up-close and personal. This is the kind of theatre that many actors relish, and directors like me long for. A director’s dream.

Working with a group of designers that I not only respect, but am challenged by allows all of us to bring a heightened sense of drama to The Rainmaker. With bold colors in lighting, and sound design that is as environmental as the dry, parched setting of a dustbowl-era farm, this story is being told with grit and honesty that is indicative of those tough times. It also has a wonderful sense of humor to it. It is an honor (and a bit of a stroke of luck) to have such a piece, and group to work with.

Truly, a director’s dream.

-- Stephen Genovese is a founding member of the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble as well as the Director of the Rainmaker, coming soon to Theater Wit .

Tickets now on sale - we look forward to seeing you soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Announcing the 2012-2013 Season!

 On Tuesday, March 13, the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble gathered at COOPER'S CHICAGO to celebrate the announcement of the 2012-2013 Season. With the announcement now official, and the pizza put away, we wanted to share our announcement with our online community. Keep your eyes on BoHo Theatre's website as more information about the coming season will be posted soon!

BoHo Theatre strives to examine how love, truth, beauty and freedom thrive in our everyday lives. Focusing on the larger events to the everyday regularities, our stories focus on these four pillars.
They are seemingly simple, yet so wonderfully complex. 

And now...The 2012-2013 Season (listed in order of production):

Ordinary Days - LOVE
Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon

Ordinary Days is a perfect example of searching for something so simple in a world so complex.
The story is about 4 people struggling to connect; searching for fulfillment, happiness, beauty, love, friendship and simplicity in an overly complex, confusing and often impersonal world.  The production centers on two couples – one dealing with their past in order to find love in the present, the other an unlikely pair of companions lost in the complexity of the everyday searching for a simple story they can share.  All come to find that the pieces of our lives, as jumbled as they may seem, do fit together (even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes). 
Funny, charming, witty, with a huge heart…  and a lot of LOVE

Pygmalion – Beauty
By George Bernard Shaw
The production will be directed by Stage Left Artistic Director Vance Smith, and BoHo Theatre's Peter Robel acting as Associate Director.

This co-production with Stage Left will explore the bohemian themes of identity and perception of BEAUTY. As Eliza suggests, the difference between a lady and a flower girl lies not in how she looks or speaks, but rather in how she is treated. Shaw asks us to examine how each of us perceives BEAUTY in our lives -- not simply in the conventional, but also in the ordinary and mundane. This openness to discovery and appreciation allows beauty to flourish, where it otherwise might never have been revealed.

This is an extremely exciting opportunity to join with venerable Chicago theatre company Stage Left theatre to mount this as a co-production. This will allow both companies to pool our talents and resources to tell this story in our unique way on the 100th anniversary of the first production in Vienna.
Hauptmann - TRUTH
John Logan
March 1, 1932: a 20 month old toddler was abducted from his home in New Jersey.  Two months later his body was discovered a short distance from his home. Cause of death? A massive skull fracture. 
After an investigation that lasted two years, a suspect was arrested and charged, and the “Trial of the Century” was held in 1935. That trial found Bruno Richard Hauptmann guilty of the murder in the first degree of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr and was executed in 1936.  Hauptmann proclaimed his innocence till the end. 
Whether or not Hauptmann was guilty of the so-called crime of the century, one verdict is clear from the play: his trial was a disservice to the judicial system.
BoHo Theatre's production doesn't seek to answer the question of innocence or guilt, but looks at the trial of the century in a personal and theatrical way.  As Hauptmann retlls his story, the guards turn into characters, allowing the audience to relive the critical moments. Hauptmann is a dark investigation of TRUTH.

Kiss of the Spiderwoman - FREEDOM
Music and Lyrics by Kander and Ebb
Book by Terrence McNally
Winning the 1993 Tony Award for Best Musical, our final show explores the question: What happens when a gay window dresser and a straight Marxist guerrilla are thrown together in jail?
The lead character, Molina, lives in a fantasy world in order to flee the reality of torture, fear and humiliation, and Valentin is happy to introduce this fantasy world to his new cellmate, a revolutionary that’s a key to eliminating a political terrorist threat to the state.  The only part of his fantasy world that scares him is the presence of the spider woman, who kills with a kiss. 
Playing with the contrast between the gritty reality of police-state torture and the beautiful fantasy world Molina creates, Kiss of the Spiderwoman is all about FREEDOM
From the obvious desire to be free from prison, to the more complex ideas of freedom from a reality that’s immersed in political and social strife, and freedom of personal identity, Kiss is theatrical, comedic, charming, and brutal.  It is, as the NY Times says, “the story of an uncloseted, unhomogenized, unexceptional gay man who arrives at his own heroic definition of masculinity.” 

Thank you to everyone who came out to support BoHo Theatre! We look forward to welcoming you next season.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What's to Love About a Pre-Show Speech?

One of my on-again-off-again jobs with BoHo is to create the pre-show announcements. The pre-show announcement should usher the audience into the show by creating a mood for the show while disseminating information to the audience (turn off cell phones, no pics, turn off cell phones, unwrap candies, and did I mention, please turn off your cell phones?). To me, it’s an art form in itself. Finding the right language, the right words, the right tone intrigues me because I love to play with words and ideas finding the right fit that represents the director’s concept and the actors who will be joining us to live in the world they’ve created.

The creation of the pre-show announcement reinforces the art we’d like to share in all its complexities, and with the pre-show announcement, we’re also beginning to work on the pre-show experience. We've had hints of pre-show announcements and concepts that have worked in the past– the pre-show announcement for The Wild Party came through the radio on stage, there was popcorn popped before Side Show so that audiences had the olfactory senses aroused, and for those of you who came to see Big River, there were fireflies in the Spanish moss that hung from the light grid to add to the ambiance along with panoramic photos of the Mississippi. My goal, now, is to try to incorporate all of the best of these ideas into every show we do. So, next time you’re at a BoHo show, that voice you first hear is probably mine.

-- Tom Samorian, Executive Advisor to BoHoTheatre

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thank you to our BINGO Participants!

BoHo Theatre would like to say "THANK-YOU" to all who came to support "BINGO for BoHo" on January 29th at Cooper's Chicago. After all prizes were awarded, and Bingo cards had been cleared, BoHo felt a tremendous amount of thanks and pride for everyone who chose to show their support for BoHo and live theater in Chicago. Here are a few pictures of the fun! Hope you can join us next time.

There is still ONE MORE WEEKEND to see the show critics are calling, "a verbal and visual treat". Don't miss the opportunity to see BoHo Theatre's Production of Tartuffe at Theater Wit.

Bingo Players carefully await the next number.
Will we have a winner?
Friend of BoHo, Cassie Schillo came dressed
to the nines, representing
Steampunk at its finest!

BoHo Company Member and Tartuffe  Cast Member
Sean Thomas with BoHo Board Member Robert Turner

Tartuffe cast member, Saren Nofs-Snyder and her oustanding Steampunk attire were awarded with a complimentary BINGO card.

Company members Anna Hammonds and Mary Kate Robel enthusiastically
celebrate their Bingo participation.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Audition Best Practice: Top 20 for Actors (Part 2)

This post is Part 2 of 2 featuring the Top 20 Audition Tips for Actors. It was written by Stephanie Sullivan who serves as one of the Casting Coordinators for BoHo Theatre.

  1. Be prepared to talk about yourself! Give your monologue an extra beat or two to breathe at the end and do not be in a rush to exit the room.  When time allows, we may ask you a question about your resume or what you are currently working on.  Even if you aren't working on something, be prepared to talk in a positive way about something relevant (i.e. a class you are taking, a show you just saw, a trip you just took.)  We want to get to know your personality so avoid short answers that make us feel like you aren't interested.  This is your chance to show a side of yourself that is fun and relaxed!
  2. Make sure that your piece follows the guidelines set forth in the audition notice - especially when it comes to allotted time.  We all know it's difficult to do a one-minute monologue, but there is a reason someone might request this and is disrespectful of your auditors' and fellow auditioners' time.  I know people who will jot down specific notes about this.
  3. Read the play you are auditioning for!  Know the character(s) you are auditioning for and, if possible, try to show us that you are right for the part.  This does NOT mean showing up in costume.  It DOES mean, suggesting the part through dress.  If you know you are auditioning for a Victorian play, for example, do not show up in jeans.

  4. Be on time.  In fact, be 15 minutes early! Period.  We know that unexpected things will come up, but if you are consistently late to auditions, we will assume you will consistently be late for rehearsals and maybe even performances.  Give yourself time to find parking or plan your route.  Make sure you have a contact phone number on you in order to notify someone if you are running late. 

  5. If you find you will not be available for an audition, after you've already scheduled one, please be courteous and respectful in doing whatever is necessary to cancel that audition - for BoHo, this means going back to the sign-up page online and "undoing" your time slot in order to free it up for someone else. Unless specified, do not call to cancel your audition.  We get a lot of sign-ups and we do it online for ease and convenience.  Smaller companies do not have people working 24/7 to answer phone calls and your message may not be received in time.

  6. Never assume it's ok to just not show up to an audition if you have a schedule time and cannot make it.  I promise you that these are little things people notice and even write down.

  7. Always list ALL of your conflicts, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you.  If you are not willing to part with a conflict, you should make sure the casting director and/or director know this ahead of time.  "Being seen" by the casting director will very quickly become a negative if he/she wants to hire you but find out that you have conflicts after the fact.  Trust me when I say that it is better not to be seen if you cannot make yourself available, than run the risk of never being cast again.  There will always be more audition opportunities!
  8. Similarly, pay attention to all of the rehearsal dates, performance dates AND callback dates.  If you are not available for the callbacks, do not assume that you will be seen on a different day.  Scheduling audition dates/time require a lot of work and coordination.  Often times, we are working with several people's schedules, time constraints, and space constraints.  Sometimes we are paying a rental fee on an audition space.  The dates and times we choose to hold audition/callbacks are specific for a reason.  If you are not available for callbacks, make sure to ask if you can still be seen at the general audition. Most of the time, we will work to accommodate you in any way we can but this is a case where asking for permission rather than forgiveness definitely pays off.
  9. Do some research on the company you are auditioning for, and make sure to see shows that the company produces (you will learn a lot about their style.)
  10. Always be courteous to everyone you encounter!  You never know what their connection to this (or any other) theatre is.  Your behavior outside of the room is just as important as your behavior inside.
***Bonus: If you are not cast but have followed all of the guidelines and done your very best work, please do not take it personally. There are so many things that go into the casting process and all you can really do is focus on the things you know how to control.  The rest is out of your hands so have fun!

Your loving casting associates,
Stephanie Sullivan & Rebecca Mauldin

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Audition Best Practices: A Top 20 for Actors

This blog is Part 1 of 2, featuring the Top 20 Tips for Auditioning

We have wanted to write this blog post for such a long time, and are so excited to share these little nuggets of information about auditions because, as fellow actors, we know that the task of auditioning can be both exciting and terrifying! Over the years we have gathered as much information as we can from other casting directors (admittedly, many of the tips and tricks listed below were stolen directly from Bob Mason.) If you feel confident in your knowledge of do's and don'ts, your job just got a heck of a lot easier!  If you can focus on the things you know how to control, you'll find auditioning fun and exhilarating - promise!

Below is a list of tips that will help you prepare for ANY audition, including BoHo's.

How to prepare for ANY audition - things you MUST do!
  1. Make sure your resume is stapled to the back of your headshot, and make sure it is cut to the 8x10 industry standard.  You can go to an office max, buy a ream of paper, and ask them to cut the paper to this size!  I have heard several times of casting directors who will throw away headshots that don't meet this standard based on the fact that it will not fit in their files.
  2. List any and all pertinent skills on your resume.  Be as specific as possible (what kind of stage combat, what kind of dance etc.)  Treat your resume as you would any professional resume. Be smart about which skills you choose to list! Quirky and fun talents are great, but "belching the ABC's" is definitely not.
  3. List all significant teachers and directors - it's a small world!  If we are interested in you but do not know your work, we may want to chat with someone who does!
  4. Select a monologue that shows your range - it needs a beginning, middle, and end.  Choose something that has a discovery and takes the auditor on a journey; make sure you have a point of view.  "Safe" choices are ones that lead to stagnant performances; even if your choice isn't what the director would go with, the important thing is to show you make choices!
  5. Select pieces that best represent YOU.  If the monologue is age, or race specific, pay attention to this - if you are 22, you will most likely not be cast in a "mother role," so avoid doing a "mother monologue."  Some pieces are not age/race specific and you can get away with a departure from yourself, but if the piece is from a well-known play, do not take that risk. 

  6. If you choose to do a monologue from the play you are auditioning for, understand the risk involved.  Some directors will be very open to this, and others will be turned off.  It's possible you may "wow" someone and even help shape their opinion of the character, but be aware that many directors will have firm opinions about a character prior to the start of the process and your take may be very different from theirs. 

  7. Never choose to address your piece to someone in the room.  If we feel we are acting with you, then we are not truly able to do our work and focus on you.  Also, do not choose to do your monologue to someone in a chair or on the ground - we want to be able to see your eyes!  Pick a spot just above the auditor's head either directly in front of you or on an angle (just make sure we are not looking at your profile the whole time!)
  8. There is no need to shake hands with anyone, unless a handshake is offered to you.  No one is trying to be mean here, but keep in mind that we might see 100 people in a day, which makes for a lot of handshaking!  There is also a hygiene issue to consider.... yes, I know that sounds gross but it's true!
  9. If you are introduced when escorted into the room, there is no need to re-introduce yourself - just the name of the character and play will do.  Also - please do not give us a play synopsis or any kind of exposition.

  10. Always be prepared to do a second monologue.  Think of "contrasting" more in terms of a different character, voice, point of view - not necessarily a different style or genre (though this is ok too.)  If you list that you're a singer, be prepared to sing 16 bars a capella.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Coming Soon: Floyd Collins

BoHo Theatre invites you to Save-the-Date for our upcoming auditions for Floyd Collins.
Information will be listed on BoHo Theatre's Facebook Page and on our website this week. 

We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

BINGO with BoHo!

Get out your favorite Bingo & SteamPunk sweater! It’s time for BINGO FOR BOHO!

1232 West Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657

Time:  4pm, January 29th

Come see TARTUFFE on Sunday, Jan 29th at 2pm and then join us afterwards across the street at COOPER’S for free food, fabulous prizes and fantastic fun! Did we mention there will be free food? Because there will be free food! Can’t get a ticket to TARTUFFE? Just come over to Cooper’s at 4pm to play!

Round 1: Bingo cards are 50 cents and the prizes are so amazing that we have to bag them and keep them a secret!

Round 2: Bingo cards are only $1, and the prizes are:
  • Two Tickets to any BoHo show this season 
  • Two Tickets to the Marriott Theatre 
  • Two Tickets to the Blue Man Group 
  • Four bottles of wine 
  • One mystery prize! 
Round 3: Bingo cards are $5 and the round is a 50/50! If you get the winning bingo card, you will win HALF the money earned in that round!

Even better- if you show up in your favorite SteamPunk outfit, we’ll give you a free bingo card! Be like Tartuffe and tell us your best lie at the front door & we’ll let you in to our private room with free food, great prizes and fun!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jeremy Trager: Tartuffe on "Tartuffe"

We don't really know what we've learned until we can look back on something that is finished.

My freshman year in college, I served on the running crew for Tartuffe. Moliere seemed much more sophisticated and rich (in both appearance and content) compared to my earlier perception of it being a brutish farce. As it turns out, Moliere (like any playwright) is subject to stylistic variations within his body of work. He's also subject to the vision of directors, actors, and designers. Like Shakespeare, Moliere's stories can be moved from century to century, setting to setting - a testament to his relevance and universality. 

Tartuffe is the antagonist, yes. He is a very tangible threat to every other character in the show. He is in some ways heartless. Certainly, he lacks morality. But he's coming from destitution; fighting to survive in an economically unfair society where the rich live like royalty and people like him eat scraps off the street. I can't really fault him for conning his way into luxury. That he uses religion as his means of manipulation speaks to his cleverness. One need only tune in to coverage of the Presidential caucuses to see that religion is still wielded as a way to gain favor. Tartuffe has too sordid a past to run for President of the United States, but his dog and pony show is quite similar to what we see in today's sociopolitical landscape. I suppose then, Tartuffe... or should I say, Moliere... was ahead of his time. . 

At this juncture I'm still uncertain of many of the design elements that will come into play during tech week when we get to Theatre Wit. But I can speak to something I've already learned in this process, which is the humanity of my character. I remember watching our college production and thinking Tartuffe was a monstrous creature. This was - and is - the type of character I am most interested in playing. At that age, I could not really put into words why I was so interested in exploring the "bad guys." Now, as a more mature student of acting, I can attest that the "bad guys" often turn out to be the most complex and surprisingly human in any given story. After all, what is more human than to be deeply flawed? 

-- Jeremy Trager, is a Jeff Award, After Dark Award, and Broadway World Chicago Award-winning actor and singer who studies vocal performance and Shakespeare in his spare time. Tartuffe will be his first collaboration with BoHo Theatre.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tartuffe: The Controversy

     There is very little written documentation as to why Moliere’s Tartuffe was suppressed for years by the French King Louis XIV. It is very likely that some readings of the unfinished Tartuffe had been heard around court and that Louis XIV had been present at these readings. Word of the content of the play had made its way to an only thirty-year-old Catholic organization, La Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement (Company of the Blessed Sacrament), and they began to pressure Louis XIV to suppress the play. Moliere’s former patron, Prince de Conti, had become a fervent member of this group around the same time he refused to continue supporting Moliere’s troupe. There has been some suggestion that Conti inspired the play and the hypocritcal character of Tartuffe. Probably because of the influence of La Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, just five days after the first performance of the unfinished play, Louis XIV officially forbade its performance.

     One historical source suggests that strong protest against the play came from the Kings mother, Anne of Austria. Queen Anne was a very religious woman who had ties with La Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement. The Queen Mother hated that Louis had a very public, and very loving, relationship with his mistress. She found this offensive, inappropriate and incompatible with her religion. In her many attempts to reform her son, she most likely recruited the efforts of La Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, and so joined in their condemnation of the still as-of-yet unfinished Tartuffe.

     The play was allowed to perform three private performances (only one of which was the completed text), but then was unseen until the Paris opening of the re-titled L’Imposteur in 1667. It ran only once to a packed house and was immediately shut down again. A week later, the Archbishop of Paris issued an order to prevent all the people of Paris from hearing, seeing or reading L’Imposteur. Soon after this, an anonymous letter began to appear in bookshops defending the play- though it had no effect. The king was out of Paris at the time, and Moliere’s letters to him went unanswered. Finally, upon the return of the King to Paris, on February 5th, 1669 Tartuffe was allowed to open and stay open.

-- compiled by Ariel Tocino, Director of New Works and Social Media for BoHo Theatre. Tartuffe opens this weekend at Theater Wit! Get your tickets today. Follow BoHoTheatre on Twitter: @BohoTheatre for updates on the show, the season and all things BoHo!