Writers Theatre to Open 2014-15 Season with ISAAC'S EYE, Running 9/2-12/7

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Writers Theatre to Open 2014-15 Season with ISAAC'S EYE, Running 9/2-12/7

Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma announce Writers Theatre's opener to its 2014/15 season: the Midwest Premiere of Isaac's Eye by Lucas Hnath, directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. The show runs September 2 - December 7, 2014 at Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave Ave, Glencoe. The Press Openings are Wednesday, September 10, 2014 and Thursday, September 11, 2014, at 7:30pm.

Plays about historical figures often play fast and loose with facts. In Isaac's Eye, however, an ingenious, meta-theatrical device separates truth from fiction, as each incontrovertible fact is chalked onto the very walls of the theatre!

Such is the inspired atmosphere of Lucas Hnath's wildly creative new play, which tells the story of a young Isaac Newton, who once inserted a long needle "between my eye and the bone, as near to the backside of my eye as I could."

Hnath playfully reimagines Newton's world with a contemporary conceit and language-stripped of accents and period dialect-as he introduces young Newton to the great Robert Hooke, the most famous and powerful scientist in Britain. The resulting battle of intellects and egos pulses with wit, humor and tension as the playwright uncovers (and invents) the motivations that drove a young farm boy to become one of the greatest thinkers in human history.

"Isaac's Eye is a witty, sharp and keenly charged piece of writing," said Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. "Although the story may be an historic one, Lucas Hnath tells it in a very contemporary style, and with a refreshingly original voice. Furthermore, we get to explore this sharply defined jewel in the intimate confines of our bookstore theatre. With our sexy, energized, and fiercely skilled cast, it makes for an ideal conversation to start the season."

The cast features LaShawn Banks (Actor/Dying Man), Marc Grapey (Robert Hooke), Jürgen Hooper (Isaac Newton) and Elizabeth Ledo (Catherine).

The design team includes: Collette Pollard(Scenic Designer), Jenny Mannis (Costume Designer), Keith Parham (Lighting Designer), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Designer), D.J. Reed (Props Designer) and David Castellanos (Stage Manager).

Lucas Hnath (Playwright) has written the following plays: The Christians (Commissioned and Produced by The Humana Festival of New Plays), Red Speedo (Studio Theatre, DC), A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney (Soho Repertory Theatre), Death Tax (Humana Festival/Steinberg Award and Royal Court), Isaac's Eye (EST) and the short play NightNight (Humana Festival). He has been resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2011; he has enjoyed playwriting residencies with The Royal Court Theatre and 24Seven Lab. He is under commission with Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Royal Court Theatre. Lucas received both his BFA and MFA from NYU's Department of Dramatic Writing and is a lecturer in NYU's Expository Writing Program.

Michael Halberstam (Artistic Director and Director) is the co-founder of Writers Theatre. He has directed over thirty-five productions for the company, including Not About Heroes (starring Nicholas Pennell), Private Lives, Look Back In Anger, Candida, The Father, Crime and Punishment, Benefactors, Seagull, The Duchess of Malfi, Othello, The Savannah Disputation, the world premiere musical A Minister's Wife, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, She Loves Me, The Real Thing, Hamlet, Sweet Charity and Days Like Today. Halberstam has appeared in numerous Writers Theatre productions, including Richard II (title role), Loot and Misalliance. Previously, he spent two years at The Stratford Festival in Ontario and performed in Timon of Athens, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (title role), Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It. Halberstam's other Chicago acting credentials include productions with Wisdom Bridge, Court Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Elsewhere he directed The Gamester (Northlight Theatre), A Man For All Seasons (Peninsula Players Theatre), Hamlet (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Candida (Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York), Ten Little Indians (Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace), a highly acclaimed revival of Crime and Punishment, which Writers Theatre produced off-Broadway at 59E59 Theatres in New York City, Enchanted April and State of the Union (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). In 2010 he directed A Minister's Wife at Lincoln Center Theater, and also directed the west coast premiere at San Jose Repertory Theatre in 2013. His forays into opera have included The Rape of Lucretia (Chicago Opera Theater), Francesca De Ramini featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christopher Eschenbach and Le Freyshutz, a Berlioz adaptation of the Weber opera conducted by Christopher Eschenbach in its North American Premiere (Ravinia Festival). He spent two and a half years teaching Shakespeare at The Theatre School at DePaul University and has received awards for excellence in theater management and/or artistic achievement from The Chicago Drama League, The Arts & Business Council, Chicago Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and The Chicago Associates of the Stratford Festival. He also received the 2010 Zelda Fichandler Award, the 2013 Artistic Achievement Award from the League of Chicago Theatres, and was named the Chicago Tribune's 2013 "Chicagoan of the Year" for Theater. He currently serves on the executive board of the Arts Club of Chicago.

LaShawn Banks (Actor/Dying Man) returns to Writers where he previously appeared in The Liar, Travels with My Aunt, Old Glory, The Turn of the Screw, Othello, The Duchess of Malfi and To the Green Fields Beyond. Chicago credits include The Island (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company), Edward II (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Execution of Justice (About Face Theatre Company), A Year with Frog and Toad (Chicago Children's Theatre) and five seasons of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre). Regional credits include Twelfth Night, Richard III, Troilus & Cressida, The Critic, Love's Labours Lost, The Taming of the Shrew, Of Mice and Men (American Players Theatre), Around the World in 80 Days (Indiana Repertory Theatre), The Amen Corner (Cleveland Play House), Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors and Richard III at Notre Dame Shakespeare. He is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association.

Marc Grapey (Robert Hooke) returns to Writers Theatre where he previously appeared in Picnic. Other Chicago credits include Ask Aunt Susan, The Iceman Cometh, Race and the world premieres of Eric Bogosian's Griller and Noah Haidle's Vigils (Goodman Theatre); Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, The Chosen, Antigone, Dead Man's Cell Phone, Oblivion and The Birthday Party (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Normal Heart (TimeLine Theatre Company); I Sailed with Magellan, Class Dismissed, Equivocation, and Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo (Jeff Award nomination) (Victory Gardens Theater); Richard III and The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Funny Girl (Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace); The Metal Children (Next Theatre Company); Early and Often, The Homecoming, and Hitting for the Cycle (Jeff nomination) (Famous Door Theatre Company). Regionally, he has appeared at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville and the HBO Comedy and Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. He made his Broadway debut in 2005 opposite Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the revival of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. Film credits include Warren, At Any Price, Superbad, Adventureland, Ali, While You Were Sleeping, A Piece of Eden and The Daytrippers. Television credits include The West Wing, Arrested Development, Two and a Half Men, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Chicago PD and most notably as publicist J.J. Mitchell on HBO's Sex and the City. He is a co-founder of The Three Oaks Theater Festival, which just concluded its second season.

Jürgen Hooper (Isaac Newton) returns to Writers Theatre where he was previously seen in The Chosen. Broadway credits: Brighton Beach Memoirs. Regional credits: The Game's Afoot (Indiana Repertory Theatre) The Game's Afoot (New Theatre), Wanamaker's Pursuit (Arden Theatre Co.), The Cherry Orchard (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). Chicago credits: Life & Limb, Huck Finn (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Rabbit Hole (Goodman Theatre), The Comedy of Errors, Amadeus, Short Shakespeare! Romeo & Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (American Theater Company), Paradise Lost (TimeLine Theatre Company), What's Wrong With Angry? (Circle Theatre - Non-Equity Jeff Award Best Principle Actor - Play). TV: Crisis, Chicago Fire (NBC), Suits (USA). Jürgen is married to actress Blair Robertson.

Elizabeth Ledo (Catherine) is thrilled to be back at Writers Theatre where her previous work includes understudying Deb Staples in the one woman show The Blonde, The Brunette and The Vengeful Redhead two summers ago as well as playing Raina in the 2005 production of Arms and The Man. She was most recently seen in TimeLine Theatre Company's production of The How and The Why. Chicago credits include: A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Amadeus and Funk it Up About Nothin' (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); The Real Thing, Uncle Vanya, Titus Andronicus, The Comedy of Errors, The Illusion, The Misanthrope, Tartuffe (-- Jeff Award) (Court Theatre); 3 seasons of A Christmas Carol and Boleros for the Disenchanted (Goodman Theatre); Homebody/Kabul and Morningstar (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Odd Couple and Barefoot in The Park (Drury Lane Oakbook); The Chalk Garden (Northlight Theatre); Say You Love Satan and The Homosexuals (About Face Theatre) -- where she is a company member. Regional credits include 5 seasons with Summer Shakespeare at Notre Dame, Indiana Repertory Theatre and over 25 productions with Milwaukee Repertory Theater. She is a proud graduate of Loyola University of Chicago.

Curtain times are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30pm; Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 4:00pm and 8:00 pm; Sundays at 2:00pm and 6:00pm. Select Wednesday matinees are at 2pm. Tickets are $35-$75 and are available at the Box Office, 321 Park Avenue, Glencoe; 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org.

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