Ethics, Power and Race at Forefront of BTE's Staging at the MAC

Ethics, Power and Race at Forefront of BTE's Staging at the MAC

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble (BTE), the professional Equity company in residence at the McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd. on the campus of College of DuPage (COD) presents "Defiance" by John Patrick Shanley, directed by BTE Ensemble Member Kurt Naebig, Jan. 31-March 3. There will be a preview Thursday, Jan. 31. Press opening is Friday, Feb. 1.

It is 1971 and a Marine Corps base is on a collision course over race, women and the exacting cost of doing the right thing as a young black officer finds himself torn between his desire to go unnoticed and his realization of what he must do. "Defiance" is the second of Shanley's "Church and State" trilogy with "Doubt" and "Storefront Church."

"Power, love and responsibility - who owns it, who wants it, who deserves it and at what cost? The daily headlines and twitter feeds are full of men and women, of every age, economic level and ethnicity dealing with these questions that are as old as humanity and as new as two seconds ago. My hope is that this 90-minute play will inspire the audience to take a moment to think about these questions and why. In fact, we're presenting a pre-show discussion before the Jan. 31 preview performance, a post-show discussion following the Feb. 8 performance and a "Common Ground Discussion" during the run to provide an opportunity for the audience to share their thoughts and hear those of others," says director Naebig.

Shanley is an American playwright, screenwriter and theater/film director. His play "Doubt: A Parable" won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. He also won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his film "Moonstruck," and his popular play, "Outside Mullingar," closed out BTE's 2017-2018 season.

"Defiance" premiered Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club's City Center Stage (i) in February, 2006. The New York Times wrote, "As thoughtful and probing as 'Doubt.' An arresting, ambitious tale of race relations and the military mindset, filled with the provocative questions and bristling with dialogue for which John Patrick Shanley, a fierce moral sage, is known." And the Wall Street Journal calls it, "Spellbinding. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but John Patrick Shanley has followed up 'Doubt,' the best play of 2004-2005, with a play of identical quality."

The cast for "Defiance" includes Robert Jordan Bailey* (Chaplain White), most recently seen in BTE's productions of "The Dingdong, or How the French Kiss" and the 2018 Jeff Recommended "Outside Mullingar," also by Shanley; Bryan Burke* (Lt. Colonel Littlefield), whose BTE performances include the lead in BTE's 2017 Jeff Recommended productions of "The 39 Steps," and "Good People;" Nick DuFloth* (Gunny Sergeant), seen in BTE's Fall 2016 production of "Don't Dress for Dinner;" David Goodloe (Captain Lee King), whose Chicago theater credits include Black Ensemble Theatre, ETA Creative Arts and MPAACT Theater; Laura Leonardo Ownby* (Margaret Littlefield), seen in BTE's Fall 2016 production of "Don't Dress for Dinner" and 2017 production of "Improbable Fiction;" and Harrison Weger (PFC Evan Davis).

Kurt Naebig* (director) has directed numerous BTE shows including "The 39 Steps," "Leading Ladies," "Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted," "The Drawer Boy," "Moonlight and Magnolias," "Italian American Reconciliation," "The Melville Boys," "Lost In Yonkers," "Sylvia," "Fuddy Meers," "The Country Club," "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me" and "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof ." He recently directed a web series called "VC" ("Venture Capitalists: The Web Series") and co-directed the web series "Humane Resources." Naebig is also an actor and graduate of The Juilliard School and has been on stage at Steppenwolf Theatre, Portland Stage, Milwaukee's Pabst Theatre, National Jewish Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare and A Red Orchid Theatre. Film credits include "Public Enemies," "Road to Perdition," "The Express," "Witless Protection," "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," "Dillinger," "Howard Beach: Making the Case for Murder" and TV episodes of "APB," "Chicago PD," "Sense8," "Chicago Fire," "The Chicago Code," "Detroit1-8-7," "ER" and "Prison Break." Naebig is former artistic director of The Theatre of Western Springs and an Acting Coach at Acting Studio Chicago.

Other members of the artistic/design team include Michael W. Moon* (Scenic Design), Kimberly G. Morris (Costume, Hair Makeup Design), Rachel Levy (Lighting Design), Christopher Kriz* (Sound Design) and Kaycee Filson (Properties Design). Stage Manager is Bula Bulicek; Assistant Stage Manager is Plainfield's Danielle Wiseman. Student Assistant Stage Manager is BTE Assistant Stage Management Scholarship recipient Mary Ahlert.

* Denotes BTE Ensemble Member

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents "Defiance" by John Patrick Shanley in the Playhouse Theatre of McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd. on the campus of College of DuPage, Jan. 31-March 3. There will be a preview Thursday, Jan.31. Press opening is Friday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $40. For more information, visit or call 630.942.4000. All BTE 2018-2019 season performances contain adult themes and language.

Related Special Events: Pre-show discussion with director and designers, Thursday, Jan. 31 at

6:45 p.m. and a post-show discussion with director, actors and crew, Friday, Feb. 8. There will also be post-show Common Ground Discussion (date to be announced). Visit AtTheMAC for updates or more information.

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