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A Red Orchid presents the Chicago Premiere of Louis Slotin Sonata 9/10-10/24

A Red Orchid Theatre opens its 2010-2011 season with Louis Slotin Sonata, written by Paul Mullin and directed by Ensemble Member Karen Kessler. The production will run September 10 - October 24, 2010 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells. Press opening is September 13, 2010 at 7pm.

At 3:20 PM on Tuesday, May 21, 1946 Louis Slotin's hand slipped-a small, practically insignificant blunder, except that Slotin was the chief bomb builder at Los Alamos, and at that fateful moment he held in his hands a plutonium bomb core named "Rufus". With a structure inspired by classical music's sonata allegro form - and dance numbers with President Truman and Albert Einstein - Louis Slotin Sonata traces the true story of a brilliant scientist's last nine days, as his body and mind gradually succumb to the chaos wreaked by radiation.

"In this wonderful, sad, strange, hysterically funny, theatrical play we watch what happens when a brilliant man who can explain everything, struggles with the most basic of human questions," says director Karen Kessler. "How does a man with a brilliant analytical mind wrap his head around a slip of the hand that will kill him and might kill others? How does this same man wrap his head around the lasting legacy of bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How does he wrap his head around dying? It is the universality of these questions that makes me so excited to tackle this work at A Red Orchid."

Playwright Paul Mullin adds, "What thrills me most about A Red Orchid's Chicago Premiere of my play is that after all these decades, if only in my admittedly strange and somewhat sentimental imagination, Louie will finally arrive where he was heading: Chicago. Louis Slotin had immediate plans for his life beyond Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project. He intended to switch gears from physics and engineering to pursue his original area of study, life sciences, at the University of Chicago. His bags were already packed when the accident happened. Louis Slotin's horrific fate is compelling because it is real; I can totally see myself doing what he did. In his story we recognize our own dilemma: will our innate curiosity and confidence kill us or lead us to greater awakenings?"

Louis Slotin Sonata features ensemble member Doug Vickers (Man 7), with Steve Schine (Man 1), William J. Norris (Man 4), Guy Massey (Man 5), Walter Briggs (Man 2), Duncan Riddell (Man 6), Christopher M. Walsh (Man 3) and Anita Deeley (Woman).

The creative team includes John C. Stark (scenic design), Joseph Fosco (sound design), Julie Mack (lighting design), Christy Zimmerman (choreographer), and Melissa Torchia (costume design). The Stage Manager is S.G. Heller. Josh Sobel is the Assistant Director and John Wilson is the Technical Director.

Karen Kessler (Director) is a proud member of the ensemble of A Red Orchid where she previously directed the Chicago premiere of Sarah Kane's Blasted, as well as Pumpgirl, Gagarin Way (After Dark Award - Outstanding Ensemble), and the Midwest premiere of Mr. Kolpert. She just finished directing The Three Musketeers for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Other Chicago credits include: A Going Concern, This Lime Tree Bower, Remembrance, A Mislaid Heaven, and the award winning Early and Often for Famous Door; the Midwest premiere of Sam Shepard's The God of Hell at the Next Theatre; The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek; Wrens, Hamlet and Cyrano de Bergerac for Rivendell Theatre Ensemble - a company which Karen co-founded; and the Midwest premier of Steve Martin's The Underpants for Noble Fool Productions.

Walter Briggs (Man 2) is a founding member of The Inconvenience and a recent graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He was recently seen in Of Mice and Men at Oak Park Festival Theatre and you may have seen him in years past inside the little box we call "office" up front.

Anita Deely (Woman) is an ensemble member of Strawdog Theatre Company and was last seen on stage in Aunt Dan and Lemon with BackStage Theatre at The Chopin. Deely is from Westchester and studied theatre at Illinois State University.

Guy Massey (Man 5) has been acting in Chicago since 1990. Principally, he has worked on original scripts with Curious Theatre and Theatre Oobleck, including The Strangerer by Mickle Maher. Guy appeared on the A Red Orchid Stage in The Grey Zone.

William J. Norris (Man 4) is a 39 year Chicago Theatre Veteran. Last seen in Oak Park Festival Theatre's production of Of Mice and Men, he has worked at The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, and Northlight, among many others.

Duncan Riddell (Man 6) made his Chicago acting debut at A Red Orchid in Brett Neveu's Weapon of Mass Impact. He teaches theatre at Shimer College, where her recently directed Endgame and Uncle Vanya, among others. Duncan also serves as Literary Manager at A Red Orchid.

Steve Schine (Man 1) is a Chicago native and has appeared at A Red Orchid in Gagarin Way, Hunger and Thirst and The Earl. Other area credits include work with The Goodman, Piven, Famous Door, The Journeymen and Lakeside Shakespeare among others. Most recently he was seen in King Lear, directed by Robert Falls and featuring Stacy Keach.

Doug Vickers (Man 7) is a long time Ensemble Member of A Red Orchid Theatre and has appeared in more than 14 productions with the company. He has also worked with Remy Bumppo, Chicago Shakespeare, Next, and many other area theaters.

Christopher M. Walsh (Man 3) is an ensemble member at Lifeline Theatre where he most recently appeared in Neverwhere. Previous Chicago credits include Treasure Island and Busman's Honeymoon (also at Lifeline), Journey's End (with Griffin Theatre) and Bloody Bess (with BackStage). Chris grew up in Michigan and studied theatre and fiction writing at Columbia College.

Louis Slotin Sonata will run at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells, September 10 - October 24, 2010. Tickets are $15 for preview performances and $25-$30 for regular run performances. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at (312) 943-8722 or online at

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