Bower Theatre Announces First Season With New Approach

With a new approach to ensemble, Bower Theatre Ensemble's first season will feature two world premiere plays by Chicago playwrights: FRANKENSTEIN adapted by Alexander Utz from Mary Shelley's classic tale and COLLAGE OF A DYSTOPIAN MIDWEST an exploration of humanity and Artificial Intelligence by Chris Vanderark.

"Many theatre artists, especially those who identify as 'hyphens' get involved with companies because of an unspoken expectations that they will get to do more of the art they enjoy." states Artistic Director Bec Willett. "Unfortunately, the reality of running a company often means that more time ends up spent on administration and jostling for the few artistic positions that do exist, rather than growing as an artist. Bower's structure aims to change this."

Bower Theatre Ensemble will be selecting an ensemble of theatre artists on a yearly basis to work on multiple productions. To promote professional growth and collaboration, each production will see artists commit to a different role based on their preferences. Artists are encouraged to apply for the roles they are most experienced in but also those they want to learn more about.

"The goal here is to avoid stagnation by creating a strong ensemble that spends their energy on growing as artists and creating great work that connects with the wider community."

Applications to work on these productions as part of the 2018 Ensemble are now open and can be accessed at

ALEXANDER UTZ - Playwright

Alexander Utz moved to Chicago in 2016 after graduating from Niagara University with a BFA in Theatre Performance. Since arriving in the city, he has been seen in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Eclectic Full Contact Theatre), Richard III (Fury Theatre), The History Boys (Eclectic Full Contact Theatre), Cosmic Events are Upon Us (Waltzing Mechanics), as well as participating in the Den Theatre's One Minute Play Festival and the Agency Theatre Collective's 24-Hour Play Festival. As a playwright, his work has received readings with Three Cat Productions in Chicago, 5th Wall Productions in Charleston, and Niagara University Theatre in Niagara Falls.

Mary Shelley - Author

Mary Shelley was born August 30, 1797, in London, England to noted writers William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Two years after marrying poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1816 she published her most famous novel, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, developing it from an horror story created for a stormy evening's entertainment in Switzerland. During her lifetime she wrote extensively in a variety of forms, including several novels: Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), Perkin Warbeck (1830), Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Her marriage and family life was marred by death, especially that of her children, only one of whom survived into adulthood. Shelley died of brain cancer on February 1, 1851, in London, England.


Chris Vanderark is a playwright living in Chicago. He has worked with several companies including Dandelion, The Residents, Corn Productions and Three Cat Productions. Most recently his play Her Escapades pt. 1 was workshopped with New Route Theatre's "Voices of Pride" festival featuring LGBTQ playwrights. In the Summer of 2017, Chris' play Mavis had its world premiere in a site-specific production directed by Bec Willett. You can find Chris on the New Play Exchange.

BEC WILLETT - Artistic Director

Bec is an Australian, Chicago-based director, designer, and writer who is an alumni of Directors Lab West and a critic for She has worked on projects with an array of Chicago theatre companies, including 20% Theatre, Actors' Gymnasium, Chicago Dramatists, City Lit, Dandelion Theatre, MMPACT Solo Jams, NYC Sketchfest, Prologue Theatre, Three Cat Productions, and Waltzing Mechanics. Her Bachelor of Theatre Studies and Bachelor of Education (Secondary) were both earned at QUT, Australia. To find out more about her work and upcoming projects, please visit

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