FEN by Caryl Churchill to be Presented at Court Theatre in February

Churchill’s Fen shows with grace and sly humor how the intricate pressures of gender and class both shape and distort the characters of women.

By: Jan. 05, 2023
FEN by Caryl Churchill to be Presented at Court Theatre in February
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Court Theatre is set to present the third production in its 2022/23 season: Fen by Caryl Churchill; directed by Vanessa Stalling. Fen runs February 10 - March 5, 2023 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. The press opening is Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 7:30pm.

The cast of Fen includes Lizzie Bourne (Becky/Mrs. Hassett/Alice/Ivy), Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel (Val/Ghost), Alex Goodrich (Frank/Wilson/Mr. Tewson/Geoffrey/Businessman), Elizabeth Laidlaw (Nell/May/Mavis), Morgan Lavenstein (Angela/Deb/Mrs. Finch/Boy), and Genevieve Venjohnson (Shirley/Shona/Miss Cade/Margaret).

The creative team includes Collette Pollard (scenic and projection design), Izumi Inaba (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design), Jeffrey Levin (sound design), Eva Breneman (dialect design), Greg Geffrard (intimacy and violence director), Derek Matson (production dramaturg), Becca McCracken (casting), Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi (stilt consultant), Erin Albrecht (stage manager), and Kate Ocker (assistant stage manager).

"Caryl Churchill is a uniquely talented wordsmith," says Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell. "The stories she tells are modern classics, yet she isn't produced with the same frequency or consistency as some of her male counterparts. We, at Court, are excited for this production of Fen and excited to return to her work - and the work of other under-produced female playwrights - the way we do the works of August Wilson, Shakespeare, and Sophocles. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Vanessa, and I'm certain that, with her at the helm, Fen will be nothing short of breathtaking."

Director Vanessa Stalling shares her inspiration: "When I think about the engine that's propelling Fen, it's the tension that lies in possibility. When we see characters striving in the face of absolutely impossible circumstances, we see that change is possible, and that's what lies at the heart of this play. To me, that's what makes Fen so incredibly hopeful, and beautiful, and brilliant."

On the marshy fens of eastern England in the 1980s, ghosts of the past haunt the women who labor as tenant farmers in the potato fields and who lead lives essentially unchanged from their 19th-century forebears. When Val seizes on a new relationship as a path to escape the crushing bonds of work, poverty, and family, she is confronted with the explosive repercussions of her decision. Employing astonishing theatrical imagery, Churchill's Fen shows with grace and sly humor how the intricate pressures of gender and class both shape and distort the characters of women. Jeff Award-winning director Vanessa Stalling (Photograph 51) returns to Court Theatre to bring her striking clarity and fresh perspective to the path-breaking text that won Churchill the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and cemented her reputation as one of our greatest living playwrights.

Individual tickets are on sale now. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at (773) 753-4472, or online at CourtTheatre.org.

Discounted tickets are available for performances February 16 - 26 (excluding February 18) as part of Chicago Theatre Week, an annual celebration of the rich tradition of theatre-going in Chicago during which visitors and residents can access value-priced tickets. Chicago Theatre Week is a program of the League of

Chicago Theatres, in partnership with Choose Chicago. Find more information at ChicagoTheatreWeek.com.

About the Artists

Caryl Churchill

(Playwright) was born on September 3, 1938 in London and was educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Downstairs, her first play written while she was still at University, was first staged in 1958 and won an award at the Sunday Times National Union of Students Drama Festival. Churchill's plays include: Owners, Traps, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Cloud 9, Top Girls, Fen, Serious Money, Ice Cream, Mad Forest, The Skriker, Blue Heart, This is a Chair, Far Away, A Number, Drunk Enough To Say I Love You?, Seven Jewish Children, Love & Information, Here We Go, and Escaped Alone. Churchill has also written for radio and television.

Vanessa Stalling

(Director) is the director and adaptor of the Jeff Award-winning play United Flight 232. She was the Associate Artistic Director of Redmoon Theater in Chicago, a Michael Maggio Fellow at Goodman Theatre, has been recognized as one of The Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago, and was an honored finalist of the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition Collaboration Award. Recent productions include The Great Leap (Asolo Rep), Titanic: Scenes from The British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry, 1912 (Court Theatre), and Roe (Goodman). She is also the Head of Directing at UC San Diego.


(Becky/Mrs. Hassett/Alice/Ivy) is delighted to make her Court Theatre debut. Select Chicago credits include Yen (Raven Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing and You Can't Take It With You (Oak Park Festival Theatre). Select London credits include everything that rises must dance (Complicite); The Picture of Dorian Gray (White Bear); The Glorious Damnation of Eddie Small (Union Theatre); Kerplunk (Arts Theatre). Film: The Falling; Ramanujan. Radio drama: Home Front (BBC Radio 4). She is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.

Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel

(Val/Ghost) is thrilled to return to Court Theatre. Past productions include The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice and Electra. Select Chicago credits include: The Abuelas, La Havana Madrid (Teatro Vista); Measure for Measure (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (Goodman Theatre); Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Lela & Co. (Steep Theatre Company; Jeff Award, Performer in a Principal Role). Film: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Rounding. Television: Fargo, Chicago Med, The Chi, Empire. She is an ensemble member and Artistic Producer at Teatro Vista. Visit www.cruzgonzalezcadel.com.

Alex Goodrich

(Frank/Wilson/Mr. Tewson/Geoffrey/Businessman) is excited to be at Court again! Previous Court credits include: The Mousetrap, Photograph 51, The Comedy of Errors, and One Man, Two Guvnors. Assorted Chicago credits: Hero: The Musical (Jeff Award, Best Supporting Actor in a Musical), Hello Dolly!, She Loves Me, and Elf: The Musical (Marriott); It Came From Outer Space, Hamlet, and The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare), among others. TV credits include Chicago Fire and Shining Girls on Apple TV+.

Elizabeth Laidlaw

(Nell/May/Mavis) is delighted to be back at Court Theatre. Previous Court productions include: Life is a Dream, Phèdre, Thyestes, and The Adventures of Augie March. She has performed at Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Writers, Goodman, and others. Regional credits include Indiana Repertory Theatre, Irish Classical Theatre Company, and American Repertory Theater. Film: Good Guy With a Gun, Henry Gamble's Birthday Party, and Into the Wake, among others. Television: The Red Line, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med.


(Angela/Deb/Mrs. Finch/Boy) is ecstatic to be making her Court Theatre debut! She is a graduate of Ithaca College and The School at Steppenwolf. Her latest plays include Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Strawdog); Titus Andronicus, How You Kiss Me is Not How I Like to Be Kissed (Haven Theatre); and Red Rex (Steep Theatre Company). Recent TV credits include Chicago Med and Chicago P.D. Morgan is a proud member of SAG and is represented by Stewart Talent Chicago.

Genevieve Venjohnson

(Shirley/Shona/Miss Cade/Margaret) returns to Court Theatre, where she appeared in: Carmen, Desire Under the Elms, and The Iphigenia Cycle, also in its off-Broadway run. Her most recent roles were Mame Wilkes in Radio Golf (Gulfshore Playhouse), and Margaret Van Helsing in Dracula. Chicago stage credits include Steppenwolf, Broadway In Chicago, Goodman, Chicago Children's Theatre, The House Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare, Ravinia Festival, and Lifeline Theatre. Representation: Paonessa Talent Agency. Website: gentlebee.buzz.