First Floor Theater Announces Its Eighth Season

First Floor Theater Announces Its Eighth Season

First Floor Theater announce their eighth season, featuring one world premiere and two Chicago premieres.

"After a record breaking seventh season, we are thrilled to continue producing some of the most cutting Edge Theater that this city has to offer," comments Artistic Director Hutch Pimentel. "These playwrights have crafted three extraordinary plays that tackle love and fear, hope and dread across time, gender and race. All three pieces explore what it means to craft a family in times of great trouble - and follow individuals in the midst of radical revolutions."

First Floor Theater's 2019-20 Season

October 19, 2019 - November 23, 2019

SUGAR IN OUR WOUNDS - Chicago Premiere!

By Donja R. Love, Directed by FFT Company Member Mikael Burke

On a plantation during the Civil War, a mystical tree stretches toward heaven. It protects James, a young slave, while he reads newspapers about the imminent possibility of freedom, as war rages on. When a brooding stranger arrives, James and his makeshift family take him in. Soon, an unexpected bond leads to a striking romance, and everyone is in uncharted territory. The award-winning SUGAR IN OUR WOUNDS is part of playwright Donja R. Love's trilogy of black love at pivotal moments in history, helmed by Mikael Burke, director of last season's acclaimed production of Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies.

February 15, 2020 - March 27, 2020

PLANO - Chicago Premiere!

By Will Arbery, Directed by Audrey Francis

Presented as a part of Steppenwolf's LookOut Series at the 1700 Theatre

Tonight, and later, and earlier, three sisters (no, not those ones) are stricken with a series of strange plagues: Isabel's got pains. Anne's got slugs. And Genevieve doesn't want to talk about hers. She just wants you to eat the damn hummus (she made it!). Fresh from its wildly successful Off Broadway debut and remount, PLANO is "as funny as it is powerfully disturbing" (VULTURE) that TimeOut NY called "experimental theater perfection." Steppenwolf ensemble member Audrey Francis returns to direct at First Floor Theater, where she previously co-directed FFT's first production in 2012.

April 18, 2020 - May 30, 2020

THE JUNIORS - World Premiere!

By Noah Diaz, Directed by FFT Artistic Director Hutch Pimentel

A class of high school juniors are tasked with a simple Home Ec assignment: parent a sack of flour for a week or fail. When the flour babies begin dying one by one, the students stop at nothing to ensure that they, and the pretend children they bore, are the last ones standing. A play with war, carnage and genocide, THE JUNIORS is a pitch black comedy about the ambitious and cut-throat world of high school Home Economics and the lengths we'll go to in order to protect what we think is ours.

SUGAR IN OUR WOUNDS and THE JUNIORS will be staged at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago, where First Floor is a resident company. PLANO will take place at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted St. in Chicago, as a part of the LookOut Series.

Creative Bios

Donja R. Love is Black, Queer, HIV+, and surviving. From Philly, he's the recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award, the Princess Grace Playwriting Award, the Lark's 2016 Van Lier New Voices Playwriting Fellow, The Playwrights Realm's 2016/2017 Writing Fellow, and the 2011 Philadelphia Adult Grand Slam Poetry Champion. He's had work produced and developed at Manhattan Theatre Club, Atlantic Theater Company, The New Group, The Lark, New York Stage and Film, The Playwrights Realm, and more. He's the co-host of Off Book, a podcast on Black theatre; and he's the co-founder of The Each-Other Project, an organization that helps build community and provide visibility, through art and advocacy for LGBTQ People of Color. Select stage plays include: The Love* Plays and soft.

Will Arbery is a playwright from Texas + Wyoming + seven sisters. Plays include: Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Playwrights Horizons, Fall 2019),Plano (Clubbed Thumb), Evanston Salt Costs Climbing (New Neighborhood), and Wheelchair (3 Hole Press). He's a member of New Dramatists, EST/Youngblood, and P73's Interstate 73. He's a resident of Colt Coeur, and an alum of the Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm, as well as the Clubbed Thumb Early Career Writers Group. He's currently under commission from Playwrights Horizons and ShadowCatcher Entertainment. His plays have received developmental support at New York Theater Workshop, Clubbed Thumb, Playwrights Horizons, The Vineyard, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Cape Cod Theater Project, The New Group, EST/Youngblood, The Bushwick Starr, Alliance/Kendeda, and Tofte Lake Center. Dance work: Pioneer Works, MCA Chicago, Watermill Center. MFA: Northwestern. BA: Kenyon College.

Noah Diaz is an MFA candidate in Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. His work has been produced and/or developed at Baltimore Center Stage, Playwrights Realm, The Sol Project, Two River Theater, the Kennedy Center, Yale School of Drama, Yale Cabaret, Howlround Latinx Theater Commons, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, The Shelterbelt Theatre, 5th Wall Productions, Campfire Theatre Festival, and the Rose Theater, among others. Awards/Fellowships include: three Kennedy Center Playwriting Awards, the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center NPC Finalist, 50PP Best Unproduced Latin@ Plays, Blue Ink Playwriting Award Finalist, and the Woodward/Newman Playwriting Award Finalist. He is currently under commission from the La Jolla Playhouse and the Great Plains Theatre Conference.

Mikael Burke is a Jeff-nominated, director, deviser and educator. A Princess Grace Award winner in Theatre and graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA Directing), Mikael's most recently worked with Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Northlight Theatre, About Face Theatre, and First Floor Theater in Chicago, and regionally with Asolo Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, and Indiana Repertory Theatre. A former Victory Gardens Theater DII Fellow, he recently served as Northlight Theatre's inaugural Artistic Fellow and also serves as Head of the Directing Concentration of the Summer High School Training Program of the Theatre School at DePaul University, is a faculty member of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and a core faculty member in the Theatre division of the National High School Institute (Cherubs) at Northwestern University. Recent directing credits include This Bitter Earth by Harrison David Rivers; Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm; A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare; Native Son by Richard Wright, adapted by Nambi E. Kelley.

Audrey Francis is thrilled to be working with First Floor Theater again. Audrey is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre and the co-founder of Black Box Acting. She has worked throughout Chicago as an actor, director and teaching artist for over a decade. Most recently, Audrey directed The Invisible Hand at Steep Theatre, which received five Jeff nominations. Audrey will be seen onstage at Steppenwolf this season (upstairs) in Dance Nation and (next door) in Catch as Catch Can. She has worked on Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Empire, and can be seen in the independent filmsSignature Move, Medal of Victory, and Knives and Skin, which recently premiered at Tribeca.

Hutch Pimentel is a Chicago-based director. He is the Artistic Director of First Floor Theater where he's directed Polaroid Stories, Edith Can Shoot Things & Hit Them, Animals Commit Suicide, peerless, Two Mile Hollow, Refrigerator and Mike Pence Sex Dream and produced dozens of other shows. He was named one of Newcity Magazine's "50 Players" in 2019. During his time in Chicago, he's had the pleasure of working at About Face Theatre, American Theater Company, Chicago Dramatists, Redmoon, The Gift Theatre, The Goodman and Victory Gardens Theater. He's worked outside of Chicago at Center Theater Group, Ensemble Studio Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The Vineyard Theatre. He is an Associate Member of SDC and a graduate of Kalamazoo College.

Founded in 2012, First Floor Theater stages stories of individuals facing moments of radical change. Through a process of collaborative dramaturgy, FFT expands these stories to ask urgent social questions. For more information on First Floor Theater, visit

PHOTO CREDIT: First Floor Theater's 2019-20 season playwrights (top, l to r) Donja R. Love, Will Arbery and Noah Diaz and directors (bottom, l to r) Mikael Burke, Audrey Francis and Hutch Pimentel.

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