Greenhouse Theater Center Announces 2018 SOLO PERFORMANCE LAB Line-Up - Four World Premiere Works!

Greenhouse Theater Center Announces 2018 SOLO PERFORMANCE LAB Line-Up - Four World Premiere Works!The Greenhouse Theater Center is pleased to announce the line-up for its 2018 SOLO PERFORMANCE LAB, featuring four world premiere solo works presented in two free programs: February 17 and March 3, 2018 in the Greenhouse Theatre Center's Downstairs Mainstage, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Each presentation is followed by a short talkback with the artists. Reservations (free) can be made in advance at

Curated by GTC Literary Manager Nick Thornton and GTC Artistic Associate Kate Cuellar, the SOLO PERFORMANCE LAB underscores the Greenhouse's institutional commitment to creating solo works by offering local artists the space and support to develop new solo performance. This year, artists were encouraged to submit 30-minute plays proposals that focused on an unexamined facet of a historical event or illuminated the life of a little-known historical figure. SOLO PERFORMANCE LAB participants will receive institutional resources including space, dramaturgical support and production resources to develop these four innovative new solo performances.

"We could not be more thrilled with the artists that have been selected this year's Solo Performance Lab," comments Greenhouse Artistic Director Jacob Harvey. "By putting the varied identities and perspectives of these ensembles into conversation we hope to celebrate and underscore the necessity of telling our singular stories to reveal broader truths about the human condition."

Program 1: Saturday, February 17 at 2:30 pm:


Written and performed by Aurora Real de Asua

Directed by Mara Stern

How was it that one untrained secretary was able to communicate with a species overlooked by an entire scientific community? Much has been said about the brilliance behind Jane Goodall's work, but this new play seeks to illuminate an often overlooked factor of this extraordinary woman: her outrageously courageous compassion. Using a mixture of clowning, puppetry and animal work, THE STRANGE PALE APE WITH THE PONYTAIL takes you through the jungle and back to unearth the heart behind one of the 20th century's most influential scientists.


Written and performed by Aidaa Peerzada

Directed by Am'Ber Montgomery

GRANDMA SCIENCE explores the life of the first African American medical illustrator Nadia Willette Page through the eyes of her granddaughter. The piece reflects on the psychological and familial impact of rising above prejudice through poetry and interview testimony.

Program 2: Saturday, March 3 at 2:30 pm:


Written by Erin Austin

Directed by Egla Kishta

Performed by Sarah Schol

She's a wife, mother, actress and a failed union spy. Tonight, Pauline Cushman takes to the stage and tells her story. But how much of it is true is anyone's guess.


Written by Nora Leahy

Directed by Gus Menary

Performed by Angela Horn

Lynnette "Squeaky" Fromme is notorious for her involvement with the Manson Family and her assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford, but before all of that she was a child performer who toured the country, performed at the White House, and appeared on The Lawrence Welk Show. In SQUEAKY!, we join Lynnette in her jail cell as she performs a variety show of her very own. A solo performance that is equal parts heartbreak, terror and glitter.

The SOLO PERFORMANCE LAB is part of the Greenhouse's playwright-focused, professional development programming, which also includes The Trellis Residency Initiative, a professional development program for Chicago-area playwrights under 30, and the MC-10 Playwrights Ensemble, a collection of ten of the country's most sought-after established and mid-career Chicago playwrights and theater-makers now in residence at the Greenhouse.

About the Artists

Aurora Real de Asua (Playwright/Performer, The Strange Pale Ape with the Ponytail) is a performer and writer, originally from the Bay Area, California. As a playwright, her work was last seen at Victory Gardens' College Trigger Finger College Night. As an actor, recent credits include Dracula and You On the Moors Now (Hypocrites), Firebirds Take the Field (Rivendell Theatre) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Metropolis Performing Arts Center). This winter, you can see her in The Goodman Theatre's production of The Wolves. She graduated from Northwestern University with a concentration in playwriting.

Mara Stern (Director, The Strange Pale Ape with the Ponytail) is a director and producer in Chicago, working with EX-Pats, The Jades, Mercy Street, Jackalope, Pride Films and Plays, The Kinematics, The Hypocrites, MC-10 and The Gift Theatre's 4802 Residency. Mara is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and The British American Drama Academy in London. She serves as Northlight Theatre's Director of Education and Community Engagement, is a teaching artist for Steppenwolf Theatre and has taught with Lookingglass and Writers Theatre.

Aidaa Peerzada (Playwright/Performer, Grandma Science) is originally from the Baltimore / Washington, D.C. area, where she attended the Baltimore School for the Arts for Acting and received her BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University. Her regional theatre credits include LuLu (u/s) Between Riverside and Crazy, RY (u/s) BLKS (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Anne Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Kitty Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and the ensemble in Othello (American Players Theatre) Young Woman in The Golden Dragon (Quantum Theatre), Othello (u/s) in Othello (Titan Theatre Company.) She co-starred on the HBO series Girls and is featured in the film Gorenos. As a writer, her play Scheherazade was produced at Carnegie Mellon's PLAYGROUND festival and subsequently at The New York Fringe Festival. She also produced ChoreoSlam and Remember me, or: Change at CMU's PLAYGROUND. Her piece Things Change received a workshop as a part of The Ground and Field Theatre Festival at UC Davis. She is currently on the writing team for LINES, an original piece which will premiere at Theatre Lila in the spring of 2018.

Am'Ber Montgomery (Director, Grandma Science) is thrilled to be working with Greenhouse as a new member of the Chicago theater community. She born and raised in Detroit, MI and is a current apprentice and multi-cultural fellow at Steppenwolf Theatre. She's studied at and worked as a performer and assistant director for many theaters across the country including The Guthrie Theater, American Players Theater and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is an avid learner and has a huge passion for arts education, which is the driving force of her artistic career. She has worked as a core teaching artist for many youth centered organizations in every community she has been a part of. She received her BFA from the the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program.

Erin Austin (Playwright, Miss Major Cushman) is a Chicago-based playwright. Her most recent credits include collaborations with Tellin' Tales Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Dramatists, Red Theatre and American Theatre Company. She is a co-founder of Living Room Playmakers: a playwrights collective that writes and produces site-inspired work in Chicago. When not writing plays, Erin writes scripts and produces content for educational videos and computer games. MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage at Northwestern University (2013).

Egla Kishta (Director, Miss Major Cushman) is an Albanian theatre artist; most recently she had the honor and pleasure of assistant directing King of the Yees. She is so excited to be back to explore this piece with this amazing team and share it with all of you.

Sarah Schol (Performer, Miss Major Cushman) is thrilled to return to the Greenhouse. Chicago credits include: Machinal (Greenhouse); Fefu and Her Friends (Halcyon Theatre); New Country (Fair Trade Productions); and Eden in Silence (Links Hall). Regional credits include: Amadeus (Walnut Street Theatre); Great Expectations (Arden Theatre Company, u/s); Marat/Sade, Woyzeck, Not I, Spring Awakening (EgoPo Classic Theater); and Macbeth (Revolution Shakespeare). Upcoming: The Doppelgänger (Steppenwolf, u/s).

Nora Leahy (Playwright, Squeaky!) is a Chicago based playwright and the Managing Director of Jackalope Theatre Company. Her new play If You Forget Me is scheduled for its world-premiere at Lean Ensemble Theater in Hilton Head, SC in the fall of 2018. Other full-length plays include include: The Bridge (2017/18 Woodward Newman Drama Award Finalist), Wonderland (TYA commissioned by the Santa Fe Trail School for the Performing Arts 2015) and The Jungle Book (TYA commissioned by the Santa Fe Trail School for the Performing Arts 2016).

Gus Menary (Director, Squeaky!) is a founding member and Artistic Director of Jackalope Theatre Company. At Jackalope, he directed the world-premiere of Ike Holter's Exit Strategy and the midwest premiere of Aaron Loeb's Ideation, among others. He directed the world-premiere of Brent Neveu's Detective Partner Hero Villain for Strawdog Theatre Company and, most recently, he directed the world premiere of Ike Holter's Put Your House In Order for The Roustabouts at A Red Orchid Theatre. He was named one of the "Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago" by Newcity Magazine in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He is a founding member of The Inconvenience, where he served as Director of Theatre Programming. He has directed and worked for many theatre companies in Chicago including First Floor Theatre, Mary-Arrchie, American Theatre Company, Abraham Werewolf, The New Colony, American Blues and LiveWire Chicago.

Angela Horn (Performer, Squeaky!) is an actor and Director of Audience Engagement with Jackalope Theatre Company. Previous Chicago acting credits include work with Chicago Dramatists, Pride Films & Plays, Something Marvelous and The Comrades. Before relocating to Chicago, Angela worked Off-West End as General Manager of London's Finborough Theatre and performed in the 60-city national tour of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs with Dallas Children's Theater. She is a founding company member and Director of Audience Engagement with The Comrades.

About the Greenhouse Theater Center

The Greenhouse Theater Center is a producing theater company, performance venue and theatre bookstore located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Our mission is first and foremost to grow local theatre.

The Greenhouse Theater began its producing life in 2014 with the smash hit Churchill, after which came 2016's much-lauded Solo Celebration!, an eight month, 16 event series highlighting the breadth and depth of the solo play form. This year, the Greenhouse announced a full subscription season, with a mix of multi-character and solo plays. With a focus on our community, the Greenhouse has also launched the Trellis Residency Initiative, an initiative designed to cultivate the next generation of Chicago theatre creators, as well as the MC-10, an ensemble of mid-career playwrights whose works will be included in future Greenhouse programming.

As a performance venue, our complex offers two newly remodeled 190-seat main stage spaces, two 60-seat studio theaters, two high-capacity lobbies and an in-house rehearsal room. We strive to cultivate a fertile environment for local artists, from individual renters to our bevy of resident companies, and to develop and produce their work. In 2016, the Greenhouse announced a new residency program, which offers a reduced rate to local storefront companies while giving the Greenhouse a stake in the resident's success. We house Chicago's only dedicated used theatre bookstore, located on the second floor of our complex.

With new ideas always incubating, the Greenhouse is flourishing. Come grow with us!

PHOTO CREDIT: Artists featured in Greenhouse Theater Center's 2018 SOLO PERFORMANCE LAB include (top, l to r) Aurora Real de Asua, Mara Stern, Aidaa Peerzada, Am'Ber Montgomery, Erin Austin (bottom, l to r) Egla Kishta, Sarah Schol, Nora Leahy, Gus Menary and Angela Horn.

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