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Haven Announces 2019-20 Season

Haven Announces 2019-20 Season

Haven Theatre, newly rebranded as "Haven," announces its 2019-20 Season, kicking off this fall with its fifth consecutive DIRECTORS HAVEN, three short plays showcasing the talents of early career directors, each with razor-sharp and inspiring visions for their work and our industry. Helming this year's productions are Lauren Katz, Aaron Mays and AJ Schwartz.

Next winter, Haven's new Artistic Director Ian Damont Martin helms Williams Shakespeare's revenge-tragedy TITUS ANDRONICUS, promising a thrilling, bloody marathon - centering on the voices of marginalized people too often excluded from classical theater performance.

Haven's 2019-20 season concludes in summer 2019 with the world premiere of Samantha Behr's drama THE FIG AND THE WASP. Associate Artistic Director Josh Sobel returns to direct this desperate new play about hope and despair that's poised to leave audiences stirring with questions we may not yet be ready to ask.

Haven is also excited to announce an exciting production already set for its 2020-21 Season: the Chicago premiere of Idris Goodwin's latest break beat play HYPE MAN directed by Jess McLeod, who returns after helming Haven's wildly successful 2016 production How We Got On.

Comments Artistic Director Ian Damont Martin, "Haven is very excited to bring this season to Chicago. It's the first season with our new team - complete with a fresh new logo and brand identity, which effectively captures this moment in our evolution and our collective vision for the future. Each of these productions, in their own distinct ways, reckon with the contemporary world before us, which can oftentimes feel alienating and polarizing. As artists at large consider our responsibility in this context, Haven aims to at least make space for artists and audiences alike to unpack our questions and experiences in the safety and community of the theatre. These productions feel incredibly timely and necessary today, each standing as individual examples of what a 'New Canon' for the American theatre could include. As our company continues to evolve, the work of this upcoming season will put us one solid step closer to the 'Social Profit' we at Haven endeavor to cultivate in our community."

Haven's 2019-20 Season will be staged at its resident home, The Den Theatre's Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets will go on sale at a later date. For additional information, visit

Haven's 2019-20 Season

October 14 - 30, 2019


Featuring work by Lauren Katz, Aaron Mays and AJ Schwartz

The DIRECTORS HAVEN is back for the 5th consecutive year, with three more early career directors eager to share their visions! Lauren Katz, Aaron Mays and AJ Schwartz will headline the next chapter of Haven's initiative to showcase rising directors as they share their artistic point of view with the Chicago community. Each director will helm a fully produced 30-45 minute play of their choosing that will run back-to-back at each performance. See what the next generation can do when provided with that all-too-rare commodity: a room to share their vision. Productions will be announced shortly.

February 13 - March 15, 2020


Written by William Shakespeare

Directed by Artistic Director Ian Damont Martin

Press opening: Tuesday, February 18 at 8 pm

In a society that seems increasingly plagued by senseless violence, Shakespeare's bloodiest play Titus Andronicus feels increasingly germane. When Titus returns home from a 10-year war against the Goths with their Queen as his prisoner, a bloody cycle of violence ensues across familial and political lines. Is revenge ever justifiable? What if there is no justice? These questions remain surprisingly relevant some 400 years later. Titus Andronicus explores the impact of vengeance across the intersections of family, power and race.

July 2 - August 2, 2020

THE FIG AND THE WASP - World Premiere!

Written by Samantha Behr

Directed by Associate Artistic Director Josh Sobel

Press opening: Tuesday, July 7 at 8 pm

Plague, unrest, natural disasters, a failure in leadership... societies end for many dramatic reasons. Rosaura Flagg, a politician from a political dynasty, works to project stability and the status quo while her 13-year-old daughter Cara lies in a hospital room in a coma-like sleep. She is the first to succumb to "Hopelessness" - a diagnosis given by a nurse, George, who seems to be the only one with answers. The disease spreads rapidly - after all, how do you fight hopelessness? As dramatic as the cause may be, the reality of the end to this society is beautifully mundane. What do you reach for at the end? How do you find hope at the end of the world? The Fig and The Wasp explores the destruction of isolation and the power of caring and connection in the face of a world on fire.

HYPE MAN - Chicago Premiere!

Written by Idris Goodwin

Directed by Jess McLeod

Dates to be announced.

A promising hip hop trio - one white, one Black and one mixed race -are on the verge of success and fame with a "Tonight Show" performance on the books, when a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager shakes the group to its core. In the aftermath, Pinnacle, Verb and Peep One must navigate the difficult terrain of race and privilege, forever altering their relationships with one another. Hype Man is a crucible that employs hip-hop culture as a vehicle and means to bring forth change, making us ask ourselves: what is the responsibility of our platforms in the face of systemic injustice?

Artist Biographies

Lauren Katz (Directors Haven) is a freelance director, dramaturg, and teaching artist. She served as the 2016-17 Artistic Apprentice at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and as a fellow in the 2018-19 Directors Inclusion Initiative at Victory Gardens. Recent directing projects include: Subjective is Beauty (Prop Thtr), Toni and Marcus: From Village Life to Urban Stress (Illinois Holocaust Museum) and Salena's Story (iO Theater). As an assistant director and dramaturg in Chicago, Lauren has worked with various companies including About Face Theatre, Firebrand Theatre, Theater Wit, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Writers Theatre and Windy City Playhouse. As a teaching artist, Lauren works with Lookingglass Theatre and Mudlark Theatre.

Aaron Mays (Directors Haven) is an emerging director and playwright in Chicago with a passion for stories of the African diaspora and the narratives of marginalized voices. Aaron's most recent directing credits include Waiting for Godot (Tympanic Theatre) with an all-Latinx cast and Tug of War (CIRCA Pintig), a series of short plays on war, trauma and immigration. In addition, he has worked with Chicago's top directors, serving as the assistant director for such productions as Sweat (Goodman Theatre), Mosque Alert (Silk Road Rising), Two Trains Running (Goodman Theatre) and Seven Guitars (Court Theatre).

AJ Schwartz (Directors Haven) is a director living and making art in Chicago since 2013. As a theatremaker, they aim to use performance to explore the world through a radical, iconoclastic and undeniably queer lens. Their recent credits include Mike Pence Sex Dream, Refrigerator (assistant director, First Floor Theater), This Bitter Earth (dramaturg), Time Is on Our Side (assistant director, About Face Theatre), Zurich (assistant director, Steep Theatre Co.), and The Henry V Project (director, Loyola University Chicago).

Ian Damont Martin (Director, Titus Andronicus) is a theatre/filmmaker based in Chicago. He is the Artistic Director of Haven Theatre and the Program Manager of Enrich Chicago. Recent directing credits include The Ridiculous Darkness at Sideshow Theatre Company, Twelfth Night at Midsommer Flight and The Toilet at Haven, as part of the Directors Haven 3. Ian has also worked with Goodman Theatre, Middle Coast Film Festival, the Gift Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, the DuSable Museum, the National Society of Arts and Letters, Indiana University, Ivy Tech Community College, Bloomington Playwrights Project, Youth Theatre Journal and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati. He received his BA in theatre and drama from Indiana University and his diploma in drama from the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, OH. Ian gives love and thanks to the women of color who made him the man he is today.

Samantha Behr (Playwright, The Fig and the Wasp) is an actor and playwright based in the Hudson Valley. Originally from the West Coast, she had the privilege to work as an actor with Bay Area theaters such as Berkeley Rep, SF Playhouse, Cutting Ball Theatre, Ross Valley Players and Word for Word, before relocating to upstate New York. Her play ELIZABETH HAMMOND--a eulogy was workshopped by Drive Theatre at the Son of Semele Company Creation Festival. Other works include LOST DOG and Sunny Sentiment, which she also directed for The Attic Theatre in San Antonio, TX. Short works include Paved Over which received a reading with Hudson Valley Shakespeare for their Community Bake Off series. Behr credits her training at Trinity University, and The National Theater Institute's MATS and Theatermaker programs for giving her a strong foundation in her art, and her wanderings - which forced her to cross paths with a wide array of people and their stories - for her compulsion to create.

Josh Sobel (Director, The Fig and the Wasp) is a Chicago-based director, producer, dramaturg, educator and Associate Artistic Director of Haven Theatre, after serving as Artistic Director from August 2014 to May 2019. Recent credits include Fear & Misery in the Third Reich and We're Gonna Die at Haven (WGD remounted in Steppenwolf's LookOut Series), Bobbie Clearly at Steep, The Long Christmas Ride Home and Hunting of the Snark at Strawdog (Snark also Edinburgh Fringe). Out of town: We're Gonna Die at Flying V Theatre (Washington, D.C.) and The Importance of Being Earnest featuring Lisa Tejero at Iowa Summer Rep (Iowa City, IA). Additional credits: 16th Street Theater, Chicago Dramatists, A Red Orchid, Victory Gardens, Collaboraction's Sketchbook, Abbie-Fest and New Leaf. Josh founded Haven's flagship Director's Haven program (recently featured in American Theatre Magazine), and has taught at Columbia College Chicago, NTI and Shimer College. This fall, he will begin pursuing his MFA in Directing at CalArts. Associate Director, NTI "Theatermakers" program at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, 2010-2013. Recipient, Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) Observership, Hamlet at Writers' Theatre. Associate member, SDC.

Idris Goodwin (Playwright, Hype Man) is an award-winning playwright, director, orator and essayist. His play How We Got On developed at the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, premiered in Actors Theater's 2012 Humana Festival, and is being produced at theatres across the country. It is the first in his "break beat play" series which includes The REALNESS and Hype Man, winner of the 2017 Blue Ink Playwriting Award. His play And In This Corner Cassius Clay received the 2017 Distinguished Play Award from The American Association of Theater and Education. Other widely produced plays include Blackademics, This Is Modern Art co-written with Kevin Coval, and Bars and Measures. Goodwin is one of seven playwrights featured in the widely presented HANDS UP!, an anthology commissioned by The New Black Fest and published by Samuel French. His one act Black Flag was produced Off Broadway. The Way The Mountain Moved, commissioned as part of Oregon Shakespeare's groundbreaking American Revolutions Series, enjoyed its world premiere in 2018. He has work commissioned by or in development with The Public Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater, The Kennedy Center, Seattle Children's Theater, Stage One Family Theater, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor Program, La Jolla Playhouse, The Lark Playwriting Center, The Playwrights's Center and New Harmony Project. He's received support from the NEA and Ford Foundation, and is the recipient of InterAct Theater's 20/20 Prize. These Are The Breaks (Write Bloody, 2011), his debut collection of essays and poetry, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Inauguration, a chapbook co-written with Nico Wilkinson (Haymarket Books), won the 2017 Literary Arts Award from The Pikes Peak Arts Council. Goodwin's poetry has featured on HBO, The Discovery Channel, Sesame Street and National Public Radio. Find him at

Jess McLeod (Director, Hype Man) is the Resident Director of Hamilton Chicago and an ensemble member at A Red Orchid Theatre. Chicago credits include Hansol Jung's Wolf Play and Stacy Osei-Kuffour's Hang Man (The Gift); Abe Koogler's Fulfillment Center (AROT), Paola Lazaro's There's Always the Hudson (Goodman, New Stages), Sharyn Rothstein's Landladies (Northlight), Idris Goodwin's How We Got On (Haven), Season on the Line (The House), Short Shakes! Midsummer (CST), Kevin Coval's L-vis Live! (Victory Gardens), Venus (Steppenwolf Next Up!), Lauren Yee's in a word (Strawdog), Fugitive Songs, The Pajama Game (The Music Theatre Company); and Marry Me A Little (Porchlight). New York credits include work by Joyce Carol Oates, Rachel Axler, Harrison David Rivers, and The Unauthorized Musicology of Ben Folds at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, where she served as Director of Programming from 2005-08. An avid teaching artist and believer in youth and community engagement, McLeod has also worked with Storycatchers Theatre, Young Chicago Authors, and Chicago Voices, and was the 2017 Michael Maggio Directing Fellow (Goodman Theatre) and the 2018 Next Generation Samuel G. Roberson Artistic Fellow (Victory Gardens). M.F.A., Northwestern University. Upcoming: Idris Goodwin's Hype Man (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Pride and Prejudice (Long Wharf), Earth To Kenzie (Lyric Unlimited) and Mara Nelson-Greenberg's Do You Feel Anger? (AROT).

PHOTO CREDIT: Haven's 2019-20 and 2020-21 season playwrights and directors include (top, l to r) Lauren Katz, Aaron Mays, AJ Schwartz and Ian Damont Martin with (bottom, l to r) Samantha Behr, Josh Sobel, Idris Goodwin and Jess McLeod.

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