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Lookingglass Theatre Company Announces 2022-23 Season Featuring Two World Premieres & More

The season will feature the world premieres of Sara Gmitter’s Villette; Matthew C. Yee’s long-awaited Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon, plus more.

Lookingglass Theatre Company Announces 2022-23 Season Featuring Two World Premieres & More

Lookingglass Theatre Company has announced its 35th Season! A partnership with one of this city's leading Black theatre companies. A homegrown holiday hearth-warmer. Two original CHI-made works each featuring unconventional central characters. A twirl around five extraordinary homespun districts (from Englewood to Edgewater to Avalon Park and more). And a transcendent summer sunset ritual that draws us all back waterside. Distinct. Unique. Reflecting is our function.  Come see yourself at Lookingglass.

The 2022-23 Season begins with Sunset 1919, an annual outdoor ritual memorializing Eugene Williams, whose tragic murder at 29th Street Beach marked the beginning of the 1919 Chicago race riots. Next comes the hit Congo Square Theatre production of Aleshea Harris' What to Send Up When It Goes Down, a vibrant, necessary, soul-stirring event in residence at Lookingglass Theatre. This fall, the next five short films in the series celebrating each of Chicago's 50 Wards: A Civic Mosaic make their genre-smashing debut. This year's group of films will spotlight Wards 5, 8, 16, 40, and 47. Returning this holiday season is Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a gorgeous invention of spectacle and music. Adapted from the Charlotte Brontë novel, the World Premiere of Sara Gmitter's Villette follows Lucy Snow on a solitary journey full of romance and intrigue. Also making its World Premiere is Matthew C. Yee's long-awaited Lucy and Charlie's Honeymoon, the tale of two First Generation Asian American Renegades, featuring original country western and folk songs.

"It's hard to believe we are celebrating thirty-five years of creating new work together!" says Artistic Director Heidi Stillman. "As we celebrate the past and look towards the future, it's fitting that this season has work from some of our earliest artistic collective members, and our very newest."

This season's brilliant artists summon audiences back to the Theatre with their timely and timeless tales, and work that extends beyond the stage. Lookingglass Theatre's signature development process for new plays, gglassworks, the fountainhead from which the Water Tower-based Company's genre-defying, world premiere works flow, continues to provide writers the resources required to explore material through various forms of performative expression. The Department of Curiosity at Lookingglass will continue working with communities of all ages sparking curiosity, creativity, and collaboration in neighborhoods throughout Chicago in the coming year. Programming includes arts residencies in Chicago Public School classrooms, Young Ensemble program for youth 12-18, summer camp, arts-based residencies with community-based organizations, Arts for Brain Health workshops for people with dementia and their care-partners, and much more!

Playing now through July 31 is Lookingglass Alice, the circus-infused trip down the rabbit hole and deep into your heart. Accompanying select performances are REFLECT post-show conversations, free and open to the public. These specially curated panels offer audiences an opportunity to think, hear, and talk about the performance they just experienced. Lookingglass Alice also offers a variety of ticket options to ensure that theatre remains accessible for all. Explore new and exciting ways to save! Students, teens, healthcare heroes, industry, and military save on tickets. Lookingglass also offers 50% off day-of-show tickets. All discounted ticket options are available at

More information, including casting and season ticket sales, will be announced soon! Lookingglass gglasspass memberships go on sale July 13. Members receive ticket packages for productions, with invaluable opportunities to explore the creative process through deep-delving conversations on each play. Members also get the best seats at the best prices, and enjoy a bounty of benefits including priority seating, no ticket fees, unlimited ticket exchanges, savings when purchasing additional tickets for friends or family, a discount at our online store, and more! Tickets for What to Send Up When It Goes Down go on sale July 15 at

About the Season

Sunset 1919: A Ritual

Wednesday, July 27 at 7PM

Eugene Williams Memorial Marker

125 Fort Dearborn Drive

Chicago, 60616

By establishing an artistic ritual featuring music, movement, and word, Lookingglass Theatre commemorates the start of the 1919 Chicago race riots, incited by the tragic murder of Eugene Williams, a Black teenager stoned to death after drifting into a "whites only" section of Lake Michigan. Sunset 1919 is meant to peacefully honor the lives of Black humans impacted by the deadly racial attacks that swept the nation that summer, the roots of which stretch back across centuries, and the fruits of which we continue to pluck - a moment in an unbroken line.

Curated & Coordinated by Ensemble Member Kareem Bandealy and Ensemble Member and Mellon Playwright in Residence J. Nicole Brooks

Watch the 2020 short film produced by Lookingglass Theatre Company here:

What to Send Up When It Goes Down

Written by Aleshea Harris
Directed by Ericka Ratcliff and Daniel Bryant

Produced by Congo Square Theatre

In Residence at Lookingglass Theatre

September 24 - October 16, 2022
Lookingglass Theatre in Water Tower Water Works

In residence at Lookingglass Theatre Company, produced by Congo Square, returning this Fall is Aleshea Harris' What to Send Up When It Goes Down. Described as a play-pageant-ritual-homegoing celebration, What to Send Up When It Goes Down responds to the gratuitous loss of Black lives and interrupts discourses that enable the ubiquity of racialized violence in our society.

What to Send Up When It Goes Down is a participatory, shapeshifting experience intent on creating space for collective catharsis, cleansing and healing. The performance unfolds as a series of vignettes which employ a variety of forms including parody, song, movement, and facilitated dialogue. Breaking the fourth wall, cast members enact the script differently in each performance as members of the audience are invited not only to behold the piece as spectators, but to become part of the current that holds the story together.

This vibrant, necessary, soul-stirring event played to sold-out houses in the Spring, and we are proud to host its return. In line with Congo Square's commitment to community engagement, half of the tickets for each performance will be donated to local community groups.

Tickets on sale July 15 at

50 Wards: A Civic Mosaic

Five Short Films
Premiering Fall 2022

Chicago from above. Contiguous. Glittering. Bordered only by vast, shimmering Lake Michigan. A city connected.  

Chicago at street level. Blocks sliced into 50 disparate districts. A city splintered.

50 Wards: A Civic Mosaic is an ambitious multi and mixed media attempt to weave together through storytelling savvy a dazzling tapestry of hometown experiences, bridge the distance between neighborhoods, and plot the line from our fascinating history to our complex present on through to tomorrow's promise. 

When last audiences visited the wards, they were taken to the woods (39th), the jazz joint (49th), behind the fortress walls (25th), parading (3rd), and tapping through Time (30th). The next 5 in this series of 50 will transport viewers before a mural (16th), to the shipping store (40th), in silent films (47th), and in two theatres - one abandoned (8th) and one a toy (5th).

See your city through the glimmer of the artist's eye and discover how and where we fit...together.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Written and Directed by Lookingglass Ensemble Member Mary Zimmerman

From the Story by Hans Christian Andersen

November 13, 2022 - January 8, 2023

Lookingglass Theatre in Water Tower Water Works

Chicago's beloved holiday tradition returns to the stage this holiday season, a classic the whole family will treasure! Based on Hans Christian Andersen's story about a little tin soldier who never gives up, Ensemble Member Mary Zimmerman's production is a gorgeous spectacle of music and movement that the Chicago Tribune calls "★★★★ A treat for all ages! It's transformational, truly. Barely more than an hour-long, this is one holiday experience you don't want to miss."

World Premiere


Written by Artistic Associate Sara Gmitter
Adapted from the novel by Charlotte Brontë

Directed by Ensemble Member Tracy Walsh
February 8 - April 23, 2023

Lookingglass Theatre in Water Tower Water Works

You've never met a heroine like Lucy Snow. Suddenly bereft of family, friends, and funds, young Lucy journeys unaccompanied to France armed only with determination, a fiercely dry sense of humor, and her prodigious brain. She soon finds herself entangled in romance and intrigue, as a vain debutante, quarrelsome teacher, and mysterious ghost draw her into a complicated maze. Will tenacious Lucy, and her wry wit, emerge intact?

From the author of the reader-favorite Jane Eyre

Hooray! Lucy and Charlie just got hitched...and they're embracing the worst of the American dream. They do what they want. Take what they want. They're First Generation Asian American Renegades. In love. And on the run.

Featuring original country western and folk songs, directed by Amanda Dehnert (Peter Pan (A Play), Eastland), Lucy and Charlie's Honeymoon tracks a young couple as they rev it down quintessentially American highways and across stereotypic borders, fleeing expectation and trawling up trouble along the way.

Fresh from his Broadway debut in Almost Famous the Musical, Artistic Associate Matthew C. Yee's world premiere musical romp gives a nod to America's past, takes tally of its present, and blows its future wide open.

About the Artists

Kareem Bandealy (he/him) (Lookingglass Ensemble Member, Co-Curator of Sunset 1919: A Ritual) has previously appeared at Lookingglass in Lookingglass Alice, 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Blood Wedding, Moby Dick (2015 & 2017), The Little Prince, Big Lake Big City, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, and Peter Pan (A Play). His play, Act(s) of God, had its world premiere at Lookingglass in early 2019. Other Chicago credits: A Christmas Carol (2014-2020), Rock N' Roll, Gas For Less, and King Lear at Goodman Theatre; The Wheel at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Oklahoma! at Paramount Theatre; Mother of the Maid at Northlight Theatre; The Good Book and The Illusion at Court Theatre; Julius Caesar, Hamlet, The Caretaker, and Heartbreak House at Writers Theatre; A Midsummer Night's Dream, Edward II, and Romeo & Juliet at Chicago Shakespeare Theater; A Disappearing Number and Blood and Gifts at TimeLine Theatre Company; Othello (as Othello) at The Gift Theatre, and many others. Regional credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Three Musketeers and The Tempest at Illinois Shakespeare Festival; Love's Labours Lost at Notre Dame Summer Shakespeare; Julius Caesar and Stuff Happens at PICT Classic Theatre, and four seasons with Orlando Shakespeare Theater. He has appeared in several films including The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton, on TV in Chicago Fire (NBC), and is a recipient of the 2011 3Arts Artist Award. Kareem is also the Artistic Producer: New Work at Lookingglass Theatre Company. He lives in Albany Park with his two children Reza and Anouk.

J. Nicole Brooks (she/they) (Lookingglass Ensemble Member, Mellon Playwright in Residence, Co-Curator of Sunset 1919: A Ritual) is an actor, playwright, and director. Recent theatrical credits include Lottery Day (Goodman Theatre), Beyond Caring (Lookingglass Theatre Company), and Immediate Family (Mark Taper Forum, Goodman Theatre). Directing credits at Lookingglass include Thaddeus & Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure (co-directed with Krissy Vanderwarker), Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting, and Black Diamond. J. Nicole is author of Fedra: Queen of Haiti, Black Diamond: The Years the Locusts Have Eaten, The Incredible Adventures of Yuri Kochiyama, and HeLa. Her most recent Lookingglass work, Her Honor Jane Byrne, was produced in 2019, 2021, and as an audio play for WBEZ. TV work includes season four of Fargo (FX).

Daniel Bryant (he/him) (Co-Director of What to Send Up When It Goes Down) is an actor, producer, and director who served as Congo Square Theatre's Associate Artistic Director for two years alongside founding AD Derrick Sanders followed by taking on the role of Artistic Director for three years. During this time the company continued to be recognized for delivering tight blazing hot productions of new works as well as the classics. In addition to producing CST's seasonal Black Nativity, The Colored Museum, and Bulrusher, Daniel directed the mid-West Premiere of What I Learned In Paris, King Hedley II, the world premiere of Brothers of the Dust, as well as Walter Mosely's Fall of Heaven. CST also began a more focused effort to expand its brand into the community by launching the multi-disciplinary Festival on the Square and Jambalaya Series. As an ensemble member, Daniel was a part of the original CST cast of Lydia Diamond's Stickfly as well as Joe Turner's Come and Gone, and The Talented Tenth.

At Baltimore Center Stage, Daniel was on staff for three years as Associate Producer/Director of Community Programs launching and producing their Mobile Unit, whose mission is to overcome economic, cultural, and geographic boundaries to deliver theater to Baltimore's most diverse audiences. At BSC he produced/directed Endgame, Twelfth Night, and Antigone for BCS's Mobile Unit and directed A Wonder in My Soul for their mainstage.

He is geeked to come back to his artistic home at Congo Square Theatre where he is an ensemble member and served 3 years as artistic director.

He's coming off of directing How to Catch Creation at Geva Theater and will be directing the world premiere production of ABCD by May Treuhaft-Ali at Barrington Stages this summer.

Other Congo Square Theatre producing/directing credits include What I Learned in Paris, Brothers of the Dust (2012 ATCA New play Award, BTAA for Best Play), which he helped develop, The Fall of Heaven, King Hedley II (BTAA for Best Ensemble, Best Director) Producing credits include The Nativity at Goodman Theatre, The Colored Museum, Bulrusher and staged readings for Congo Square's Summer Reading Series, Legacy Festival, and Festival on the Square. Daniel is also an established performer with extensive acting experience, most last featured in Lydia Diamond's Toni Stone at Roundabout Theater in NYC. Daniel is a member of SDC, AEA, AFTRA/SAG.

Amanda Dehnert (she/her) (Director of Lucy and Charlie's Honeymoon) returns to Lookingglass to direct Lucy & Charlie's Honeymoon. She most recently shared composing credit with the amazing Andre Pluess on The Steadfast Tin Soldier; prior to that she was part of Eastland: A New Musical (Director/ Orchestrator), and Peter Pan (A Play) (Director/ Writer). Chicago credits: co-composing the World Premiere of Shining Lives (a musical) (Northlight Theatre), creating vocal arrangements for Iphigenia In Aulis (Court Theatre/ Getty Villa), both with Pluess, as well as directing Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), and her original musical, The Verona Project (American Music Theatre Project). Regional work: Love's Labour's Lost (Director/ Co-composer, with Andre Pluess), Timon Of Athens (Director/ Composer), Into The Woods (Director/ Conductor), Julius Caesar (Director/ Adaptor) at  Oregon Shakespeare Festival; the World Premiere productions of Ken Ludwig's Baskerville (Director, McCarter Theatre; Arena Stage; Philadelphia Theatre Company); Kate Hamill's Pride and Prejudice (Director, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival; Seattle Repertory Theatre; Primary Stages); the revival productions of My Fair Lady (Director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Virginia Stage Company; Actors Theatre Of Louisville; Cleveland Play House; Trinity Rep); and The Fantasticks (South Coast Repertory; Arena Stage; Long Wharf Theatre; Trinity Rep).  Amanda also directed West Side Story (Carnegie Hall at The Knockdown Center) conducted by Marin Alsop, Richard III (The Public Theater Mobile Shakespeare Unit), and Cabaret (Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Canada).  Amanda is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Northwestern University. 

Sara Gmitter (she/her) (Lookingglass Artistic Associate, Writer of Villette) began her career at Lookingglass in 1998 as an assistant stage manager and has gone on to stage manage 42 productions and workshops for the company. She has also served as a teaching artist, writer, and director for the Lookingglass Young Ensemble. In 2014 she made her main stage debut as a playwright with In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story (Jeff Award Nomination for Best New Work). Previous playwriting credits include Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy (New Suit Theatre Company), co-written with Jason Burkett, adapted from the film by Dr. Randy Olson; and A Long Fatal Love Chase (Powerhouse Theatre Company) adapted from the novel by Louisa May Alcott. Her short story, Harold, has been heard on WBEZ's Stories on Stage. Sara was the inaugural recipient of the 2022 Adrienne Shelly Foundation Playwright Award. She advocates for the rights of girls and young women in her role as Programs Coordinator for Girls Inc. of Santa Fe.

Aleshea Harris (she/her) (Writer of What to Send Up When It Goes Down) is a playwright, spoken word poet and educator who received an MFA in Writing for Performance from California Institute of the Arts. She is currently working on projects commissioned by American Conservatory Theater and CalArts' Center for New Performance.

Her work as a playwright has been presented many places including: the Costume Shop at American Conservatory Theater, Playfest at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, freeFall Theatre Company, VOXfest at Dartmouth, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and L'École de la Comédie de Saint-Étienne, National Drama Center in France. Her play, Road Kill Giant, was among 300 nominees to The List of "excellent new plays" compiled by The Kilroys in 2014.

Aleshea's poetry has been featured at RedCat Theater for CalArts's Tedx Conference, as part of La Fête du Livre at La Comèdie de Saint-Étienne, at the Skirball Center and in the 2015 anthology, The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.

Harris has instructed at the Marcia P. Hoffman Institute of Performing Arts, The Royal Theater Boys and Girls Club, Youth Arts Corps, and The Patel Conservatory. Harris currently teaches in the School of Theatre at CalArts, and through CalArts' Community Arts Partnership (CAP). Harris' God Is received the 2018 Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broway or Off-Broadway Play.

Ericka Ratcliff (she/her) (Lookingglass Artistic Associate, Co-Director of What to Send Up When It Goes Down) Baltimore bred Ericka Ratcliff is Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre Company where she works to amplify the mission of celebrating the complexities of Black life and culture on stage. Most recently Ericka directed WHITE with Definition Theatre and was co-director on the Chicago premiere of What to Send Up When It Goes Down at Congo Square. She has worked regionally and locally with Alliance Theater, Steppenwolf, Northlight, Victory Gardens, Chicago Shakespeare, Collaboraction, House Theater of Chicago, Mixed Blood, Milwaukee Rep, Kansas City Rep, CENTERSTAGE, Pittsburgh Playwrights and Second City to name a few. She is a recipient of the Chicago 3Arts Make A Wave Award, 2017. Ericka is also an Artistic Associate with Lookingglass Theatre and most recently appeared on the Lookingglass stage in Plantation!.

Tracy Walsh (she/her) (Lookingglass Ensemble Member, Director of Villette) is a writer, director, choreographer, and actor. She has appeared in many Lookingglass shows over the years, most recently Her Honor Jane Byrne, The North China Lover, and Still Alice. Recent Lookingglass choreography credits include Beyond Caring (Intimacy Choreography), Blood Wedding, and The North China Lover. She also directed and choreographed The Old Curiosity Shop at Lookingglass. She has appeared in and choreographed shows at Court Theatre, including Electra and Iphigenia in Aulis, which will be remounted at The Getty Villa in Los Angeles. She was in the original cast of The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, directed by Mary Zimmerman at Goodman Theatre and Seattle Repertory Theatre, and She Always Said Pablo, directed by Frank Galati at Goodman Theatre and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Additional choreography credits include Agamemnon and Carmen (Court Theatre); Arcadia and All's Well That Ends Well (Goodman Theatre); Don Giovanni and The Jewel Box (Chicago Opera Theatre); and The Napoleonade (Eclipse Theatre). Tracy has written, directed, and choreographed extensively for the Lookingglass Young Ensemble, including plays about American jobs, The Plague, and affordable, quality childcare. She and her husband Thomas teach yoga to adults with developmental disabilities, and co-own and teach at Lighthouse Yoga & Acupuncture in Evanston, where they live with daughters Honor and Echo.

Matthew C. Yee (he/him) (Lookingglass Theatre Artistic Associate, Composer and Writer of Lucy and Charlie's Honeymoon) has been a part of the Chicago theatre community since 2013. Matthew was most recently seen in pre-production performances and will have his Broadway debut Fall 2022 in Almost Famous the Musical. Previous Lookingglass credits include Treasure Island and Moby Dick. Recent credits include Almost Famous the Musical (Old Globe Theatre), Cambodian Rock Band (Victory Gardens), and Once (Paramount Theatre). TV credits include Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice, AMC's 61st Street, and reoccurring on Empire Season 3. In addition to being an actor, Matthew is a musician, playwright, and filmmaker, having contributed multiple short stop-motion films to Lookingglass' annual gala.

Mary Zimmerman (she/her) (Lookingglass Ensemble Member, Adaptor and Director of The Steadfast Tin Soldier) is a writer and director and has worked with Lookingglass for more than 25 years. For Lookingglass, she adapted and directed The Odyssey, The Secret in the Wings, The Arabian Nights, S/M, Metamorphoses, Eleven Rooms of Proust (Co-production with About Face Theatre), Argonautika and Treasure Island. Mary is also part of The Goodman Theatre artistic team where she adapted and directed Candide, The Jungle Book, White Snake, Mirror of the Invisible World, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Journey to the West and The Odyssey as well as directed The Music Man, Wonderful Town, All's Well That Ends Well, The Trojan Women, Pericles and Silk. She has twice directed for the New York Shakespeare Festival in the Park. Regionally, her work has appeared at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Huntington Theatre Company, McCarter Theatre, Arena Stage, and Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. In New York, her work has appeared at Lincoln Center, Second Stage Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Circle in the Square Theatre.

Many of these productions as well as her Arabian Nights, Argonautika, The Secret in the Wings, Treasure Island and Eleven Rooms of Proust have played across the country and internationally. Her adaptation of Ovid's Metamorphoses which originated at Northwestern and Lookingglass Theatre ran on Broadway for a year and she received the Tony Award for Best Direction of a play. Opera directing credits include Galileo Galilei at the Goodman (with Philip Glass), Lucia de Lammermoor (Metropolitan Opera, La Scala) and Armida, la Sonnambula, Rusalka (Metropolitan Opera). Zimmerman is a Professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern University and an Artistic Associate at Goodman Theatre, recipient of the 1998 MacArthur Fellowship and recipient of numerous Jeff Awards.

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