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MASTER WORKS: THE DEGAS PLAYS Set for the Den Theatre, 5/29-6/1


Commedia Beauregard, a Chicago-based theatre company dedicated to producing plays in translation, announces the return of its short play festival of paintings turned into original works for the stage. Master Works: The Degas Plays will be presented at the Den Theatre for one weekend only -- May 29th through June 1st, 2014. Shows are scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Parties, performers, dancing and murder! All this and more can be seen as six paintings by Edgar Degas are brought to life on stage. Six award-winning playwrights were each given one of Degas' paintings: "The Interior", "Dancers at Rest", "The Absinthe Drinker", "Waiting", "Cafe Singer", or "Two Women Ironing" to translate and transform. Then, the plays were put in the hands of six amazing local directors to shape for the stage.

Playwright Julia Weiss started writing six plays based on Degas' "Two Women Ironing" before deciding on When the Iron's Hot. "I tried to find surprises in the painting, tried to look past the obvious, to see their expressions, to find what seemed to be a universal message," explained Weiss. "I learned about women working in laundries at the time and tried to find what's changed and what's the same about the experience of the labor force." What results is a modern and comedic piece - one of the six fresh, fun works created for the Master Works festival.

The festival also features pieces set in the past, pieces that are timeless and, of course, there is dancing - no surprise in a play based on the works of Degas. "[Playwright Cassandra Rose] really captured what a dancer feels and thinks when in a ballet class," stated Dancers at Rest Director and Commedia Beauregard Company Member, Abby Stark. "And what I think Degas was trying to paint," Stark continues. "It's interesting watching the play further translate through the dancers that in are in the show. They're fantastic - they are very inspirational."

The plays - which will be presented back-to-back at the festival - also inspired something new and exciting for Commedia Beauregard. "This is our seventh Master Works festival and this year, for the first time, we will have published copies of the scripts available at the performances, so audience members will have the opportunity to take a piece of the action and the art home," shared Artistic Director, Christopher Kidder-Mostrom.

Those who cannot attend the festival in Chicago or who are interested in Commedia Beauregard's other Master Works scripts, featuring plays inspired by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, can contribute to the festival through the Company's IndieGoGo campaign.

Master Works: The Degas Plays features new plays by Matt Beard, Rachel Bykowski, Jackie Davies, Spenser Davis, Cassandra Rose and Julia Weiss. Directed by Wm. Bullion, Jonathan Goldthwaite, Tiffany Keane, Kacie Smith, Abby Stark and Ginny Trover. The cast includes Ashley Boots, Kayla Boye, Natalee Cooney, Linsey Falls, Kanome' Jones, Chris Lysy, Amber Robinson, Brendan Stallings, Steven Stinson, Shawna Tucker, Leigh Yenrick, and Phil Zimmerman.

Thurs., May 29 @ 7:30 p.m., Fri., May 30 @ 7:30 p.m., Sat., May 31 @ 7:30 p.m., Sun., June 1 at 3:00 p.m.
The Den Theatre, 1333 N Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622. $15 tickets can be ordered in advance through, or by calling 800-838-3006.

About Commedia Beauregard: Founded in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1999, Commedia Beauregard is a non-profit theatre company with a mission to translate the universal human experience to the stage; to expand our horizons and share knowledge of all cultures, translating between languages and between arts to create theater that is beautiful in expression. Today, Commedia Beauregard is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and is producing exciting theatre in translation throughout the Midwest. For more, visit Recent productions include A Klingon Christmas Carol - the only full length play performed in tlhIngan Hol (the alien language created for Star Trek), Macchiavelli's The Mandrake and last year's festival offering, Master Works: The Van Gogh Plays.

About the Playwrights:

Matt Beard has had his plays and sketches performed in Chicago, Colorado, New York, Toronto and Seoul, South Korea. He is the current playwright for the New Colony Associate Company, and a proud parent of Vivarium Theatre.

Rachel Bykowski is a native Chicago Playwright. Rachel is dedicated to writing plays with strong female characters that raise awareness to issues surrounding women. Her plays have been performed and read all around Chicago and parts of Illinois including working with 20% Theatre Company Chicago, Cock and Bull Theatre, DePaul University, and Bradley University. Rachel is a proud company member of 20% Theatre Company and received her BFA in Playwriting from the Theatre School of DePaul University.

Jackie Davies is an actor, writer and dramaturg in Chicago. Her short plays have been workshopped and performed as part of the Missoula Writers' Colony and Spring Green's 24/7 Festival. Stage credits include work with the Milwaukee Rep and Bialystock & Bloom (Milwaukee); Commedia Beauregard, TwoPence, Seanachai, and Janus theaters (Chicago); Catskill and Maine Shakespeare Festivals. She is a founding member of Chicago's Crowded Tub Collective, and is a proud graduate of the University of Montana MFA- Acting program.

Spenser Davis is the Artistic Director of Hobo Junction Productions, a company dedicated to the development of new, original comedies. His plays have been produced at American Theater Company, Chicago Dramatists, Second City Chicago, Theater Wit, Appetite Theater, Valley Rep in Connecticut, MadLab in Ohio, Alumnae in Toronto, and at colleges across the country, and has been published by Smith & Kraus New York. In addition, he won the Audience Choice award at the 2013 Indie Boots Theater Festival and developed a one-act comedy titled Romeo & Juliet & All Their Facebook Friends in collaboration with Gage Park High School for ATC's Educational Bridge program.

Cassandra Rose writes plays, dramarturgs plays, and sometimes even produces plays. Her longer works include At His Best (Cold Basement Dramatics production), Children Of Troy (Steep Theatre staged reading), The Dictionary Project (self-produced) and Blasphemy. She graduated from Columbia College with a BA in playwriting, and she is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Julia Weiss is a writer and performer based in Chicago. Playwrighting credits include: Mr. Postman, The Somewhat Gelatinous Blob From Beyond The Grave And Also The Grave's In Outer Space, Jesus Camp: The Musical, Tammy: A Coming of Age Story About a Girl Who is Part T-Rex (Published by Playscripts, Inc), and Forgiveness. She is endlessly grateful to her mentors, Dennis Reardon and Paul Shoulberg.

About the Directors:

Wm. Bullion has been on or behind the Chicago storefront stages for over 20 years now. Most recently, he directed L'Imbécile for Babes With Blades. As a member of Akvavit Theatre, Wm. directed the Chicago premiere of Jon Fosse's A Summer's Day, co-created and co-directed the burlesque satire Pippi's Lost Stockings: A Skirt Raiser and directed several staged readings. You might have also seen his directing work at Polarity Ensemble-Theatre (Witness to an Accident) or at Second City's Donny's Skybox (LARP Fiction). Mr. Bullion also serves on the Planning Committee for DirectorsLab Chicago. Back in the day, Billy founded Sliced Bread Productions for whom he directed and produced works by the likes of Shakespeare, Brecht, Bullion, Durrenmatt, Charles Ludlam and, more recently, renowned painter-playwright Jeff Whipple.

Jonathan Goldthwaite is thrilled to be making his directorial debut with Commedia Beauregard. He currently serves as the Production Coordinator for Kokandy Productions, a local contemporary musical theater company. He earned his BA in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management from Columbia College Chicago. Before coming to Chicago, he was the founder and Artistic Director of Rusty Pegasus Productions in his hometown of Dallas where he directed productions of Spring Awakening and The Umbrella Play.

Tiffany Keane received her B.A. in theatre directing from Columbia College Chicago where she studied with Joanie Schultz and Brian Shaw among other young and talented theatre artists. After graduation, she became Artistic Director and Founder of Otherworld Theatre Company, a theatre dedicated to the performance of Science Fiction and Fantasy plays. Under Keane's direction, Otherworld's first full-length play of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 earned Otherworld Theatre National recognition. Of Dice and Men, also gained national attention and was mentioned in American Theatre Magazine. Ms. Keane works with other prominent theatres like Lifeline Theatre, Artistic Home, and Greasy Joan Theatre and served as Assistant Director for Commedia Beauregard's A Klingon Christmas Carol in 2013.

Kacie Smith hails from Fort Worth, Texas and is pleased to have been welcomed into the Chicago theatre community in 2011 and has been working primarily on dance theatre with her production company Pursuit Productions. Past shows include: Melancholy Play by Paula Vogel, A Life in the Theatre by David Mamet, Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams, And Baby Makes Seven by Paula Vogel and, here in Chicago, Thirty Thousand One and Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca. Kacie received a BFA in Directing from the University of Michigan.

Abby Stark is an actor, light and make-up designer based in Chicago. She is pleased to make her Chicago directorial debut with Commedia Beauregard. Her previous directing credits include, No Exit and excerpts from Voice from the High School. Abby has previous been seen with Commedia Beauregard in Corleone. She graduated from North Central College with a BA in Theater

Ginny Trover is excited to be making her directorial debut with Commedia Beauregard's Master Works. After years of acting and dancing at the Davis Discovery Center in Columbus, Ohio and Hope College in Holland, Michigan, she jumped into the Chicago theater scene working offstage, assistant directing Slaughter City at Prop Thtr and Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet at Chase Park Theater. She makes no apologies for her plethora of Shakespeare references.

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