MOTHERHOUSE World Premiere Extends Into the Summer at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

New tickets are now available through June 25 at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble.

By: May. 10, 2023
MOTHERHOUSE World Premiere Extends Into the Summer at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
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Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is adding performances to the sold-out world premiere run of Motherhouse by RTE Ensemble member Tuckie White, directed by Azar Kazemi. New tickets are now available through June 25 at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago, (773) 334-7728 or

The cast includes RTE members Mary Cross (Tucker), Jessica Ervin (Annie), Meighan Gerachis (Weezie), Tara Mallen (Lizzie), Jane Baxter Miller (Barbie), with Andi Muriel (understudy/Annie). Kirsten Fitzgerald will join the cast as Weezie for the final two weeks.

In Motherhouse, a young woman enlists the help of her four aunts to create an authentic eulogy for her recently deceased mother. What begins as a small act of family solidarity quickly spirals into darkly comic chaos as they attempt to capture the spirit of the departed. Motherhouse is a wickedly funny, wickedly human story about the painful, messy momentum of grief.

Playwright Tuckie White comments, "I believe humor is invaluable in the performance, writing, and expression of stories. It is the spoonful of sugar, the release of tension, the small yet profound mercy that allows us to absorb and process narratives that explore the painful, challenging, and messy aspects of humanity. "

"Motherhouse expresses the heart and soul of all that Rivendell has to offer-new work developed in-house, featuring contributions from a cadre of genius artists, most of whom are longtime Ensemble members. The production is steeped in the richness of collaborative history and as a result sings with the life it illuminates. It is the absolute embodiment of Rivendell's nearly 30 years of excellence. It's the kind of work Chicago expects from Rivendell, and we are delighted to share it all with you-both the bitter and the sweet," comments Artistic Director Tara Mallen. "The response to this production has been so supportive and enthusiastic. We are so thrilled to be able to extend for additional performance weeks-and we look forward to having Kirstin Fitzgerald join our ensemble cast."

The creative team features RTE members Janice Pytel (costume design), Victoria Deiorio (sound design), Evan Sposato (production manager & technical director) and Jerre Dye (dramaturg), with Lauren M. Nichols (set design) and Gabrielle Strong (lighting design). RTE member Pat Fries is the Production Stage Manager.

About the Artists

Tuckie White (playwright) is an actor, voiceover artist, and writer based in Chicago. A graduate of The DePaul Theatre School (BFA, acting), she has been part of productions at Raven Theatre, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Jackalope Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago Dramatists, Steppenwolf, Lifeline, c*ckand Bull, Red Tape, Victory Gardens, and Goodman Theatre. In addition to voiceover and commercial work, some of her film/television credits include: The Drunk, The Removed, Educating Cooper, After Effect, Easy Abby, Dead Shark, and NBC's Chicago Med. She is an alum of Io and Second City and represented by Grossman & Jack Talent. Recent writing credits include Dead Shark, an original pilot produced by Cap Gun Collective, and staff writer on the YouTube Premium show Overthinking with Kat and June starring Sasheer Zamata and Justin Kirk.

Azar Kazemi (director) is first generation Persian-American and the Founding Artistic Director at The Blind Owl, a socially-charged theatre where the political and personal collide. She most recently directed Layalina by Martin Yousif Zebari as part of Future Labs and The Wizards by Ricardo Gamboa as part of New Stages, both at The Goodman Theatre. Some of Azar's Chicago directing credits include: the U.S. premiere of Debbie Tucker Green's dirty butterfly, the Midwest premiere of Jack's Precious Moment by Samuel D. Hunter, and Crave by Sarah Kane. Azar received her MFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University in 2011, where she has also been on faculty since 2015 and received the 2020-21 Excellence in Teaching Award. Along with The Goodman Theatre, Azar has worked at Victory Gardens, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Jackalope Theatre, Silk Road Rising, American Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In New York City, Azar worked at The New Group where she assistant directed three Off-Broadway productions, two under the direction of her mentor Ethan Hawke.

Mary Cross (Aunt Tucker) is a founding member of Rivendell, where she has appeared in Spay, Something Clean, Women at War, Eat Your Heart Out, Factory Girls and Faulkner's Bicycle, as well as originating the role of Meg in the 1996 world premiere of Wrens (Jeff Award - Best Ensemble and Best New Work), and playing Gwyneth in the 2012 Wrens remount (Jeff Award nomination - Best Ensemble). Other Chicago work includes: Steppenwolf Outreach's The Crucible, Twisted Knots at The Royal George, Bondages for Shattered Globe (Jeff Award - Best Ensemble), and Two Planks and a Passion and A Mislaid Heaven (Jeff Award nomination - Best Actress) for Famous Door Theatre. Film and TV work includes indie feature films Fools and Killing Eleanor as well as roles on NBC's Chicago Med and Chicago Fire, and the web series Other People's Children. Recently, Mary has been enjoying curling up into a tiny ball in her closet and recording audiobooks. In addition to the middle-grade book, The Last Hope in Hopetown, she can also be heard narrating several Tea Time Cozy Mysteries.

Jessica Ervin (Annie) is an ensemble member at Rivendell where she received a Jeff Nomination for her performance in Dry Land. Other credits with Rivendell include: I Wanna F*cking Tear You Apart; The Firebirds Take the Field; and understudying Scientific Method, Alias Grace, and the tour of Women at War. Other Chicago credits: Swing State (Goodman, u/s); On the Greenbelt (Strawdog Theatre); Killing Game (A Red Orchid, u/s); and roles with American Blues, Walkabout, Route 66, Prop Thtr, The Sound, Broken Nose, and Erasing the Distance. Film/TV: Chicago Fire (NBC); Princess Cyd; Provo; Teacher; New Normal; Appetite; Reckless; Stalled; and Where You Lie. Jessica is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf and Ball State University. She is proud to be represented by Actor's Talent Group.

Kirsten Fitzgerald is a proud member of the Artistic Ensemble at A Red Orchid Theatre and has served as their Artistic Director since 2008. She is thrilled to be making her Rivendell debut and honored to play with these fabulous broads. Recent credits include Swing State, I Hate It Here, Roe, Sweat (Goodman Theatre); Grey House, Traitor, Pilgrim's Progress, Abigail's Party (A Red Orchid); Mary Page Marlow, The Qualms, Clybourne Park (Steppenwolf); Lettie, Appropriate (Victory Gardens). Kirsten was honored with Jeff Awards for her performance in The Sea Horse and for her direction of The Moors at A Red Orchid. Television credits include Shining Girls, Somebody Somewhere, The Big Leap, The Exorcist, Sirens, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Underemployed and ER. Films include Widows, Killing Eleanor and Working Man. Kirsten is represented by Grossman & Jack Talent.

Meighan Gerachis (Aunt Weezie) is an ensemble member at Rivendell. Chicago credits include: The Malignant Ampersands, Small Mouth Sounds, Solstice (A Red Orchid Theater) Roe, The Wolves, A Christmas Carol, New Stages Blue Skies Process and Graveyard Shift (Goodman); Admissions, Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (Theater Wit); Domesticated, Our Town and The House on Mango Street (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Electric Baby, Precious Little, The Walls, Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue, Indulgences at the Louisville Harem, Factory Girls, My Simple City, Wrens (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); Measure for Measure (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Cloud Nine (About Face Theatre); Cigarettes and Moby Dick and Che Che Che (Latino Chicago); The Underpants (Noble Fool Theatricals). Regional: Charm (Mixed Blood Theatre); Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue (Stageworks). Film /TV Somebody Somewhere, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, At Any Price, Virginia. Chicago P.D., Crisis, Bobby & Iza, Sirens and Battleground.

Tara Mallen (Aunt Lizzie) is an actor, director, producer and the founding Artistic Director at Rivendell. Most recently she was seen on stage in Raven Theatre's Chicago premiere of The Luckiest (Jeff nomination - supporting actor). Other recent projects include Rivendell Theatre Ensemble's productions of Spay, Laura and the Sea, The Cake (Jeff Award - Actor) Look, we are breathing, The Firebird's Take the Field, Rasheeda Speaking, Crooked, Self Defense, and The Walls. Other stage credits include: Sweat (Arena Stage),The Cake (Renaissance Theatreworks), How Long Will I Cry: Stories of Youth Violence (Steppenwolf), among others. She is the proud recipient of a 2017 3Arts Award for her work in Chicago

as a theatre artist. Screen credits include the upcoming Apple TV series Dark Matter; Contagion (Warner Bros.); The Last Shift (Sony Pictures); Empire (Fox); Boss (Starz); Chicago Fire (NBC); Doubt (CBS/Sony Pictures pilot); Controversy (Fox Pilot); Chicago P.D. (NBC); and Sense8 (Netflix). For Rivendell, Ms. Mallen co-conceived and directed the critically acclaimed World Premiere of Women At War, a theatrical exploration of women in today's military that played to sold out houses in the fall of 2014 and toured throughout the Midwest; the Jeff nominated Midwest premieres of The Electric Baby by Stefanie Zadravec, 26 Miles (in co-production with Teatro Vista); Fighting Words by Sunil Kuruvilla; Psalms of a Questionable Nature by Marisa Wegerzyn; the co-production of Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue with Stageworks/Hudson in Hudson, NT; and the brief and brilliant Shady Meadows by Lisa Dillman as part of the 2007 Chicago Humanities Festival.

Jane Baxter Miller (Aunt Barbie) is happy as a clam to be back on stage at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. She's been a member of RTE for as long as she can remember and has appeared in Alias Grace, American Wee-Pie, Falling: A Wake, Self-Defense, or the death of some salesmen, Silence, Faulkner's Bicycle, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, and WRENS. Additional Chicago credits include Dandelion Wine (Chicago Children's Theatre), The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Next Theatre), Mr. Kolpert (A Red Orchid Theatre), The Irish and How They Got That Way (Mercury Theatre), Cowgirls (Northlight Theatre), Pump Boys and Dinettes (Theatre at the Centre). Film: Captive State (Universal Pictures), the award-winning short film, Roberta's Living Room (Suh); Television: Chicago Med (NBC), Chicago Justice (NBC), Chicago Fire (NBC), Utopia (Prime Video), Shining Girls (Apple TV+). Jane is also a singer/songwriter. Her alt-country song "That Truck" was featured on the inaugural Bloodshot Records release, For A Life Of Sin, and she's contributed tracks to The Bottle Let Me Down, Poor Little Knitter on the Road, Hard Headed Woman. She co-composed the children's musical Dirty Cowboy for Lifeline Theatre and music from her solo album, Harm Among the Willows, was recently featured in RTE's production of Spay.


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