Photo Coverage: THE NORTH CHINA LOVER at Lookingglass

Kicking off its 26th Season, Lookingglass Theatre Company presents the World Premiere stage adaptation of Marguerite Duras' The North China Lover, translated byLeigh Hafrey and adapted and directed by Ensemble Member Heidi Stillman. The North China Lover runs September 25 - November 10, 2013 at Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson. You never forget your first lover. The affair plays like a moving picture over and over in your mind: passionate, consuming, secret, taboo.

Fade in: the seamy French Quarter of Southern Indochina in the 1930s where the impoverished schoolgirl who will someday be French novelist Marguerite Duras is about to meet and captivate a wealthy 27-year-old Chinese aristocrat.

With the older Duras as our guide, The North China Lover transports us on a provocative and haunting journey of awakening and sacrifice, revealing the delicate and indelible effect of life on art.

"When I first read the book, probably around twenty years ago, I couldn't believe what I was reading. There was something about the voice of the novel that was so striking, so original, and that shook me so thoroughly that I kept putting the book down, so my first time reading it wouldn't end," says adaptor and director Heidi Stillman. "Duras's writing, for me, is incandescent and mysterious. The subject matter too: sexual, familial, social and political complexities thrown down seemingly without agenda, layers and layers of complexity that one may never truly get to the bottom of; the material strikes me as deeply real, human and messy."

"A theme that underlies this 26th Season is discovery, and The North China Lover features two people taking radical risks, stepping outside the comfort zones of their own backgrounds, their families, even their own hearts -- compelled, in part, by this urge to discover. They embark on a journey with no map, not knowing where they will land or if they will end up together or apart, and they do so with the appropriate mix of both fear and fearlessness, breath and breathlessness," says Artistic Director Andrew White. "In a way, this perfectly mirrors the experience Lookingglass strives to provide both artists and audiences with every original show we bring to the theater -- the thrill of striking out for new ground, stretching beyond our usual boundaries, encountering a different viewpoint, looking through a new lens."

The cast includes: Ensemble member Tracy Walsh (Woman in Red); Walter Owen Briggs(Pierre), Amy J. Carle (Mother), Tim Chiou (The Lover), Deanna Dunagan (M), Rae Gray(The Child), JJ Phillips (Paolo), Allison Torem (Helene) and Betti Xiang (Musician).

The creative team for The North China Lover includes: Ensemble member Daniel Ostling(Scenic/Lighting), Ana Kuzmanic (Costumes), Artistic Associate Rick Sims (Sound), Maria DeFabo (Properties), Sheila Schmidt (Stage Manager) and Amanda Weener (Assistant Stage Manager). Live music is performed by Betti Xiang and Ensemble member Tracy Walsh is Choreographer.

About the artists

Heidi Stillman (Director/Artistic Director of New Work/Ensemble Member) co-created/directed Cascabel with Rick Bayless and Tony Hernandez. Other Lookingglass writing/directing credits include The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, Trust with David Schwimmer,Hephaestus with Tony Hernandez at the Goodman, The Brothers Karamazov, Hard Times (5 Jeff Awards, also traveled to the Arden in Philadelphia), and The Master and Margarita (with David Catlin). Directing credits at Lookingglass include Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo(Rajiv Joseph), The Wooden Breeks (by Glen Berger), and Hillbilly Antigone (book, music and lyrics by Rick Sims). She also recently staged Laura Eason's Around the World in 80 Days at Kansas City Rep and Mary Zimmerman's The Arabian Nights at Berkeley Rep. Other Lookingglass adaptation credits include The Old Curiosity Shop co-written with Ray Fox and Laura Eason (Jeff Award), and The Baron in the Trees with Larry DiStasi. She was last seen on stage in The Arabian Nights. Heidi was awarded the 2010 Raven Award for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment for The Brothers Karamazov.

Walter Owen Briggs (Pierre) returns to Lookingglass, after appearing as Tom in last year'sBengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Recent credits: The Glass Menagerie (Mary-Arrchie),Romeo Juliet (The Hypocrites), and Hit The Wall (The Inconvenience). Walter is a founding member of The Inconvenience Artistic Syndicate, and is an ensemble member with The Hypocrites. A 2013 recipient of a Joseph Jefferson award for best supporting actor in a play, he has worked with A Red Orchid Theatre, Steep Theater, Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago Children's Theater, The House, Shaking the Tree (Miami), and About Face among others. Film credits: Jessica, A Good Person, Ballad, and Older Children. Walter earned his BFA from the CCPA at Roosevelt University.

Amy J. Carle (Mother) Previous Lookingglass credits include: Bengal Tiger at The Baghdad Zoo, Peter Pan (A Play) and Trust. Other work in Chicago: The Internationalist, The Book Thief, Animals Out of Paper, Sex With Strangers and Hedda Gabler (Steppenwolf Theatre);Season's Greetings (Northlight Theatre); Orlando (Court Theatre); The Sins of Sor Juana, Rock 'N' Roll, Desire Under the Elms (The Goodman Theatre); Refuge (CollaborAction, Jeff nom.); SubUrbia, The Lights (Jeff nom.), Ecstasy, WAS, The Planets (RoadWorks Productions). Off Broadway National Tour: The Vagina Monologues. Regional: Fully Committed and The Diary of Anne Frank (Madison Repertory Theatre); Morning Star (Kansas City Repertory Theatre). Television: "Boss" (STARZ), "Chicago Code" (FOX), "Law & Order" (NBC), "The Guiding Light" (CBS).

Tim Chiou (The Lover) makes his Lookingglass debut with The North China Lover. He was last in town with the world premiere of Year Zero by Michael Golamco at the Victory Gardens. His recent performances include Crimes of the Heart (East West Players), Snow Falling On Cedars (TheatreWorks-Silicon Valley) and the west coast premiere of Year Zero (The Colony- Burbank).

Deanna Dunagan (M) makes her debut at Lookingglass Theatre. She appeared in August: Osage County in Chicago, New York, London and Sydney, winning Jeff and Tony Awards and an Olivier nomination. Other Chicago performances: Other Desert Cities at Goodman; A Little Night Music at Writers' Theatre; James Joyce's The Dead at Court Theatre (Jeff Award); andA Delicate Balance at Remy Bumppo (After Dark Award). She appeared on television in recurring roles in "Prison Break" and "Unforgettable," and in guest starring roles on "Private Practice," "Law & Order," "Cold Case," and "Detroit 1-8-7." She will appear this season in "House of Cards."

Rae Gray (The Child) makes her Lookingglass debut with The North China Lover after workshopping it at Berkeley Rep. Theater credits: Slowgirl, The Book Thief and Wedding Band (Steppenwolf Theatre), Circle Mirror Transformation (Victory Gardens Theater), The Real Thing (Writers' Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), Inherit the Wind(Northlight Theatre), Sunday in the Park with George (Ravinia Festival), The Crucible and Cry of Players (TimeLine Theatre), Meet Me in St. Louis (Drury Lane Oakbrook/Gateway Playhouse, NY), Oliver and State Fair (Marriott Theatre), Completeness (Theater Wit), Jailbait(Profiles Theatre). Upcoming: Slowgirl (Geffen Playhouse, LA). TV credits: "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO) and "Chicago Fire" (NBC).

J.J. Phillips (Paolo) returns to Lookingglass, where he appeared last season as Kev inBengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Additional credits include: Fat Pig (Steppenwolf), and the Jeff Award-winning Punk Rock (Griffin Theatre), as well as workshops with Lookingglass, Steppenwolf, and the Goodman. He studied at The School at Steppenwolf, and under Daniel Cantor at Northwestern University, and is a member of Actor's Equity.

Allison Torem (Helene) returns to Lookingglass Theatre where she first and last played Annie in David Schwimmer's Trust (Jeff Award Nomination). Other theatre credits include Hot L Baltimore (Steppenwolf Theatre) and The Boys' Room (Victory Gardens). Allison can also been seen as Laura in Stephen Cone's The Wise Kids and Ellie in Ignaty Vishnevetsky'sEllie Lumme.

Tracy Walsh (Woman in Red/Choreographer/Ensemble Member) is a Lookingglass ensemble member and most recently appeared in the company's production of Still Alice this past season. She directed The Old Curiosity Shop at Lookingglass and several plays for the Lookingglass Young Ensemble. She has choreographed dances and movement sequences for plays at Lookingglass, The Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre and Chicago Opera Theatre.

Betti Xiang (Musician) An acclaimed Erhu virtuoso in China, Betti has performed throughout the United States including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and the Florida Symphony Orchestra. She performs with Yo-Yo Ma as a member of the Silk Road Ensemble and has collaborated with Amelia Piano Trio, Lincoln String Quartet, Newberry Consort early music ensemble, and Cube Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. She performed for the inauguration of Chicago's Millennium Park with the Chicago Grant Park Orchestra and she received the coveted Young Artists Award for outstanding soloist in Shanghai and Beijing, China. In July 2006, Xiang recorded a Solo Erhu CD "Tune of Countryside" in Shanghai, China.

Related Articles

Chicago THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW Chicago  Follow BWW Chicago

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...