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Stage Left Theatre Slates Lineup for LEAPFEST XIV

Stage Left Theatre will present LeapFest XIV, Stage Left's annual new-play festival, running July 9 - July 26, 2017. LeapFest features several new plays with socio-political themes, presented as workshop productions in rotating repertory. This year's festival includes new works from Sam Chanse, Liam Fitzgerald, Dana Lynn Formby, Isaac Gomez, and Joe Zarrow.

The festival's name stems from the Downstage Left logo, which features a frog about to "take the leap." This event is designed to help playwrights and their plays bridge the gap between development and full production. To further this objective, the festival features an extensive rehearsal process for each play, multiple workshop performances before the public, and post-show audience discussions after each performance. In addition to our general audiences, regional theater producers and artistic directors are invited to attend the festival in order to get an advance look at some of the best new plays in the country.

This year, Stage Left is partnering with Chicago Dramatists Stage Left is partnering with Chicago Dramatists, a champion of developing new work and emerging and established playwrights. This initiative promises to invite new audiences into the development process.

The LeapFest XIV Plays:

Bad Date

by Liam Fitzgerald ♦ directed by Stage Left Ensemble Member Drew Martin

Rachel woke up bruised and hungover, next to a man she barely remembers meeting. To him, it was nothing special. To Rachel, it was rape. Everyone else, isn't quite sure what they think happened, and feels in no rush to make a decision. In an academic world that can barely admit to the occurrence of rape, Rachel finds herself fighting an uphill battle to convince her community, her friends, and even her attacker of the truth.


by Joe Zarrow ♦ directed by Stage Left Theatre Co-Artistic Director Jason A. Fleece

A beloved comic book superheroine is finally getting her own feature film, but some fans are very unhappy with the casting. A universe-hopping play about geek culture, race, and keeping your story straight.

The Displaced

by Isaac Gomez ♦ directed by Jo Cattell

Marísa and Lev have just moved into their new Pilsen apartment in hopes of rekindling a spark that's long been extinguished. While looking for the circuit breaker in the attic, a mysterious coconut appears, leftover from the previous tenants with a dark history inside it. The Displaced explores the wake of pain and yearning left behind when gentrification forces people out of their homes and the kind of vengeance that can come from it.

Em 'N' Nam

by Dana Lynn Formby ♦ directed by Chicago Dramatists Artistic Director Meghan Beals

All Em wants is to make the best egg sandwich in the history of egg sandwiches. When she enlists her culinary professor Nam to teach her how she learns that everything in the food arts must be done with a purpose. As she tries to figure out how to learn correctly it ends up costing her something she didn't know she had.

The Other Instinct

by Sam Chanse ♦ directed by Stage Left Artistic Associate Brittany Gillespie

Tara serves as a gestational surrogate in a Gujarat clinic for Denise, thousands of miles away in California. Each woman is set on realizing her dreams in a rapidly changing world, but complications only intensify as a deeply personal experience becomes a global transaction.

Performances at Chicago Dramatists:

LeapFest XIlV will be performed at Chicago Dramatists at 1105 W Chicago Ave in Chicago. A detailed performance schedules is provided below. The theater is accessible for patrons with disabilities and can be reached via the Chicago Ave El (Blue Line). These workshop performances will feature basic technical elements and will be followed by a discussion with the director and playwright.

Bad Date: Sunday, July 9th, Wednesday, July 12th, and Tuesday, July 25 @ 8PM

Continuity: Sunday, July 16th and Sunday, July 23 @ 5pm

The Displaced: Monday, July 10th, Wednesday, July 19th, and Sunday, July 23th @ 8PM

Em 'N' Nam: Wednesday, July 12th, Monday, July 17th, and Monday, July 24th @ 8PM

The Other Instinct: Wednesday, July 12th, Sunday, July 16th, and Wednesday, July 26th @ 8PM

Tickets and information for all events are available by calling Stage Left Theatre at 773.883.8830 or online at Single tickets for LeapFest performances are $11 each. Patrons can save by purchasing a LeapPASS for $22. The LeapPASS entitles the bearer to full access to all five LeapFest shows.

The LeapFest XIV Playwrights:

Sam Chanse's plays include The Opportunities of Extinction, The Other Instinct, Fruiting Bodies, Lydia's Funeral Video, and gilgamesh & the mosquito (composer Bob Kelly). She is a proud member of New Dramatists, Ars Nova's Play Group, and the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and is a Rita Goldberg Playwrights' Workshop Fellow at The Lark. A former Sundance/Ucross Playwright Fellow and Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow, she has been in residence at MacDowell, Djerassi, Tofte Lake Center, the Lark, and SPACE at Ryder Farm. Her work has been recognized by The Kilroys (Fruiting Bodies: 2015 List and 2014 Honorable Mention; The Other Instinct: 2016 Honorable Mention), and her first solo play, Lydia's Funeral Video, is published by Kaya Press. Commissions include Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan, Ma-Yi/the Flea, Second Generation, Leviathan Lab, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her work has also been developed with Yale Institute of Musical Theatre, The Claque, Labyrinth Theater, and Civilians R&D Group. She is former artistic director of San Francisco arts nonprofit Kearny Street Workshop, and has taught writing and other creative workshops at Columbia University, NYU, various nonprofits, and as a teaching artist. MFA playwriting: Columbia; MFA musical theater writing: NYU.

Liam Fitzgerald is a writer, director, and producer based out of Chicago, IL. He has worked for the literary departments of Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Collaboraction, and Chicago Children's Theatre. He is a company member of Red Theatre and a Resident Designer at Links Hall.

Isaac Gomez is a playwright, dramaturg, and the director of new play development at the award-winning Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, IL. He is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, Co-Creative Director at the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists in Chicago (ALTA) where he runs and is a participant of El Semillero: ALTA Chicago's Latino Playwrights Circle, an Ensemble Member with Teatro Vista, an Artistic Associate of Pivot Arts, Artistic Curator for Theater on the Lake 2017/2018, a steering committee member of the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) and an artistic community member at The Hypocrites in Chicago. As playwright, he has worked with the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Victory Gardens Theater, Pivot Arts, American Theater Company, Chicago Dramatists, Teatro Vista, Definition Theater Company, Greenhouse Theater Center, Sideshow Theater Company, Stage Left Theatre and Something Marvelous.

Dana Lynn Formby is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists. She was a finalist for the 2016 Emory Fellowship in Playwriting as well as a finalist and semifinalist for the 2015 and 2016 Princess Grace Award for playwriting. Dana's most recent play, THE PLAY THAT USED TO BE TITLED '1247 LIKES' DECIDES TO GO DANCING IN THE CEMETERY, was commissioned by Theater Emory. THE LABELER, was a 2016 finalist for the American Blues Theatre Blue Ink Award and will be read at Luna Stage in 2017. Her play JOHNNY 10 BEERS' DAUGHTER was a finalist for the O'Neill 2016 National Playwrights Conference. It will be produced this spring by Something Marvelous and Chicago Dramatists. Her play AMERICAN BEAUTY SHOP was read at Steppenwolf's First Look 2014 and is was published by Bloomsbury Methuen in conjunction with the world premiere at Chicago Dramatists this past spring. Dana is a three time 'Kilroy Honorable Mention' playwright. Dana's plays have been produced, workshopped, and read by Pegasus Theatre Chicago, Chicago Dramatists, Mortar Theatre Company, Steep, PICT, Victory Gardens, WordBRIDGE, Florida Studio Theatre, The ALLIANCE THEATRE of Atlanta, The Kennedy Center, Theater Emory and New York Theatre Workshop. Her short play A DECK OF MONSTERS was featured in Goodman Theatre's New Play Bake-Off. Her play UNTIL DEATH was produced in 2015 at Concordia University Chicago in association with Chicago Dramatists. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Ohio University. Dana is represented by The Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency in New York. Website:

Joe Zarrow is a Chicago-based playwright and actor. Stage Left co-produced the world premiere of his play Principal Principle (co-production with Theatre Seven of Chicago, Jeff Nomination for Best New Work), and in Chicago his plays have also been produced by Walkabout Theatre, LiveWire Chicago Theatre, Tympanic Theatre, Broken Nose Theatre, and Collaboraction. He has appeared on Chicago PD, and other favorite performances in Chicago include Alan in This (Windy City Playhouse), Officer Don McMurchie in Buddy Cop 2 (Pavement Group), Edward Brennan in State & Madison: The Grid in The Chicago Landmark Project (Theatre Seven of Chicago), Schoolch in Bulrusher (Congo Square), Ezra Chater in Arcadia (New Leaf), Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Sankofa), and Dad in Walk Two Moons (Adventure Stage). Joe is a proud graduate of The School at Steppenwolf.

Founded in 1982, Stage Left Theatre is committed to nurturing voices for the American theatre by developing and producing plays that raise debate and challenge perspectives on political and social issues. Through a full subscription season and Downstage Left, one of Chicago's most prolific new play development programs, Stage Left strives to bring high-quality new work and world premieres to the Chicago stage. Stage Left's new play development programs are generously supported by the Cedars Legacy Fund. The theatre's general operations are supported by generous grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and a City Arts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

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