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The Gift Theatre Announces 2023 Season Featuring the Chicago Premiere of MOTHERS & More

The Gift Theatre Announces 2023 Season Featuring the Chicago Premiere of MOTHERS & More

The full season will be presented at Filament Theatre as part of an innovative resource-sharing residency beginning in January 2023.

The Gift Theatre has announced its 2023 season, featuring the Chicago premiere of Anna Ouyang Moench's dark comedy Mothers, directed by Lili-Anne Brown and a revival of Jim Cartwright's powerful, award-winning drama The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, directed by Devo de Mayo. The full season will be presented at Filament Theatre (4040 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago) as part of an innovative resource-sharing residency beginning in January 2023.

"As we were dreaming about our first season announcement as a trio, we went on a listening tour of sorts and chatted with our Ensemble to see what dreams they had for the future of Gift," comment Co-Artistic Directors Brittany Burch, Emjoy Gavino and Jennifer Glasse. "Similar themes were echoed throughout the conversations - an excitement for taking risks, exploring out of the box, dark comedies and working with directors who meet us where we are and challenge where our ensemble and audience can go. We are thrilled to announce our 2023 Season!"

Co-Artistic Director Jennifer Glasse adds, "We have been fans of Lili-Anne Brown and Devon de Mayo for YEARS. Both of them are incredible forces of nature as directors and women. Lili-Anne understands the Gift and the uniqueness of our Ensemble. We truly admire the stories she tells that always speak to the heart of voicing and affirming underrepresented people. Devon is masterful at sharing ensemble stories while transporting audiences through her work. Both Lili-Anne and Devon pitched this season to us because they specifically wanted to work on these shows with the Gift. We are so honored and beyond thrilled to bring their work to life."

Season subscriptions are currently available at thegifttheatre.org or by calling (773) 283-7071. The 2023 GiftFlex Subscription Package ($80) includes 20% off all tickets, admission to any performance of Mothers, The Rise and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, tickets to "In the Works, the Gift's exclusive staged reading series, two free ticket exchanges and a discount to the Gift Gala.

An innovative resource-sharing residency

In January 2023, The Gift Theatre will join long time neighbors, Filament Theatre as year-round co-tenants, reactivating Filament's venue in the "Six Corners" as a vibrant arts center. Designed for the companies to share resources and provide valuable pipelines to new audiences, the "industry-leading" arrangement (as described by Professor Alan Salzenstein, Director of the MFA/Arts Leadership program at The Theatre School at DePaul) has the potential to serve as a national model for nonprofit resource collaboration that maintains each organization's mission, artistic and programmatic independence.

"As we continue our plans to open a new theater space in Jefferson Park, this temporary home at Filament provides our current audience a familiar neighborhood to experience our work and introduces us to a new audience base of adults among Filament's following," said Gift Theatre Managing Director John Gawlik. "We are grateful to Julie Richey, Krissi Ann McEachern and their team for inviting us 'in-residence' indefinitely until we settle into our new forever home."

Filament Managing Director Krissi Ann McEachern adds, "At Filament, we believe that building community and sharing our resources are key practices for creating institutional resilience - especially in the ever-evolving landscape nonprofit theaters find ourselves in. We're thrilled to share our Six Corners home with long time neighbors and friends, The Gift Theatre. While they work towards their dream building, it's our hope that this partnership will increase the strength and reach of both organizations, deepening our shared commitment to the Northwest Side."

The Gift Theatre's 2023 Season includes:

May 4 - June 11, 2023

Mothers - Chicago Premiere!

Written by Anna Ouyang Moench

Directed by Lili-Anne Brown

Performed at Filament Theatre, 4040 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Press opening: Monday, May 8 at 7:30 pm

Three moms, a stay-at-home dad and a nanny watch their kids play at Mommy-Baby Meetup. One mom is the queen bee and one is here to shake things up. The dad just wants to fit in, and the nanny doesn't say a word. When catastrophe comes, the five of them have to figure out how to survive a war and each other. Mothers examines the primal heartache of raising children in a disintegrating world.

Comments Co-Artistic Director Brittany Burch, "I first read Mothers nearly a year after giving birth to my daughter. I immediately identified with the vicious humor of the first act, and by the end of the second act I was completely gutted. I love that it sheds light on the blinders we wear in this country to the world around us. The invincibility we can feel and the denial of an inevitable future if we continue to allow our human rights to be stripped from us. Mothers reminds us that if we continue to ignore these issues, they will eventually show up knocking at our front door."

September 14 - October 29, 2023

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Written by Jim Cartwright

Directed by Devon de Mayo

Performed at Filament Theatre, 4040 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Press opening: Monday, September 18 at 7:30 pm

Blown fuses, real and metaphorical, punctuate the action with flashes of pent-up energy in this acclaimed play. The heroine frequently plunges the dilapidated house she shares with her alcoholic mother into darkness by playing her dead father's records at a volume matched only by the soulful power of her vocal impressions. She hides in her room, crooning and dreaming of love, while her disheveled mother mistakes a seedy agent's interest as affection rather than enthusiasm for the gold mine buried in her daughter's throat. This is an engaging fairy tale of despair, love and finally hope as LV finds a voice of her own.

"We loved the idea of presenting a Cinderella story, but in a way that would resonate with The Gift ensemble and audience - dark and quirky, with unexpected monsters and heroes," writes co-artistic director Emjoy Gavino, "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is equal parts hilarity, heartbreak and song. Our industry can disregard the people behind the show - this play explores that exploitation but also shows how art can help us find our humanity, despite the forces and systems that seek to overshadow it. Also, it's just incredibly funny."

Artist Biographies

Anna Ouyang Moench

(Playwright, Mothers) is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Her plays have been produced at The Geffen Playhouse, the Playwrights Realm, East West Players, InterAct Theater, and many other theaters across the country and around the world. Anna is a 2020 Steinberg Award winner and the recipient of a Gerbode Special Award in the Arts commission for a new play that will be produced at Magic Theater in 2022. She has been commissioned by NAATCO for a new play premiering in 2021. In television and film, Anna has worked with Netflix, Apple TV+, HBO, UCP, eOne, PictureStart and Universal. Anna lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Lili-Anne Brown

(Director, Mothers), a Chicago South Side native, works as a director, actor and educator, and has performed in, directed and produced many award-winning shows in Chicago and nationally. She is the former Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she focused programming on Chicago-premiere musicals and new play development with resident playwrights. Recent directing credits include School Girls, or The African Mean Girls Play and the world premieres of Ike Holter's I Hate It Here and Lottery Day (Goodman Theatre), Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Huntington Theatre), Ain't No Mo' (Woolly Mammoth), The Color Purple (The Muny), Once on This Island (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Acoustic Rooster... (Kennedy Center), Jesus Snatched My Edges (nat'l tour) and Put Your House in Order (La Jolla Playhouse). She is a member of SDC, AEA, and SAG-AFTRA, and represented by William Morris Endeavor. www.lilbrownchicago.com

Jim Cartwright

(Playwright, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice) is a multi-award winning, international playwright, screenwriter and director. His work is in almost continuous production around the world and has been translated into over 35 languages. His plays have been performed at The National Theatre, The Royal Court Theatre, The West End of London and on Broadway and in many of the principle theatres of the world. His plays include Road, now considered a modern classic and winner of The George Devine Award, The Plays and Players Award, Drama Magazine Award and The Samuel Beckett Award. Voted third best play of the decade and in the top 50 best plays in the history of theatre. The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, nominated for six Olivier Awards, winning three including Best Comedy and winner of the prestigious Evening Standard Award. Two-time winner of the M.E.N best new play award. Bed, Eight Miles High, Prize Night, Hard Fruit, A Christmas Fair, and most recently at The National Theatre Mobile Phone Show and Raz Fringe First winner 2015 at the Edinburgh Festival.

Film and television include Road, Vroom, June, Wedded, Village, Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise, Strumpet, King of the Teds and the award-winning film Little Voice, adapted from his play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. He has received an Honorary Doctorate from Bolton University, has been a visiting professor at The University of Salford and his old school Harper Green have named a building in his honour.

His plays have been in constant publication since 1986 and are on school, college and university curriculums.

Devon de Mayo

(Director, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice) is a Chicago-based theatre director and devisor. Her Chicago professional credits include: In Every Generation and If I Forget (Victory Gardens Theater), First Love is the Revolution (Steep Theatre); The Tasters, Laura and the Sea and The Scientific Method (Rivendell Theatre); Women Laughing Alone With Salad (Theater Wit); The Burn (Steppenwolf Theatre); Harvey (Court Theatre); Sycamore (Raven Theatre); You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites); Animals Out of Paper (Shattered Globe Theatre); You Can't Take it With You and Lost in Yonkers (Northlight Theatre); Everything is Illuminated and Compulsion (Next); Roadkill Confidential, The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls and The Twins Would Like to Say (Dog & Pony). Outside of Chicago, Devon served as Resident Director on The Audience by Peter Morgan (Schoenfeld Theatre, Broadway, under the direction of Stephen Daldry). She co-wrote and co-directed Guerra: A Clown Play, a collaboration with Mexico City based artists La Piara (performances in New York, Chicago, Albuquerque, Mexico City and Bogota). Devon is an ensemble member at Rivendell Theatre and co-founded Dog & Pony Theatre. She received her MFA in Theatre Directing from Middlesex University in London and a BA in Drama and Political Science from Kenyon College. She did further studies at the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow and the Indonesian Institute for the Arts in Bali. She is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Performance in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago.

About The Gift Theatre

Since 2001 and over 70 productions, The Gift Theatre has been dedicated to telling great stories onstage with honesty and simplicity by being the most intimate professional Equity theatre in the country, leading to national acclaim for both the theatre and ensemble and creating a cultural revolution on Chicago's northwest side.

About Filament Theatre

Filament Theatre, on Chicago's Northwest Side, has been creating innovative theater for young audiences since 2007. Filament's mission is to create a more equitable society by celebrating and amplifying the perspectives and experiences of young people through the performing arts. Please visit www.filamenttheatre.org for more information.



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