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The New Coordinates to Present World Premiere of LAST ASCENT in October

The New Coordinates to Present World Premiere of LAST ASCENT in October

Last Ascent investigates grief, chronic illness, imperialism and the ecological devastation wreaking havoc on our planet and on our bodies.

The New Coordinates, formerly The New Colony, will conclude its 2022 season with the world premiere of Kristin Idaszak's heart- wrenching cliffhanger Last Ascent, directed by Denise Yvette Serna, playing October 15 - November 20, 2022 at The Den Theatre (2B), 1331 N Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets (pay-what-you-can) are currently available at

Last Ascent will feature Valerie Butler-Newbern, Elizabeth Nungaray and Stephanie Shum*.

When Iris, a professional alpinist, is diagnosed with a heart condition that may prevent her from ever climbing again, she reluctantly turns to a therapist who specializes in supporting elite adventure athletes. But Iris begins unpacking a whole lot more than she bargained for as her therapist pushes her to unfurl a tragic accident that changed her life forever. Simultaneously moving forward and backward in time, Last Ascent investigates grief, chronic illness, imperialism and the ecological devastation wreaking havoc on our planet and on our bodies.

The New Coordinates Co-Artistic Director Fin Coe comments, "I have loved this story since its inception, and through the years of development it has only grown sharper, clearer and more relevant. Kristin Idaszak has the singular ability to take the enormity of anthropogenic climate change and ground it in these vulnerable, personal terms so that you cannot look away. This play does not elide nor soften its blows, but still, somehow, remains profoundly hopeful. It is not a eulogy but a call to action, and we hope it will help our audiences to better understand our changing world and empower them to take matters into their own hands, long after the curtain has fallen."

The production team includes Trenton Jones (Scenic Design), Finnegan Chu (Costume Design), Conchita Avitia (Lighting Design), Eric Backus (Sound Design), Kathryn Healy (Props Design), Gaby Labotka (Movement and Intimacy Director), Adelina Feldman-Schultz (Casting Director), AJ Schwartz (Assistant Director), Rebecca Schilsky (Production Manager), Evan Sposato* (Technical Director), Ava Calabrese Grob (Community Engagement Facilitator), Cedar Larson* (Stage Manager) and Monica M. Brown* (Stage Management Cover).


Title: Last Ascent

Playwright: Kristin Idaszak

Director: Denise Yvette Serna

Cast (in alphabetical order): Valerie Butler-Newbern (Angela), Elizabeth Nungaray (Luisa) and Stephanie Shum* (Iris).

Understudy: Cee Scallen (Iris).

Location: The Den Theatre (2B), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Dates: Previews: Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 pm, Sunday, October 16 at 3 pm, Friday, October 21 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, October 22 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, October 23 at 3 pm

Press opening: Monday, October 24 at 7:30 pm

Regular run: Thursday, October 27 - Sunday, November 20, 2022

Curtain times: Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets: Pay-what-you-can. Tickets are currently available at

*Denotes The New Coordinates ensemble member

About the Artists

Kristin Idaszak (Playwright, she/they) is a two-time Playwrights' Center Jerome Fellow and the former Shank Playwriting Fellow at The Goodman Theatre. Idaszak has received commissions from the Goodman, EST/The Sloan Foundation, Cleveland Play House, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and TimeLine Theatre. Her play Second Skin received the Kennedy Center's Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and the Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award, and her play Another Jungle was a Relentless Award Honorable Mention. Idaszak was the Kennedy Center Fellow at the Sundance Theatre Lab. Her work has been seen at or developed through the The Playwrights' Center, La Jolla Playhouse's WoW Festival, SPACE at Ryder Farm, Williamstown Theatre Festival's Directing Studio, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Drama League, Pasadena Playhouse, Circle X, Rivendell Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks and Perishable Theatre, among others. Idaszak's work has also received support from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. She teaches at The Theatre School at DePaul University (where she is currently the Acting Head of Dramaturgy/Criticism BFA program) and Northwestern University. MFA: UC San Diego.

Denise Yvette Serna (Director, she/ella) is a theatre practitioner and arts activist, and serves as Associate Artistic Director of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble in Chicago. Her directing and curating credits include productions with Teatro Vista, The Latinx Theatre Commons, The Neo-Futurists, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Writers Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Prop Thtr, Victory Gardens Theater, Strawdog Theatre Company, Steep Theatre Company, Earphoria Chicago, Pop Magic Productions and El Semillero. Denise co-founded Global Hive Laboratories, an international collective working toward a global theatre rooted in Active Access and community exchange.

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

About The New Coordinates

The New Coordinates (formerly The New Colony) develops New Art and New Artists in order to educate and build New Audiences. Now in its 14th year, The New Coordinates has established itself as "one of Chicago's essential off-Loop companies" (Chicago Tribune). Through the development of countless new plays and musicals, 33 world premieres, and a conscious shift toward becoming an anti-racist theatre, The New Coordinates has cultivated a diverse audience of theatergoers eager to have a voice in the storytelling. Conversation, collaboration and innovation remain at the heart of everything they produce. The New Coordinates' work has been honored with five non-Equity Jeff Awards, Broadway In Chicago's 2011 Emerging Theatre Award, and their shows have gone onto productions across the country and beyond.


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