Friday, June 28, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Makeup and Masks

Facing Angela opens this weekend! 

How stoked are we? Way stoked. 

With the premiere of Facing Angela approaching in matter of hours, our artists are busy perfecting their designs. You've probably heard us making a big hullabaloo about the makeup and masks in this show and for good cause, 'cause they are pretty righteous. 

Here's a sneak peak at the backstage goings-on before tonight's preview performance: 

Casey Cunningham applies makeup to start Angela transformation. Photos by Gerard Van Halsema.
Makeup Designer Aly Renee Amidei does some makeup detailing on Susan Myburgh.

Masks, are you ready for your close-up?

Angela's masks designed by Sarah Scanlon and Joshua Davis

Christine Vrem-Ydstie applies makeup to create Angela' distinctive bruise pattern.

Susan Myburgh paints on some icky bruising. 
Angela bonding time with Susan Myburgh and Julie Cowden.
Oh, Angela. That's doesn't look so good, sweetie. 

We're super proud of our actors and designers, but we still need some help making all of this happen. So, how can you help? Two ways.

1) Come see the show! Tickets for Facing Angela are on sale on the Athenaeum's website. 

2) Donate to our Kickstarter. We have 4 days left to raise a little over $1000, and we know we can reach out goal with a little help from our friends. 

Sage advice from Cecil. 


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Publicity Photo Shoot

By now, you've probably seen the awesome photos that we've been using for the promotional materials for Facing Angela.

They really are something else, huh?

On the day of the photo shoot, three of our five Angelas (Casey, Christine, and Susan) were ready to transform from pretty ladies to pretty ladies with slight to severe facial abrasions. Mask and Makeup Designer, Sarah Scanlon was there to facilitate their transformations. 

Sarah started with Susan, whose Angela had the most severe injury. 

Susan Myburgh (Torn Angela) and Sarah Scanlon (Mask and Makeup Designer)
After starting with some general bruising, Sarah had a brilliant idea. What if it looked like part of Susan's jaw was made out of exposed metal? How gruesome would that be?! Using a combination of tin foil, tissues, and liquid latex, Sarah was able to achieve the awesomely scary effect. 
Sarah Scanlon (Mask and Makeup Designer), Susan Myburgh (Torn Angela), and our photographer Gerard Van Halsema in the background

After finishing Susan's makeup, Sarah moved on to a lessening degree of bruising and injury with Christine and Casey.
Christine Vrem-Ydstie (Repaired Angela) and Sarah Scanlon (Mask and Makeup Design)
All the while, our photographer extraordinaire Gerard Van Halsema took some amazing solo shots of our Angelas in their varying stages of beauty and decay. 

Casey Cunningham (Angela X) and photographer Gerard Van Halsema

Susan Myburgh (Torn Angela) and photographer Gerard Van Halsema

Once our girls were all ready, Gerard took some amazing shots of them as a group.

L-R: Susan Myburgh (Torn Angela), Christine Vrem-Ydstie (Repaired Angela), Casey Cunningham (Angela X) and photographer Gerard Van Halsema

If we did all this just for the photo shoot, then you should see what we're cooking up for the production! But we need your help to make it happen...

We have TEN DAYS left to reach our Kickstarter goal to make some truly amazing masks and makeup effects for this show. We hope that you'll consider donating to our company and helping us make this show the best that it can be. 

Facing Angela, written by Scott T. Barsotti and directed by Kyra Lewandowski, opens on Saturday, June 29th. The production will run Thurs.-Sat. at 8pm and Sun. at 2pm from June 29- July 28 at the Atheneaum Theatre (2936 N. Southport). For more information, please visit

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Love and Illness: a blog by Facing Angela understudy Natalie Hurdle

"When I first read Facing Angela, it was like a sock in the gut. It felt so personal to me. Like Angela, I have an immune disorder (though, unlike Angela, I’m fortunate that you can’t tell by looking at me), and too many moments in Facing Angela hit uncomfortably close to home. It’s enough of a mindfuck to come to terms with the fact that your body is attacking itself without then having to confront what that will mean to and for the people you love, the people who love you. Chronic illness is profoundly unglamorous, sometimes frightening, inconvenient, not to mention outrageously expensive to treat. Will he be up for all that? Will he always think of me as fragile? Will he know how to support me through flare-ups? Can he still find me beautiful when he sees me sick? It’s a lot of work to love someone with so much baggage to unpack.

The more time I spent with the script and in rehearsal with the brainy and brilliant creative team, however, I started to feel that this was a story about all of our secret fears in marriage and commitment—that immune disorder or no, we all bring some kind of sickness into our relationships: dysfunction, addiction, self-absorption, insecurity, jealousy... all the ugly shit we carry around is corrosive.Facing Angela started to feel more like the story of what happens when that sickness is taken to an extreme and the toll it can have on what matters most to us. At least in part. 

There is a lot going on in this sucker. I can’t wait until an audience falls down the rabbit hole with us."

- Natalie Hurdle, Understudy

Sounds like a pretty cool show, huh? 

We think so too, but we need your help to make it happen.

Please consider donating to our Kickstarter campaign. Every dollar counts!

Facing Angela, written by Scott T. Barsotti and directed by Kyra Lewandowski, runs June 29-July 28 at the Athenaeum Theatre (2936 N. Southport). 
For more information please visit or

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Angela is coming. Piece by piece.

The Ruckus has a new show coming to a theater near you...

Angela has lost her face. Acquiring a new face alters more than skin and tissue, cutting into Angela's relationship with her husband, Wes, and mutating her sense of self. As Angela re-constructs, re-invents, and re-defines her identity, Wes ceases to recognize the woman he loves, and doubts whether he really knows himself either. This re-imagining of Scott T. Barsotti's 2003 play, explored over the course of the season with the cast and company and directed by Kyra Lewandowski, will delve deep into how we recognize ourselves and those we go to bed with, and the collateral damage of transformative change.



You can help us make this show even better by donating to our Kickstarter campaign. We've got 21 days to make our goal a reality and every dollar counts. Plus, there are some pretty sweet perks for donating, like a makeover by personality Florida Devereaux

Stay tuned for more news about Facing Angela...

Facing Angelawritten by Scott T. Barsotti and directed by Kyra Lewandowski, runs June 29-July 28(Thurs.-Sun.) at the Athenaeum Theatre (2936 N. Southport).
 For more information, please visit or

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Writing this photo caption was a blast. Meet Erin and Casey.

Brewed starts its final weekend tomorrow, and we are the most excited. To celebrate, we're going to share some more bon mots from the lovely people who've helped bring the play to life. Next up: Erin Myers, who plays Paulette, and Casey Bentley, our fearless props designer.

Erin Myers (center) stirs a Casey Bentley cauldron, while Charlotte Mae Ellison (right) reaches for a Casey Bentley jar and Stevie Chaddock Lambert (left) sits in a Casey Bentley wheelchair.

What’s your name, and what on EARTH are you doing here?  

Erin Myers. I dunno, acting and stuff.

How did you find yourself to being a part of Brewed?
Got invited to audition and knew I liked Anna's and Scott's work, was
really excited at auditions to discover how super-playable the
material was - how kinetic and active, and how fun everyone there was
to work with.

What about this play (if anything) excites you?
Lots of stuff - the fights, the turn-on-a-dime, love/hate
relationships, but it's becoming really thrilling as we keep running
it to have so many 4, 5, 6 and 7 person scenes in which everyone has
something huge at stake - it makes for a lot of threads of tension
running across the room - really dynamic scenes.

What about this play (if anything) scares you?
I love Paulette - I was thrilled when I was cast in that part because
she's my favorite, but she's not an obviously like-able person - she's
hard on herself, and on everyone around her and she's really angry,
you know?  But she loves her family so much and I hope that comes
through, too.  I hope her dilemma makes sense to people in the
audience as much as it does to me.

If your character was a professional wrestler or fighter, what would her signature move be?
A haymaker with a windup like Popeye - like, one, two , three, BAM!

In five words or less, why should people come see Brewed?

It's hilarious and terrifying.


And here's Casey!

What’s your name, and what on EARTH are you doing here?

I'm Casey Bentley and I am designing and building some props.

How did you find yourself to being a part of Brewed?

I'm an artistic associate with Tympanic and a friend of The Ruckus'. Last summer the companies hosted a fight workshop to get geared up for the show this season. I was asked if I could put together a rehearsal cauldron for the event and when someone asks you to make a cauldron, you don't say no. 

What about this play (if anything) excites you?

The people. We have some truly talented folks on this production and I'm happy to be working with every one of them. 

What about this play (if anything) was challenging?

Stevie wouldn't let me cut her legs off. i guess she's not that Method. 

What's your favorite design moment/element of the show?

The violence looks great. I had to remind myself that it's choreographed the other night. 

In five words or less, why should people come see Brewed?

These are no cat fights.

Join us for Brewed, Thursday-Sunday, and catch the sisters before they disappear for good.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meet the women of BREWED - Susan and Stevie

We've got five more performances of BREWED, and thought it might be about time you meet some of the fine people who've been bringing it to life. First up: Tympanic's Susan Myburgh, who plays machinery maven Roxette, and our own Stevie Chaddock Lambert, who plays lover-of-rules-and-being-picked-up Babette.

Susan Myburgh as Roxette and Elise Mayfield as Lee

What’s your name, and what on EARTH are you doing here?
Hi-o! In real life my name is Susan, but you all can call me Roxette and I'm here to stir things up and start some trouble. 

How did you find yourself to being a part of Brewed?
I think I'll blame Allison Shoemaker for this one. I recall a conversation that went something like this...
Allison: OMGOMGOMGOMG! Susan, you have to read this awesome play about sister and fighting and everything. It's so good. 
Me: Okay. I'll check it out
Allison: No really! Red it. Read. It. Now. (Allison shoves script in my face)
Me: Okay, okay. I'll read it! 

Cut to. Me falling in love with this script and counting the days, minutes and seconds until the auditions rolled around. Allison was so right. 

What about this play (if anything) excites you?
I am beyond excited to share the stage with these six women. In many rehearsals I've found myself distracted by each of their immense amounts of talent. They are all badasses in their own right and bring their badassery to the layered and complex characters that Scott has crafted. If you come to see this show for any reason, it's for them. Really. They are balls to the wall good. I'm so proud to call them my sisters. 

What about this play (if anything) scares you?

If your character was a professional wrestler or fighter, what would her signature move be?
Roxette is a mechanically minded and always trying to fix things up. So, without a doubt, my signature move would be the "Nut and Bolt."

In five words or less, why should people come see Brewed?

Stevie Chaddock Lambert as Babette, Erin Myers as Paulette, and Dana Black as Juliette

What's your name, and what on EARTH are you doing here?
I am Stevie Chaddock Lambert, and I'm playing the role of Babette in Brewed.

How did you find yourself to being a part of Brewed?
Well, in the summer of 2011 (I believe), I saw a staged reading of Brewed at Strawdog. I was completely enthralled with it. I laughed and cried and gasped and couldn't stop talking about it for months. I thought, "This show is really something special, and I need to be a part of it." Then The Ruckus (my company) started seriously discussing the possibility of producing it with Tympanic and things started to fall into place. I auditioned for it last summer and was BEYOND thrilled when I got cast. 

What about this play (if anything) excites you?
Everything. When it comes down to it, Brewed is about relationships. How these six sisters interact with each other. How they exist with each other. How they love each other. Isn't that really the basis of all great stories?

What about this play (if anything) scares you?
Babette. She is this wonderfully complex character that Scott created, and there is so much going on inside her head. I just want to bring her to life with honesty. 

If your character was a professional wrestler or fighter, what would her signature move be?
Oh, now you know I can't tell you that! I can't give away all Babette's secrets. You'll just have to come see the show to find out...

In five words or less, why should people come see Brewed?
It's all girl Fight Club. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Check this fancy press release!





(Chicago, IL) The Ruckus Theater is proud to announce its fourth season in Chicago, following a successful year of performances at The Side Project Theatre in Chicago’s Rogers Park  neighborhood. Artistic Director Allison Shoemaker and Associate Artistic Director Joshua Davis released today a season of four new plays, and workshops, including two productions penned by Chicago playwright Scott T. Barsotti. First, Anna C. Bahow (Sinnerman Ensemble’s Sweet Confinement; the side project’s The Rocks) directs the world premiere of Brewed. This previously announced co-production between The Ruckus and Tympanic Theatre performs at the Teatro Luna mainstage (March 1- 31, 2013). The second of Barsotti’s works to be produced by The Ruckus is Facing Angela, directed by Kyra Lewandowski (Tympanic Theatre’s Verse Chorus Verse; New Leaf Theatre’s Curse of the Starving Class). Originally produced by Roundelay Theatre Company in 2003, Facing Angela was Barsotti’s first full-length play, and will be re-imagined and revised by the playwright with the aid of Lewandowski and the cast. Facing Angela will be presented in June 2013. Barsotti will also serve as an artist-in-residence for the season.

Additionally, The Ruckus presents two devised works-in-progress. In the autumn, Ruckus Artistic Director Allison Shoemaker directs the workshop of Elise Mayfield is Samuel Clemens, Samuel Clemens is Mark Twain, which is devised by the ensemble and written by Ruckus Ensemble Members Aaron Dean and Matt Test as part of the DCASE Theatre Incubator Series (August 27, 2012). In April 2013, The Ruckus workshops Chicago playwright Brooke Allen’s as-of-yet untitled piece devised with the company, also directed by Shoemaker. Further details regarding The Ruckus: Season 4, including casting and ticket information, will be announced in the coming weeks. Please visit for more information.

“Scott is a remarkable writer, and we’ve all been fans for awhile now–so this season is thrilling, to say the least,” said Artistic Director Allison Shoemaker. “We’re able to collaborate with a playwright we admire, produce work that’s unusual, vibrant and frightening, and provide a number of dynamic roles for female performers in one fell swoop. The chance to create new work as an ensemble with Brooke Allen and our own Aaron Dean and Matt Test is no less exciting, so we’ve got a pretty remarkable year ahead.”

Scott T. Barsotti is a playwright and performer originally from Pittsburgh, PA. Scott’s original plays include Kill Me, The Revenants, Jet Black Chevrolet, Brewed, McMeekin Finds Out, and Your Teacher is Out Today and have been performed at many theatres nationwide. His adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Body Snatcher recently opened at Brisbane Arts Theatre in Queensland, Australia; also in 2012, The Revenants will be produced by Happy Medium Theatre in Boston, as well as New World Arts in Goshen, IN.  His work has been seen at the New York International Fringe Festival, the Rhinoceros Theater Festival, and Collaboraction’s Sketchbook, and has been produced and/or developed by WildClaw Theatre, Curious Theatre Branch, Chicago Dramatists, The Route 66 Theatre Company, Pittsburgh Playwrights, Roundelay Theatre Company, Theatre Seven of Chicago, American Theatre Company, Tympanic Theatre Company, The Ruckus, and The Visceral Company among others.  He is currently adapting Geoffrey Hayes's children's book The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost for Lifeline Theatre's 2012-13 KidSeries season.  As an actor, Scott has appeared with WildClaw Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, Curious Theatre Branch, The Mammals, WNEP Theater, Collaboraction, Pavement Group, and Victory Gardens, and he has designed movement for WildClaw and Strawdog Theatre.  Scott is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists. For more information about Scot T. Barsotti, please visit his website at:

Barsotti’s past works have been critically lauded in several publications, including New City, Chicago Theater Beat, Chicago Reader, and the Chicago Tribune. Chris Jones from the Chicago Tribune has called Barsotti “a very promising young playwright.” Additionally, Brian Kirst from Sheridan Road Magazine says, “Revolutionarily new… Barsotti proves himself to be a major playwright in the making…” Of his upcoming work with The Ruckus, Barsotti says, “Having a play produced is a thrill, having two produced by the same group of artists in one season is an honor.  I'm so excited to be spending the year amongst the talent and ambition of The Ruckus, and I can't wait to share my work with their audience and creative family.”

The Ruckus welcomes Lizzy Powers and Derek Van Barham as its newest company members in Chicago. Powers takes on the role of Company Manager, and Barham serves as Literary Manager. New Ruckus Ensemble Members include Daniel Caffrey (Tympanic Theatre Company) and Kevin Lambert (Ka-Tet Theatre). In addition to Barsotti, Artists-in-Residence for the 2012-13 season include Brooke Allen, Catherine Bullard, Scottie Caldwell, Julie Cowden, Casey Cunningham, and Jennifer Roehm. Bios available at

2012/2013 SEASON 4
Elise Mayfield is Samuel Clemens, Samuel Clemens is Mark Twain | directed by Allison Shoemaker
August 27, 2012 at the DCASE Studio Theater

Somewhere along the Mississippi River, a girl is dropped into a world sated in the nostalgia and humidity of Mark Twain’s novels. Along the journey to find her way back, she encounters many strange things- familiar faces from elsewhere, a river that’s a conduit for time travel, and a strange book of verse detailing many parallel universes, each containing its own Hannibal, MO. Help playwrights Aaron Dean and Matt Test, director Allison Shoemaker, and the ensemble discover when they are and who they could be in this workshop performance, a part of the DCASE Theater Incubator Series. An audience talkback will follow the performance.

Brewed by Scott T. Barsotti | directed by Anna Bahow
March 1- 31, 2013 at Teatro Luna

In the world of Brewed, the task is stirring a pot…all day, every day. The six sisters don’t share the task as they once did. With Nannette busy racing stock cars and Roxette off doing her own thing, the others are left to shoulder the burden. But Paulette is fed up; Collette is clueless; and Babette, crippled in more ways than one, is volatile. Juliette does her best to maintain order and civility…for now. But why must they do this? When one of the sisters calls everyone together, old venom bubbles up and grievance flares, setting into motion an impossible moral struggle. Join The Ruckus and Tympanic Theatre as they explore this new work about gatherings, sacrifice, and the dark art of obligation.

Untitled by Brooke Allen | directed by Allison Shoemaker
April, 2013 at The Side Project Theatre

It’s all fun and games, as the saying goes, until someone loses an eye. The combination of liquor, loosened inhibitions, and silly hats usually makes for a good time. But pair it with the no-man's land that is the switch to Daylight Savings Time, and even an everyday revelry can bare its teeth. Brooke Allen puts a scalpel to the mayhem in this workshop, devised with The Ruckus. An audience talkback will follow the performances.

Facing Angela written by Scott T. Barsotti | directed by Kyra Lewandoski
June- July, 2013

Angela has lost her face.  Acquiring a new face alters more than skin and tissue, cutting into Angela's relationship with her husband, Wes, and mutating her sense of self.  As Angela re-constructs, re-invents, and re-defines her identity, Wes ceases to recognize the woman he loves, and doubts whether he really knows himself either.  This re-imagining of Barsotti's 2003 play, explored over the course of the season with the cast and company, will delve deep into how we recognize ourselves and those we go to bed with, and the collateral damage of transformative change.

About The Ruckus Theater

Founded by an industrious group of Michigan ex-pats, The Ruckus is composed of actors, directors, playwrights, musicians, casting directors, publicity managers, grant writers, baristas, grad students, poets, computer fixers, appointment-makers and census-takers who aim to create a new kind of company—a casteless theater that blends the lines between playwright and actor, audience and company member. The Ruckus Theater is led by Artistic Director Allison Shoemaker, Associate Artistic Director Joshua Davis and a company and ensemble of twenty.

We’re here to create, to examine, to invent, to explode—to create a ruckus. The Ruckus develops new work and the artists who create that work. Our ensemble breaks down the walls of traditional methods to nurture new plays and challenge exceptional artists. We believe in creating our process for every project from the ground up. We commit to the growth of our ensemble, the artists we collaborate with, and the plays we develop. We aim to deepen the cultural bedrock of our community by giving megaphones to new voices and by making theater affordable. By fostering conversations that rip through the curtain, we aim to lead both artist and audience down an unexpected path with art that doesn’t play by the rules.

See how we make a ruckus all over the internet on our blog,; like us at; view our photostream at; follow our tweets at; and spend hours at

– 30

Oh, and this:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Little Closer to the Trees by Aaron Dean

Like most folks in theater who went to college, I had to read a little Anton Chekhov. And I liked it, better than a lot of my classmates I am supposing. Didn't love it. But I liked it. I figured I got him outta the way and wouldn't really have to bother with him again really. I was pretty sure my novice understanding of the guy's work would be sufficient to get me where I wanted to be, and for the most part I was and am still correct.

But as we have been going over this stuff something im particular has touched me in a personal way, and that would be the author's apparent relationship with nature. Now, most know that he was a physician so he must have been a man of, that's real science, emperical science, not lobby science or commitee science or let's sell this fuckin' pill science so I can buy my mistress a lexus science like most physicicans now. He seemed to have a sort of spiritual understanding and appreciation for those things that we can see and feel and test and question, a very admirable comingling of the physical and the metaphysical that in today's divisive atmosphere, where you must choose a team, is very refreshing, and terribly moving.

Read the way the old boy talks about trees, their benefits to humans, humanity, and the humanities and you'll see what I mean.

It has inspired to me start a project. I think I am going to do a simple botanical survey of the street I live on.
I have a fondness for maples. I love their big broad leaves and strong urbane trunks. Maples are fun to climb and perfect to sit under and they make the prettiest songs when the wind blows through them.I was in Evanston recently and noticed how plentiful they are and then noticed that they start to thin out further south and are replaced by oaks and ginkos and...catalpas I think... and some other thin leaf trees I can't identify.

I figure what I will do is get a good book about deciduous trees, learn to spot them, then set down a space, then count how many of each type of tree is on my street in Uptown and then who knows, go from there. 
And then. Well then I will know.

And it will bring me a little closer to those trees. And that's all I really want I guess. Just to get a little closer to them.

NOTE FROM THE RUCKUS: Common Hatred is running Fri.-Sun. evenings at 8pm at The Side Project Theatre through July 22nd. To reserve tickets, please visit Brown Paper Tickets.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Boy, that was Julie Cowden

I think I should write about the devising process itself.

I didn't feel all that great about it.

And by that, I mean I didn't think I contributed much to the process itself.  It was hard work - very psychologically demanding.  Most of the time I didn't want to do it because I couldn't see any results coming from all of our efforts. 

But after I read the first draft of Act One, I felt much better about the whole process.  I think Calamity struck just the right balance of humor and yearning that means Chekhov to me.  I just have to keep reminding myself that I had anything to do with that at all. 

Devising is difficult work, but I believe the results will speak for themselves.

A Note from The Ruckus: Common Hatred is opening in just one week on Friday, June 22nd at 8pm at The Side Project Theater (1439 W. Jarvis, Chicago, IL). We hope that you'll join us for opening weekend! You can purchase tickets by visiting Brown Paper Tickets or by calling Elise Mayfield, Marketing Manager, at 205.335.5381.