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 www.ruckustheater.org 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: http://scottbarsotti.wordpress.com.

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 ruckustheater.org.

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, iruckus.blogspot.com; like us at facebook.com/theruckustheater; view our photostream at flickr.com/ruckustheater; follow our tweets at twitter.com/ruckustheater; and spend hours at youtube.com/theruckustheater.

– 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 science...now, 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 tough...by 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. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm Not Selfish. Not a Bit. Now, Let Me Cry by Catherine Bullard

After ten months of thinking about this show, we’ve just begun to talk about Common Hatred as a play in performance.  Karie has said that the play will never be “ready” for an audience, which is good since I still think of this show as a fun game we play in her dining room. Her point is that the play will never feel finished, we’ll just start letting people into the room to wade through with us. That since of cohabitation is important, and it’s something we’re trying to be mindful of even as our characters’ hearts get broken or hopes get fulfilled. Our acting is about making sure we share those emotions with the characters and audience members around us.

In many ways, we’re already doing this. We already take care of each other in the rehearsal room, and we’ll try just about anything to make our fellow cast-mates look good. It’s a healthy, exciting dynamic – and thank goodness, since otherwise this six-month rehearsal process would have flatly sucked. I think audiences will be able to see and feed off of the cast’s love for each other. But here’s the thing: I feel pretty selfish about my character. I helped create her, for crying out loud. I want to take this journey with her.  If she cries, I kind of want to cry, too.

So the challenge will be much the same as any other show, except harder: letting go. That’s always tough, but I argue that in theatre it’s easier when the script is written when you start, or when the play has had countless incarnations before you shake hands with your character. Letting go, for this show, will really be a feat. It will be a statement of enormous trust, as in, “Here, take my newborn while I renew my driver’s license at this downtown DMV.”

As I write, none of us are off-book yet, and we’re still cautiously hopping the inevitable gap between what we devised and the play’s written reality. That’s okay. We have a whole three weeks. Three. Three of them. As for many important things in life, I tell myself that fear is a companion rather than a menace. It’s along for the ride, but it doesn’t signal impending doom. And what we have here is special, and bigger than us, and we want to share it with you.

(A Note from The Ruckus: If you're enthralled by this blog and excited about this show (and we know you are), then you should totally come join us for Brooke Allen's Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's [REDACTED]: a party slash movie slash fundraiser for Common Hatred performing Saturday, June 9th at 8:30pm at The Elegant Mr. Gallery (1355 N. Milwaukee). GAME ON.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ten Activities of Merle While Playing Hooky BY LIZ GOODSON

-Watch the Paula Deen show
-Bake Gingerbread Cookies
-Eat half the Gingerbread cookies with a small glass of milk
-Checks out the photographic supply store. But probably won't buy anything
-Walk around the park with her camera
-Visits the various art museums
-Attends a matinee (is an avid fan of Lon Chaney Sr.)
-Finishes knitting a pair of Christmas mittens for Melissa and Martin
-Enjoys a glass of cordial while watching television reruns
-Before bed, blows a kiss to the picture she took of her fiancé

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Puppet Martin: ON ACTING by Jennifer Roehm

The buzz is building around the Chicago theatre scene’s newest breakout star – the Shadow Puppet version of Martin Crown, leading man of The Ruckus Theater’s current production, LITTLE TRIGGERS. I sat down with Puppet Martin to find out what it is that makes him tick.

JR: Hi Puppet Martin! Thanks for being here today. I’m a huge fan.

PM: It’s no problem. I’m always here. They store me in the plastic bin in the corner.

JR: That’s so great. So what are your major inspirations?

PM: Gosh, where do I even begin? Cereal boxes, definitely. Thin sheets of cardboard in general… Oh, and those boxes that frozen pizzas come in? I guess you could say they’ve all made me who I am today.

JR: Wow, awesome. Let’s talk about your epic battle scene in the first act. It looks so intense! How did you prepare?

PM: I guess you could say I was born to do it. I mean, it’s the only thing I really know how to do. Look, my hand is permanently attached to this sharpened letter-opener.

JR: I see that!

PM: Thanks. It makes dating awkward, though. The last girl I went out with, she tried to hold my hand and got stabbed.

JR: Oh Gosh! Is she alright?

PM: Yeah, she’s fine. We’re still Facebook friends.

JR: Okay. So, um… what’s next for you?

PM: Oh, I’ll probably just take it easy and slowly disintegrate in storage somewhere.

JR: You heard it here first, folks… Puppet Martin, coming to a storage facility near you in summer 2012! I can’t wait for that trailer. Well, that about wraps things up for us today. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Martin!

PM: Hey, it was my pleasure. …can you please put me down now?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tooth Fairy: Friendly Sprite or Local Mob Boss, by Suzanne Keyes

Hey, Tooth Fairy signing in.

So, when Allison contacted my agent to ask if I was interested in Little Triggers, I was a little hesitant at first because I was working on a few other projects at the time. I will admit that we didn't have time to read the script before the read thru, but I thought, you know, where's the harm in that?

Well, I get to the read thru and my eyes almost fall out of my head because there I am, the Tooth Fairy, in black and white, all mixed up in 'The Incident', again. People, it's been almost twenty years, can we drop it? Please.

Anyway, I had already signed on and the last thing I needed was the bad publicity associated with a breach of contract. I need that like a hole in the head.

So, is it true? 'The Incident' between me and the Tooth Troll portrayed in 'Little Triggers'? I'm not going to say that it didn't happen, but...let's just say that I didn't NOT do those things that I portray in this show. Capiche?

Really, who's side are you on, anyway?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

BE GENTLE, IT'S MY FIRST TIME (the actor speaks about acting, rereads his words, dislikes them, but leaves them as is) By Derek Van Barham

This has been my first experience working with The Ruckus. It has also been the first time that I have worked on a new script, and had the playwright around for much of the rehearsal process. It's been so exciting to really discover the world of the play as part of an ensemble. With the playwright there, I could ask questions about the meaning of a line and get an answer directly from the source. Its valuable to be able to discuss the script and see how one line can have a different meaning to each person in the room. Having done a lot of university productions of classics and well-worn territory (things like Earnest and Streetcar), it's been great to really create and originate. There are no models for these characters, no precedents. The script has such imagination. I like imagination.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rob Grabowski on Killing Time and Taking Names

There are no small parts, just small actors. Someone famous said that once. I think Matt Le Blanc. And when it comes down to it I have one of the smaller parts in "Little Triggers." And there's nothing wrong with that. But to discuss the process of acting, finding you're character, etc with a smaller role can be tricky. So I'll let Kevin, Derek or Neal discuss the finer points of acting.

From me you'll get some tips on ways to pass the time.

In Act one, once my scene is done I have roughly 40 minutes to myself. Try one of these suggestions next time you have 40 minutes:

-Reading: Reading is dying in America. Prove the news wrong by bringing a book or a kindle along. Thanks to rehearsals I'm almost done with "An Object of Beauty" by Steve Martin and looking forward to "Neverwhere" by Neal Gaimen and 'Being There" by Jerzy Kosinski through the run of the show. These books have been sitting on my shelf for months! MONTHS!

-Nap: grab a quick twenty winks! Helps get rid of those nasty bags under your eyes.

-Write: I just say you're writing stuff. People will be impressed.

-Re-Cast popular TV shows: One of my personal favorite games. Pick a show (Cheers, ER, ice road truckers) and re-cast it using friends or family. But never other celebrities.

-Make Fun of the Actors on Stage: Make fun of someone not in the room. We all do it. Including your co-workers when you leave a room

-Flirt: practice your flirting skills like Swiveling your hips, wink seductively, pulling your what-nots out smoothly, etc

-Leave Early: British stage rules state that if you're done before intermission you can go home. Do it so you catch the beginning of Conan

In Act two, I have scene where I'm under a sheet for 20 min. Try one of these suggestions next time you're under a sheet for 20 minutes:

-Shopping List: Go over what you have in your fridge and cupboards and what you can pick up on the way home

-Sweat Lodge: It's gonna get hot under there. Use it to your advantage! Drop a few pounds and clean our your pores

-Nap: See Nap under suggestions for things to do with 40 minutes

-Consider the big things: Take a moment and ponder about Life, The Universe and Everything!

-Coin Tricks: no pressure cause no one can see your hands

-Card Tricks: see above

-Ghost noises: self explanatory

-Enemies List: Make a ist of your enemies. Always useful to have especially when the assignation attempts begin to happen.

Hope that helps faithful readers!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vortex: A Chewing Gum Retrospective by Neal Starbird

Vortex is a chewing gum in the 5 line from Wrigley. It is promoted as a "juicy green apple." The first two words are appropriate, but probably more on their own than together. The "apple" is a bit of a stretch. I should say here that I'm not a gum man, so take this for what it's worth. I would say that this gum should be avoided, except that I have found myself encouraging friends and colleagues to try it to great satisfaction, so perhaps you should as well.
The effect of Vortex is fascinating. First there is a flood of fake green apple flavor. Unfortunately, it is sweet like crap wine instead of being in any way tart. I have to admire the folks at Wrigley for being able to squeeze so much flavor into the gum. The flavor of most sugar free gums fades pretty quickly leaving you with a chew toy to gnaw on for a while (did I mention I'm not a gum man?). However, the cloying fauxpple flavor of Vortex just seems infinite with but one minor change. About 10-20 seconds after chewing begins, the original taste moves somewhat to the upstage so that you can receive a full frontal assault of spearmint. You can still definitely taste the lead-off flavor, though, because the spearmint camps out mostly in your nasal cavity while the fauxpple pummels your soft palate.
You probably are thinking "sounds pretty gross, but I'm sure I could get used to it after awhile." That's what I thought too. I believe that is what everyone has thought that I have seen try this product. It's on their faces when they first lift the stick to their lips. "These others are little bitches. I'm the only real man in this room." And then you see the expected look of annoyance at the suitable-only-for-young-children fake apple flavor, and then the tell-tale discomfort as the spearmint gas starts pumping in their sinuses. Then the grimaces as they come to realize the full, discordant cacophony at play in their passageways. They try to tough it out for a few seconds, desperately believing the assault will wane or they will become acclimated to the effects. Finally the panic as they surrender and head for a trash can, or fumble for the original wrapper, desperate to get rid of it and aghast that it could possibly have been released to the public.
After some deliberation, we decided to go with a different gum for this production.