Episode 18 – Lauren Sivak

Growing up, Lauren Sivak always knew she would move to Chicago, she just didn’t know why.  In 2009, she came for an education internship at American Theatre Company.  Now she’s the Managing Director at 2nd Story, a storytelling collective located in Albany Park.  Lauren and I sat down in 2nd Story’s new home to talk…

Episode 17 – Delia Kropp

Actress Delia Kropp took a ten year hiatus from the Chicago theatre scene. When I asked her if that was hard she replied, “it was necessary.” Delia is a transgender woman and has only in the last few years returned to auditioning–now as her true gender. She spoke with me about her work as an actress, the challenges facing transgender actors in Chicago, and what she and others are doing to make our stages more inclusive.

You can catch Delia’s work when she directs the winner of the Pride Films and Play Trans Play Festival on June 11th and 12th. To learn more about her creative and activist work, you can visit her website.

Episode 16 – Loose Chicks

“I have had a long and interesting life,” says producer Roberta Miles. She chronicles her experiences (“Sex gone wrong stories–I have a lot of those”) in one woman show and in her monologues performed at Loose Chicks, a bi-monthly storytelling performance co-produced by Jillian Erickson. Roberta began writing after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and found herself spending a lot of time in bed. In this episode, Roberta and her collaborator Holly Beaudry discuss what it’s like to hear raw and revealing stories from Chicago women as well as what makes a great monologue.

Episode 15 – Erica Vannon

Director Erica Vannon is drawn to the kind of work that makes you “giggle into a bit of horror.” Or stand up and scream like you’re at a football game. Or cry (a lot (if you’re me)). She produces the impossible, like a devised opera performed in a hotel room or a 3 minute piece with 47 actors.

Episode 14 – Avi Roque

When I saw The Jades’ production of An Alamanc for Farmers and Lovers in Mexico last year, I was totally captivated by the actor who played San Cristobal: Avi Roque.  I did a little research and learned that Avi is just as cool and interesting as they seemed. Avi is gender neutral and uses the pronouns they/them/theirs.  We…

Spiel Chicago Episode 13 – Maren Rosenberg

Maren Rosenberg is a local performer who moved to Chicago after a stint as an artist in residence in the West Bank. Now her company, Escape Artistry, is opening a second location this year featuring five new room escape events. What is a room escape? Listen in to learn about it as well as Maren’s time as an artist in residence overseas.

Spiel Chicago Episode 12 – Not In Our House

In June of 2015, actress Lori Myers heard–for the fourth time in two months–a story from yet another colleague about extreme abuses of power in the Chicago theatre community.  Frustrated, she posted a now infamous Facebook post asking, “If your friend, sister, daughter, or coworker was working under a sexual predator—what would you do about it?”…

Race and Representation Among Decision-Makers in Chicago Theatre (or How Guerrilla Research is Like Performance Art)

Diversity on Chicago’s stages has been the hot button issue in 2016.  But, as director Lavina Jadhwani observes, “Casting is the symptom, not the root problem. I wish we could focus the conversation more on decision makers (including directors and writers — but also producers, artistic directors, etc).”  The lack of diversity she saw in…

Spiel Chicago Episode 8 – Melissa McNamara

This week Smyra talks with the incredibly multi-talented Melissa McNamara.  Melissa is an improviser, movement director, pilates instructor and solo performance artist.  We discuss how she found herself on such a diverse path and how she started Mind Art Core Pilates Performance, which has twice won The Chicago Reader’s “Best Of Chicago” award for best…