Episode 19 – Lavina Jadhwani

Lavina Jadhwani is a director, playwright and casting director who is fascinated by the art of the mash-up.  She recently adapted Uncle Vanya for Rasaka Theatre Company, the midwest’s first South Asian American theatre company where she previously served as Artistic Director.  Lavina spoke with me about the kind of work that’s important to her,…

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 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 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?”…

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…

Spiel Chicago Episode 7: The Jades

This week Smyra talks with the Liz Seidt, Caitlin Aase and Teagan Walsh-Davis, the three founding members of The Jades.  The new storefront theatre company is dedicated to “lifting diverse, underrepresented voices and providing a platform for female-identified artists to thrive.”  We discuss the company’s commitment to diverse casting, their personal struggles with internalized sexism…

Spiel Chicago Episode Six: Burlesque Part 2!

This week we finish up our interview with three Chicago burlesque producers: Stella Cheeks, Red Rum and Ray Ray Sunshine.  In this episode we discuss feminist critiques of burlesque as well as the worst thing that’s every happened to each of them onstage.  Find out more about these artists and their work below the episode.…