Jackalope Theatre Company Announces Its 10th Season; Names Nora Leahy Managing Director

Jackalope Theatre Company, under the artistic direction of Gus Menary, announces its 2017/18 season, the company’s 10th. The upcoming season features four productions, including three world premieres. Jackalope’s 10th season begins with the world premiere of 1980 (Or Why I’m Voting for John Anderson) by Patricia Cotter, directed by Associate Artistic Director Kaiser Ahmed. Next up is the world premiere of Franklinland by Lloyd Suh, directed by Chika Ike, followed by the world premiere of The Light Fantastic by Ike Holter, directed by Artistic Director Gus Menary. The season concludes with Jackalope’s third collaboration with The Yard, the collective of Senn Arts theatre students., under the artistic direction of Gus Menary, announces its 2017/18 season, the company’s 10th. The upcoming season features four productions, including three world premieres. Jackalope’s 10th season begins with the world premiere of 1980 (Or Why I’m Voting for John Anderson) by Patricia Cotter, directed by Associate Artistic Director Kaiser Ahmed. Next up is the world premiere of Franklinland by Lloyd Suh, directed by Chika Ike, followed by the world premiere of The Light Fantastic by Ike Holter, directed by Artistic Director Gus Menary. The season concludes with Jackalope’s third collaboration with The Yard, the collective of Senn Arts theatre students.

Artistic Director Gus Menary and Board President Clare Butterfield announce the appointment of Jackalope’s new Managing Director, Nora Leahy, to join Jackalope’s staff at the start of the season and to lead the company into its next decade, Leahy will begin her tenure at Jackalope on August 1, 2017. She succeeds Nate Silver, who has served in the role for the past four years.

“Nora perfectly encapsulates the creative thinking and adventurous spirit that has come to define our company,” says Menary of the appointment. “As we think of the growth we’ve experienced and our aspirations for the future, Nora is the right person to lead Jackalope on this exciting journey.”

“I am thrilled to join the generous and dedicated artists at Jackalope, and to lead a company whose work I have admired for years,” says Leahy of her new role. “Jackalope is truly a paragon of Chicago storefront theatre, and I look forward to honoring the company’s mission of presenting bold new work that celebrates diverse perspectives, and building upon the company’s tremendous momentum.”

All four of Jackalope’s 2017/18 productions will take place in Jackalope’s theatre space within Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N Broadway. In addition to these three shows, Jackalope will present The 9th Annual Living Newspapers Festival in The Frontier during August of 2018.

“Jackalope’s 10th season is bursting with world premieres from the most exciting and gifted playwrights working on the national stage,” says Menary. “Thinking about Jackalope’s mission and the shifting cultural climate in our country today, these new works capture what is uniquely American and remains unchanged. In these plays we can find ourselves mirrored in our collective history, serving as a reminder that our new national landscape is not without familiar landmarks.”

Jackalope is offering a 2017/18 Season Pass, which gives patrons access to the four productions in Broadway Armory Park, tickets to The 9th Annual Living Newspaper Festival, exclusive access to Jackalope’s artists at special events, reserved seating and free parking for all productions, and special invitations to Jackalope’s lineup of developmental work and supplemental events at The Frontier. The 2017/18 Season Pass is $75 and is available for purchase via http://www.jackalopetheatre.org.

J A C K A L O P E  S E A S O N  10: U P – C L O S E

1980 (OR WHY I’M VOTING FOR JOHN ANDERSON)
World Premiere
By Patricia Cotter
Directed by Kaiser Ahmed

October 17 – December 2, 2017| Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway
Press Night: Tuesday, October 24 at 7:30pm

It’s 1980 and an unknown congressman from Illinois, John Anderson, just might have a chance to be President of the United States. In the candidate’s Boston campaign office, four idealistic young campaign workers struggle to spread the hope that their long-shot candidate might bring to the country and to their lives, while staving off that era’s Unthinkable Presidency. 1980 (Or Why I’m Voting For John Anderson) pits youthful optimism against the status quo, in a world premiere comedy about class, race, and the politics of change.

FRANKLINLAND
World Premiere
By Lloyd Suh
Directed by Chika Ike

January 9 – February 17, 2018 | Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway
Press Night: Tuesday, January 16 at 8:00pm

Philadelphia, 1752. Growing up as the only son of Benjamin Franklin – the greatest scientific mind in the world; inventor of the lightning rod, the odometer, the glass harmonica, bifocal glasses, and, in his spare time, The United States of America – is not all it’s cracked up to be. In the world premiere of this moving new play, Franklinland asks what it’s like to make your way in life knowing your father’s greatest invention wasn’t you.

THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
World Premiere
By Ike Holter
Directed by Gus Menary

May 8 – June 16, 2018| Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway
Press Night: Tuesday, May 15 at 7:30pm

We’re deep in the mid ’90s. Clinton is president, cellphones are a novelty, and toasty R&B jams blast from every available speaker. Grace, a down on her luck phony-storefront-psychic of questionable commitment and sobriety, is on the run and thirsty for cash. When a client meeting goes horribly wrong, Grace is dragged through an intense examination of fake spirituality versus terrifying belief. From the writer of Exit Strategy and Prowess comes The Light Fantastic, a world premiere based on the true story of an infamous, unsolved case of spiritual possession.

COLLABORATION WITH THE YARD
Performed by The Yard Ensemble

July 16 – August 18, 2018| Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway
Press Night: Tuesday, July 17 at 7:30pm

Nora Leahy (Managing Director) comes to Jackalope from Lookingglass Theatre Company, where she currently works as the business coordinator. Prior to joining Jackalope, she served as the Co-Founder and Producing Managing Director of Two Pigs Productions, a company that toured professional theatre and educational curriculum to under-served regional venues. She is also an ensemble member at Lean Ensemble Theater in Hilton Head, South Carolina. When she’s not being a business lady, Nora also writes plays. Her full-length plays include: The Bridge (2017/18 Woodward Newman Drama Award Finalist), If You Forget Me (Commissioned by Lean Ensemble Theater 2017), Wonderland (TYA commissioned by the Santa Fe Trail School for the Performing Arts 2015), and The Jungle Book (TYA commissioned by the Santa Fe Trail School for the Performing Arts 2016).

Patricia Cotter (Playright, 1980) is an Emmy Award winning, Groundling Theater Alum. She’s received the American Academy of Arts Letters, Richard Rodgers Award for musical theater. Other honors include the Ovation Award and the Garland Award. Her plays include Rules of Comedy, 39th Humana Festival of New American Plays, 2015; The Anthropology Selection, Rules of Comedy, The Break Up Notebook, and Three. Her musicals (librettist/adaptations) include Rocket Science: A Musical, and The Break Up Notebook: A Musical (based on her play, music and lyrics by Lori Scarlett).She adapted Mulan, Jr. based on the Disney film, MULAN for Disney Theatrical. She was the co-librettist on Justin Love, which won The LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Production 2013. She is a member of the Playground Writers Pool, where she received the 2014 June Anne Baker Prize and commission which honors the top female playwright representing a gifted new comedic or political voice for the stage. She is a 2016 Playwrights Foundation Resident Playwright.

Kaiser Ahmed (Director, 1980) served as the Founding Artistic Director of Jackalope from its inception in May of 2008 through the end of 2011. With Jackalope, Kaiser has directed The Raid, The Killing of Michael X, Long Way Go Down, Slaughter City, and The Last Exodus of American Men. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago’s Theatre Directing program, Kaiser is also an Artistic Associate at The Artistic Home Theatre Company. A member there since 2005, he directed The Late Henry Moss and House of Yes. Kaiser also recently directed Vanya and Washer/Dryer at Rasaka Theatre. Kaiser is a 2015-16 Eugene O’Neill National Directors Fellowship Finalist and a 2016-17 Victory Gardens Directors Inclusion Initiative recipient where he assistant directed Hand To God. Favorite acting work includes Ideation and Lunacy! (Jackalope Theatre).

Lloyd Suh (Playright, Franklinland) is the author of Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (NAATCO, Guthrie with Mu, Princeton), The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! (Children’s Theatre Company, Ma-Yi/La Mama, ArtsEmerson, Cultural Center of the Philippines), American Hwangap (Magic Theatre, Ma-Yi, Halcyon/A-Squared, Cultural Center of the Philippines, PCPA in Seoul, Korea), Jesus in India (Magic, Ma-Yi), Great Wall Story (Denver Center), and others. He has received support from the NEA, Mellon, NYFA, NYSCA, Jerome, TCG and Dramatists Guild. His plays have been published by Sam French, Smith & Kraus, Duke University Press and American Theater magazine. He is an alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, a resident of New Dramatists, member of EST, and from 2005-2010 served as Artistic Director of Second Generation and Co-Director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. He currently serves on the Dramatists Guild Council and has since 2011 served as Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark.

Chika Ike (Director, Franklinland) has had the opportunity to work with many Chicago and regional theatre companies, including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Victory Gardens, The Gift Theatre Company, Eclipse Theatre, American Blues Theatre Company, and Prologue Theatre Company. She is a recipient of the Bret C. Harte Fellowship (Berkeley Rep), the Sir John Gielgud Fellowship (SDCF), and was part of the inaugural Inclusion Initiative at Victory Gardens. Chika will be directing A Swell in the Ground by Janine Nabers for The Gift Theatre this fall.

Ike Holter (Playright, The Light Fantastic) returns to Jackalope, where his plays Exit Strategy and Prowess both enjoyed sold-out runs. Ike has had work produced at Teatro Vista, The Steppenwolf Garage, A Red Orchid, Barrow Street, Primary Stages, The Lily Tomlin Theater, Philadelphia Theater Company, The New Colony, and The Inconvenience, where he is a founding member. A recipient of a Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for drama in 2017, Ike has also received fellowships and commissions from Goodman Theater, Studio Theater, The Kennedy Center, Writers Theater, Teatro Vista, DePaul University and The Playwrights Center. His plays Exit Strategy and Hit The Wall premiered in Chicago and moved to Off Broadway productions in New York. He was named the “Chicagoan of the Year in Theater 2014” by Chris Jones of The Chicago Tribune, and his monologues have been published in The New Yorker and Applause Books.

Gus Menary (Director, The Light Fantastic) is a founding member of Jackalope Theatre Company and currently serves as its Artistic Director. Twice named one of The Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago by Newcity Stage, Gus directed the world-premiere of Ike Holter’s Exit Strategy (Jeff Nomination – Best Director), Ideation by Aaron Loeb, Shawn Reddy’s My Name is Mudd, Andrew Swanson’s Lunacy!, and Moonshiner for Jackalope. He has directed world and midwest premieres for other companies in Chicago including Brett Neveu’s Detective Partner Hero Villain at Strawdog, Nat Cassidy’s Reckoning of Kit and Little Boots at First Floor Theater and Ike Holter and Evan Linder’s B-Side Studio for The New Colony and The Inconvenience, where he is a founding member.