Illinois Theatre Association
In This Edition...

The ITA is currently seeking workshop proposals for its 42nd Annual Convention, Celebrating Our Theatre Community: Advocating,Connecting, Supporting, on September 19th at Illinois Central College in East Peoria. If you'd like to be considered for facilitating a workshop, send a description of your 75-minute workshop to Faye Ryan, Convention Chair.

Announcing the 2016 IHSTF All-State Cast of Rent! Click Here.


IHSTF 2016 UPDATE - The IHSTF website has been updated. You can now SUBMIT A PLAY or sign up to BECOME A WORKSHOP LEADER. Visit



Each week the ITA sends out "Friday Announcements" to its Listserve (currently comprised of more than 2,300 theatre artists and educators from throughout the state). If you'd like to submit an item for inclusion in the weekly announcements, please click here[Suggestions for inclusion include: audition announcements, job postings, interesting theatre stories/experiences, lesson plans, community/life events, etc., theatre opportunities, etc.). 


Also, please remember to submit your upcoming performances and/or events to the ITA's on-line performance calendar!!! Click here.






Looking for a creative way to end cell phone usage during your theatrical events? ITA Member Stacy Deemar has just the answer! Download and play this Public Service Announcement  before all of your shows!



September 19, 2015 --

42nd Annual Convention 
Celebrating Our Theatre Community: Advocating, Connecting, Supporting

Illinois Central College and Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, East Peoria 
January 7-9, 2016 --
41st Annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival
Dare to Dream
Illinois State University, Normal 
February, 2016 --
37th Annual Statewide Non-Equity Professional Auditions
Location TBA, Chicago 

March, 2016 --
Annual Creative Drama and Theatre for Young Audiences Conference 
October, 2016 --
Annual Middle School Conference



Bloomington Performing Arts Center seeks a full-time production manager AND a full-time Volunteer & Concessions Coordinator.

South Elgin High School  is seeking a part time (.4) drama teacher to teach two drama classes, direct the fall play and sponsor drama related clubs.

Avoca West Elementary School District 37 in Glenview is seeking a full time drama teacher for 1st through 5th grades.

Click here to visit the ITA's Job Board for details and more postings!



Red Barn Theatre presents
The Boys Next Door
July 1-3, 5 and July 8-12;Wed-Sat at 8:00pm and Sun at 2:00pm
Region: Out of State (Indiana)


The District Theatre presents
Mr. U. S. Grant: A Man and Patriot! (one-person show)

July 4 at 3:00pm

Region 1: Rock Island

SIUE and the Department of Theater and Dance presents

Shrek the Musical

July 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 7:30pm; 
July 12 and 19 at 2:00pm

Region 4: Edwardsville

Need more information on the above shows? Want your performance to be featured here?  Visit the   ITA Performance Calendar for details.

Illinois Theatre Association

The ITA is a network of dedicated theatre artists and educators  advocating quality theatre throughout Illinois.  Please join us!

123 Mill Pond Dr.
Glendale Heights, IL  60139
312-265-5922 (office)
312-265-6101 (fax)


The Illinois Theatre 
Association is partially 
supported by a grant from 
the Illinois Arts Council, 
a state agency.  
eFOLLOWSPOT    top    July , 2015  

  September 19, 2015

Join Forces with Illinois' Vibrant Theatre Community 

Gain Inspiration from Keynote Presentation
by Ra Joy, Arts Alliance Illinois 

Participate in Engaging Workshops

Congratulate ITA's
2015 Awards of Excellence Recipients

Vote on Key Issues at the Annual Meeting

Welcome ITA's Newest Members of the Board

Exchange Ideas with Fellow
Theatre Artists & Educators


Illinois Central College
Holiday Inn & Suites
East Peoria, IL
Early Bird Pricing
$75 - ITA Member
$125 - Non-member
$50 - ITA Student Member
$60 - Student Non-member 

Add $20 to registration after 8/18; students add $15


Summer Reading for the Creative Soul

By Dinah Barthelmess, ITA President



School's out for summer! I know, I know, if you are a teacher, this has not escaped your notice.  If you're like me, you had some system of counting down the days until the kids and teachers take off and unplug for a few short months.  For me it was a countdown calendar on the chalkboard on my pantry door.  Now, don't get me wrong, folks; I love my job, I really do, but we all know that summer allows the time and sunshine we need to relax and give our minds and souls a much-needed break.  And I love that, too. 


I always begin the summer with a lengthy and ambitious to-do list that includes countless summer tasks: picnicking, traveling, canoeing, running, and all the things at home waiting for my attention.  My list also includes a myriad of school tasks: revising that project on the Outsiders, creating and improving rubrics, building a better way to store wood, finding the perfect play for my junior high kids, and so much more.


During the school year, I continually struggle to find that ever-elusive work-life balance, but during the summer, it's pretty easy to let those work goals slip to the wayside.  And that break is important.  But what I don't want to do is let my creative self take a break!  Summer is also time to delve into creative projects and ideas to keep developing my creative thinking.

I've been lucky to be part of a creativity book club for a few years, founded by my friend and former ITA board-member Merissa Stewart.  We meet about every other month at someone's home, share ideas, camaraderie, and enjoy discussing how our chosen book inspired each of us in our varied creative pursuits.  Currently the group includes theater teachers, actors, artists, arts administrators, and teaching artists.  It's a joy to share an afternoon with them. 


I want to share with you a few of the titles we've taken a look at.  Perhaps you'll grab some crackers and cheese, and summer sangria, gather a few artist-types, and do a little summer reading of your own! 


Dancing About Architecture: A Little Book of Creativity by Phil Beadle. 


Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon.


Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon. 


Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith. (We had so much fun with this one, we kept it for two of our meetings!)


Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield. 


And I plan to suggest this for our next read:

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, just released by Elizabeth Gilbert; it comes out in September.


Happy reading!


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Latest News on State Support for the Arts

By Ra Joy, Executive Director, Arts Alliance Illinois


As you've undoubtedly heard in the news, Illinois is facing an unprecedented fiscal and political crisis.  The proposed state budget is creating major challenges for artists and arts organizations across the state.  I'm writing to provide you with a quick update on the budget situation and how Arts Alliance Illinois is responding.


Right now, several cultural and arts programs are under siege and on the chopping block in Springfield:

  • The Artists Fellowship and Literary Awards programs, which support the work of individual artists
  • State museum facilities in Springfield, Lewiston, Lockport, Whittington, and Chicago that serve as vital educational resources and economic engines for our communities
  • Choose Chicago, which promotes cultural tourism
  • The Illinois Film Tax Credit, which helps attract TV and film projects to Illinois and supports thousands of creative sector jobs

And that's just this fiscal year.  The governor has proposed a 20% cut in state general funds for the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA) for next fiscal year (FY2016).  The House and Senate, however, have passed a budget that would appropriate $9.9 million in general funds to IACA, which represents an approximate 2% decrease from last fiscal year but is $1.8 million more than Governor Rauner proposes.  The negotiations continue.


Arts Alliance Illinois and our many statewide partners have been working to educate lawmakers about the benefits of Illinois' investment in culture, the arts, and arts education.  In March, we sent a call-to-action to more than 22,000 citizen advocates.  More than 2,200 individuals responded by sending nearly 11,000 messages to 171 lawmakers urging them to protect IACA's budget.  We also sent Governor Rauner a letter signed by 32 arts leaders throughout the state.  The letter outlined how his proposed budget cuts are counterproductive and do nothing to stimulate economic growth.


The Alliance also gave testimony at the Illinois Senate and House Appropriations Committee hearings this spring.  We are working to build relationships with the new members of the General Assembly and raise awareness about the value of the arts among all of our legislative leaders.


Moving forward, we will remain in close contact with our partners at IACA, the Illinois State Museum, and the Illinois Film Office.  We will continue to monitor developments in Springfield and keep you posted on ways you can get involved and make your voice heard.  You can also visit our "State of the State" webpage for more information about the state budget situation and its impact on Illinois' arts sector.


Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions on this topic or any other aspect of our work.  Thanks again for all that you do to support a thriving, vibrant arts sector in Illinois.


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Seeking Teen Volunteers

By Leslie Hull, Chicago Fringe Festival


This year the Chicago Fringe Festival is launching a new program called Kid's Fringe.  In response to overwhelming community support and suggestions, we are excited to offer kid-friendly events, performances, and hands-on activities during the festival focusing on the younger fringegoers.  Kid's Fringe will take place on September 5th, 6th, 12th, and 13th during the early afternoon.  To help us run Kids Fringe, CFF is currentlyseeking Teen Volunteers (16+).  Our youth volunteer troupe will participate in, help organize, and enjoy all that The Chicago Fringe Festival has to offer while gaining real-world experience and meeting a few new folks along the way.  Volunteer time can count toward service hours, educational credit, and perhaps even lead to future positions within the festival!  Students will gain experience in customer service, event planning/ management, theatre/technical arts, and much more.  This is a unique way to engage with the community and students from other areas of Chicagoland, while discovering or pursuing a passion for the arts and creativity.  If you are interested in finding out more about this opportunity, please contact our education coordinator at


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Tech and Theatre

By Ioana Ligdas, ITA Creative Drama Division Representative


This is my final e-followspot article for the ITA.  It has been a wild ride and I have learned so much working for this Board.  


This year I have learned about the power of using technology in my theatre classes.  The iPad has become a powerful tool.  


I have used technology this year to simply present lesson ideas and activities to my students.  I have used technology to assist grading.  I have given students bonus opportunities to incorporate technology into their work without any limits.  I have used apps and programs to enhance the learning in the classroom.  


Some of my favorite apps are voice memo to work on vocal expression, character voices, and critiquing.  This is a free app.  Another excellent app for presenting or if you want to incorporate newscasts is touchcast app.  This app is great for describing a skill (I used it to show the different energies in physical comedy).  You can use Vapps which are simply pictures from the web as part of your slides. You can record your voice over the slides.  They have a newscast Vapp which has been fun to work with and really catches the student's attention.  Also, students have used touchcast to enhance performances in class.  The downfall of this app is that sometimes you have to go out and come back in a few times as it has a hard time getting started and sometimes downloading to "share" the touchcast takes forever.  


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The Great Escape

By Emily Leonard, ITA Creative Drama Division Representative


Chicago has an impressive history of birthing breakthroughs, invention, and innovation in both the theatre and gaming industries.  Escape Artistry, a new, live, room escape/exit games company, strives to celebrate and excite audiences from both Chicago communities with the opening of their first escape production "The Railcar."

In "room escape" games guests (the audience) are 'trapped' inside a space and given 60 min to work together, find the clues, solve the riddle, get the key, and escape. Escape Artistry is dedicated to producing immersive, imaginative, and innovative room escapes. Each room is made up of story driven puzzles that teach guests about the world we live in, the people in the room with them, and themselves.

Escape Artistry is very excited for the opening of "The Railcar" in late July/early August of 2015. "The Railcar" escape room is located in Escape Artistry's flagship location, room 350 of the Flat Iron Building in Wicker Park. The show is smart, unique, creative, scrappy, a little raw and rough around the edges, and it's totally immersive, memorable fun.

In the future, Escape Artistry looks forward to further delving into the world of immersive and site specific theatrical experiences and plans to offer touring room escapes that travel from city to city, as well as a custom room escape design department with lead Escape Artists who will work with clients to transform their office, space, home, or anyplace at all into an amazing and totally personalized room escape.

More information about Escape Artistry, 'The Railcar', and tickets can be found online at


This all kind of sounds like that zombie show down town, right? Escape Artistry is the little sister/boutique off shoot of Bucket List Productions, 'Room Escape Adventures' which proudly produces "Trapped in a Room with a Zombie" and "Trapped in a Room with a Zombie II: Still Hungry" (tickets and information online at ). 



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Finally - A Movie about Community Theatre

By John Secor


There's a film I'd like to share with you.


JANEY MAKES A PLAY is the story of a 90-year-old woman in Rio Vista, Calif., who writes, produces and directs plays for the town's community theatre.

It's like if WAITING FOR GUFFMAN was remade as a true story with heart.  JANEY MAKES A PLAY speaks to the extraordinary spirit and effort it takes to mount a community theatre production.  It really resonated with me.  I've enjoyed participating in community theatre for more than 20 years, doing everything from acting, directing, painting sets and running sound.  So when I first watched JMAP, I personally identified with several of the film's participants.


Watch the trailer HERE:




I firmly believe this film deserves a wider audience.

I met Jared Callahan at the Atlanta Film Festival, where JANEY premiered.  I was so impressed with his passion that I tried getting his film into Sarasota Film Festival.  Unfortunately, programming finished its job.  But I watched this film and was blown away by Jared's storytelling.  Fortunately, for Jared, JMAP went on to screen successfully at Newport Beach Film Festival and Milledgeville Film Festival with widespread audience approval.  It also will be showing at the Mille.


THIS FILM tells the story of COMMUNITY THEATRE.  It speaks to all of us who have run lines, dashed to thrift stores for costuming and learned lights and sound because, well, we had to. 


Jared initiated a Kickstarter campaign. Feel free to visit where you can learn more about JMAP.  If you're interested in screening JMAP, feel free to get in touch with either one of us (John Secor, or Jared Callahan,


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An Idea for Community Outreach

By Jonathan Meier, ITA Secondary Division Representative


I have spoken with colleagues recently on the subject of community outreach in our theatre programs.  Many of us try to include a component of outreach in our programs, and it seems that school administrations are starting to make this a requirement.  This can be a challenge since high school theatre departments are not traditional clubs, but rather producers of plays and musicals.  Last year at my school, we started a program of partnering with a different charity for each of our productions, and the results were fantastic.


It was actually unusual circumstances that led to this idea.  Eight days prior to the opening of our production of The Secret Garden, the young woman playing Lily was discovered to have a mass on her brains stem.  She had surgery the next day, and to our great relief, the mass turned out to be benign.  She was expected to make a full recovery, but she would not be able to perform her dream role.  During her recovery, we promised her that as soon as she was able, we would remount the show so that she would have the opportunity to perform the role.  We did just that in late July.  We decided that rather than charge an admission for this performance, we would ask those attending to make a donation of any amount.  Proceeds were split between Mundelein High School Theatre and the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital (where she had her surgery).  The press got wind of the story, and we ended with stories on the front page of both the Daily Herald and the Chicago Tribune.  Both ABC and NBC sent reporters out to do stories and broadcast live from our school.  It was quite an evening, and we ended up raising several thousand dollars.

We started the new school year, and our firstproduction was our student directed one-act play festival.  One of the students involved in one of the shows was working on his Eagle Scout project, which was gathering money and school supplies for a wonderful organization called Hands Together, Heart to Art.  This is a unique camp that brings together children between the ages of 7 and 14 who have experienced the death of a parent to experience and celebrate the healing power of creative play.  He set up a display and a donation table in the lobby, and he gave some brief remarks during the curtain raiser speech each night.  An idea was born.


Our theatre officers decided that we would select a charity or organization for each of our shows for the rest of the season.  Our fall play, TRUST, dealt with the sexual assault of a 14 year old girl.  We selected the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center as our receiving organization.  For winter, we produced both The Odd Couple and The Odd Couple Female Version in rotating performances.  Since those plays deal with friendship and accepting people for who they are, we selected our schools chapter of Best Buddies.  Best Buddies creates opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  For our spring musical, Shrek the Musical, we partnered with our schools FBLA chapter to raise money for Fighting Back Against Cancer, a organization started by students in our school to support cancer victims in our community.  For each performance there was a table display in the lobby before and after the show, as well as at intermission.  We incorporated a brief explanation of each charity in our curtain raiser speech before each performance.  


In addition to community outreach, this project also afforded us the opportunity to partner with other clubs and activities within our school.  Since these efforts all occurred on show nights, the majority of the theatre students were busy running the shows.  For this reason, we partnered with different clubs to help us staff the table at each performance.  We were able to work with the Diversity Club, Best Buddies, National Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America.  Our officers this year have decided to continue this project.  They are now in the process of selecting receiving organizations for the upcoming season.  


This type of activity is the quintessential right thing to do and smart thing to do.  As you can imagine, all of the organizations were extremely grateful for our help.  The students were thrilled to be a part of helping these wonderful organizations.  And the theatre department's standing within both the community and the school were enhanced.  


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ITA Member Spotlight: David Soria/

GreenMan Theatre Troupe 

Submitted by Judy Klingner, ITA Second Vice-President


What is your name? 

Photo by Ken Beach

David Soria


Please describe your background in theatre.

My interest in theatre started when I was a child.  My parents were both active in local community theatre, working behind the scenes at the Theatre of Western Springs.  My older brother and sister both took classes and performed with the Children's Theatre [CTWS] there as well.  My father was the chair of sound for the theatre, designing and running sound for many years.  My mother served on the group's Play Selection and Casting committee and was the chair for many years.  I started taking acting classes through CTWS when I was in fourth grade, and stayed involved throughout high school, performing and helping backstage as well.  My parents took me to lots of plays in Chicago, and I have great memories of seeing some amazing productions.  I majored in theatre as an undergraduate and completed an MFA degree in directing at Illinois State University


Tell us about your career path.

I worked at Oakton Community College as an assistant to the technical director for a number of years before completing my graduate degree.  The experience of working behind the scenes on productions, getting a chance to build sets and work on a variety of running crews, was a great benefit to me as a director.  After completing my degree at ISU, I taught directing and acting for several years at Illinois Wesleyan University, speech at Illinois Valley Community College, and theatre courses at Moraine Valley Community College.  I was one of the founders of GreenMan Theatre Troupe in 2003.  Since then, most of my theatre activities have been centered on GreenMan's activities.  I served two terms on ITA's board, as Community Theatre Division Representative.  Some of

Photo by Ken Beach

the other groups I have worked with over the years include Avery Coonley School, Citadel Theatre, Elmhurst Children's Theatre, Heartland Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Kinetic Theatre, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Naples Theatre Ensemble, Open Stage Players, Synergy Stage Players, Theatre of Western Springs, and Vex Theatre.


Of what theatrical accomplishment are you most proud?

I am quite proud of having been involved in the founding of GreenMan and that the group has grown significantly over the 11 years since we began.


Why do you believe that community theatre is important?

Community theatre is important for many different reasons and may be important to different people for different reasons.  It may be a creative outlet for some, while it is a stepping stone onto a professional path for others.  For community members who never get more involved than occasional attendance, the local community theatre may also be a source of cultural pride, part of the fabric of arts and other community organizations that make living in a particular area feel more like home.  Through local community theatre, we are able to serve a wide audience and share the experience of live theatre with our members, as they participate in all aspects of production.


What is your involvement with GreenMan Theatre Troupe?

Photo by Ken Beach

I was a co-founder of GreenMan and have served as Artistic Director since the group's founding in 2004.  I have directed or co-directed 19 of the productions in the 11 year history of the group.  I have designed sets and lights for a number of other productions and have worked as production coordinator as well.  I have been on the board of trustees since the group started.  Earlier this month, I directed GreenMan's first outdoor production, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Next spring, I will be directing Mary Zimmerman's The Arabian Nights.


What is the biggest challenge GreenMan Theatre has to overcome?

GreenMan has many of the same challenges that other community theatres face.  A few years ago, when I attended ITA's community theatre break-out session with representatives from around the state, the list of challenges that other groups raised was remarkably similar to our own.  I would say that one of the top challenges is growing the group of volunteers interested in working behind the scenes on productions and on governance for the organization.  We have a lot of energy and excitement in the group to tackle more and bigger projects, but naturally we need to grow the support structure to bring those plans to life.


Give us some details about GreenMan's annual murder mysteries.

GreenMan's first dinner theatre murder mystery was planned as a one-night-only fundraiser at a local restaurant to raise revenue for our inaugural production of The Fantasticks.  Tickets quickly sold out, so we added a second performance.  We decided to plan for a yearly fundraiser, producing a different mystery show every year.  The dinner shows provide critical operating revenue to cover ongoing expenses for the theatre.  Since 2009, the shows have been entirely original scripts, written and directed by another of GreenMan's founding members, Carolyn Thomas-Davidoff [also an ITA member]. 


Photo by Ken Beach

Please share details about GreenMan Theatre Troupe's current production.

Recently, GreenMan produced our first outdoor production, A Midsummer Night's Dream, which ran through June 21.  The production took place in Berens Park, Elmhurst, next to the Wagner Community Center.  We rented a large tent, built a platform stage at one end, and brought in lighting, sound, sets, costumes - everything needed to have a finished production.  The tent sheltered the audience and stage, so we could still perform even if there was light rain.  The tent also acted as a natural amphitheater, so it wasn't necessary to mic the actors.  Our audiences at the back of the tent could hear clearly.  Unfortunately, we had very heavy rains on our first Saturday, over 2.5" in little more than an hour, so we did cancel that one show.  I directed a cast of 27, which included a number of junior high and high school aged children, taking on roles such as Titania's fairies and a few other roles.  The adult cast members were a mix of actors who have appeared with us before, as well as a number of actors who appeared on our stage for the first time.  


Where can we find current information about events, tickets, etc.?

Information about upcoming events at GreenMan as well as auditions, tickets, classes, etc. can be found on our website or by signing up for our mailing list.  Tickets can be purchased online through a link at our website:  We also post information about our activities on Twitter and Facebook. 


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