Illinois Theatre Association
In This Edition...

September 17, 2016
ITA's Annual Awards Gala and Membership Meeting
Location TBA 

November 4-6, 2016
ITA's 2nd Bi-Annual Statewide Community Theatre Festival
Illinois AACTFest
commUNITY Theatre: One Heart, One Vision, One Voice
Engle Lane Theatre

January 5-7, 2017
"Find Your Truth: Discover, Uncover, Reveal"
University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

February, 2017
37th Annual Statewide Non-Equity Professional Theatre Auditions
Lake Zurich High School seeks part-time Performing Arts Center Assistant and Assistant Technical Director.

Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center seeks a Box Office Manager.

Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center seeks a Box Office Concierge.

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

Galesburg Theatre Kids Announces Auditions for Alice's Adventure in Wonderland on 4/30 and 5/1.

Click here to visit the ITA's Audition Announcements for more details.

March 11-13, 2016
Fri at 7p
Sat at 2p and 7p
Sun at 2p
Region 3: Glenview

Independent Players
The Octette Bridge Club
March 11-19, 2016
Fri and Sat at 7:30p
Region 2: Elgin
Loyola Academy
The Addams Family Musical
March 11-20, 2016
Fri and Sat at 7:30pm
Sun at 2pm
Region 3: Wilmette 

Harper College
The Tempest
March 11-20, 2016
Fri and Sat at 8pm
Sun at 2pm
Region 2: Palatine
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.  
Each week the ITA sends out "Friday Announcements" to its Listserve (currently comprised of more than 3,000 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 th eatre 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 .
eFOLLOWSPOT    top    March, 2016
Exciting News for Community Theatres in Illinois

Dear Community Theatre Directors, Actors, Administrators, Patrons, Technicians, and More...

The Illinois Theatre Association is thrilled to announce its

2nd Bi-Annual Statewide Community Theatre Festival
commUNITY theatre: One Heart, One Vision, One Voice
Illinois AACTFest
Engle Lane Theatre (Streator)
November 4-6, 2016

In addition to dynamic workshops, engaging roundtable discussions, a compelling keynote presentation, fun afterglow parties, and an awards brunch, the Festival will feature up to eight community theatre presentations on its Mainstage. Two of these companies will be chosen to represent Illinois in the American Association for Community Theatre's 2017 Regional Festival (AACTFest 2017), which will take place in April, 2017. This cycle's regional takes place in Illinois! A special occasion for this great state.
Registration for companies seeking a Mainstage slot is now available. Applications for presenting companies are due by 5/22/16. We will select the first eight companies that respond. 

Click Here for Mainstage Registration.

Not ready to register yet? Have some questions? A schedule of informational video conference calls will be available shortly. In the meantime, please view this  AACT Handbook for some basic information about eligibility requirements. Any additional questions may be directed to Aimee-Lynn at 312-265-5922 x1.

General registration for the Festival will be available in the coming months. Please spread the word and save the date!

Your Illinois Festival Team:
  • Kathy Missel, ITA Community Theatre Division Representative
  • Don Shandrow, ITA Community Theatre Division Representative 
  • Aimee-Lynn Newlan, ITA Executive Director
  • Toni Higgins Thrash, AACT Illinois State Representative
It's Time to PLAY
By Jeremy Schaefer, ITA Theatre for Young Audiences Division Representative
The Purple Crayon Players will present their 8th Annual PLAYground Festival of Fresh Works April 15 and 16.  In advance of the Festival, the ITA had the chance to talk with  Literary Manager,   Delaney Burlingame.
ITA:  Who are The Purple Crayon
DB:  The Purple Crayon Players is a student-run theatre company on the Northwestern University campus committed to creating high quality productions, events, and educational materials regarding all aspects of theatre for young audiences.  Purple Crayon Players believes that audiences of all ages can appreciate, be inspired by, and grow through exposure to this unique art form. 

ITA:  How would you describe the PLAYground Festival of Fresh Works?
DB:  PLAYground is a three-week play development process.  It culminates in a weekend long festival of staged readings of three new professionally written plays for young audiences, workshops, and post-show discussions.  For this festival, Purple Crayon seeks diversity of playwright voice, target audience, and content in our selections, and strives to pair work with student directors invested in the playwright's development goals.  We are excited this year to host three dynamic playwrights from across the country (and Canada!) and a wide range of guest speakers.
ITA:  What draws you to theatre for young audiences?
DB:  Purple Crayon strongly believes that changing the world around us starts with our youth.  Young audiences are new to life, and therefore hungry for stories and knowledge.  TYA allows us to start a conversation with young people about the world and times they live in and all the many paths in life they can follow.  Children are full of spirit and imagination, and bring those qualities with them into the theatre. They seek to have a genuine and fulfilling experience.  I can think of no one else more deserving and challenging for our work to play to.
ITA:  What kinds of things excite you when you're reading a new script for young audiences?
DB:  PLAYground looks to find scripts that challenge their audiences to ask big questions.  We are excited by submissions that give a new perspective, widen a child's worldview, and illustrate the wide range of the human experience.  We also seek submissions that find new and creative ways to engage with a younger audience, serving a child's rampant sense of play and vivid imagination.
ITA:  Where can ITA members learn more about the Purple Crayon Players and PLAYground 2016?
DB:  Visit our website, , or email .
ITA:  Thanks so much for talking with us.  We look forward to checking out the Festival this April!

By Jeremy Schaefer, ITA Theatre for Young Audiences Division Representative
On February 18th, ITA members met at Chicago's Bughouse Theater for an evening with Hogwash!  We spoke with Hogwash's director, Shelby Burton, to learn more about this awesome improvised musical adventure for young audiences.
ITA:  I n a nutshell, what is Hogwash?
SB:   Hogwash was created for kids ages 3-12, but we can't tell who has more fun, the kids or adults.  At the start of the show, kids help pick costumes for the characters and choose a location for their improvised tale. Musicians provide an improvised score and the actors sing songs created on the spot!  Kids actively participate by throwing out twists and turns in the plot, becoming characters in the story, and assisting the players whenever possible.  All of this comes together to create a one-of-a-kind story that has never been seen before, but will live on in the imaginations of the audience and players alike.  It's unique.  It's engaging.  It's a whole lot of fun.  It's HOGWASH!!!

ITA:  An improvised children's musical is an ambitious undertaking.  What's the inspiration behind Hogwash?
SB:  Hogwash was an original creation by Jason Anfinson in 2005.  The show has changed since then, but the  idea was and still is to create an interactive show that both adults and children will enjoy.  Hogwash is a way for kids to problem solve, create, imagine, and work together with professional actors.  At the end of the show, the kids feel like they were a part of creating it, and that gives them a powerful sense of creativity. 

ITA:  Kids absolutely love Hogwash; some audience members return week after week.  What is it about Hogwash that so consistently captivates young audiences?
SB:  It is a different story every time!  The story is led by the kids, so the parents and teachers are often surprised at how creative the kids can be.  Also the parents and teachers enjoy it.  All the humor is family friendly, but the adults enjoy watching the spontaneity onstage. 
ITA: How can ITA members learn more about Hogwash, and
where can they catch a performance?
SB:  Our website is .  We have showsevery Saturday morning at 10:30 AM.  We also have a new program called PigPen on Thursdays at 10 AM for toddlers. We do after school programming, camps, birthday parties, classes, and special events of all kinds. 

ITA:  Can schools bring Hogwash directly to their students?
SB:  Yes!  To book our touring company, contact  .

ITA:  On February 18th, ITA members saw a hilarious Hogwash After Dark performance that catered to an adult audience.  Does the show's format change much when the audience is adults?
SB:  The After Dark show is a PG-13 show.  We have taken the idea of Hogwash as a story structure, but it is a kids show with adult themes.  The audience interacts just as the kids would, but with their own adult ideas.
ITA:  Thanks for talking with us and for putting on a great show.  We had a blast and look forward to seeing more of Hogwash in the future!

A Dream Fulfilled
By Karen Hall, ITA Secondary Education Division Representative
January 7-9, over 4,500 participants from close to 180 schools gathered at Illinois State University where they were challenged to "Dare to Dream" at the 2016 Illinois High School Theatre Festival.  Executive Director Carmel DeStefano spearheaded the weekend which had a host of great moments throughout its jam-packed, 3-day schedule. 

Carm's committee each brought excellent contributions to the weekend.  Seventeen full-length and showcase productions were presented, and Festival participants had the opportunity to attend 100+ workshops.  The Brown Ballroom at the Bone Student Center at ISU was crowded with 55+ exhibitors sharing lots of great information about their schools and products.
The Opening Ceremony featured a company of 8 students performing a revue of musical theatre songs related to the festival theme "Dare to Dream."  They were joined by guest performers Wilson Heredia & Tyce Green.
The 2016 All-State production was Rent.  Director Dennis
Anastasopoulos along with producers Christine Haines & Theresa Shepherd helmed a company of 99 student performers, technicians and musicians.  Braden Auditorium was mesmerized by this lively and moving production.
Although the 2016 IHSTF has ended, the 2017 IHSTF committee has already started making plans for next year's Festival.  Executive Director La Donna Wilson has chosen the theme "Find Your Truth: Discover, Uncover, Reveal."  Mark your calendars for January 5-7, 2017 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the 42nd Annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival.

Are Female Playwrights Being Produced?
By Stacy Deemar, ITA Member
I have made countless submissions to playwriting contests and theatres over the last decade that have resulted in rejection letters and no responses.  What am I doing wrong?  Has anyone actually read my work, or do my plays go into the abyss of an intern's inbox or straight to trash?  What is the secret to getting my work produced?
The November / December 2015 edition of The Journal of the Dramatist Guild of America i.e. The Dramatist , published a study of who is getting produced in the U.S.  "The Count," the comprehensive exam of 145 American theatres, 1486 unique authors, and 2508 productions, focuses on the 2011 through 2014 seasons.  The methodology for "The Count" includes criteria for theaters, controls for productions and writers, data sources, and annual studies in order to examine comparable information.
The results from "The Count" are stunning, and yet instinctively I knew the outcome before it was published.  Between 2011 and 2014, the sampling of theatres in the study concluded that only 22% of produced plays in the United States were written by female playwrights.
When comparing selected cities that produce female writers, Chicago had the highest percentage at 36%.  Only 25% of produced plays in New York were written by women and in Los Angeles, it was an abysmal 23%.  Although these percentages are higher than the national average, the apparent discrepancy between male and female playwrights being produced suggests an epidemic in the American theatre that desperately needs to be addressed. 
Go to for the full study of "The Count."
Where does "The Count" fall short?
The small sampling of theatres included in the study is a skewed representation of American theatres that produce work by female playwrights.  "The Count" excluded Broadway theatres, non-union theatres, self-produced works and community theatres.  
One of the criteria for a theater to be included in the study was that it had to have three productions running longer than twenty-one performances each season.  This condition eliminated several theatres from being eligible for inclusion including Chicago Dramatists, an equity theatre that produces new works.  Chicago Dramatists produced three plays written by women during the 2011-2014 seasons.  Due to financial hardship, they were unable to produce three productions each year.
The selection of Chicago theatres, for example, in "The Count" is also insufficient.  Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Court Theatre, Drury Lane, Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and Victory Gardens Theater were the only theatres chosen from over two hundred theatres in the area.
How should a theatre select their season?
Plays should be selected solely on merit through blind submissions.  Redacting the playwright's name will make the process pure and equalize the opportunity for all playwrights.  Furthermore, a playwright's education, production history, awards or affiliations with associations should not influence a theatre's season.  If the play is well written, it will speak for itself.
The New Play Exchange, a cloud-based script database with asearch-and-filter mechanism, is the ideal place to find a script that meets a theatre's mission.  With just a few clicks, theatres can access a plethora of information including genres, subject matters, full scripts, play summaries, and character breakdowns.
This type of electronic resource is more efficient, and search and submission engines can be anonymous.  The days of cluttered inboxes and paper scripts piled to the ceiling at theatres should be obsolete. 
Why are theatres reluctant to select their season based on blind submissions?
Blind submissions could potentially put many literary agents out of business.  Since the primary responsibility of the literary agent is to promote their client's work, accomplishing this task would be impaired without using a "name."
Theatres that have been operating for years as status quo are reluctant to make changes to their selection practices.  For many theatres, their priority is to foster the personal relationships they have with artists by gainfully employing them.  Thus, a quality play might be secondary to the relationship a theatre has with an artist.  Unfortunately, this practice does not afford opportunities for other playwrights to have their voices heard. 
Theatre is a business and many theatres rely on the classics to keep the lights on.  Plays written by prizewinning playwrights such as O'Neill, Beckett, Guare, Durang, Simon, Miller, Wilson, and Mamet are staples in our theatres and draw theatergoers and school groups.  
What would happen if theatres stopped kowtowing to name recognition and reputation?  Would theatres continue to operate?  Absolutely.  A great play will speak for itself.
What did we learn from "The Count"?
Female voices are unsung.  Women continue to strive for parity and yet not much has changed.  We, artists and theatre educators, need to be the pioneers for soliciting how plays are selected in order to change the culture of the American theatre.  Blind submissions are the first steps in addressing the inequity among female and male playwrights being produced.
I have no reservations that after three years of blind submissions, a similar study of "The Count" will show that there is a significant increase in female playwrights being produced.  

New Texas Law Poised to Change Classroom Culture
By Kenneth Z. Kendall, ITA University/College Division Representative
Colleagues, hello.  My name is Kenneth Kendall, and I am your new College/University Representative.  I am the Lead Faculty for Theatre at Lincoln College, and live in Lincoln with my wife, foster son, 2 dogs, and 3 cockatiels. 
I think we can agree that higher education has been changing at a very rapid pace in recent years.  MOOCs, Hybrid Courses, increased demand for specialized program accreditation, decreased funding and state support, greater course loads and more service, students who aren't prepared for college, and the list goes on.  As teachers, we face challenges and opportunities at every turn, but we still enjoy the freedom of engaging with our students in meaningful and spirited debate on subjects about which we are passionate. 
Sometimes the greatest discussions that can occur in our classrooms venture into territory that might be considered sensitive, touchy, ridiculous, and downright life-changing.  This is why we teach!  This is how we impact the future and help our students learn how to think for themselves.  This classroom, this sacred space filled with young minds hungry to make their way, is a safe zone for all ideas.
However, this freedom may soon be impeded upon.  The University of Houston, along with other schools in Texas, is currently dealing with the State's new campus-carry law.  The following article, written by Rio Fernandes and featured recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education, introduces us to the arguments on both sides, and how this law, and laws like it, may change the classroom culture.

An Update on from the Theatre Group on The Illinois State Fine Arts Standards
By Elisabeth Westphal, ITA Member
The Theatre Group, who revised the theatre standards, was made up of Tom Akers, Jeremy Guidry, Steve Leaver, Diana Lynn Lee, Betsy Quinn, Kevin Yale Vernon, Anthony Walker, and  Elisabeth Westphal. The group spent almost fifty hours working on the recommendations.  Many members of the group are proud ITA members. The technical editing for the theatre group was done by Nathan King of the ITA.  We would  like to thank the many people at the ITA convention this fall who looked at the theatre standards and provided feedback.  While the writing is done, the initiative needs your help.   The Illinois Fine Arts Standards initiative formally presented its recommendations to ISBE Board meeting on Feb.10th.   The recommendations were well received by the ISBE Board, who authorized a 45-day public comment period.  In the near future, rules based upon the standards will be published in the Illinois Register.  Once that occurs, the public comment period will begin, an opportunity for the arts education community to show strong support for the recommended standards.  We are glad to announce the release of the initiative's formal report which is available by emailing Elisabeth Westphal at or Arts Alliance Illinois.  In addition, Arts Alliance Illinois has launched a new site, dedicated to arts learning standards in Illinois.  This is a "sof t" launch; the site will evolve over time to include additional resources and action opportunities.  The site currently provides the recommended standards for view and/or download by discipline.  The Initiative welcomes your feedback.

Grand Stage/Chicago Spotlight Combine Operations, Present an Open House, and Continue Offering Theatrical Skills Workshops
By Steve Jacobs, Grand Stage Co./Chicago Spotlight, Inc., ITA Corporate Member
Grand Stage and Chicago Spotlight have been really busy combining our operations and moving.  We would like to show off our new digs to you at 3418 N. Knox Ave., Chicago.  Visit us during our Open House on Friday, March 11th from 4-8 PM and Saturday, March 12th from 10 AM-3 PM.
On Friday evening we will be hosting a New Product reception featuring green LED offerings from Altman, ETC, and Philips Entertainment along with new controls products from Pathway Connectivity in addition to facility tours and opportunities to speak with vendors.    The Festivities continue on Saturday from 10 - 3 PM as we continue with new product demonstrations, facility tours and our Theatrical Skills Workshops.  From 11-12 and repeated from 1-2, we will offer workshops in integrating LED technology and replacement options for theatres as well as knot tying along with basic curtain repair tips.  These sessions are targeted to students and working professionals alike.  Lunch will be provided.
The combination of Chicago Spotlight and Grand Stage provides us with a unique opportunity to provide greater access to manufacturers and technical support while increasing our service offerings and capabilities.  For almost 70 years, we have sought to support the creative community both locally in Chicago and across the greater Midwest.  We sincerely hope we can be a valued partner with you as we look forward to the future.  For more information, please visit our website or with specific questions and to RSVP, please email Hope Kass at
Mark your calendar for our upcoming Theatrical Skills Workshops taking place at Grand Stage.
► Saturday April 9th 
Morning Session - Care of Stage Curtains
Join Ted Jones of our Art Drapery Studios division and Dick Zell of American Drapery Cleaners as they explain the proper maintenance of theatrical draperies including a discussion of how and why flame testing and treatments are essential parts of theatre safety, along with the relevant codes and statutes.
Afternoon Session - Maintaining Your Lighting Fixtures and System
There is more to extending the life of your lighting system than just changing lamps and replacing the air filters on your dimmer racks.  LED fixtures and new technologies add new responsibilities.  
► Saturday May 21st
Morning Session - Maintaining Your Lighting Fixtures and System
There is more to extending the life of your lighting system than just changing lamps and replacing the air filters on your dimmer racks.  LED fixtures and new technologies add new responsibilities. 
Afternoon Session - Care of Stage Curtains
Join Ted Jones of our Art Drapery Studios division and Dick Zell of American Drapery Cleaners as they explain the proper maintenance of theatrical draperies including a discussion of how and why flame testing and treatments are essential parts of theatre safety, along with the relevant codes and statutes.

ITA Member Spotlight: Brandon Lewis, ITA Member
Submitted by Judy Klingner, ITA Second Vice-President
What is your name?
Brandon Lewis
Please tell us about your education/training in theatre.
I was heavily involved in the theatre program at Hinsdale Central High School where I attended, and after graduating, class of 2000, I attended Columbia College Chicago as a theatre major.  At Columbia, I took classes in design, directing, acting, writing, and stage combat.  I was lucky enough to be able to design nearly 20 productions, work in the costume shop, direct shows, act as a student Tech Director, and become certified by the Society of American Fight Directors in Unarmed, Rapier and Dagger, Broadsword and Small sword fighting.
What does your job as Auditorium Director at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School entail?
At Stagg, I facilitate all events within the performing arts center.  That includes setup, strike, and running the events.  From concerts, to prom parent meetings (during which I am answering these questions), to fashion shows, to basketball awards, I run them all.  Stagg also hosts a variety of rental groups, which I also run, along with hired student workers.  I maintain the space and all of its equipment.  Because of my education, I am also in charge of all the school's sound systems like in the football stadium, basketball gym, dance studio, etc.
You were recently featured as a "Tech Innovator" for District 230.  What new technology do you think every high school theatre should have and why?
So many things are running through my head, but I suppose a digital sound console would be at the top of my list.  While I think it is extremely important to teach students that mixing sound is a lot more than just getting mics "on" and "off" at the right time, (it isn't like lights where you just hit "go"), the reality is, it will not only give the students at least a glimpse of what nearly all of the sound industry is, but it will enhance the sound of nearly every production.  There is an old phrase, "Sound: last thing budgeted, first thing to complain about."  We always are trying to give our students the best chance to succeed in whatever their role is, and I think that a digital sound console is the best way to do that for the sake of an entire production.
Have you ever worked with theatre in a different capacity than you do now?
Besides traditional theatre, I am always excited to design/run lights or sound for concerts and street festivals.  I have had the chance to work around the country on these projects that help mix up my life and career.  Recently, I was called in to be scenic artist for a concert tour which is cool to see my work traveling across the country from stage to stage.

What is the biggest challenge you face related to your work in the theatre?
The biggest challenge is always time management, especially with my family.  I truly have the most supportive and amazing wife, Heather, and the best kids a guy could dream of, Zoey (2 years old), and Riley (3 months old), but when I tech more than 20 shows a year, that can add some stress at home. My wife stays involved in a lot of the shows I do at Stagg in some way or other (mostly setting up tech week dinners, but also co directing A Christmas Carol each year), so that helps her, and my "real" kids, have a great relationship with my high school students.

Of what theatrical accomplishment are you most proud?
That's a tough question because for each show, I find different things to be proud of.  I think maybe that is what I take most pride in, always making sure I'm proud of the work that gets put into any given production by everyone involved, especially my kids, but by me as well.  Sure it may take the occasional all-nighter to cue a show exactly the way I want, but if that's what it takes, I will give every ounce of energy I have to make it the best I could do, for myself, my students, and the audience who are there to be blown out of the water.  Seeing students accomplish things they swore they couldn't do makes me so proud that the opportunity was there to succeed.

Please share details about a theatre project/production with which you are currently involved.
Currently, I am directing and doing tech for both Contest Play and Group Interp at Stagg where we are doing MacBeth and Inside Out, I'm lighting Godspell at St. Francis College Prep, helping program and set lights at Coal City High School for Little Shop, and I am directing and designing Seussical also at Stagg - busy, busy!  I also have the privilege of designing lights for next year's All-State Show, Sweeney Todd.

Please describe your personal history with the Illinois High School Theatre Festival.
I first attended the High School Theatre Fest as a student in 1998.  I remember it being so much fun, and it really started to build my passion for the theatrical arts.  Since being a student, I have been involved in the Festival in many different ways.  I did trucking for one of the All-State shows, Macbeth, I have brought 2 shows from Stagg to the Fest, I have led 3 workshops there, and I have had the humbling honor to design lights for the All-State show 6 times: Parade, Urinetown, Into the Woods, Memphis, RENT, and Sweeney Todd. In addition, I did sound for 1 All-State show, Almost, Maine, and Stagg hosted RENT last year for their build and rehearsals. Stagg has brought the max student load since they had to start limiting attendance.
In what ways have you been/are you currently involved with All-State Productions?
I am very much looking forward to lighting Sweeny Todd for this upcoming Festival.  I truly feel honored to be asked to work on an All-State show, something that, as a student, I always dreamt of.  I think in the last 10 years, there have only been 3 shows I haven't been part of the production team for, and while that seems a little crazy, in truth, I just love being able to collaborate with a whole team of creative people who share the same passion as I do.  I direct 9 shows a year at Stagg, but only work with other adults on the musical; everything else is just me and the students.  Don't get me wrong, I really LOVE talking with them about design ideas, directing concepts, etc., but to be in a room with some of the sharpest minds in educational theatre and talk about a show is really the collaboration I need to keep me evolving as an artist.