Illinois Theatre Association
In This Edition...



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
Premiere Theatre Company is 
seeking the following positions:
Music/Drama/Art Instructors  for upcoming fall classes for ages 5-18. 

Maine East High School
seeks a costume designer for t heir 3 show season.

Glenbard South High School seeks a choreographer and a technical director for Fall musical, The Addams Family. Click here
to submit interest.

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



Harper College
Over the Tavern

August 28 - September 16

Fri & Sat at 8:00pm

Sun at 2:00pm

Region 2: Palatine


Horrabin Theatre

A Shakespeare Soiree

September 11 - 12

Fri at 7:30pm

Sat at 2:00pm and 7:30pm

Region 4: Macomb


Elgin Theatre Company 
Wait Until Dark

September 11-27

Fri & Sat at 8:00pm

Sun at 2pm 
Region 2: Elgin


The Drama Group

The Drowsy Chaperone

October 16 - 25

Fri & Sat at 7:30pm 

Sun at 2:00pm

Region 2: Chicago Heights


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 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 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    September , 2015  
There's Still Time! 
By Faye Ryan, ITA First Vice-President

September 19, 2015

Have You Registered Yet for ITA's 42nd  Annual Convention? Click here for more info.  

What you'll miss if you don't join us in East Peoria:
  • Keynote by Ra Joy,
    Executive Director Arts Alliance Illinois
  • ITA's Annual Membership Meeting 
  • Division Meetings (College/University Theatre, Community Theatre, Creative Drama, Professional Theatre, Secondary School Theatre, Theatre for Young Audiences)
  • ITA's Annual Awards of Excellence Ceremony
  • Dynamic Workshops
  • Mock Audition Clinic
  • After-Glow Celebrations
  • Networking and Sharing of Resources
  • Special Prizes
  • Affinity Charts and Theatre Arts 
    (Father Dominic Garramone)
  • Building Ensemble in a Time Crunch (Stacy Joyce)
  • Creating Access to Community Theatre for Young Artists with Special Needs 
    (Dr. Andy Morgan and The Penguin Project)
  • First Impressions: Headshots Dos and Donts
    (Joe Baldwin, A&B Photo & Print) 
  • Mindfulness and Self-Awareness: 
    Engaging the Vessel of the Artist (Brenna C. Cronin)
  • Mock Audition Clinic (Aimee-Lynn Newlan)
  • Planning and Maintenance of Your Rigging System 
    (Bill Conner)
  • Shakespeare Whispers Into Your Ear: 
    First Folio Technique (Kevin Long)
  • Stage Combat Basics (Kenneth Z. Kendall)
  • Write a Musical (Lucinda Lawrence)

The "official" celebration may end at 6:00pm, but the connecting and fun doesn't have to... Explore East Peoria's vibrant culture scene:
  • Sister Act (performed by the oldest community theater in Illinois, The Peoria Players)
  • West Side Story on a giant screen at the Peoria Riverfront Museum
  • Octoberfest on the Riverfront
  • Peter Pan at the Eastlight Theatre
  • PSO Concert  -- Carnival! (Oscar winning music from Red Violin with dynamic, young violinist Charles Yang)
  • Wine and Arts Night at the Peoria Riverfront Museum
  • The Peoria Sculpture Walk
  • 21st Annual Chinquapin Folk and Storytelling Festival

$95 - ITA Member
$145- Non-member
$65 - ITA Student Member
$75 - Student Non-member 

*includes continental breakfast, a box lunch, hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar

Elgin Fringe Festival Expands in Second Year
By Emily Leonard, ITA Creative Dramatics Division Representative

The Elgin Fringe Festival will open next month when it takes over the downtown with a mix of dance, music, theater and visual arts.  The four-day festival will run Thursday through Sunday, September 17-20.

In its second year, the Festival has expanded to include more than 120 performances presented by artists coming from as far as England to hometown Elgin. Also scheduled are more than a dozen free workshops covering everything from clowning, improv, dance, and movement. 

A Festival for visual as well as performing arts, this year's fringe will double last year's visual arts displays.  The artwork will be shown at Elgin Fringe Central at Side Street Studio Arts.

Artistic Director Erin Rehberg, talks about how the first year of the festival contributed to this year's growth: "The word is getting out about Elgin," she said. "The response from artists and performers has been excellent. We've packed each venue with a full schedule of performances, so there will be something for everyone this year," she added.

Elgin Fringe performances will take place at Blue Box Cafe, Elgin Art Showcase, Elgin Public House, Imago Studios and Next Door Theater.  Each venue will be built out at as a theater space to accommodate the shows.  Elgin Fringe headquarters will be located at Side Street Studio Arts at 15 Ziegler Court and offer show, event, and activity information, box office services, and a casual place to mix and mingle with Festival artists. 

Returning this year is the Family Fringe event at Carleton Rogers Park with a variety of free performances and activities for kids of all ages.  he Martini Room will once again host the Elgin Fringe preview, after-parties and other special events during the festival.  New for this year is Go-Go Fringe - a series of free, outdoor performances featuring niche, weird, and absurd performing artists. 

The Elgin Fringe Festival is part of the United States Association of Fringe Festivals and the proud recipient of Elgin's Image Award.

To learn more about the Elgin Fringe Festival, how to purchase fringe buttons, and tickets to shows, go to The Fringe can also be found on Facebook as "Elgin Fringe Festival."

The Elgin Fringe Festival is sponsored by the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, Side Street Studio Arts, Janus Theater Company, Business Matters, Blue Box Cafe, Elgin Art Showcase, Elgin Public House, Imago Studios, Next Door Theater, Hagg Press, Eastern Groove Dance Studio, Joe and Armida Dominquez, and artist Chris Hodge.

In Love and Warcraft Joins the Ranks of 
Chicago's Nerdy Theater Movement
By Emily Leonard, ITA Creative Dramatics Division Representative

Lately, nerd-themed theater in Chicago has been on the rise with shows ranging from Soon I Will Be Invincible at Lifeline Theater to Otherworld Theater's Queen Amarantha and Strange Bedfellow's Badfic Love.

On August 13, Halcyon Theatre threw their  gaunlet in to the ring with  In Love and Warcraft  by Madhuri Shekar, a romantic comedy about fear and acceptance of intimacy both physical and emotional in a cute and geeky leaning way.  In Love and Warcraft  is directed by nationally acclaimed director Tlaloc Rivas.

Evie Malone-gamer girl, college senior and confirmed virgin-has it all figured out. Not onlydoes she command a top-ranked guild in Warcraft with her online boyfriend, she also makes a 
little cash on the side writing love letters for people who've screwed up their relationships. Love is like Warcraft, after 
all. It's all about strategies, game plans, and not taking stupid  risks. But no amount of gaming expertise can help her out when she's next to a handsome, non-virtual, boyfriend, who is ready to rock all of her worlds.  The production runs through September 20.  Find out more at

You can also find plenty more Geek Theater in and around Chicago-- there's even a Nerd Comedy Fest produced by Stage 773 featuring dozens of nerd-themed sketch comedy and improv troupes.  Keep an eye out and be sure to feed your inner geek the entertainment it deserves!

Beverly Arts Center Grows Artists On Site and In the Schools
By Emily Leonard, ITA Creative Dramatics Division Representative

Located on Chicago's far south side just blocks from the city's southernmost border, the Beverly Arts Center has been a cornerstone of the community since it was founded in 1967.  The BAC's School of Fine Arts and a robust and growing outreach program provide instruction in the visual arts, dance, music and theatre across Chicago's south side and beyond.

BAC Executive Director Heather Ireland Robinson is enthusiastic and animated when talking about everything the BAC has to offer, and with good cause.  "The arts enrich our lives and expand our horizons, and we are proud to offer a wide variety of arts entertainment across different genres, and to provide arts instruction at both the amateur and professional level to everyone from toddlers to teens, adults and seniors."

Artistic Director Shellee Frazee heads the BAC School of Fine Arts which offers a rich mix of classes across the visual arts, dance, music and theatre, including full stage productions within the youth theatre program, BACStar Productions.  A review of the current summer schedule reveals a wealth of classes from which to choose: ballet, tap, ceramics, painting, cello, piano, improvisation, audition skills, and food and wine pairings are just a few of the options available.  The fall class schedule will premiere on Sat., Aug. 15 at the BAC's annual Open House for the School of Fine Arts.  The Open House offers the opportunity to meet Frazee and her talented and dedicated BAC teaching artists, explore classrooms and studios, and discover the many classes offered for all ages and skill levels. 

The BAC also brings the arts beyond its four walls and into the communities beyond.  Throughout her 10 years  on the job, award-winning Director of Outreach Emily Leonard has tailored the BAC Outreach  program to be responsive to the needs of the groups it serves.  "Groups can choose from the structured programs we have in place or I can work with principals,  teachers, and community leaders to design programs based on their objectives, time frames and budgets.  Our programs range from short, focused, 8-week after-school programs to full-year, in-school curriculum integrated residencies and everything in between."  Leonard just wrapped up this school year's programs by showcasing outstanding Outreach visual and performing arts projects in the BAC's Atrium Gallery and on the BAC's Baffes Theatre main stage as part of the art center's annual "Outreach Week," which culminates in a thank you breakfast and networking event for Outreach partner teachers, staff and administrators.

The Beverly Arts Center invites everyone to visit the BAC web site for more information about summer camps and classes, the BAC Outreach program, and to explore the BAC's "Summer of Fun" offerings, with special free events, theatre productions, live concerts, film series, art exhibits and much more.

More information about all classes, camps, events, and tickets are available at 773-445-3838 at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 West 111th Street in Chicago, or online at

Third Time's a Charm
By Jen Wygant, ITA Member

On June 1, 2015, Ben Love was a finalist for the third time in the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards for his role as Edward Bloom in Byron High School's spring production of Big Fish the Musical .  He was previously a finalist the last two years for his roles as Bobby Child in Crazy for You and The Baker in Into the Woods.   Ben is the first student to be a finalist for three years consecutively in the Illinois competition which is sponsored by Broadway in Chicago .  Students are nominated based on a written letter of recommendation from the director and video footage from the production highlighting their performance.

At that event, Ben competed again and won the state competition and was named the Best Actor in Illinois for musical theatre.  He performed at the Broadway Playhouse in Chicago in the group number and, after winning, also performed the two solo songs which he competed with that day.  

As the winner of Best Actor for Broadway in Chicago's Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards, Ben had a very busy summer ahead of him.  At the end of June, he traveled to New York City on an all expense paid trip participating in the National High School Musical Awards Workshop and Ceremony which features 52 students from across the country who won their state competitions.  The week included one on one coaching with Broadway veteran Julia Murney, seeing An American In Paris on Broadway, and lots of rehearsing for small group medleys and full group numbers which were featured at the annual Jimmy Awards on Monday, June 29.

The Jimmy Awards ceremony was hosted by two-time Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris.  At the end of the week, finalists of the 52 competitors performed the solos that they had been working on all week as well as their small group medleys, and the Best Actor and Actress in the United States were awarded the Jimmy Awards.  This award included a $10,000 scholarship and an advertising contract with Wyndham Hotels.

While Ben did not win the Jimmy Award, that was not the ultimate reward of the week.  The connections, friendships, and experiences of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards are a once in a lifetime experience, and performing on a Broadway stage at the Minskoff Theater was a sign of things to come in Ben's future.  Watching him perform was also a small town director's dream come true.

Byron, Illinois is a small town of approximately 4,500 people 20 miles southwest of Rockford, Illinois.  This whole experience has been a whirlwind and a reminder that with hard work, talent, and dedication, dreams can come true no matter where you get your start.  Byron will continue trying to nurture young artists and provide amazing opportunities for future students, but Ben Love can always know that he has inspired a generation of students and teachers back in a small town in Illinois.  

Next Fall Ben will attend Webster University as a Musical Theatre Major in their prestigious Conservatory for Theatre Arts, and he plans to pursue a career in stage performance as an actor.

Advice You Can't Afford to Ignore
By Allan Kimball, ITA University/College Division Representative

It is that time of year again.  AUDITIONS!  This is an exciting time for all involved.  Every fall I am anxious to start the "next" project.  We are currently preparing for SNOOPY the Musical auditions.  As I meet with my new students in the theatre program, I like to share some tips for getting the most out of the audition process.  Many years ago, I came across the following article with a list of reasons why actors are not cast.  I have shared this list with my students every year.  It gives great advice for both the professional audition process and for the student starting out in theatre.  I also share with them 5 "Allanisms" that I have sort of gleaned from directing 173 shows over the past 38 years.

25 Reasons Why I Didn't Cast You
By: Diane Malone
(Educational materials: excerpt re-printed from DRAMATICS MAGAZINE, April 1983,
published by the International Thespian Society.)

  1. You didn't include your picture and, frankly, after seeing several hundred auditionees, I forgot who you were.  Next.
  2. You didn't put your phone number on your resume'.  I wanted to cast you, but you didn't give a way to get in touch with you.  Maybe I could look up your number in the phone book, if you live in the same city, or call information in your out-of-town location, but that's too much trouble.  It is easier for me to go on to the next person.  Next.
  3. You didn't put your permanent home address and phone number on your resume'.  You gave a stunning audition and I wanted to cast you.  I called your dorm; you are gone for spring vacation and won't be back until next week.  I would call you in Timbuktu, it that is your home or where you are vacationing, but you didn't tell me (or the dorm switchboard operator) how to reach you.  I must finish casting this week and I can't wait for you to come back.  Again I must go on to the next resume'.  Next.
  4. You didn't organize your resume' logically.  You made me read your personal data, your costume measurements, and your junior high credits before I came to your leading role credits and the fact that you have done a Warner Brothers feature film.  Or you placed your Off Broadway featured role way down on the page after your community theatre chorus parts and high school speech contests.  Or you included all kinds of tech work interspersed with roles you have played.  The best resumes tell us what you are ("Actor," "Singer,"  "Dancer") then list representative (not all) credits in that category in order of importance, not chronologically.  If you don't put your most impressive credits first, I may not read far enough to find them.  Your resume' didn't impress me immediately, so I dismissed you even before your audition.  Next.
  5. You really didn't prepare your resume'.  Or you didn't bring any at all.  Or you didn't bring enough; each of us would like a copy of our own.  Or you gave us messy, barely readable copies with corrections and /or additions penciled in.  Or your resume' was hand written rather than typed.  An ill-prepared resume' tells me that you are not a very neat or careful person and that you didn't plan ahead.  I'm not sure I want that kind of person in my company, no matter how talented you are.  Next.
  1. Your audition piece was not appropriate.  Don't try to fool us; we directors know the play.  If you are eighteen, why are you doing a monologue of a forty-five year old man?  This is not high school anymore, and we have mature actors to play those parts.  I want to see your versatility as an eighteen-year-old.   On the other hand, if you are forty-five, why are you doing the young romantic lead monologue?  That part is for a sixteen-year-old.  I'd rather hear you do the older character from the same play.  Your selection tells me that you don't see yourself realistically, and I might have trouble casting you in your appropriate age range.  I might run smack up against your ego.  Next.
  2. You have a speech problem, in this case an inability to pronounce "r."  So why did you choose "Second Hand Rose" for your audition piece?  Every time the title line came around, we became painfully aware of your shortcoming.  Obviously, you need some speech work...and a different audition piece.  Next.
  3. I am casting a Broadway musical, with lots of typical, Broadway sounding music.  Why are you singing top-forty, gospel, or country songs?  I can't tell how you handle the Broadway sound if you audition with an inappropriate song.  On the other hand, if you are auditioning for a rock ;musical, a rock selection would be appropriate.  No matter what type of song, it should be in your range.  Show us what you can do, not what you can't.  If you can't hit the high notes in "Maria" from West Side Story, don't even attempt it.  Next.
  4. You did not pick two audition pieces that show variety and versatility.  You chose one modern piece and one period piece, but they are both dramas and the characters you are doing are both "angry young men."  Or you chose a comedy and a drama, but they are both modern, and I would like to see how you handle a period piece.  Next time select two pieces that contrast in period, dramatic genre, style, and character.  My repertory season of eight plays will not allow me the luxury of hiring a specialist in modern, angry young men.  Next.
  5. You didn't really prepare your audition piece.  Oh, you memorized your monologue, planned your blocking and even expressed some emotion.  But you didn't prepare one of the most basic steps: you didn't look up the words.  If you had, you wouldn't have mispronounced or stumbled over "bade," "errs," "agate," and "ambuscades."  Or, you didn't do your homework.  Don't just learn the monologue...READ THE PLAY.  When I asked you about your character's relationship with his sister, you should have been able to answer, "He is totally dependent on her now that he has lost his job."  As opposed to your answer, "I really don't know."  Next.
  6. You asked the accompanist to transpose the music.  Instead of preparing yourself with a piece of music you can sing, you asked somebody you've never met, without advanced notice, to transpose at sight what may be an unfamiliar piece of music.  You are making impossible demands of your accompanist, and you are showing yourself to be an inconsiderate and irresponsible person.  Next.
  7. You asked for a second chance, a favor or special consideration, and branded yourself a troublemaker.  How you present yourself now, and how you acted in your last role (yes, I talked to your former director) can have a direct effect on future roles.  No one wants to work with a whiner.  Next.
  1. You sang a Cappella.  Even I can sing a Cappella, in a non-existent key, to my own internal rhythm.  I can think of no book musical in which a performer is asked to do an entire solo a cappella.  What you are asked to do, however, is sing from a score in the same key and rhythm as the musical accompaniment.  If you don't demonstrate in your audition that you can do that, I assume you can't.  If you can't do it, I'm not interested.  Next.
  2. You didn't use your voice expressively.  You didn't show vocal variety within one piece or between your two pieces.  Why did you bother learning the words without also learning to "play" the instrument that is your voice?  Versatility in pitch, rate, volume and quality can be displayed in speech, but I didn't hear it in your audition.  Next.
  3. You gave me vocal variety, but only in one element: volume.  I believe Kate in Taming of the Shrew or Alan in Equus would use more than just volume to make a point.  Next.
  4. You didn't use the appropriate accent.  Walter in Five Finger Exercise is German, an English-speaking German.  If you can't do German, why did you pick the piece?  The characters in Texas Trilogy are all Texans and should reflect that in their speech.  Your perfect, accentless stage diction is not appropriate for these selections.  Next.
  5. Your articulation was sloppy.  If I can't understand you at a distance of five feet, how can I expect an audience of hundreds or thousands to understand you in a large theatre?  Next.
  6. You didn't make the imaginary vivid.  As Emily in Our Town, you went through the motions of pointing out Main Street, the drug store, etc., but you didn't really see them before you named them, and thus you didn't make them vivid for your audience.  You have to make us see and feel and hear all the elements in your selection.  Next.
  7. Your physical characterization was incomplete or non-existent.  Your gestures were loose, unfinished, uncontrolled; you wandered purposelessly around the stage.  Or your movements were too literal.  Othello's "men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders" does not necessarily call foe a contortionist routine.  Your physical characterization for Helena in A Midsummer Nights Dream was different, a little bizarre, and oddly effective.  When you used the same movements and physical characteristics in your scene from the very modern Beyond Therapy...and in your audition song, I realized you were showing us your own mannerisms, not those of a specific character.  Next.
  8. You didn't adapt your blocking to your situation.  You have just preformed Uncommon Women at your college, so you repeated a scene and its blocking from that production for your audition piece.  Unfortunately (for your present audience) that performance was staged in the round.  We are not set up in the round for your audition, so you upstaged yourself at least half the time.  I want performers who are aware of the placement of their audience.  Next.
  9. You showed us no sense of style.  Your presentations should allow us to see you adapting to the style of the piece, the flair of the character, and the behavior patterns of the time period.  If you do all of your scenes with the same Midwestern inflections and modern attitudes, I see no evidence of your ability to play different styles.  Next.
  10. You didn't do anything.  You recited, and quite nicely, too, but that's all.  To "act" is to "do" after all, and I didn't see any "doing" taking place.  You fellow auditionees selected pieces with lots of inherent action, and these auditions were among the most interesting and successful.  Perhaps you think you will show me how malleable you are...a blank canvas, a neutral lump of clay ready to be delineated and shaped by the director.  If I am working on a production with a limited rehearsal schedule, or working on several shows in rep, I don't have time to mold each actor from a neutral state.  I want an actor who can think, who is imaginative, who contributes to the creation of the character and doesn't wait for it to be imposed upon him or her.  If you cannot create believable and appropriate actions for your character in an audition piece, I doubt if you can do it for an entire play.  Next.
  11. You didn't smile or look at me.  You played to an audience way out yonder somewhere.  I'm sure the imaginary audience would have loved you had they been there, but I felt overlooked and ignored.  During the audition, I am your audience.  I am also the person looking to select a member of a company for the duration of the show or season.  I do appreciate a smile, sense of humor, a sense of enthusiasm, and an acknowledgement of my presence as your present audience and potential director.  I don't want to hire a company of Lady Macbeths.  A sense of humor is especially important in a stock situation if we are going to be living together in close quarters for an extended time.  Next.
  12. You weren't energetic.  Sometimes the poor resume', the inappropriate selection, the lack of preparation and the bungled presentation can all be forgiven if you have enough energy and personality to compensate.  But if you don't light up a small meeting room in a hotel or an audition hall, how will you light up the stage?  Energy is paramount.  Without it, none of the rest matters; with it some of the shortcomings may be overlooked.  Next.
  13. Perhaps you don't recognize any of your own faults and shortcomings among these examples.  Perhaps your audition was perfect, and Aunt Mildred still assures you that you will be the next Sarah Bernhardt and Uncle Harry dismisses all the directors who didn't cast you with "They got no taste."  In that case, maybe you just weren't right for the parts I had open.  If you are truly talented, prepared, educated, trained, energetic, disciplined, dedicated, and determined, you will undoubtedly eventually be cast by someone else in the part that is right for you.
Here are some of my personal reasons why I didn't cast you (Impressions developed from directing/auditioning for over 30 years):
  1. "You didn't fit the image I had in my head of the character.  You were too tall, short, fat, thin, loud, soft, etc."   It is hard for actors to understand, but sometimes it is not what you did (or didn't do) in the audition, but simply that you were not what the director was looking for.  It is important for you (the actor) to control what IS in your control - knowing the monologue, hitting the right notes, being totally prepared, etc.  And then realize that there are elements that you have NO control over.  A director may come into an audition with a very specific idea for a certain character.  Other than what you are wearing or coloring your hair, you have very little control over your "look."  Just give the BEST audition you can...then let it go.  Who knows?  Maybe they are thinking 2 or 3 shows ahead (and most directors are) and you may be what they ARE looking for then.
  2. This is an educational program.  For those students who are interested in theatre it is important to get some stage time.  You had a role in the first show in the fall, and I am thinking of you for a role in the spring (you just don't know that yet), therefore, I am going to use him/her because he/she hasn't had the stage time I feel he/she needs.  We learn by experience, and the only way to get it is to perform. 
  3. Auditioning (especially for an educational program - high school or college/university) is an ongoing process.  "Do you remember how big a pain you were in the fall production?  I didn't direct it, but I heard about you.  You were late to practice, didn't learn your lines, etc.  I heard all about it."  It is VERY common for one director to seek input from other directors.  It is a good way to get a feel for your work ethic.  How you conduct yourself in one production directly affects how you will be perceived for future roles.  Remember: each day, every rehearsal, every whiney comment to the other students reflects on your body of work in the program. 
  4. "I worked with you before."  Enough said.  You were difficult to direct.  You loved to add "cute" things on performance nights.  That is my pet peeve.  If we didn't discuss it in rehearsal, if we didn't set it in the rehearsal process, DON'T DO IT!  Every rehearsal for one production is an "audition" for all the rest to come.  You MUST be the best you can be EVERY TIME.  You didn't get the part you wanted so you really just "marked" most of the rehearsal process.  If you didn't show me the best "maid #3" you could be...why would I think you could handle the leading role?  Make every rehearsal count.  We remember!
  5. You shot yourself in the foot.  You weren't ready to audition.  You weren't memorized, or you came in to read and told me how bad you were going to be.  I asked for 16 measures of a Broadway song.  You came in and sang "Happy Birthday" ... a Cappella.  REALLY???  If you are not going to take this audition seriously, why should I take you seriously?  It is better to NOT audition than to give an UNPREPARED audition.  Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression!  Your minute or two in the spotlight is where you need to shine.  Give yourself every opportunity to be your best.
ITA Member Spotlight: Steve Leaver / Imagination Theater
Submitted by Judy Klingner, ITA Second Vice-President

What is your name?  
Steve Leaver

Please describe your background in theatre.
I graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Theater from Illinois State University back in 1997.  I then moved to Chicago to pursue acting and performed for several theaters in and around the Chicago area.  As I grew into an Artistic Director role with Imagination Theater, I started to move away from acting and became more of a director and educator in theater.  In addition to working at Imagination Theater, I have been teaching acting courses at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights since 2002.  I have served on the board of directors at the ITA from 2008-2012 and am currently serving on a committee that is working on adopting new arts learning standards for the state of Illinois.  

What is your involvement with Imagination Theater?  
I started with Imagination Theater as an ensemble member in 1998.  I moved into the position of Associate Artistic Director in 2002 and then took over as Artistic Director in 2003.  I now serve as Executive Artistic Director, which I have been doing since 2009.  I oversee all aspects of the theater including artistic, marketing, development and fundraising, and finances. 

What is special about Imagination Theater?  
I love that Imagination Theater uses theater exercises, role-play, scene work, and improvisation with the audience to help them explore social issues.  Theater is a great tool to allow communities a way to explore possible solutions to difficult problems.  Throughout my years at Imagination Theater, I have seen children disclose that they were being abused after our sexual abuse prevention program, and we were able to get them connected to resources that could help them to stay safe.  I have seen kids who were bullied in school get wild applause from the audience when they got up on stage and take a stand against bullying.  I have seen senior citizens who haven't talked in a long time begin to clap and sing and come alive during our Senior Spotlight program.  It reinforces every day to me the importance of the work that we are doing.  

Please share some of the important programming that is available through Imagination Theater.
We have a sexual abuse prevention program called "No Secrets" that teaches children about safe and unsafe touches.  We have Ease the Tease, Show Some Respect, and Take a Stand, which teaches kids about bullying and teasing issues.  We also customize programming to fit the direct needs and topics that schools or organizations want to cover.  In addition to our school programs, we perform college orientation programs all over the U.S.  We have staff and corporate training programs that address diversity in the workplace and other issues.  Finally, we have a senior citizen program that uses music and theater to help stimulate memories, imagination, movement, and voice in seniors who live in non-ambulatory senior homes.  

What is the biggest challenge Imagination Theater has to overcome?  
As many other small theater companies have experienced, Imagination Theater has had to find ways to diversify our funding.  We went from a company that had approximately 80 percent of our income as earned income and now we have had to create a healthier balance between earned income, foundation grants, individual contributions, etc. to compensate for budget cuts across the state.  

Tell us about your work at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center.  
I have been teaching at Metropolis since 2002.I have taught acting classes for pretty much every age group from kindergarten through adults.  I have also served as the head of the drama department in the school and helped to create curriculum for the school.  I have directed a couple of student shows as well which included "The Laramie Project" with high school students and "The Dining Room" with adult students. 

You are a long-time member of the Illinois Theatre Association and a former ITA Board Member.  How is your membership a benefit to you and/or to Imagination Theater?  
I have made so many great connections through the ITA.  By serving on the board for four years, I was able to work with some amazing people and learn from them.  I have both organized and participated in the Theater in our Schools events held every March.  I gain so much out of the workshops and it's another great networking opportunity.  Imagination Theater attends the professional auditions every February and we have called in several actors from those auditions for our ensemble auditions held each summer.  I have also followed the Facebook pages to see what people are up to and think it's a great forum for getting advice for various needs.  

Of what theatrical accomplishment are you most proud?  
I never thought in a million years that I would be running a theater company, especially one that is heading into its 50 th year next year.  I'm very proud of the work that I've done at Imagination Theater and have enjoyed watching the organization grow over the past decade or so.  I also really enjoy teaching.  I have learned so much from my students and it has challenged me in ways that have made me a much more effective director.  

Where can we find current information about Imagination Theater?  
You can find out more by visiting our website at