Sideshow Theatre Company just announced its 2021 Season, featuring an all-virtual line-up of entertainment. This announcement comes only weeks after the announcement of their new company members. The season kicks-off this month with a one-night-only benefit screening of Sideshow’s 2018 hit You For Me For You, written by Mia Chung and directed by Ensemble Member Elly Green. This summer, Sideshow presents a reading of Preston’s Choi’s new play Drive-In at the End of the World, directed by Associate Artistic Director Justin J. Sacramone and created through “The Freshness Initiative,” Sideshow’s new play development program. Throughout the year audiences can also enjoy the Sideshow House Party Series, five virtual readings by some of the company’s favorite playwrights – each followed by an interactive celebration.
Sideshow Artistic Director Regina Victor states: “The Sideshow Ensemble is excited to have cultivated a season full of curiosity and delight to gather the community in these tough times. Looking at the plays we’ve chosen to present, each one in their own way asks the question: Who am I, and who decides that, really? Power dynamics play out across race, class and gender in unconventional ways across our season, and there’s even quite a bit of magic sprinkled in. I’m so grateful, in this moment of leadership transition and COVID-19, to be able to continue to build upon Sideshow’s legacy of presenting and developing some of Chicago’s most memorable and exciting plays. I really have the ensemble’s artistic determination, and the dedication of my Executive Director and board to thank for that.”
Sideshow Theatre Company’s 2021 Season:
Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 7 pm CST
You For Me For You – A One Night Only Streaming Fundraiser
Written by Mia Chung
Directed by Ensemble Member Elly Green
An archival recording of Sideshow’s 2018 hit production You For Me For You. Two North Korean sisters plan an elaborate escape from the “Best Nation in the World,” only to be separated at the border. Now in two strange and separate worlds filled with outrageous characters, they must navigate barriers of language and bureaucracy, reckon with the ways that culture and country can shape us, and discover that survival requires sacrifice.
Tickets (general admission: pay-what-you-can; dinner package add-ons + meal donations: $40 – $150) go on sale soon at sideshowtheatre.org.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Drive-In at the End of the World, part of Sideshow’s “The Freshness Initiative”
Written by Preston Choi
Directed by Associate Artistic Director Justin J. Sacramone
Dramaturgy by Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel
Life at a small town drive-in gets a lot more interesting when Mothman shows up and everything burns down to the ground. The rag tag crew, now amateur paranormal investigators, try to turn a profit as a cavalcade of cryptids crash through their crumbling community. Apocalyptic and irreverent, Drive In at the End of the World is on the hunt to find who will come out on top and who will become bait.
“The Freshness Initiative” is Sideshow’s commissioning and new play development program, now in its sixth year. Previous commissions include works by Aurora Real de Asua, J. Nicole Brooks, Kristiana Rae Colón and Brynne Frauenhoffer.
The Sideshow House Party Series
Remember house parties after a show? It’s like that, but digital! Scattered throughout the calendar year, Sideshow will broadcast five readings of plays we love, written by playwrights we love. Every party has to have a theme, darling, and we will not disappoint. A play is an event, and so each play will have a customized party experience to bring us together even when we’re apart. The full line-up includes:
Written by Ellen Steves
Directed by Associate Artistic Director Justin J. Sacramone
Friday, March 19, 2021 at 7 pm CST
Thin Mints follows a troop of Bonfire Girls during a five-day woodland jamboree as they prepare for an important election. At the end of the retreat, one scout will be chosen to take over the Troop. The girls use torture, terror, and trauma to claw their way to the top… but who is really pulling the strings? The play scores 100% on the Bechdel Test and offers a warped perspective on the consequences of a community governed by abuse and manipulation.
Friday, April 23, 2021 at 7 pm CST
A Heap See
Written by Dawn Renee Jones
Koua is a fast-moving whirlwind. By age 24, she had survived the “American War” in Laos and refugee camps in Thailand. This mother of six is determined to give her children a better life in St. Paul, Minnesota where she faces her greatest obstacles.
Friday, May 21, 2021 at 7 pm CST
Once in a Bleu Moon
Written by Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom
Directed by Artistic Director Regina Victor
As her stars realign and a fateful blood moon approaches on the eve of her thirty-third birthday, Bleu casts a forbidden spell. To undo the damage Bleu must master her ancestral demons by accepting that, with a dash of magick, she can have it all…If not all at once. Once in a Bleu Moon is a witchy fable about womb magick, self-forgiveness and breaking generational curses.
Friday, August 20, 2021 at 7 pm CST
Written by Makasha Copeland
Armed with all purpose cleaner and the resilience of that cockroach from Wall-E, three maids and a middle-schooler are tasked with removing the stains from Oak Hill Resort. When their boss is found dead in the master suite, this cleaning crew must launch their own investigation. Who killed whomst, and who gives a sh*t?
Friday, September 17, 2021 at 7 pm CST
The Whisperer’s Apprentice
Written by Ensemble Member Walt McGough
In a world where storytelling is magic, an ancient kingdom is collapsing. Two young siblings go searching for the one woman who could help stave off chaos, but she is hiding in the forest, haunted by regrets. Will the tale that shapes the world finally break, once and for all? The Whisperer’s Apprentice is a magical, theatrical exploration of who wields power in the stories we tell, and what it costs them to maintain it.
As a companion event to this reading, playwright Walt McGough will lead a group of hale and hearty Sideshow artists through a weekly, live-streamed and completely ridiculous campaign of Dungeons & Dragons. Capturing a different (and dice-rolling) kind of magic, this campaign will immerse audiences in an exciting, serialized new form of collaborative storytelling, and highlight just how much is possible when some of the best artists in the city work together to save the world.
Ticket information, casts and additional directors will be announced soon on sideshowtheatre.org. Follow @SideshowTheatre.
Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom creates fairy tales for sun-kissed women. A mixed-media artist, writer, intuitive healer and entrepreneur. Mallory was a finalist for the 2019 National Playwrights Conference at The O’Neill and is the recipient of the Tutterow Fellowship through Chicago Dramatists Center for New Play Development. Her talents have been nurtured in writer’s rooms at Victory Gardens Theatre, The New Colony and Jackalope Theatre. Her play, A Laying on of Hands, was featured in The Story Theatre New Play Festival. Mallory is a contributing playwright to The Refracted Theatre Company’s podcast, “The Swell.” She is the author of “Fairy Tales for Sun-Kissed Women,” an anthology of healing fables and immersive audiobooks. Windy City Reviews hailed her as a “craftsman of the English language” for her debut novel, “Reasons for Being.” Going on to say that “Mallory Raven-Ellen Backstrom’s writing is as clear and beautiful as springtime in a meadow… You’re amazed at the beauty around you and inhale the delicate natural musk to make it a part of your very being.” Mallory was a guest lecturer at the University of California-Davis and Illinois Humanities. Her artwork was recently featured at The Freedom and Movement Gallery in Chicago. Mallory’s passion for diverse representation, mindfulness and mysticism resonates across the vast universe of color she leaves on the page, the stage and the canvas. For more information about this multifaceted artist, visit her @ForSunKissedWomen or www.MalloryBackstrom.com.
Mia Chung’s Catch as Catch Can will premiere in Steppenwolf’s 2021-2022 season; Page 73 produced the world premiere (NYC, Fall 2018). You For Me For You premiered at The Royal Court (London), the National Theatre Company of Korea (Seoul) and Woolly Mammoth Theatre (D.C.); and is published by Bloomsbury Methuen. Awards, commissions, fellowships and residencies include: Clubbed Thumb, EST/Sloan, Frederick Loewe Award in Music-Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Ma-Yi Writers Lab, MTC/Sloan, NEA, NYTW, Playwrights’ Center, Playwrights Realm, South Coast Rep, SPACE at Ryder Farm, Stavis Award, TCG and New Dramatists. She received a 2019 Helen Merrill Playwriting Award.
Makasha Copeland is a playwright, actor, comedian and your babysitter during those formative years. Their plays Extreme Home Makeover and Fabuloso! have been developed and produced with San Diego REP, Vertigo Productions, the Agnes Nixon Festival and Teatro Espejo (upcoming). They are a 2021 Ars Nova CAMP resident artist, a comedy residency where they are co-writing a televisual play with Chase Doggett and Gabrielle Silva. They are also a member of sketch comedy group Resting Witch Face at iO and Second City. They graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Theatre and Latinx Studies, where they performed, wrote and improvised with The Titanic Players, Griffin’s Tale, Mee-Ow and Out Da Box.
Preston Choi is a Chicago-based playwright from Atlanta whose work explores Asian American identity and social science fiction. His plays include The Migratory Patterns of the North American Monarch Butterfly and the Development of Fatherless Sons or A Great Migration (2017 Agnes Nixon Award; 2019 National New Play Showcase), This Is Not A True Story (2018 CAATA ConFest), Happy Birthday Mars Rover (The Passage Theatre) and performing class (2020-2021 Playwrights Realm Scratchpad Series). His plays have recently been developed with Silk Road Rising, Artists at Play, The Passage Theatre, Theatre Mu, A Squared, CAATA, G45 Productions nd Our Perspective. He received a BS in Theatre from Northwestern University in 2018 and is currently a first-year student at UCSD’s playwriting program.
Elly Green is a Chicago-based director, originally from the UK. She is an ensemble member with Sideshow where she directed You for Me for You by Mia Chung and No More Sad Things by Hansol Jung. Her other credits include: Yen (Raven), Run the Beast Down, The Effect, Pillars of the Community, The Night Season, After Miss Julie (Strawdog Theatre), The Gradient (Ignition, Victory Gardens), In the Canyon (Jackalope), The Woyzeck Experiment (Goodman, Playwright’s Unit), In the Canyon (Jackalope Theatre), The Woman in Black (Wildclaw), The Distance (Haven), The Woman Before (Trap Door) and Rabbit (Stage Left). Elly is also an ensemble member at Strawdog Theatre Company and a script reader for Steppenwolf Theatre. She trained in the UK, and worked there as a director, teacher and script reader at theatres including the National Theatre, Royal Court, Almeida, Royal & Derngate, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Theatre 503, Gate Theatre, Papatango Theatre and Paines Plough. More information at www.ellygreendirector.com.
Walt McGough is a Boston-based playwright, and a founding ensemble member of Sideshow. He is the founder and lead dungeon master for First Time at the Table, a company that runs online sessions of Dungeons & Dragons for new players. As a writer, Walt has held fellowships with both the Huntington and New Repertory Theatre Companies, and was a finalist for the 2016 Dramatists Guild Lanford Wilson Award. His plays include Non-Player Character, Chalk, The Farm, Priscilla Dreams the Answer, The Haberdasher, and Dante Dies!! (and Then Thing Get Weird). He has worked around the country with companies such as The Lark, San Francisco Playhouse, the Huntington, Red Theatre Company, New Rep, the Kennedy Center, NNPN, Boston Playwrights Theatre, Fresh Ink, Sideshow, Orfeo Group, Nu Sass Productions, Chicago Dramatists and Argos. In 2015, his play Advice for Astronauts was selected as the winner of the Milken Playwriting Prize. He previously served on the artistic staffs at SpeakEasy Stage Company and Chicago Dramatists. Walt holds a BA from the University of Virginia, and an MFA in playwriting from Boston University. More information at www.waltmcgough.com, and www.firsttimeatthetable.com.
Dawn Renee Jones has been writing, directing and/or producing some form of media for a very long time. Her writing career began on Madison Avenue where she wrote print and broadcast advertising for a broad range of national products and agencies. A recipient of the Ruby Prize for Playwriting for her play A Heap See, and an alum of the Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit she has written screenplays for Warner Brothers, Bryanston Pictures and Columbia Pictures. Her feature screenplay Man of the Word, an adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s Jonah’s Gourd Vine, won the FilmColumbia Festival for Best Screenplay. Dawn Renee has directed main stage productions at numerous Twin Cities theatres. She is the founder and director of many arts initiatives including Midwest Jazz Society (Arts Midwest) and Alchemy Theatre (Minneapolis); the Burrell Fellowship, an academic residency for playwrights of color, and the Young, Gifted & Black Collective, a black theatre history and performance program for students of African heritage at Columbia College Chicago where she teaches theatre history and playwriting. Dawn Renee’s MFA in Creative Writing with emphasis in Playwriting is from Goddard College.
Justin J. Sacramone is the Associate Artistic Director of Sideshow Theatre Company and a Chicago-based director who focuses on new work. Most recently, he directed the 2020 workshop of Ellen Steves’ Thin Mints. He has directed for Raven Theatre, Red Theatre, Orlando International Fringe Festival and has assisted Robert Falls at Goodman Theatre, Lili-Anne Brown at 16th Street Theatre, Steve Scott at Eclipse Theatre and Derek Van Barham at Pride Films and Plays. He is currently developing new works with playwrights Ellen Steves and Preston Choi. He has dramaturged the world premiere of HeLa and the U.S. premiere of X, both at Sideshow. Justin holds a bachelor’s in fine arts in Theatre from Salem State University. He spent 10 years with the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild. He is a member of the 20/21 Observership Class with Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation and a nominator for the Kilroy’s List. justinjsacramone.com.
Ellen Steves is a writer and producer from Los Angeles. A graduate from Columbia University’s MFA program, she studied under Lynn Nottage, David Henry Hwang and Chuck Mee. She is the co-founder of Chap.Three, a production company that focuses on putting women in the spotlight.
Regina Victor (they/them/theirs) is a Black director, multidisciplinary artist, and arts critic. Presently Sideshow Theatre’s Artistic Director, and one of Newcity’s “Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago”– two years running. They are the dramaturg for Jeannette The Musical, book by Lauren Gunderson, music by Ari Afsar. Victor has helped develop world premieres by Antoinette Nwandu, Anna Deavere Smith (Notes from the Field), Sarah Ruhl, and are directing works in development by Brynne Frauenhoffer (Pro-Am, Kilroys List 2020), and Terry Guest (Marie Antoinette & the Magical Negroes). They co-founded Rescripted in 2017, an arts journalism platform by and for artists, and have written for other publications including American Theatre, Playbill, and the Chicago Reader. Other notable artistic collaborations include Steppenwolf Theater, Jackalope Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Timeline Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre. In their spare time, they serve on the National Advisory Council for Howlround Theatre Commons, and as a board member for The Sappho Project. Learn more at www.reginavictor.com.
Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel (she/they) is a Chicago/Austin-based dramaturg, journalist and oral hxstorian. Her multi-disciplinary work as a queer, fat, brown, femme endeavors to amplify and archive stories that go lost/stolen/forgotten. She is a Master’s Candidate pursuing a degree in Performance as Public Practice at The University of Texas at Austin. She was named as a recipient of the 2020 Texas Educational Theatre Association’s Founders’ Scholarship. She serves on committees for the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americans (Communications) and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (Dramaturgy, Theory & Criticism, and Middle Eastern Theatre). Select bylines include pieces with American Theatre magazine, The Austin Chronicle, Chicago Reader and Teen Vogue. She has also served as a Guest Respondent for the Kennedy Center College American Theater Festival (R3 Journalism, R5 Dramaturgy). Follow her on Twitter and learn more at yasminzacaria.com.
Bias Alert: Regina Victor is the Editor of Rescripted and the Artistic Director at Sideshow Theatre