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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



Plasticene Theater finishes 17-years with final show
From a news release

This article shared 3612 times since Mon Feb 27, 2012
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GRAPHOMANIAx (super-script "x" — not part of the title spelling. Please omit "x" if it cannot be super-scripted) is a meta-theatrical exploration of meaning, privacy and consequence in a paranoid world flooded with data. Plasticene's performers gather, record, decode, struggle, and crunch information to save the state and themselves from unknown but imminent threat. Masters of scenic innovation, the company uses three rolling chalkboards, complex video animations, experimental live sound, and textured lighting, to build mysterious, visceral, and striking theater.

The piece was workshopped as part of City of Chicago's "In the Works" program at Millenium Park in 2011 with participation of performers Sharon Göpfert and director Paola Colletto.

GRAPHOMANIAx marks Plasticene's final creation. The company and its mission will remain in existence, but will no longer create new performance work as a collective. We invite the press and community to celebrate this ending with us through retrospectives or features.



Saturday 3/17 Preview 7:30pm

Sunday 3/18 Preview 3:00pm

Monday 3/19 Opening 7:30pm PRESS INVITED - Please reserve at 773.960.9098 or

Thursday 3/22 Performance 7:30pm

Friday 3/23 Performance 7:30pm

Saturday 3/24 Performance 7:30pm

Sunday 3/25 Performance 3:00pm

Thursday 3/29 Performance 7:30pm

Friday 3/30 Performance 7:30pm

Saturday 3/31 Performance 7:30pm

Sunday 4/1 Performance 3:00pm


The Chopin Theatre (downstairs)

1543 W Division Street

Chicago, IL 60642


Previews all seats $10

Performances $20 full price, $12 student rush half-hour before curtain, as available.

Make reservations at

More Info:



Plasticene has been a pioneering force in experimental, avant-garde, and physical theater in Chicago since 1995. Plasticene creates original theater inspired by a unique process of research and construction developed over the past seventeen years. Plasticene assembles high-impact theater from the most plastic elements of theatrical creation: the body in action, objects in motion, light as revelation, and sound as sensation. Plasticene performance and education work offers our community an experience that is playful, visceral, poetic, athletic, evocative, brave and endlessly creative.

Unlike the majority of Chicago and national theater companies and producers who interpret or import work from other times and cities, Plasticene is an artists' collective that has staunchly made its work in the present from our own community. We build work from a process of theater-making developed internally over seventeen years of practice, failure, success, action and reflection. The value of on-going and actor- centered work that we champion is a direct challenge to the short-term and producer-centered work that financial pressures impose on the arts. We make theater no one else does or could. We make theater that enraptures. We make theater that celebrates intelligence, play, social awareness, artistic risk, collaboration, and future-directedness.

Production history includes:

Doorslam 1995 Chopin Theater, Steppenwolf Studio, Edinburgh Fringe

Refuge 1996/1999 Schaberle Studio NYC, National Pastime Theater, PACedge 2005

Volume XII 1997 Athenaeum Theater, The Blue Rider Theater, Viaduct Theater

Come Like Shadows... 1999 Chopin Theater

Head Poison 2001 DCA Storefront Theater (second production in venue history)

And So I May Return 2002 Viaduct Theater

The Palmer Raids 2002 National Pastime Theater, PACedge 2003, Ohio Theater NYC

Flight! 2003 Museum of Science and Industry

BlankSlate 2004 PACedge 2004

Live Feed 2006 National Pastime Theater

One Fal$e Note 2006 DCA Storefront Theater

Com-pen-di-um 2006 SITEUnseen Chicago Cultural Center

Until One Falls 2008 Illinois Wesleyan University

GhostLight 2008 Looptopia

LightCycle 2009 Objects in Motion Festival Building Stage

From a Fading Light 2010 St. Paul's Cultural Center

Plasticene has been a vital cultural and educational contributor to the Chicago artistic landscape, collaborating with over 100 arts organizations, educational groups, and companies. Some organizations we have worked with include: MCA, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, CAPE, UIC, DePaul University, Columbia College, The Arts and Business Council, The League of Chicago Theaters, Redmoon Theater, The Rhinoceros Festival, The Chicago Park District, Sears Theater Fever, University of Chicago Laboratory High School, Free Street, Collins High School, Senn High School, Highland Park High School, Reavis High School, Second City, Lake Forest College, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, About Face Theater, Performing Arts Chicago, Links Hall, The Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, Noble Fool Theater, Live Bait Theater, Dance Chicago, The Saints, Teatro Vista, Gallery 37, ATHE, Theatre Arts Program at Barat College, Northwestern University National High School Institute, Association House, The Drama League of New York, Ohio Theater Ice Factory, Theatre Workshop Edinburgh, University of Novi Sod Serbia, Les Métissages France/Brazil, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Boulder Fringe Festival, Shakespeare-on-the-Green's Teen Conservatory, and many more.



Mark Comiskey — ensemble since 1998

Brian Shaw — co-founder 1995

Julia Neary — special guest performer

Light Design:

Carrie Kennedy - ensemble since 1998

Sound Composition and Performance:

Eric Leonardson — co-founder 1995

Production Video Design:

Mark Comiskey

Outside Eye:

Dexter Bullard — co-founder 1995

Video Art, Animations and Graphics:

Ted Hardin, Ian Munsell, Adrian Schindler

Video Performers:

Cameron Peart and Adrian Schindler

Text Contribution:

Cavan Hallman

Stage Management:

Anna Lafontant


Mark Comiskey (performer/video design) is proud to have been a member of Chicago's premiere physical theater ensemble and has had the distinct pleasure of performing every show in Plasticene's repertoire. Plasticene has been Mark's creative playground since 1997 and he has the scars to prove it. He has been producing, creating and performing theater and music on Chicago stages since 1989. With a focus on original work, he has premiered over 100 productions with The Curious Theater Branch, Theatre Oobleck, Red Moon, the Neo Futurists, Collaboraction, Bread & Puppet, Prop Theater and the Jellyeye Drum Ensemble. Mark has scored and performed original music with Ten Tongues, Asimina Chermos, Curious Theater Branch, Local Infinities, Maestro-matic, Plasticene, Prop Theatre, Red Moon, and Vigilante Films. More recently, he produced, wrote and directed The Gist as part of Collaboraction's 2009 Sketchbook festival. He also creates original video and graphic design.

He is currently the Video Director of Blue Man Group, Chicago.

Brian Shaw (performer) is a founding member of Plasticene Physical Theater and has created, performed and taught with the company many times since 1995. Brian has performed with numerous theaters in Chicago, the Festival of the Americas in Montreal and the Hispanic Theater Festival in Miami. He appeared off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre in The Strangerer by Mickle Maher. He plays the leading role in the independent feature film The Defiled directed by Julian Grant. The Defiled was an official selection of the Chicago International Film Festival, the Bram Stoker Film Festival and various other festivals. He has appeared in numerous commercials, industrial films and a cancelled network television cop show. This past fall, he gave voice to "Croak" in Samuel Beckett's Words and Music live on WFMT radio with the Spektral String Quartet. Brian is a Professor at Columbia College where he teaches acting and physical theater. He is the recipient of the 2003 Excellence in Teaching Award from Columbia College. He has developed exchange programs with the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia, the University of East London, Dublin Institute of Technology and Rose Bruford College. He works with the Center for Community Arts Partnerships, developing programs with community-based organizations to engage students in the creation of youth theater. Brian also was instrumental in the development of Columbia's Comedy Studies program in partnership with Second City.

Julia Neary (performer) and Dexter Bullard first worked together in A Night at the Fights in 1992 and are now working as colleagues at The Theatre School, DePaul University where she is an Assistant Professor of Acting and Movement. She played opposite Brian Shaw in Steppenwolf Theatre's production of Waving Goodbye in 2002 and has known and studied alongside Sharon Göpfert for just as long… so it is a true privilege for her to be working with Plasticene in their final "hoorah" production. Neary was a founding member of the Organic Theatre Collective, Powertap Productions and Running With Scissors all based in the creation of original and physically inspired work. She has directed and choreographed dance, movement and combat in theatre, television, music videos and film. She has co-adapted three novels for the stage one of which, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, received two After Dark Awards and a nomination for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Adaptation. As an actor, she has worked with various theatres throughout Chicago including Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Victory Gardens, Next, Teatro Vista, Chicago Dramatists, Lifeline, Strawdog, About Face, Collaboraction and received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Supporting Actress as a ventriloquist's dummy in Famous Door's award winning production of Ghetto, which she also choreographed. She will be choreographing fights for Skin Tight this summer and dance choreography for Spring Awakening in the fall. Film and television credits include Early Edition, The Untouchables, The Break Up, Black Days, Samaritan, Four/Four, Jack Slash, Etchings, Thanks Mom!, and I Think Not.

Eric Leonardson (sound composition and performance) is a Chicago-based composer, radio artist, sound designer, instrument inventor, improvisor, visual artist, and teacher. He has devoted a majority of his professional career to unorthodox approaches to sound and its instrumentation with a broad understanding of texture, atmosphere and microtones. Since 1995, Eric has been a designing, performing, and composing sound for Plasticene. He is Vice President of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, founder of the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology, and Executive Director of the World Listening Project. Leonardson is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Sound at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Carrie Kennedy (light design) is a lighting designer and event producer and Plasticene ensemble member since 1998. She designed lights for From a Fading Light, The Perimeter, BlankSlate, The Palmer Raids, And So I May Return, Volume XII, Flight! and 4X4.

When she is not creating with Plasticene, she spends her time creating and producing events for a long list of clients. These credits include large scale public events such as Chicago Ideas Week, Looptopia, Taste of Chicago, The Chicago Blues Festival, and The Chicago Air and Water Show. She also had the privilege to be the Executive Producer for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Committee for the IOC's Evaluation Commission's visit to Chicago and the Bid Committee's final presentation in Copenhagen for the entire IOC. Check more of her work at .

Dexter Bullard (artistic director/outside eye)is an award-winning director dedicated to directing new plays and creating original improvisational and experimental theater for Chicago and beyond. Recent directing credits include Circle Mirror Transformation at Victory Gardens Theatre, The Big Meal at American Theatre Company, Odradek at The HOUSE Theatre, Mistakes Were Made at Barrow Street Theater Off-Broadway and with A Red Orchid Theatre, The DIALogues at Links Hall and MCA. In 2004, Dexter was awarded the Lucille Lortel Award for Tracy Letts' Bug at The Barrow Street Theater, as well as a Drama Desk Nomination. In 1995 Dexter co—founded Plasticene, a physical theater company whose critically—acclaimed experimental works have been featured at The Steppenwolf Studio, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Storefront Theatre, Performing Arts Chicago, MCA, and in New York City. With the Plasticene company, he has directed and collaboratively created fourteen original works over fifteen years including The Palmer Raids (2003) and From A Fading Light (2010). Since 1996, Dexter has also directed with The Second City, leading a National Touring Company and developing revues at E.T.C. and at Second City Detroit. Back in 1990, Dexter founded The Next Lab at The Next Theatre. As Associate Artistic Director at Next Theatre, he directed and/or created eight shows for mainstage and Lab as well as producing the world premiere of Tracy Lett's Killer Joe. He has also directed projects for Famous Door Theatre, Northlight, Steppenwolf, Hartford Stage Company, Links Hall, and several times for A Red Orchid Theatre. He received his MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dexter is the Head of Graduate Acting at The Theatre School at DePaul University.

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