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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Reading of LGBT Themed "Sycamore" at Center on Halsted Feb. 17
From a press release

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The Center on Halsted will host a reading of Raven Theatre Company's world premiere production of Sycamore in the Hoover — Leppen Theatre on Friday, February 17 at 7:00 pm. In this new drama by Brooklyn-based playwright Sarah Sander, the Jacobses seemed to be the perfect suburban family until a personal crisis rocked their world and caused them to re-evaluate their values and identities. They're starting to recover from traumatic events as John and his newly-divorced mother move in next door. John's attention tests Celia and Henry's deep sibling rivalry and leave the three teens isolated and desperate for connection. Set in a world where all the rules have changed, Sycamore is a poignant and frequently funny examination of sibling rivalry, sexual and gender identity, and the importance of neighbors.

This event will offer Center on Halsted visitors an advance look at the play while it is still in rehearsal, with the cast reading from scripts on the Hoover-Leppen stage.

Leading the cast as cheerleader Celia is Selina Fillinger, an actress and playwright whose play Faceless will receive its world premiere production at Northlight Theatre from January 26 — March 4. Fillinger, who graduated from Northwestern University last Spring, will play the high school senior competing with her gay younger brother for the attentions of the new boy next door. Her brother Henry will be played by Northwestern University sophomore and San Francisco native Julian Larach. Appearing as John, the sensitive new boy next door with a talent for photography, will be Johnathan Nieves. Some of Nieves' recent credits include The Compass at Steppenwolf, Carlo in Balm in Gilead with Griffin Theatre Company and Angel in Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train for Eclipse Theatre Company.

John's mother Jocelyn will be played by Jaslene Gonzalez, a Chicago native who won top honors as "America's Next Top Model" in season 8 of the hit TV show. Celia and Henry's parents will be played by Robyn Coffin and Tom Hickey. Coffin, a regular on NBC's Chicago Fire in which she plays Cindy Herrmann, recently appeared in Don't Go Gentle for Haven Theatre Company. Hickey has recently had roles in Chimerica at TimeLine Theatre and You Can't Take It with You at Northlight Theatre.

Making her Raven Theatre debut as director will be Devon De Mayo. Ms. De Mayo has won plaudits for her direction of Lost in Yonkers and You Can't Take It with You at Northlight Theatre, as well as Animals Out of Paper for Shattered Globe Theatre. In 2015, she worked as Resident Director on the Broadway production of The Audience, starring Helen Mirren.

Sycamore was developed during Sander's tenure with the Public Theater's Emerging Writers group ( run, at the time, by Jesse Alick, Jack Moore and Liz Frankel ). It received a spotlight series reading ( April, 2015 ) directed by Lucie Tiberghien. It was further developed in a workshop setting at Bay Area Playwrights Conference ( July, 2016 ) with Mame Hunt ( dramaturge ), Jessica Holt ( director ) and Amy Mueller ( artistic director ). The play also received a roundtable reading at the LARK New Play Development Center, NYC ( November, 2015 ) directed by Kareem Fahmy. It further received two developmental readings at Raven Theatre in 2016, as part of its [Working Title] Program of New Play Development.

Sarah Sander has seen her work developed/produced by Columbia University, |the claque|, DC Arts Center, Florida Studio Theatre, Inkwell Theatre, Kennedy Center, Lark, NYSF, Page 73 Productions, Public Theater, Project Y and Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival. She's a member of the Public Theater's 2015 Emerging Writers Group, New Georges Affiliated Artist, alumni of the Dramatist Guild Fellowship and P73's Interstate 73. Residencies: MacDowell, Millay and SPACE at Ryder Farm. Finalist: ATL's Heideman Award, Clubbed Thumb's Biennial Commission, Playwrights Center's Jerome Fellowship, Juilliard's Lila Acheson Fellowship, Leah Ryan FEWW Prize, P73's Playwriting Fellowship, Playwrights Realm Fellowship, Trustus Theatre Festival, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and Source Theater Festival. Nominations: Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, NTC's Stavis Award and Williamstown's Weissberger Award. For the 2009-2010 season, she served as a National New Play Network Playwright-in-Residence ( Florida Studio Theatre ). MFA: University of Iowa.

Devon De Mayo most recently directed You On the Moors Now for The Hypocrites, Animals Out of Paper for Shattered Globe Theatre and You Can't Take It with You for Northlight Theatre, where she will direct Harvey later this season. Last year, Devon worked as the Resident Director under Stephen Daldry on the Broadway production of The Audience. Other directing credits: Lost in Yonkers ( Northlight ), Compulsion and Everything is Illuminated ( Next ); An Actor Prepares ( Logan Center ); Jet Black Chevrolet ( the side project ); Roadkill Confidential, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Clouds ( Dog & Pony ); Infiltrating Bounce ( Luminaria, San Antonio ); and 52 ( Canal Café, London ). Directing & devising credits: Guerra: A Clown Play ( performances in Chicago, New York, Albuquerque, Madrid, Bogota, and Mexico City ); The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls ( Dog & Pony ), and The Twins Would Like to Say ( Dog & Pony, Steppenwolf Garage Rep ). She is the co-artistic director of Dog & Pony Theatre and received her MFA from Middlesex University in London.


By Sarah Sander

Directed by Devon de Mayo

Free reading

Hoover-Leppen Theatre in the Center on Halsted

3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago

Friday, February 17, 2017

Reception at 6:30, Performance at 7:00 PM

Reservations recommended — .

About Raven Theatre

Raven Theatre Company is committed to presenting a range of modern drama that illuminates the human experience. Through a vigorous program of full productions and new play development, as well as a first-class theatre education series, Raven creates a powerful and welcoming environment in which artists hone and showcase their skills, young students gain valuable insights into theatre arts, and patrons experience high quality programming that is easily accessible to all.

Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by Alphawood Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, Yates Feldman Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Raymond James Charitable Endowment Fund, Dramatists Guild Fund, Fidelity Charitable, S & C Electric Company Fund and Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. Raven is partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Raven's education and outreach programming is generously funded by Polk Bros. Foundation and the Kerr Foundation.

Free parking is provided in a lot adjacent to the theatre — additional street parking is available.

Raven Theatre is handicapped accessible.

Tickets/information: or 773-338-2177 .

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