Oobleck founding ensemble member Jeff Dorchen has been a weekly correspondent for WNUR’s This is Hell radio program for over a decade. You can now link to the audio of each of his hilarious/prescient/scabrous “Moments of Truth.”
Here’s a sample of his recent not-to-be-missed commentary.
2013: The Year in a Broken Rear-View (January 4, 2014)
A Clash of Resentment (December 21, 2013)
To A Wrench, Every Problem Looks Like a Nut (December 14, 2013)
Surreal Algorithms of the New Economic Anarchy (December 7, 2013)
Nigerian Beer and U.S. Foreign Policy (December 1, 2013)
Scrooge Season (November 17, 2013)
This Is Hell can be heard live every Saturday morning, 9am CST, on WNUR 89.3 Chicago, or streaming.
Dear Friend of Oobleck,
Last summer, at our annual company retreat in Gstaad, we came upon the most magnificent discovery.
As part of a team building exercise, we had decided to look each other up on “iWas”—you know, that new iPhone App that lets you find out who you were in a past life? Maybe it’s not out yet on the American market—we had to download it from some Swiss Illuminati vacationing in the adjacent yurt. Anyway—after we looked up everyone in the Artistic Ensemble and Board of Directors, and toasted our past incarnations with Marillenschnaps, we decided it would be fun to look up the past lives of all of you, our supporters. And this is when we discovered the astonishing thing: Each and every one of you was a wealthy patron of the arts in a past life. And we do mean wealthy. Not all of you were Medicis, of course, but that’s the ballpark we’re talking about. Really big players. If it wasn’t for you—or rather if it wasn’t for your past life selves—there would have been no Leonardo, no Mozart, no Murasaki, no Avicenna, no Li Po, no Marlowe. Wow.
Of course this revelation makes the writing of an annual appeal letter a little awkward. If you want to take some time to process this information, we DEFINITELY understand. If you needed to take a year off from charitable giving altogether, who could blame you?
But we do have some really stellar stuff planned for 2014, including two episodes of our ongoing cantastoria project Baudelaire In A Box, a workshop performance of our upcoming circus arts show (developed in collaboration with El Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico and funded in part by a grant from the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund), a multi-week residency at The Hideout in Chicago, and three new scripts in development by Jeff Dorchen, David Isaacson, and Mickle Maher.
We raise a glass of schnapps to you, friends, not just in thanks for the enduring artistic and intellectual legacy of Western Civilization, but also for all your past support in this lifetime of our humble theater company. This year we celebrated 25 years of original, free-if-you’re broke theater in Chicago, which you made possible. You can help inaugurate the next 25 years by sending your tax-deductible donation to
PO Box 607666
Chicago, IL 60660-7666
or by making a secure payment through our website.
Thank you for all of your support, and we look forward to seeing you in 2014!
Oobleck Founding Member Mickle Maher (There Is a Happiness That Morning Is) has been named to the Goodman Theatre’s Playwright Unit for 2013/14.
He joins three other Chicago-based authors in the year-long residency program designed to support and develop new works, culminating in staged readings at the Goodman this coming summer.
Photo by photo by joe mazza – brave lux inc.
See Broadway World for more details.
Theater Oobleck is pleased to participate in the Chicago Commercial Collective’s first Off-Loop Tour, aimed at exporting the best of Chicago theatre to colleges and universities throughout the Midwest.
Along with our There Is a Happiness That Morning Is, the touring productions include: A Steady Rain by Keith Huff (Chicago Dramatists), Unveiled by Rohina Malik (16th Street Theatre), Honeybuns by Dean Evans (Collaboraction), and Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology by Anthony Moseley (Collaboraction).
The tour will go from Fall 2014 to Spring 2015, and tour booking begins now. If you know of a college, theatre, and the circuit will begin in Fall 2014 and run through Spring 2015. If you are associated with a college or university, and would like to book any of these shows, please contact Associate Producer Benjamin Brownson at (312) 724-7604 or via email.
Videos, photos and additional information are here.
Meanwhile, you can tell your friends all over the country: many theater companies continue to present their own productions of Happiness.
Capital T Theatre (Austin, Texas) and WSC Avant Bard (Washington, DC) just wrapped up productions (the reviews are here and here, and upcoming there is:
Available Light Theater, Columbus Ohio, January 17th.
(Boulder, Colorado), opening February 28.
Theater Oobleck’s anthology of plays, More If You’ve Got It, was reviewed in the inaugural issue of the Chicago Art Journal.
Critic Kerry Reid said:
For me the one company that mattered, the one that challenged the old gods and old orthodoxies — of what a play means, of how it is created, of what yardsticks measure a “successful” company — was Theater Oobleck…
Read this collection. Pass it along. Produce these plays. Please.
Read the full Journal here. (It’s a 40-page pdf, so might take a couple minutes to download.)
Big news: Theater Oobleck is embarking on a collaborative circus arts production with El Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico. We will develop the work — a melding of circus arts and Oobleckian narrative, addressing issues surrounding emigration from Puerto Rico — to premiere in both Chicago and San Juan in 2015.
The project is being made possible through the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund. You can read about all the wonderful projects they are supporting this year by reading their press release.
The populist El Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico was founded in 2010. It has performed regularly throughout the island at festivals, schools, theaters, and in the streets.
Gapers Block came out to the Hideout Inn to catch our Baudelaire in a Box “Episode 5” reprise. They said:
Like Baudelaire’s poems, which connect profound urban ennui to sometimes bawdy, sometimes gory imagery, the illustrations linked one non-sequitur to the next with sometimes humorous, sometimes distressing strokes.
Although the French read Baudelaire with great seriousness, one can only imagine that the poet himself meant for them to be read — or sung — as they were last night
The full review is here.
We had a great night. We thank 80 Foots Per Minute for warming up, the incredible Ronnie Kuller for making us a part of her month-long musical residency, and the Hideout for hosting.
Do you want to keep tabs on your favorite Theater Oobleck ensemble members? Here it is… a busy calendar of events from a busy bunch of people.
October 2 through October 19
October 5 through November 3
- Mickle Maher has authored The Pine, produced by The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston. Tell your exes who live in Texas and read the great Houston Chronicle article all about Mickle.
- Guy Massey appears as Fetus Two in Smokefall at the Goodman Theatre. Check out some great rehearsal photos of him.
- David Isaacson returns to The Paper Machete at the Green Mill. It is a weekly salon in a saloon!
October 18 & 19
- Martha Bayne reads her work at That’s All She Wrote!, a LiveLit event, 8pm at Swim Cafe, 1357 W. Chicago.
October 17 through December 3
- Dave Buchen (and his kids) will appear in The Singing Pictures Show at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn. It’s a festival of cantastoria.
October 18 through November 1 (3 shows only)
- Colm O’Reilly appears in A Red Orchid Theatre’s production of Trevor.
October 24 – November 16
- Diana Slickman appears in the latest BoyGirlBoyGirl show, Phenomena of Materialisation with our good friends Stephanie Shaw, David Kodeski, and Edward Thomas-Herrera.
- David Isaacson will talk about allergies at Ray’s Tap Reading Series at the Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, 10pm.
And in other ensemble news, Dave Buchen’s annual hand-printed calendar is done and available for purchase.
Jeff Dorchen delivers a weekly “Moment of Truth” every Saturday morning on the radio program This Is Hell. It is available for streaming or download.
The folks over at the City of Chicago’s Theater on the Lake have invited us to bring back Mickle Maher’s There Is a Happiness That Morning Is for one final week. Diana Slickman and Colm O’Reilly will reprise their roles, and the wonderful HB Ward (who played Oscar Madison in our “Strauss at Midnight”) will fill the shoes of the wonderful Kirk Anderson.
“Back by Popular Demand” is a theater-marketing cliché, of course, but in this case we can back it up. Fans of the show have been dropping us notes on Facebook, and you can read what they said about the first two runs of the show.
On June 19th, Theater Oobleck celebrated its 25th anniversary with performances of new work and from its very first season, 1988.
The event was presented by Pivot Arts, and was part of the “Rough Magic” series, which harnesses the creativity of the Chicago theater community to benefit innovative organizations.
Soup and bread were supplied by Soup & Bread.
Theater Oobleck raised a total of $1720 for Vital Bridges, The Peoples Music School, and the Preston Bradley Center.
Oobleck’s runaway hit, There Is A Happiness That Morning Is, is currently enjoying not one, but two, national productions. The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston is reprising their 2011 production from May 10-May 25, and the Cleveland Public Theatre is offering a brand-new production, May 9 – May 25.
You can read the Cleveland Plain Dealer review here and the Houston reviews here
Oobleck will also be bringing back our own production for one final weekend, at the City of Chicago’s Theater on the Lake, July 10 – 14.
Happiness playwright Mickle Maher talks about the power of public sex, the actor’s prerogative, and why the play was almost about mummies in this half-hour podcast from Talk Theatre in Chicago. Includes bonus stale bread metaphors!
Proceeds from the performance of There Is A Happiness That Morning Is on Thursday, February 28 will go toward the amazing and worthy Soup and Bread.
“This. Play. Is. Killer.”
Such a book nerd seemed to like the show.
WBEZ’s Dueling Critics Kelly Klenman called Happiness “the most remarkable mix of poetry and drama that you are ever likely to see.” Listen to the segment on theatre week.
“If the American theater harbors a precedent for Mickle Maher’s astonishing 2011 play There Is a Happiness That Morning Is, I’ve never found it . . . “
“ . . . richer, funnier, and more heartbreaking than ever.”
— Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader
READ THE WHOLE THING HERE:
There is an astonishment that There Is a Happiness That Morning Is is
Thanks to Time Out’s Kris Vire, for including us on the teevee in his roundup of notable shows.
ABC 7 NEWS: What’s Playing at Local Theaters
Allison Cuddy’s previews Happiness and interviews Mickle.
READ AND LISTEN HERE