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"Spirits" in Cleveland

posted 09/11/2014

Great news from Ohio. Theater Oobleck’s 2003 play Spirits to Enforce, by our own Mickle Maher, will receive a new production from the Cleveland Public Theatre, opening October 9.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a great preview here.

Last year, CPT produced Mickle’s There Is A Happiness That Morning Is.

If you can’t make it to Ohio, Chicagoans can see the Columbia College production in February, directed by the phenomenal Stephanie Shaw.

Here’s a look back at that original production, with a photo by Kristin Basta.




A Slickman September

posted 09/07/2014

Our own Diana Slickman is going to have a very busy month. Come out and see her:

Saturdays in BoyGirlBoyGirl presents The Bible along with David Kodeski, Edward Thomas-Herrera, and Stephanie Shaw.

And Tuesday, September 16th, where she will defend “Imperial” against Ian Belknap’s “Metric” at Write Club.

And Wednesday, September 25th, reading from Hula, a new book of poems from our friend Richard Fox, 7pm at The Brixton, 5420 N. Clark. (No charge, but a 2 drink minimum.)

Sati Word, Rest in Peace

posted 09/06/2014


It is with great sadness that we note the passing of our friend Sati Word, on Wednesday, September 3, 2014.

There will be a Celebration Service for Sati on September 22nd at 6pm, at the Soka Gakkai International Chicago Buddhist Culture Center, 1455 S. Wabash, and a Homegoing Service the following day, September 23rd at 10am, at Leak & Sons Funeral Home, 7838 S. Cottage Grove.

His friends and family have established a Memorial Fund to help pay for his funeral. Please consider giving.

Three of Sati’s castmates from our Oobleck Election Show 2008: The Trojan Candidate shared their thoughts:

Jeff Dorchen writes:

On behalf of Theater Oobleck, I want to extend condolences to the family and friends of Sati Word. His passing is a great loss to those who knew him, and to the arts. It’s hard to express the shock I feel knowing he’s not around anymore.

I met him in the summer of 2008, just as rehearsals were about to begin for The Trojan Candidate, the 2008 Oobleck election play. We had lost our Obama, and Sati showed up. He was game for anything. And he was great. As an enthusiastic improv performer he took to the directorless rehearsal model with ease but not without commenting on the glorious madness of it, was never shy about chiming in with ideas, but never made us old folk feel like we were out of gas. Maybe he adjusted his pace to ours, yet whatever he did, he was 100% there. He crafted his performance with a control that was surprising given what appeared to be an untamable energy.

Backstage he shared that energy with the rest of the cast. He was a non-stop pleasure to work with, and afterwards, on FB, and a few times we met to drink, whatever sardonic or wry social criticism he let slip was tempered by something unsinkable. I was always glad to see him or hear from him, even when he talked about that Ron Paul crap. We had an understanding about that.

He always had something going on: a film, a gig, a sketch show. He was that kind of rare young performer, the kind that assuages the pity older theater folk instinctively feel for the young because of all the disillusionment in store for them. I got the feeling he would be able to handle whatever came at him because of his sheer forward momentum, leading with a blade that would cut through bullshit.

Apparently a series of undeserved incidents of harassment by our historically wonderful Chicago Police Department had gotten under his skin a while ago. Then, recently, health issues. There was so much more he had to do in this life. I hear he was planning to come out to LA. I would love to have seen him out here.

This is the kind of senseless loss that leaves the living grasping the wind. He can’t have been easy to take down, and I can’t figure out why any cosmic force should have wanted to. He was thin but full of power. He was funny and charming as hell. His warm-up mantra:

“I’m awake! I’m alive! I’m energized! And damn I look good!”

He was and he did.

KellyAnn Corcoran writes:

Sati, I hope you are hearing all the things that are being written here from your place in the stars. You were loved and admired and respected. You were patient and thoughtful and kind. You were you, no matter who you were with or what you were doing. I expected to see you again, to work with you again, to stand in the warmth of your presence once more. I am grateful and honored to have known you. Know that you touched my life and left it more full than before I knew you. How sad for us that you have gone. Bless you on your new journey Sati. You are missed and mourned.

Danny Thompson writes:

Goodbye, Sati Word.
One of the joys of being in a show is the treat of watching from offstage while waiting for your next scene. One of my favorites of these moments was watching Sati flying solo with his Obama’s I Have a Dream scenes. He was so damn good and so damn fun to watch — and a pleasure to work with.

• • •
DREAM #6
(from Oobleck Election Play 2008: The Trojan Candidate)

OBAMA:
I have a dream . . . that I am in the midst of an immense multitude. All wearing paper hats, sashes, ribbons, buttons. Everything is red, white and blue. We are all in a gigantic stadium covered in banners and flags. A dozen school bands are playing at once and the noise is deafening. 80,000 people whistling, singing, laughing and waving signs. And then at the 50 yard line a group erupts in a thunderous excitement. They rush the stage. Then everything stops. We are all silent with tingling anticipation. Something . . . wonderful is about to happen.

Murmured rumors race around the room. And then the news rushes past us like a great wave – Obama is here. OBAMA . . . is IN … the room.

I am frozen with overpowering feelings. Obama is here. My legs are shaking. Obama! I’ve forgotten how to breathe. Behind me someone is weeping. Someone else is laughing. Spotlights sweep around the stadium and 80,000 camera flashes sparkle and the air is electric.

And then at the very back. At the center of the stage, under a massive American flag, the spotlights all come together. . . and he’s there. Everyone just explodes with applause and roars, “Obama. Obama. Obama. Obama.”

But as I look up, I can’t believe my eyes. It’s me. The man on the stage is me. One of the spotlights travels down from the stage to find me inside the crowd and I follow in its light to the front of the platform. The crowd divides as I walk. I begin to climb up the steps, but someone grabs my arm. It’s Will Smith. And he yells, “Hey! Who do you think you are? You’re not even human anymore.” Others grab me and hold me back, but I push forward. With all my might I push forward. I have to let Obama know. I have to tell Obama that I’m him. That he’s me.

And then a hundred thousand balloons fall from ceiling and push me away. And I’m just one them again. Just one of the crowd.

Photos by Kristin Basta.

Oobleckers Perform in Children's Organ Transplant Association Benefit

posted 08/10/2014

Help us raise money for Jack Benjamin’s COTA fund!

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association helps children and young adults who need a life-saving transplant by providing fundraising assistance and family support.

Oobleckers Diana Slickman and Chris Schoen, along with a bunch of our closest friends, will perform. Get your tickets now.

Chicago Arts Journal features Oobleck

posted 08/08/2014

We thank the Chicago Arts Journal for consistently covering Theater Oobleck.

The Spring 2014 edition features both Ira Murfin (on page 16) and Carine Loewi (on page 21) ruminating on Baudelaire in a Box Episode 6, and an interview with our own Guy Massey on page 40.

The Summer 2014 edition has a review of Jewboy and Grosbeck (part of the Oobleck Residency at the Hideout) on page 41.

The Most Sarcastic Child in Chicago Watches a Clown Show

posted 07/24/2014

Writer Paul Dailing is chronicling life in our city in his “1001 Chicago Afternoons” blog. He stopped by “SOS: A Summer Clown Cruise,” and gave this report.

Jay Torrence as Stan. Photo by Eiren Caffall The sun started its slow descent over the boathouse to the west, glistening and glimmering off the lagoon where happy fishermen plied their futile hobby. The spot of grass by house and water was filled with smiling families, laughing children and the sounds of a small live band playing a light and smooth 1920s Puerto Rican jazz.

“Is this that clown thing they were talking about?” came a voice from behind me.

The voice was a female one, withering in that way only 12 year olds can muster.

Read the full story

Waiting for the mail carrier…

posted 06/26/2014

…for the amazing cantastorias by Adam Cook and Sam Wilson to arrive. They will be part of the set for SOS: A Summer Clown Cruise.

They sent us some photos to whet our appetites.


Oobleck's Tuesday night residency wraps up this week

posted 06/23/2014

R.H. Palmer reviewed the third week of our Hideout residency.

Theater Oobleck…is wrapping up their June residency at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, on Tuesday with This Land That I Love, a musical interpretation of a book written by Ooblecker by John Shaw. Every week is different, so it’s hard to encapsulate the experience, but I have yet to be disappointed by Oobleck.

See the full review here

Photo by Matt Greenberger.

Chicago Tribune summer preview

posted 05/29/2014

The Chicago Tribune includes SOS: A Summer Clown Cruise among its Fresh Air Feasts for summer.

A tantalizing teaser for next Spring.

posted 05/28/2014

We are proud to be part of the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Storefront Theater schedule for 2015.

Read about all of the great theaters involved in this preview from The Chicago Tribune.

Chicago Reader previews Hideout Residency

posted 05/28/2014

We’re excited about our upcoming Residency at the Hideout. Looks like The Chicago Reader is, as well.

Chicago fringe favorite Theater Oobleck has invaded the Hideout and for the month of “Joon” will take over the venue’s Tuesday Night Residency, presenting music and performances by Oobleckers and associates each week.

See the whole preview here.

Oobleck receives MAP Fund grant

posted 05/06/2014

Big news: Oobleck has received a prestigious MAP Fund grant to support our collaboration with El Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico. We are one of 39 organizations receiving funding for this year — you can read about all the amazing projects here.

Oobleck Founding member Dave Buchen will be leading up the production, tentatively titled Decameron Carnival Cruise. It will premiere in the Spring of 2015 in Chicago and San Juan.

Jeff Dorchen's Moments of Truth

posted 01/06/2014

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.

Oobleck Annual Appeal

posted 12/13/2013

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
Theater Oobleck
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!

Mickle Maher named to Goodman's Playwright Unit

posted 12/12/2013

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.

Chicago Commercial Collective announces Happiness tour

posted 12/10/2013

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.

The Catamounts (Boulder, Colorado), opening February 28.

Oobleck Anthology Reviewed

posted 10/31/2013

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.)

Oobleck receives International Connections Fund grant

posted 10/07/2013

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 has a drink with Baudelaire

posted 10/03/2013

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.

What's our ensemble doing these days?

posted 10/01/2013

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

  • 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.

October 5 through November 3
  • Guy Massey appears as Fetus Two in Smokefall at the Goodman Theatre. Check out some great rehearsal photos of him.

October 12
  • David Isaacson returns to The Paper Machete at the Green Mill. It is a weekly salon in a saloon!

October 13
October 18 & 19
  • 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 17 through December 3
  • Colm O’Reilly appears in A Red Orchid Theatre’s production of Trevor.

October 18 through November 1 (3 shows only)
  • Diana Slickman appears in the latest BoyGirlBoyGirl show, Phenomena of Materialisation with our good friends Stephanie Shaw, David Kodeski, and Edward Thomas-Herrera.

October 24 – November 16
November 9
  • 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.

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