Chicago

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Holly Robison

Ghostlight is sharing our personal stories of why theatre is so important to us and, in turn, to others. We hope you'll feel inspired to support the arts now and forever more.

Holly Robison, Co-Artistic Director, Ensemble Member

Holly Robison, second from left, at a production meeting for Ghostlight's 2016 festival of new works, "Six Authors in Search of a Character."

Holly Robison, second from left, at a production meeting for Ghostlight's 2016 festival of new works, "Six Authors in Search of a Character."

"When I was in the second grade, I played a bunny who choked on a cookie.  I remember that I prepared. We didn't have to memorize our lines, but I was the only kid who did. While it seemed all that was expected was to step forward and read our lines, I thought about how to create the moment, how to choke on the cookie — how to bite the cookie like a rabbit would, the timing of the bite, when to say my line, when to start coughing, etc. I was a painfully shy kid and usually went out of my way to avoid attention  — to avoid talking to people at all, really  — but, man, was I into creating that character. All that scary stuff went away because I had to be a bunny, and I had a cookie to choke on, darn it. I loved it. (OK, full disclosure: repeated teacher-sanctioned cookie consumption may have contributed to my 8-year old joy. But really, that is still part of the joy — those silly, fun, crazy things you get to do and learn as actor. ) 

"Even though it was many, many years before I fully realized and embraced that part of myself, I know now that this was probably the first sign that I was a 'theatre person' at my core. It's my first memory of a love for performance, for crating a character, for telling a story."

http://www.ghostlightensemble.com/get-funding-fundraiser

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Jaclyn Jensen & Mike Wozniak

Ghostlight is sharing our personal stories of why theatre is so important to us and, in turn, to others. We hope you'll feel inspired to support the arts now and forever more.

Jaclyn Jensen, Audience Development Coordinator, Ensemble Member
Mike Wozniak,
Visual Design Specialist, Ensemble Member  

Jaclyn Jensen and Mike Wozniak at the Ghostlight Launch Party in 2016.

Jaclyn Jensen and Mike Wozniak at the Ghostlight Launch Party in 2016.

"Our first date started with Mike in the audience for one of Jackie's shows. Sure, sure, there was dinner and drinks and a romantic rooftop patio, too. But it started in a theatre. That 'theatre' may have been the upstairs of a punk rock bar, but for that show, it was the perfect theatre.

"Our relationship continued with Mike seeing Jackie's shows and being her biggest fan. But seeing shows together became something that really brought us closer together. Being able to connect after sharing these experiences, seeing how shows affect each other, seeing where our perspectives align or not... we learn more about each other.

"A few years ago we took a leap and actually wrote a play together  — neither of us are playwrights. But we created something together and it was a highlight in our relationship. And we are looking forward to future projects!

"Whether on stage, back stage, or in the audience, theatre gives you an opportunity to really connect."

http://ghostlightensemble.com/get-funding-fundraiser

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Miona Lee

Ghostlight is sharing our personal stories of why theatre is so important to us and, in turn, to others. We hope you'll feel inspired to support the arts now and forever more.

Miona Lee, Literary Manager, Ensemble Member

Miona Lee, center, in Ghostlight's 2017 production of "Six Characters in Search of an Author."

Miona Lee, center, in Ghostlight's 2017 production of "Six Characters in Search of an Author."

"I’ve always struggled with allowing people to know the real me. Call it social anxiety, call it trust issues stemming from childhood, whatever. That fact is, I’m not comfortable around people and don’t share much of myself with others.

"I could tell you a cute story of how when I was in fifth grade I played a Marilyn Monroe version of Mrs. Claus complete with feather boa and caught the theater bug. But really, I found performing was the perfect escape from myself. I found slipping into someone else’s skin liberating. I didn’t have to bare my soul to others.

"Through the years I’ve played my fair share of Queens, fairies, villains, misguided actresses, sisters, wives, girlfriends and the occasional warrior. Each time, I burrowed into these characters to find out what it is they might be hiding from others. Sharing these flawed characters to an audience has allowed me to open up more in my own life. It’s OK that I’m flawed, there are people out there that will accept me no matter what.

"For me, theater is much more than telling important stories that remind us we’re all connected. It’s my way of slowly learning to accept myself and trust that others will do the same. "

http://ghostlightensemble.com/get-funding-fundraiser

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Michael Wagman

Ghostlight is sharing our personal stories of why theatre is so important to us and, in turn, to others. We hope you'll feel inspired to support the arts now and forever more.

Michael Wagman, Co-Artistic Director, Ensemble Member

Michael Wagman, center, in Ghostlight's 2016 production of "Krampus!"

Michael Wagman, center, in Ghostlight's 2016 production of "Krampus!"

"All throughout my childhood I was the shy kid in the corner. I just assumed most people didn’t care what I thought or how I felt. In the broad scheme of grade school life I simply didn’t matter. My greatest joys came when I was by myself. Reading a book, watching a movie or working on a project. The greatest validation I found was from the joy I got doing these often lonely activities. Getting into my early and mid-teens I began a string of artistic endeavors. First it was tap dancing, then poetry, then short story writing, songwriting and oil painting (my parents’ favorite). All the while from seventh to ninth grade I also played on the golf team, but the validation I got from these activities never gave me a sense of community. I still didn’t fit in. I enjoyed the activities but rarely did I feel a close bond with the people.

"Then in eighth grade, on a total whim, I auditioned for and got cast in my school’s middle school/high school production of Pippin. After that I acted in the middle school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I had a great time doing both and according to parents, teachers and students alike I seemed to be pretty good at it.

"In ninth grade my golf game hit a slump and I was demoted to caddy duty until my game picked back up. Even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of all my teammates, I loved playing the game and was frustrated beyond measure that outlet was being taken away from me. Then one day at morning assembly Mrs. Haulmark, the theatre director, announced that someone had dropped out of the production of Dracula and they needed a replacement. She said if anyone was interested they should speak to her.

"The stars seemed to have aligned. I’d had fun doing theatre the previous year and I’d liked Mrs. Haulmark and all the actors and techies. As an eighth-grader in Pippin I’d gotten to work with freshman and seniors alike, and our ages had never seemed to matter. We were all treated with respect as long as we did our part to make the production the best we could. And most importantly I had fun.  Instead of doing my art behind closed doors there was something freeing and intimate about sharing my interpretation of a character in front of people onstage. 

"All my life I’d been hiding from people, assuming what I thought and felt didn’t matter. In theatre I could be onstage and what I thought and felt could be the only thing that mattered. If I did it well, what I thought and felt could keep an audience at the edge of their seats. I could feel important."

https://www.ghostlightensemble.com/get-funding-fundraiser

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Chad Wise

Ghostlight is sharing our personal stories of why theatre is so important to us and, in turn, to others. We hope you'll feel inspired to support the arts now and forever more.

Chad Wise, Managing Director, Ensemble Member

Chad Wise (center) as Chet in Ghostlight's 2016 production of "Krampus!"

Chad Wise (center) as Chet in Ghostlight's 2016 production of "Krampus!"

"After being big fish in a little pond in high school, I got to college and didn't know what to do. My parents insisted I have a 'fall back on' degree so I chose to be an education major, with theatre as a focus. But because of the education requirements, I couldn't go deep into the theatre classes I really wanted to take. So while I performed a lot, I didn't really have much of a path or the opportunity to discover a path. Then came In The Flesh.

"For Christmas my sophomore year I was gifted my choice of tickets to a show playing in Chicago. Being a Central Illinois boy and not knowing what I was doing, I poked through the newspaper (this was 1992 after all). There was the traditional fare, musicals, Shepard, etc. But nothing reached out and grabbed me. Until I saw Clive Barker's name. I had discovered the movie Night Breed the previous year and was enamored. So I chose a production of In The Flesh at the Organic Theater (back when they were on Clark Street).

"Up until this show I admittedly hadn't seen or experienced much theatre. The usual high school stuff (Grease, Little Shop of Horrors) mixed in with some edgier stuff by a great drama teacher (The Diviners, Breaking the Code) and then a year and a half worth of college theatre. But nothing had really jumped out at me yet. This show did. Set in a prison with a supernatural undercurrent, the palpable fear and anxiety I felt in the small studio theater was a far cry from singing along to Greased Lightning. And it affected me deeply. More than anything, it showed me that theatre had the capacity to trigger strong emotions in people beyond the usual joy and sadness and empathy. That a small space could be a help rather than a hindrance. And that the only way to truly do a genre justice is to embrace it completely.

"That show informed most of my choices from then on. It led me into directing and producing. When it came time to start a theatre company it inspired our mission. And to this day, giving people a new and different experience in the dark is the guiding force behind what I do. An app on your phone will never truly affect you like an actor staring straight at you from a few feet away. This is why I do theatre. Life is about experiencing new experiences. Theatre lets me do that for a room full of people every time the lights dim."

http://ghostlightensemble.com/get-funding-fundraiser

October is off to a strong start

Scott Ray Merchant as Shaun in  You've Got READ on You: A  Shaun of The Dead  Live Reading , held Oct. 17, 2017, at Celtic Crown.

Scott Ray Merchant as Shaun in You've Got READ on You: A Shaun of The Dead Live Reading, held Oct. 17, 2017, at Celtic Crown.

We're less than a month into our fundraiser and we've already hit 10 percent of our goal thanks to you!

October also saw a successful Potbelly Fundraiser and a fun and financially beneficial night in our Live Reading series — thanks to everyone who also came out to eat and drink with us at those events! And October isn't done yet!

This early funding is important to us as we are putting together the production team now for our spring show, An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, and rehearsals are about to begin for our holiday show, Gingerbread Grindhouse. The early funding will help us to pay our production teams and cover the cost of rehearsal spaces and set/costume/props materials.

Thank you so much for your continuing support of Ghostlight. If you've already donated, are thinking about donating or just enjoy reading this blog for fun, you can continue supporting us by spreading word of who we are, what we do and of this fundraiser. Word of mouth works better than any other kind of marketing. YOU are our secret weapon.

Snuggle up with some cookies, cocoa and killer dolls this holiday season

GingerbreadGrindhouse_Poster_v2.jpg

Over here at Ghostlight Central, we're gearing up for Gingerbread Grindhouse with auditions scheduled for next week, a production team already on board and a line of Nutcrackers out the door. If you like a little horror with your holidays, this is the show for you.

In a nod to the lurid, violent films popular in the 1930s through 1970s, Gingerbread Grindhouse will feature a series of live “trailers” for grindhouse-style plays yet to be, before continuing on to the feature production, Nutcracker Nightmare – a holiday tale of children, the toys they love and the toys that try to kill everyone they love.

By donating to the G.E.T. Funding online fundraiser you have the opportunity to GET involved (see our last update and also the $100 donation level), or maybe you just want to know more about the production itself while chatting with the director, playwrights and actors. For just $25 you can get a pair of tickets to the show, join cast members and the director for cookies and cocoa beforehand and find out about the holiday magic that brings murderous dolls to life. 

Learn more about Gingerbreak Grindhouse on the production show page.