Ghostlight Ensemble Announces Inaugural Season
Ghostlight Ensemble will come out swinging in its inaugural season. Literally. In its first production, the new Chicago-based nonprofit theatre company joins Nothing Special Productions on Sept. 16-17, for the 11th installment of Fight Night – a violent cabaret celebrating the art of stage combat through original storytelling and violence design.
Ghostlight’s selection, Trip, Trap, Trump, about a woman who is kidnapped by internet trolls and her sister’s fight to get her back, kicks off a half season that includes a holiday show about a Christmas demon and a piece of classic theatre history.
“Few things excite me more than sitting down with a group of fellow theatre artists to figure out how to tell a story, how to breathe life into it on stage,” said Co-Artistic Director Holly Robison. “There are so many stories to be told, and I know that that my fellow artists in Ghostlight want to find those compelling stories and tell them in a compelling way.”
To that end, Ghostlight’s first mainstage production won’t take place on a stage at all. The company is staging the Luigi Pirandello classic Six Characters in Search of an Author where it is set – in the rehearsal room.
In the age of reality television when fiction is often realer than reality, this metatheatrical play about the relationship between authors, their characters, actors, directors and audience takes on new relevance. Using this framework, Ghostlight Ensemble’s production examines the institutional racism found in modern theatre and leaves the audience wondering if they were just watching a show or were they, perhaps, the show. Six Characters in Search of an Author is set for the spring of 2017.
As a partner to that production, the company will also present Six Authors in Search of a Character, a short play festival in which six authors pen 10-minute plays around the “missing” character in The Mountain Giants, Luigi Pirandello’s final, unfinished play.
Prior to Six Characters, the company will present Krampus! – Ensemble Members Jaclyn Jensen and Mike Wozniak’s new take on the classic Christmas tale of switches and chains and devils who punish naughty children by stuffing them into baskets and dragging them to the fiery depths of hell. Krampus! opens on Oct. 31, at the Underground Wonder Bar in River North (710 N. Clark St., Chicago, 60654) and runs on select Mondays and Tuesdays through December.
As its name indicates, Ghostlight is an ensemble-based company focused on producing communal theatre. It was started by a group of Chicago storefront theatre veterans who wanted a place where their ideas were nurtured and their talents respected. The company has chosen Robison and Michael Wagman from the Ensemble to serve as Co-Artistic Directors and Chad Wise as Managing Director.
“Ghostlight Ensemble is a group of people who want to tell great stories and want to work together to figure out the most exceptional way to tell them,” Wise said. We approach theatre from a standpoint of ‘How do we make that happen?’ instead of ‘That won’t work.’
“The nature of Ghostlight's mission is to defy predictability, to fly in the face of pigeonholing and to lead the resistance against all classification save one – that of great storytelling.”
The Ensemble includes: Maria Burnham, Jean E. Burr, Keith Gatchel, Jaclyn Jensen, Miona Lee, Holly Robison, Lisa Uhlig, Michael Wagman, Chad Wise and Mike Wozniak.
“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with every one of my Ghostlight colleagues for many years now,” Wagman said. “Each of them has shown me time and again their absolute commitment to creating smart, well-crafted theatre. Their determination to make sure every detail of every show is well thought out makes me proud to be associated with them and inspires me to be a better theatre artist myself.”
In addition to its initial half season, the company also announced plans for a launch party in October.
The launch party takes place 8-11 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, at babyAtlas in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood (3101 N Sheffield Ave., Chicago, 60657). The event is open to the public and will introduce the company and its programming. There will be entertainment, snacks, a cash bar and an informational scavenger hunt that will give participants a chance to score some season tickets by collecting little known facts about Ghostlight Ensemble members from the members themselves. The event is free with a suggested donation of $5 at the door.
The company is in the process of finalizing its first full season. Plans call for two mainstage shows a year, as well as a limited-run holiday show in between and a summer children’s series called Nightlight.
“Nothing is off-limits in our pursuit to explore theatrical possibilities,” Wagman said. “Life is weird and serious and funny all at once. Why should theatre be any different?”
“An audience is in good hands when artists are telling stories, big or small, that they love,” Robison added. “That’s what Ghostlight is all about. We recognize the importance and power of stories – they are how we connect, how we reach out, how we challenge ourselves, how we escape, how we love and on and on. Ultimately, I believe stories are how we survive.”
Tickets are on sale now for Fight Night: Valkyries. The two-night event, featuring short plays celebrating the feminine warrior spirit, is hosted by Nothing Special Productions and takes place at 9 p.m. on Sept. 16-17 at The Edge Theatre (5451 N. Broadway, Chicago, 60640). Tickets are $18.
Ghostlight Ensemble is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit theatre whose mission it is to shed light on the human experience and provoke communal connections beyond the edge of the stage.