Maria Burnham

In A World Where Trees Talk And Giants Walk, Why Not A Set That Lives And Breathes?

In Ghostlight Ensemble’s latest production, actors throw their whole selves – literally – into telling the story of a giant who brings on a perpetual winter in an effort to keep his land to himself. The Selfish Giant, which opens June 8, is a physical theatre reimagining of the Oscar Wilde short story of the same name.

Weaving movement and words into a highly physical form of storytelling, this intimate production tells the tale of an angry giant who builds a wall to keep children off his land, but discovers the perils of isolation and the negative consequences of selfishness.

“The themes of this story, originally published in 1888, resonate with modern audiences, tackling issues that we are still very much grappling with,” said Maria Burnham, the playwright and a co-director of the production. “The story is almost too relevant.”

This production removes the religious overtones of Wilde’s original short story and replaces it with a morality tale that focuses on character redemption and the power of love. It also moves the story off the page by relying solely on the actors who are telling it, illustrating to the audience another theme of the story – how much better we can be when we all work together.

The adaptation uses a chorus to embody human characters and mythical beasts. The actors build the world of trees, birds, benches and beasts with their bodies.

“Physical theatre is really much more about, not a singular person, but what a group can provide you. What can we build together as opposed to one person standing and saying ‘Hey I’m a giant’ or ‘I’m a tree’,” said Miona Lee, co-director and movement choreographer for the production. “The story itself is very much about inclusiveness and the way we’re building our world as well is really inclusive.”

The Selfish Giant was part of a collection of stories for children by Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, first published in May 1888. In the story, the selfish giant builds a wall around his beautiful garden to keep children out. By doing so, he creates a perpetual winter in the garden, because no other season wanted to be part of his selfish endeavor. Then one morning, a special child brings spring back, and the giant’s heart melts along with the snow.

The Selfish Giant stars Jean E. Burr as Lydia and Tamsen Glaser, Molly Gloeckner, Sophia Hail, Nate Hall, Sarah-Lucy Hill, Song Marshall, Daniela Martinez, Maggie Blair Smith and Zoe Savransky as a chorus of characters.

The show was crafted to appeal to all ages and its weekend runs are perfect for families looking for live, daytime entertainment. The Selfish Giant runs June 8-30 on Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. at Otherworld Theatre in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago (3914 N. Clark St., 60613) Tickets are on sale now: $10 adults, $5 children 12 and under, or $25 family of four.

The Selfish Giant is part of Ghostlight’s summer Nightlight series.

Nightlight is Ghostlight’s summer young audience series with original, adapted and forgotten plays geared toward children and the adults who love them. Ghostlight believes theatre can be a beacon for children, letting them know they aren’t alone in the world, giving them a sense of security and revealing the truth that in stories they can be anything they want to be. You’re never too young – or too old – for a nightlight.

Auditions Announced for 'The Selfish Giant'

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Ghostlight Ensemble announces auditions for our summer show The Selfish Giant, written by Maria Burnham, directed by Maria Burnham and Miona Lee and based on Oscar Wilde’s short story of the same name.

The Selfish Giant is part of our Nightlight young audiences series and illustrates the perils of isolation and the negative consequences of selfishness, but it also teaches us that it is never to late for redemption and for love.

Character Descriptions:
Seeking a strong, ethnically diverse cast of all genders, ages, shapes and sizes, who love a good story and who have an imagination to rival any 5-year-old. Additionally, actors with strong movement backgrounds are encouraged to audition. This production will use a chorus of actors to embody not just the human characters in the story, but the mythical ones, as well as inanimate objects. This is NOT a dance piece. It is physical theater that relies almost completely on the ensemble of actors telling the story with their bodies and voices.

Material To Prepare:
Please submit your headshot and resume to Jean, and she will be in touch with sides and an audition appointment. Dress for movement and bring your sense of play.

Performance Dates:
Saturdays at 1 p.m. & Sundays at 11 a.m., June 7 to June 30 at Otherworld Theatre, 3914 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613.

Auditions:
6-11 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13

***Please indicate your availability during this window in your email.***

Callbacks:
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 16

You MUST be available for callbacks. If you are not available for callbacks, do not submit to this audition. However, you do not need to be available for this entire time.

Auditions and call backs will be held at Otherworld Theatre.

Rehearsals will be scheduled around cast availability taking place 3 to 4 times a week during weeknights and weekends. However, as this is an ensemble production utilizing the entire chorus to tell the story, all actors will be called for all rehearsals. If you have extremely limited availability during April and May, we kindly ask that you do not submit.

To submit:
Send your headshot and resume to Jean at casting@ghostlightensemble.com.

Auditions Announced for 'The Princess Without Pots'

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Ghostlight Ensemble announces auditions for our summer show The Princess Without Pots, written and directed by Maria Burnham.

The Princess Without Pots is geared toward young audiences and shows us a world in which fighting like a girl is something everyone aspires to do.

 


Characters Descriptions:
Seeking a strong ethnically diverse cast of all genders, ages, shapes and sizes, who love a good story and who have an imagination to rival any 5-year-old.

Material To Prepare:
Please submit your headshot and resume to Jean, and she will be in touch with sides and an audition appointment. Bring your sense of play.

Performance Dates:
Saturdays at 11 a.m. & Sundays at 1:30 p.m., June 9 to July 1 in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago.

Auditions:
7-10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27
7-10 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28

Please indicate your preferred date and time in your email.

You must be available for callbacks on Thursday, March 29, which will be held between 6:30 to 10 p.m. You do not need to be available for this entire time.

Auditions and call backs will be held at Theatre Momentum's Pendulum Space (1803 W Byron St, Chicago).

Send your headshot and resume to Jean at casting@ghostlightensemble.com.

Ghostlight featured on Chicago on Stage

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Ghostlight was recently lucky enough to sits down with Karen Topham (aka chicagodramagirl) of Chicago on Stage and talk about our origin and what made us think we could make it in the crowded Chicago theatre scene.

According to the League of Chicago Theatres, there are about 200 theatre companies in the city of Chicago. Wikipedia also lists about this many, as well as thirty long-standing companies that are now defunct. And that doesn’t even begin to include the multitudes of companies that have appeared for a show or three only to vanish into the competitive haze of the Chicago theatre community, which is, without doubt, one of the most incredible live theatre markets in the country, but also one of the most unforgiving.

Amid this whirl of dramatic achievement and failure, it must take a certain kind of people with a specific kind of audacity to start a whole new company from the ground up, yet that is precisely what Holly Robison and Maria Burnham, late of Strangeloop Theatre, and Chad Wise, founding member of New Millennium Theatre, and seven other founding members including co-artistic director Michael Wagman, are doing with Ghostlight Ensemble Theatre.

Read the entire article here.