Wednesday, November 2, 2011

anna - THEATRE OF WOMEN 6 - November 19th

Dream Theatre Company seeks ACTRESSES, WRITERS, DIRECTORS for upcoming annual 24 hour play festival :

Hello Artists and Audience!

Dream Theatre Company seeks actresses of all ages for the upcoming 24 hour play festival: THEATRE OF WOMEN 6. Auditions will be held Saturday, November 5th from 11am - 2pm. The festival will be Saturday, November 19th. Please email with photo and resume to confirm an audition.

Dream Theatre Company seeks directors for the upcoming 24 hour play festival: THEATRE OF WOMEN 6. The festival will be Saturday, November 19th. Please email with resume to be considered.

Dream Theatre Company seeks writers for the upcoming 24 hour play festival: THEATRE OF WOMEN 6. The festival will be Saturday, November 19th, writing will happen starting on Friday, November 18th at 9pm. Please email with a resume and short writing sample.
Will consist of seven 10 minute plays written by seven writers, directed by seven directors and featuring only women actresses. Theatre of Women began as a call to action for actresses. Dream Theatre has always produced shows with a predominately women cast and so decided to produce a play that celebrate the actress. Theatre of Women 1 was a collection of pieces written by Jeremy Menekseoglu where seven actresses took you on a journey into nightmares where the actress played the kind of roles that have historically been reserved for men. The play opened with a large table covered in weapons and each actress would step forward choose a weapon and her scene would begin.

With Theatre of Women 2: the format changed dramatically. Instead of one writer, we brought in 5 and instead of 7 actresses, we brought in 20.

With each Theatre of Women the themes have changed, the roles have become more and more exciting and this now annual event has become a highlight of Dream Theatre's Season.
The celebration of the Actress. The Power of the Actress. The beauty and virtue of the Actress.

THEATRE OF WOMEN 6 will continue to focus on the actress deciding to keep the theme open to the writers hoping only to achieve something daring and unexpected.

Buckle up my dear Audience, these actresses are about to blow your damn minds!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

anna- Audience Annihilated Part One: Recommended!!

Dates: OCTOBER 27, 28, 29, 30 & 31 (Only 5 days left!) 
Times: 8:00pm, 8:30pm, 9:00pm, 9:30pm and 10:00pm (length: 19 min).
Doors open 10 minutes prior to show time. NO LATE SEATING.
For the full immersion experience, "Lead Role" tickets are available online for groups limited to 4 members. "Observation Gallery" tickets are available for those who only wish to witness the terror. Tickets are $13 online and $18 at the door. Due to limited seating, advance purchase of "Lead Role" tickets is recommended.

WARNING: Due to the graphic nature of this production, children will not be permitted.

Reviews are in:

Get Tickets Today, they're running out fast!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

jeremy - Audience Annihilated

AUDIENCE ANNIHILATED PART ONE: WOMEN ONLY TRAIN began its odd life several years ago. I was watching Hubert Sauper’s documentary Darwin’s Nightmare and became drawn in, not by the environmental message, but the strange relationships between the prostitutes and the fishermen. Disease had broken out in the brothels and no one would help. No one could help. No one seemed even remotely interested. All of my work, in one way or another deals with the need to rescue the helpless. Save the Children. See innocence as a virtue that should be protected rather than the incorrect accepted synonym for naivety. I had also been reading about two other things; Women Only Trains that have been developed in order to stop the growing number of rapes on public transportation, and the kidnap and murder of an American student while volunteering in South America – a terrible tragedy that became even worse in my mind when I learned that she had no interest in going there, but was required to volunteer or she would have failed her class.
So. Disease. Kidnap. Women Only Trains. American Students. Forced volunteerism. A country which you understand very little and in which you are not welcome. Being alone. The inability, ineptitude or apathy of helping one in dire need. Romanticizing other cultures as something mystical with its own spirits and power.
I began to write this monster of a show and within 30 pages I came across a terrible reality. The lead character, this young American student, read like a fool. It began to look more like Hostel than a play. I know my work is always considered dark, but I do not and will not write that sort of thing. Without a worthy lead, the show is doomed. So I killed it…

The show as it is today:
I am obsessed with haunted houses. My one vacation a year is spent at Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando. This year I visited 18 haunted houses! People have asked me what the deal is with my love for these things. It’s simple. They terrify me, but I always feel safe. It’s the safety that draws me in. Seriously.
I had always wanted to create a haunted house of my own. Once when I was 15 I did design one but was thrown out after they saw my finale room: a beautiful Christmas scene with two children eating Santa Claus (18 years later I saw the same scene in a haunted house in Orlando - the Christmas themed haunted house has become widely used.) Anyway, I wanted to create a haunted house like no other - one that dealt with psychological terror rather than pop scenes and people banging cans and yelling, “GET OUT!” I also wanted the Audience to be able to experience the entire house alone. I wanted the experience to contain a plot and interesting characters which you would get to know as the story evolved. Then one night it just fell together. What if I removed the lead from WOMEN ONLY TRAIN and replaced her with an Audience member? Most likely just a theatre experiment. You certainly couldn’t sustain a show by letting only 1 to 4 people in at a time, but an experiment that I was too curious about to ignore. I knew that some people would not be able to sit in the hot seat so we came up with a seating and lighting design for them to see the show that would still leave the “lead” utterly alone. But for those who choose to play the “lead”, it is one Hell of a ride.
I hope you enjoy this 15 minute experiment in psychological terror. I hope you let yourself go. And above all –
I hope you feel safe.
-       Jeremy Menekseoglu

Friday, September 9, 2011


Tonight, after you are finished with all your fringe theatre watching head over to Dream Theatre 556 W. 18th Street for the Fringe After Party 11pm!!! with your hosts, the THREE WOMEN DRIVEN INSANE (aka Natalie, Anna and Annelise). Feel free to bring your own party equipment (wink, wink) and a $5 donation to see THREE WOMEN DRIVEN INSANE (its only 35 minutes of hilarious goodness!) would help to keep doors like Dream Theatre's open for a little while longer. Before and after the show feel free to mingle, associate, and maybe even dance or play hopscotch with the members of Dream Theatre and other Fringe Theatre makers and enjoyers like yourself! See you tonight!!!

Replete with homicidal roommates, one-armed lesbians, and Satanic babies, Three Women Driven Insane a play by Jeremy Menekseoglu is a hilarious exploration of the most dire extremes of feminine friendship and love.
Starring: Natalie Breitmeyer, Anna Menekseoglu and Annelise Lawson.
New Friend
Anelie – Natalie Breitmeyer
New Friend – Anna Menekseoglu
Mother – Annelise Lawson
A tea room, a living room, a bedroom
My Roommate My Nemesis
BRIGHID – Annelise Lawson
ELVA – Anna Menekseoglu
A tiny two room apartment
Infans Satani
Patricia – Anna Menekseoglu
Remmy – Natalie Breitmeyer
Blythe – Annelise Lawson
A house in the woods

Thursday, August 18, 2011

anna - A VERY TERRIBLE FATHER now playing!

Dear Audience!

Please see this amazing show, a world premiere, A VERY TERRIBLE FATHER by Jeremy Menekseoglu at Dream Theatre, 556 W. 18th St. Chicago, IL tonight at 8:00pm! If you mention that you are read our blog, your ticket will be only $10 TONIGHT ONLY! That is $8 less than General Admission and $5 less than student or industry price.

Here's what some are saying about this wonderful show:

"Dream Theatre's usual, macabre sensibilities give way to a surprising tenderness in this new play written and directed by company cofounder Jeremy Menekseoglu" -Zac Thompson, Chicago Reader

"as the scenes accumulate the play offers a poignant, often affecting look at loss, regret and the inevitability of death." Neal Ryan Shaw, NewCity Chicago

"This is a stunning and powerful new work. Don't miss it. The writing is moving, the staging is imaginative, and the quality of the acting is superb." -Audience memeber

"Menekseoglu often writes plays involving legends and fantasies. But in this play he has stuck very close to life, and death, as we know it. The result is a play with the look and feel of ordinary reality, but the power and force of myth." -Audience member

You can email me, or call me to reserve your seat. 773-552-8616
I'll see you tonight!
Anna W Menekseoglu
Dream Theatre Company

Friday, June 24, 2011

Help Us Choose Our 10th Season!


Next season will be Dream Theatre Company’s 10 Year anniversary and we would like for you all to celebrate it with us.

We would love for you to help choose from our past productions any 2 or 3 shows that you would like for us to remount. These shows represent some of the very best we have brought you, and were each turning points in our Company’s 10 year history.

Here are the choices:

Season One

RiO                                           Our first production!
Serial Killer, Debbie Gibson Karaoke, Severed Fingers, Runaway

Season Two

AlligatoR                                   Monster, Olympics, Mental Illness, Road Trip

Season Three

Sister 121                                 Revolution, Individualism, Cannibalism, Torture

Season Four

SlowAnna                                 Innocence is a virtue, Mark Twain, Redemption, The Box

Antigone                                   Fame, Machiavelli, Tattoo, Teenage Angst

Season Five

The Baby Killers                        The Wood Shed, The Chosen, The Orphans, Run Rabbit Run

The Samaritan Syndrome           Star Shine, Bed, Obsession, Strangled

Season Six

Medea                                       Mid Life Crisis, Witchcraft, Divorce, Butcher Knife

Somewhere in Texas                  Sex, Nemesis, Elephant, Satan Baby

Season Seven

Sequestered                              Witness, Prisoner, Orange Juice, The Files

The Black Duckling                     First Love, Burlesque, Incorruptibility, The Furnace

Season Eight

Agamemnon                             Wine, Black Bottom, Betrayal, Monkey Cage

Devilish Children
and the civilizing process           Naughty Stool, Kitty, Lessons, Christmas

Season Nine

"The Grisly Glorious Adventure”
of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon
                                        Childhood Taken, The Sixty Fourth Tree, Occurrences, Honey

Thank you, dear Audience! Let us know!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Anna - The Journey to find Ismene

There are so many traits and events in Ismene’s life that are so personal to me, so playing her should be easy, right? The answer is not that simple. Ismene’s life is her own, and cannot be burdened by my own personal struggles. In the Dream Theatre style of acting we have this saying “raise up into the character, do not bring them down to you”. Jeremy taught me this and though it seems to be a simple phrase, it is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I will say that in the past 8 years that I have been part of Dream Theatre I am continuing to explore and strive to understand and implement this particular part of our method. When acting, it is easy to get caught up in my own personal emotions, my own personal dramas and stresses and especially my own personal fears. It is so tempting to take a character’s revelations or catharsis and pull my own emotions into it so I can get the feeling of that revelation or catharsis for myself. If I feel all my own emotions of stress, fear, sadness and joy and put them into Ismene, then it will not let the audience feel these things, it will not be for them, it will be for me.

The most amazing discovery I have made in acting happened in Dream Theatre when I found those moments of completely letting go of Anna and raising up into Ismene. In 2008, when I played Ismene for the first time, I was so terrified. I thought, “How can I ever live up to this girl? She is so smart, strong, brave and innocent!”. And then it happened it wasn’t about living up to her; it was just knowing her and admiring her. And the magic moment happened not when I felt Ismene’s feelings in front of the audience, but when I introduced what I knew and admired of Ismene to the audience. And for the first time, I felt the audience raise up with me. And the most amazing thing about that is that I did get to feel personal joy. It wasn’t my feelings that went into Ismene, but her feelings and the audience’s feelings that went into me.

This time around, when we started and I knew I wanted to play Ismene again, I had all these other motives and agendas that I wanted to put on Ismene. But again, what does this accomplish? Who does it inspire? So again, I remind myself, Ismene is not for me. We joined with this production as part of a world-wide community of theatre makers to raise awareness and hope for those struggling with their fate of having breast cancer or having a loved one with breast cancer. And I say that Ismene is for you Audience, I am committed to introducing you to Ismene along with Rachel as Procne, Alicia as Philomena, Mishelle as Erin and Annelise as Iphegenia so that you can find the inspiration, courage and hope to fight against the wrongs of this world that steal away innocence. Then when we leave the story and go back to our lives, we find that we have all “risen up”.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

VIDEO: Ismene Day Fifteen

The School for Arktoi is lit... Just for you... A dream house filled with monsters...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

VIDEO: Ismene Day Nine

Inside the school!!!

VIDEO: Ismene Day Eight

Chorus and the origin of Te!

VIDEO: Ismene Day Seven

Why we're doing it...

VIDEO: Ismene Day Six

VIDEO: Ismene Day Five

The Marketing Materials arrive.

VIDEO: Ismene Day Four

Meet Philomena!

VIDEO: Ismene Day Three

Pink set.

VIDEO: Ismene Day Two

Comic book questions...

VIDEO: Ismene Day One

As part of The Ismene Project, Jeremy Menekseoglu promised to make a video a day until we open...Scary!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Ismene Project - Newly Redesigned Website Now Up!

The Ismene Project now has a newly-redesigned website up and running. If you're interested in watching how seven different cities are preparing for the simultaneous production of this one play, check them out at

Also, take a look at our counterparts in Las Vegas: the production art is amazing! Created for the Las Vegas production by SpentPencils Artwork.

Note the stark contrast between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles, Toronto, and St. John's productions, too.

It's amazing to see such seemingly different productions take shape. Wish we could see them all...

Friday, April 22, 2011

VIDEO: The Ismene Interview

Scott Stantis of WGN radio talks again with the company, this time about "Ismene" and the Ismene Project.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Anna - friends in the hundred-akre-wood

Piglet & Roo are friends!
This past week has been quite eventful. As we wrap up The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon the tears start to fall. I find it very difficult to say goodbye to our creatures we have been friends with for so long now. Christopher Robin's raincoat is wetter from the rain and the tears, Winnie-the-Pooh has dirty little feet, Eeyore's neck aches a little from flipping his ears out of his eyes so many times, Owl's wings are a bit frayed, Roo's bounce is higher and lighter than ever, Rabbit is even crankier at all the rain in the hundred aker wood as well as the real Chicago-akre-wood, Kanga's hands are a bit worn from wringing from worry, Tigger has all but bounced himself into a nap and poor little Piglet doesn't want to be left alone. They would all love to meet you. See them before they go on a shelf and their wonderful and talented voices fade into new characters in new plays or leave us for other adventures in the Portland-akre-wood. It is certainly bittersweet for me, especially because of all the wonderful friends we have made along the way. However, I have found that my own personal connection to my childhood imagination has rekindled all kinds of new possibilities and personal and artistic growth which in turn has also made me better able to connect with new people and make new friends as well as understand the depth of the meaning of the friends I already have. I could never ask for anything better than that.

Forever and ever until we're a hundred years old I want to sincerely thank AUDIENCE and Jeremy, Rachel, Annelise, Mishelle, Chad, Alicia, Kristi, Giau, Laura and Bil and everyone else in the Dream Theatre-akre-wood for all the love and support and friendship on this beautiful journey to our childhood imaginations. 

If you still haven't seen the show, I promise you, if you come this weekend, you will rekindle your own relationship with your own childhood imagination, and it feels wonderful!

love, anna (Pooh bear)

Bil - Thank You, Audience!

"The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Billy Moon" wraps up this weekend - Sunday is the final performance.

I would like to take this time to once again state how much I personally love the show. It's sweet and moving and funny and heartbreaking and it's about as much fun as a person can have watching grown-ups play with dolls.

 As a company member, I have to remark how unusual this show is in terms of audience reaction.  There's been much more of it than ever before -- or, at least, more that we're aware of out there on the internets & social medias*.  Big thank-you to everyone who has not only come to see the show, but who told some friends about it!  You're the best.

We love our audiences.  They give us the warm fuzzies.

Speaking of warm fuzzies, we finally got our Foursquare venue verified (took forever), so that means now we can offer awesome stuff to Foursquare users!  Check it out and check in, kids.  (Secret menu item: check in this weekend and get your ticket at the door for only $15!  You are now inside the circle of trust...)

Also, if you haven't seen it, here's a little something to make you laugh before the show: Psychological disorders personified by Winnie-the-Pooh characters.

In truth, we really are super, super appreciative of everybody who comes to see our plays, and our audiences for this particular play have made it very special for a lot of people.  We hope you'll come again and again!


This had to be one of the happiest surprises in my theater going life. It sounds so hack kneed but I laughed and I cried and I was totally charmed by this production. The cast was amazing. The writing soared and was true to the spirit of the original source. I am coming back and dragging as many friends as I can. great work.

Excellent show last night... even better than a pot of honey! This was our second production we've attended at DTC - we also saw "Devilish Children" late in 2010. Looking very forward to the next one! Congrats on such a great way to spend a Saturday night.

I love theater that does more than just wash over me like a sitcom, I like being taken into a world that reminds how beautiful and fragile the world can be. There's a gem of play at Dream Theater right now, go see it!

What a beautifully written and performed show. I may just have to catch ANOTHER show before there are no shows left to catch! Ya'll best be attendin'.

Originality and creativity meet at the crossroads of masterful writing and performance!! The Dream Theater is the theater of your dreams! Performance after performance, production after production, season after season... Dream Theater is consistently brilliant!!

The show was awesome in so many ways. I know people always say, "I laughed and I cried." But I really, really did. It brought back so many memories for me. I am a huge fan of Pooh and all of those other characters from the hundred acre woods :) My daughter loved the play and the food too. lol

This is seriously dramatic and heartfelt story that didn't hold back and neither did the actors...especially the real Christopher Robin! I will definitely be bringing others to check it out.

5.0 stars Written on Apr 05 2011
Yet another outstanding production from Dream Theatre. Catch this one before it closes, it is excellent.

Made it this far?  Great.  Please be aware, "Ismene" is just around the corner.  You can get in on the action early here, and take special note of these dates:
  • May 11th opening special is $8.00 for first 20 people, password is: fight
  • May 12th is our Theater Thursday benefit for Y-ME 
  • May 13th opening special is $10.00 for first 15 people, password is: fight

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

VIDEO: Bil Gaines is Terrible at Interviews (The Grisly/Glorious Adventure)

Bil Gaines is the worst interviewer ever. See him try to interview various creatures of the Hundred Acre Woods and just make a fool of himself.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Anna - Grisly Glorious Gala

Friday, March 25th for $25 you can see The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon. Plus after the show you can meet the cast, view some inspired art, meet the artists and have some refreshments.

Now is your chance to ask questions of the writer, hang out with the awesome cast and get the opportunity to share with Dream Theatre Company.  The company wants to share with you! You might even get to have a surprise conversation with your favorite character.

The lobby gallery will feature the work of local artists including Chad Allen, Inha Choe, Evaline Huang, Ariel VandeVoorde and Jean Damen.

See you at Dream Theatre at 8:00pm.  556 West 18th St.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bil - Feedback (Loud and Clear)

On Thursday night I saw the opening performance of "The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon" down in Pilsen, and I can't stop talking about how much I loved it.  Being that I wasn't part of the rehearsal process on this show, and not having seen the completed set, I really didn't know what to expect.  I'd read the script, and I knew the cast and crew are incredibly talented, but still I was surprised.  I can't say enough how proud I am of Dream Theatre Company for making one of the most magical nights of theatre I have seen in a long, long time.  I haven't cried in about ten years, but I came damn close to crying during this play.

I'm still kind of starry-eyed about it, even on a Saturday after not enough sleep all week long.  And of course, I'm thinking to myself: how can I convince people that haven't seen the show that it really is as good as I'm saying it is?

And so, while causally loitering in a Starbucks at a mall in the suburbs like some jerk, I see a note posted on good ol' Facebook blasting theatres in this town for being a bunch of jerks.  I'll repost it here, because I kind of want everybody to read it, but because of the controversy it will inevitably spark, I'll keep it anonymous:

Dear Theatre
Okay I'm not much of one for Facebook notes and publicly stating any sort of real opinion on social media, but I've got something to say. THEATER SUCKS!!! You heard me!  THEATER. SUCKS. I moved to Chicago looking for good theater. Inspiration. Excitement. Passion.... Please. I'd rather go to the dentist. Offended yet? Good. I'm offended by theater. We've forgotten our audience. We've forgotten why we are doing this... or maybe I've just decided that our reason for doing it, isn't good enough anymore.

I look at theaters desperately trying to fill seats as more and more theaters file for bankruptcy. Theaters constantly having talks about how to get the younger generation excited about theater as their subscribers just get older and older. Well honestly... have you tried?

What I see is a group of people so desperate to create a place for their voice to be heard, that they've created an art that only they can appreciate. Its boring. Its heady. Its... uggghhh.

We are living in a time when our lives are bombarded with intensity and tragedy. There is a reason why our generation doesn't seem to want to grow up. We are desperately looking for a release. An escape. Wars, tsunamis, foreclosures. We don't want to think anymore. We have to think every day just to survive.

If you want to up your sales and get the younger generation into your theaters, give them a way to escape. Why do you think Glee is dominating television? I don't know about you, but I just want to be able to find a place where for 5 minutes a day, I can forget that I can barely pay my bills, or that any day now, some country might nuke us. Give people a reason to feel happy again. With divorce rates as high as they are, why would I want to watch another play about an unhappy couple. Show me a love story. Give me reason to believe in relationships.

I will say that the thought provoking plays have a place in this world. Art should be used to make people think. But know who is going to be doing the thinking on the receiving end and remember that this isn't about your crusade. Its about your story. And yes, even in the theater, stories can end in hope. Actors DO know how to smile.

Now can you please try wearing some colors?
You can imagine how offended I was until I read the sentence asking if I was offended yet.  Then it occurred to me that this is feedback from a theatre-goer.

As a theatre artist, especially one in Chicago, it's easy to get defensive and shrug this message off with a how-dare-you-insult-this-great-city and a you-expect-too-much or a you-just-don't-get-it-do-you attitude.

But I refuse to do that.  This message was written in earnest, and posted on Facebook for all theatre and non-theatre personnel to see.


Theatres are businesses, too, and audience members are our customers, and what should a business do if they want to attract more customers?  Listen to customer feedback.

So, yeah, theatre community – looking for ways to attract younger audiences?  Rule number one ought to be: listen to young audience members.

Feedback from younger audiences is rare.  More often than not a young audience will give up on an art form that fails to please rather than make any effort to try & improve it.  What we get with the above Facebook post is almost invaluable.

True, the post is not specific feedback, not geared at any one specific theatre company, but I've always thought of the theatre community as one big family, and so really, this message is for all of us.  We all need to bring the magic.  All the time.  We need to make it worth someone's time and worth their money to come out & see the products of our hard work.  Our time is valuable, but so is theirs.  We need to be accessible.  We need to be open.  We need to be honest.  We need to ditch the egos and create some wonder.  We need to be – in the parlance of our times – awesome.

And I will state once again how proud I am to be part of Dream Theatre Company.  These artists work hard, they make it easy to go see a play, they give the audience a show they'll be thinking about for weeks or even months afterward, and for all the "edginess" and the "fringe persona" of this company, they truly show the goodness of human beings.  It's fun to see plays here.  And after each play, the cast is available to talk to in the lobby, devoid of snootiness and pretensions, and eager to hear whether you liked it or not.
You can talk to them.

But because no theatre company should pretend to be perfect, we remain open to criticism.  If you want something from us that you didn't get or don't think you will get, or anything you think we could do better, please talk to us.  We're here.  We have ears and brains.  We'll use them, I promise.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jeremy - The Strange Relationship of Billy Moon and Christopher Robin

While working on the program I decided not to do a writer's note. I had some things that I wanted to talk about, but I thought it better not to bother you. Sometimes it may be better to just leave you alone and let you sit back and hopefully enjoy yourselves. My work is called dark so damn often that perhaps asking you to "enjoy yourselves" seems like a bad joke coming from me, but I always want you to enjoy yourself. I don't look for the next dark place to lead us into. I just try and tell the kind of stories that are important to me. And for those of you who keep coming back, that are important to you too.

Since we have this blog, I figured that I could say just a few things to any of our wonderful Audience that may be interested. I will try not to spoil anything for you.

The show you will see is not the truth.
Sure there are pieces of the truth. Billy Moon did have a tumultuous relationship with The Great Man Himself. He spoke about it many times in his memoirs and in the press.

"It seemed to me almost that my father had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and left me nothing but empty fame".
-Christopher Robin Milne

That fact as well as other facts are presented in this production, but they are not the truth. I made a lot of assumptions and speculations with Billy Moon's actual psychlogy. I'm sure that I ignored several facts that I could have discovered but decided not to research. I was not interested in telling the biography of Billy Moon. I was not interested in telling the story of Winnie-the-Pooh for that matter. In fact, there isn't one sentence from any Winnie-the-Pooh story past "Oh Bother", "Silly Old Bear" and mentions of certain imaginary places that we know so well. There isn't one sentence from Billy Moon's autobiography or newspaper quotes.

What I was most interested in writing about- was us.

The feelings that we have as children don't go away. They don't simply vanish with time and experience. Who we were at age 7 is who we still are at age 37. (I wanted to say 6, but I just turned 37 dammit and it annoys me.) Our innocent or broken child hangs around. He lives somewhere just behind our eyes. Sometimes his joy comes through, and whoever is lucky enough to be looking at us will see this spark of excitement and wonder. Sometimes his pain comes through and we turn away and hide him from others. Sometimes he simply comes forward and asks us "Why?" Why are you ignoring me? Why are you doing things that you know are wrong? Why aren't you having any fun? Why are you lonely? Why are you ignoring me?

Why do you wish I was destroyed?

Billy Moon's child did not live behind his eyes... He lived happily in a book and was loved by millions... This child, who did not live behind his eyes, was not only living with the kind of innocence and wonder that Billy Moon was not ever allowed to feel, but it seemed that he also took Billy Moon's only friends away with him.

Imagine peering out a window and seeing the child you were and the friends you loved living happily and content, children forever, without you... Never needing you... Never knowing that you were watching... Never even truly knowing that you exist...

Now imagine trying to turn away from that window only to face a crowd of millions wanting their turn to watch the happy child and his silly old bear... And when you push and shove and try and get them to leave you alone, they push back harder telling you that they won't leave you alone. That your child isn't your child anymore. Your bear isn't your bear anymore. Your childhood isn't yours anymore. It's theirs! Theirs! Theirs!

So even though this story is not the truth, I do believe that it was Billy Moon who was always asking his inner child "why?"

For tickets and more information.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rachel - Divine Chaos

This weekend, the cast and crew of The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, and Billy Moon toiled and created and finalized the set and world of the show. I was amazed by the dedication and creativity of all involved. There is something so inspiring in seeing a group of people moving independently and yet all serving the creation of a single goal.

While I worked on upholstering the chair for "the Great Man Himself," Mishelle diligently created her toy rifle for Christopher Robin. I saw Annelise painting branches and making "grass" for the Hundred Acre Woods. While Kristi painstakingly strung beads for the "rain" in the lobby, Chad and Alicia jumped in and tackled the unfinished/unpainted walls and transformed the whole room in the process. Giau and Jeremy fought with, and ultimately conquered the new projector while Anna busily hung and wired lights on the stage.

It was as if I was watching a strange and intricate dance in which each person gave or took space (or tools) as needed.

How wonderful it is that we can all truly own our space, our world, because we took the effort and gave of ourselves in the making of it. We hope you all will come enjoy the fruits of our labors and enter into the wonderful magical place we created together, for you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ismene Artwork

Just passing along a link to some promo artwork for the different productions of Ismene this May:

Check it out. This project is going to be a hell of a thing.

Need more info on The Ismene Project? Click here.

- Bil

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jeremy - Ismene Chicago
Te Vegas: Illustration by Spent Pencils Toronto

The Chicago Production of ISMENE will be something very special. This will be our fourth time bringing ISMENE to Chicago, and each time we explore new interpretations and dive deeper into this mythos of this fascinating play. ISMENE is the show that started all of my Greek re-imaginings and has always been at the center of their universe. Every play that further expanded on the new rules of our Greek Theatre had to answer one simple question, "Does this stay in the context of ISMENE?" And yet, after producing the new ANTIGONE, MEDEA, THE AGON TRILOGY (AGAMEMNON, ELECTRA and ORESTES) and MEDEA (there is a new MEDEA also on the horizon, but we'll talk about that later) Ismene's world has been completely fleshed out. The rules of this universe are now set in stone.

We (and our Audience who has taken this long journey with us) have walked along so many of these characters. We've stood on the black beach with Medea, we've walked on water and into the ship of death of Agamemnon and Cassandra, we've stood covered in blood, hair and dust in the ruins of Thebes with Antigone, we've crawled into the chorus filled swamp with Electra, and we have even gone to the dead center of Hell and witnessed the very end of everyone and everything...

Although ISMENE was the first play written, to me it has always been the true ending to this long story. And for the first time, we are going to bring our Audience the full realization of that ending. From the earthquake till the final confrontation with fate, we hope that you will leave the theatre truly satisfied with the story's conclusion. I am so happy to bring this show to you.

This time - we are going for our most raw production yet. The Dream Theatre style has changed so much from ISMENE'S now archaic beginning back in 2004. As such a young company it was very clear from the start that we truly didn't know just what the Hell we were doing and what we had discovered. It would take several years before the ISMENE would be realized, and that discovery would open the door to the Dream Theatre style. And so, dear audience, with fresh eyes and years of laboratory style training, we are going to explore the school of Arktoi in all of its shadows and deepest secrets like never before. And you will be right there with us. What should you expect? (Wicked smile.) Trust us. How exactly are we accomplishing this? It's much better if I don't divulge any more. Just know that this is the perfect play to throw open the doors of the New Dream Theatre. From its shaky start to its short lived triumph as part of the ANTIGONE PROJECT (almost 3 years ago now), I promise that this will be our definitive production of ISMENE.

And I for one, can't wait.


About The Ismene Project...

7 cities -- Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Dublin (Ireland), St. John's (Newfoundland, Canada), Toronto (Ontario, Canada).

8 women directors -- Liz Bragg, Heather Chamberlain, Amy Flood, Sharon King-Campbell, Megan Murphy, Aislinn Ní Uallacháin, Ruth Pe Palileo and Anna Weiler.

1 play -- "Ismene" by Jeremy Menekseouglu of Dream Theatre Company.

1 goal -- Raise awareness and funds to support the heroines who battle breast cancer every day.

The play "Ismene" will open in May 2011 in cities all over the world.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bil - Farewell "Downward Facing" ...and On To the Next One.

Just like a charming drifter, "Downward Facing" came into our lives and left again before we were ready to say goodbye.  We want to thank everybody who came and saw it.  We hope you enjoyed it.

We would especially like to thank all attendants and participants in our final Friday night gala, where local rockers Tiny Bones put on their mellow caps and squatted on the set for an intimate, acoustic performance.  Here's some video of the night:

It's a funny thing, live's all so in-the-moment that you forget how much time goes into preparation when you're watching it. (Don't let the video fool you, it really was very in-the-moment.) Tiny Bones plays with such ease that I assumed they just picked up their instruments and instantly knew the songs. It's a band with tightness and chemistry rarely seen, and clustered together on the wooden set in the Dream Theatre space made the audience experience so comfortable that I feel like I've been going to their shows for years. This is a band that loves its audience.

So now it's on to the next show, "The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Billy Moon" – a story about, among other things, imagination. It will be a well-prepared performance by a cast with tightness and chemistry rarely seen, clustered together on the wooden set in the Dream Theatre space, making the audience experience so comfortable you'll forget how old you are.


We are bursting with excitement!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Natalie B - On Awkwardness

    As actors, we often get questions about how difficult it is for us to embody a character or speak a playwright's language.  In this particular piece many of us (and actually I should say many of my fellow actors, as I have no long poetic monologues - though I do have two "soliloquies", so I guess I can relate) have pieces of text that seem outside normal daily speech.  Fortunately, our cast has a penchant for the abnormal (and I'm pretty sure you'll all agree, but if you don't you can take it up with me in the dressing room...but remember I brought candy).  And actually I think most people do.  
    I often wish that I spoke in heightened language.  That I could attract people rather than drive them away at a bar by launching into my complex philosophical theories on audiences and theater of cruelty...well in truth, it is my only way to test potential friends and more romantically inclined friends out, so maybe I don't wish that everyone were attracted to that.  But, to be cliche, I digress.  
    Back to my belief that we all have the secret desire to be more artistic with our self expression.  It seems to me that most people have a fascination with some kind of fantasy, be it Tim Burton or Star Trek (you're welcome Emily).  We all thirst for something outside the mundane.  This piece of theater gives us exactly that.  And though I am a newbie to Dream Theatre's work, I believe this is what you get from all of their performances.  
    I feel honored to delve into my most vulnerable of states, one in which I leap into awkward joke and total bitch move after awkward joke and total bitch move, just praying one night my scene partner doesn't decide to slap me or not be as forgiving as her character tends to be.  However, often, I feel that if she did, I would completely understand.  So.  Is it difficult to translate Mishelle's writing into staged reality?  Nope, because at least if I fall on my face, I do it knowing that my words came out beautifully. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bil - Ever the Student

Fresh from our newly-redesigned website comes some info on Dream Theatre's most ambitious undertaking besides a ten-show season: school.

Dream Theatre is now offering classes with Artistic Director Jeremy Menekseoglu. Drawing from techniques originally developed at the Moscow Art Theatre, classes cover the basics of the Dream Theatre Style, such as Ground/Grand Gesture, the Four Actions, and more. Students will learn skills from the Russian, Greek, and British theatrical traditions - developing their physical, analytical, and vocal techniques through practice, discussion, and observation.
Enrollment includes one free, personalized evaluation with Jeremy Menekseoglu. Classes are three hours long and held once a month on Saturdays. Individual classes are $20; packages of 6 classes are available for $100 dollars (packages include a student voucher entitling the holder to 10 free shows in our 2011-2012 season*). To enroll in your first class and schedule an evaluation, email with your name and phone number.

*Does not include Theatre of Women, Special Events, or Opening/Closing.

Having been acting almost exclusively with Dream Theatre since 2008, I can personally vouch for Jeremy Menekseoglu's teaching abilities.  I am 100% certain I'm a better actor because of the Dream Theatre style.  I can't recommend a class with him highly enough.

I also can't recommend Dream Theatre as a company highly enough.  It's a wonderful group of people – hard working and incredibly passionate about putting on a good show.  Any knowledge and experience an actor can get at Dream Theatre will help in any avenue.  I guarantee it.  If you're serious about acting as an art form, take this class.  Jeremy will not just teach you things about the style; he'll teach you how to make your own discoveries, and therefore you will continue to learn long after the class is over.

If there's one thing I want to say about the Dream Theatre style to differentiate it, it's this: acting goes up, not down.  If you want to raise your mind and body up to a higher level of art instead of bringing a character in a play down to a lower state of being, come to Dream Theatre.  This is where actors play.

If you're not interested in acting but would like to see some acting in action, I recommend coming to see a show!  "Downward Facing" is now playing, and will be through February 20.  Audiences have been telling us that this show seems familiar, but – true to the spirit of Dream Theatre Company – also lets them make a discovery or two.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Playwright to Playwright: Mishelle Apalategui (3 of 3)

What do you need your Audience to come away with?

Now? Appreciation. Not for me, but for the human condition. I kinda hate that term, it seems so…so…clinical? But no matter what, looking at us in a social, cultural and personal way is bound to make us realize that we all are so similar. I want to show that we are all capable of the same stupidity, the same bravery, the same clumsiness, and that it is possible and beautiful to just be honest about it. Be honest about the fact that we are all fuck ups, we are all romantics, we are all sometimes leaders and sometimes followers. I feel like I am constantly trying to prove that all emotions are valid and justifiable though they may not be completely understood. And I want people to laugh about it, then unwittingly go home with something in them that they didn’t realize they had inside of them before. But it was always there. It’s never not been there. It just took a bit of unfettered observation to rustle it up.

How does Downward Facing reflect your style?

I wrote it without pretense, plot or style in mind. It just happened. It started with two people simply talking, about what? I didn’t even know and it turned into four amazingly complex relationships that are, albeit modern and possibly passé in a matter of years, honest and real. It is confessional and poetic and made up of literal pieces of my life that I have hidden very very well. Its sneaky and accessible when you want it to be. Like me.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Courtney - If You Do Nothing, There Will Be No Result- A Hippy Dippy take on Downward Facing

As the opening weekend of Downward Facing comes to a close and we prepare for the continuation of a beautiful run, I find myself being sucked into the world of spiritual, yoga-centric musings in which Lilly-Anne no doubt lives. It's not that these thoughts are entirely new to me. I spent three months at this time last year Wwoofing in Hawaii at an eco-friendly retreat. During my stay, I was surrounded by people that consistently consulted astrologers about their year to come, twisted themselves into knots on a yoga mat before breakfast, and regularly referred to people and places as "magical". I guess we were in a paradise of sorts, so why wouldn't they be enthusiastically optimistic? But still, it's a new world to be thrown into for a habitual city dweller.

However, I can't deny that these type of philosophies and influences have had an impact on me since coming back. And playing Lilly-Anne has made some of that resurface, so forgive me for diving into hippy dippy talk at this time, but I feel it's relevant to our show.

Specifically, I'd like to address a quote from the Bhagavad Gita that I feel addresses both our play and the idea of making/presenting art in one. It goes as follows:

You have the power to act only
You do not have the power to influence the result
Therefore you must act without anticipation of the result
Without succumbing to inaction

The Gita goes on to say, "you may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result."

Though there are characters who take strong action from the start of the play (Dasher travels whenever he gets the urge, Jenna acts on her desire to have a child, and Lilly-Anne creates her dream business), I find that the conflict arises from the two characters who are more reluctant to take action: Janna and Flax.

Janna has trouble committing to her relationship because the idea of Jenna's child scares her. Flax does not want to leave her stoop, perhaps because this is the life she wants to live but also because she is probably afraid to change after living the way she has for so long. So I love that in the end of the play, Janna does take action and commits to Jenna, and Flax takes action by finding her own path, though we don't necessarily know what that path is. Essentially, these characters cease stagnancy and embark on taking action, whatever the result may be. The Gita also emphasizes that "action conquers fear," and in both of these situations, it clearly does.

And as I said before, I feel that these quotes apply strongly to putting on a show or creating art as well. We can't know what the result of our efforts will be. But we are taking action in a way that makes sense to us, and that way is creating. And we are brave enough to share what we are creating. So I am reiterating in my mind that I "have the power to act only," and yes, I'm aware of the double meaning due to the fact that I'm an actor in this show.  I guess I'm just saying that I often tend to focus on the results of my efforts. But according to this philosophy, that isn't really important at all.

PS- this might all be crazy talk because I think Lilly-Anne has hijacked my brain.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Playwright to Playwright: Mishelle Apalategui (2 of 3)

The characters in your plays seem to be driven by an overwhelming need to confess! They confess their love. Their disgust. Their rage against the unfairness of the world. They seem to hold nothing back. These confessions seem to fall on deaf ears. One confesses while the other rejects. Can you talk about your characters need for full discloser and confession?

I grew up in a really big family. The eldest of 6, plus mom, dad, g-ma and all the neighborhood kids were vying for not only all the bathrooms at once, but for all the attention as well.  The part of me that begin to grow from living in that situation was one that was absolutely terrified of being completely exposed. I developed a habit of secrecy at a young age. I spent lots of time creating, dissecting and then hiding my thoughts. But, I wasn’t reclusive, the exact opposite! I’ve always been very affable and social and rarely shy…because I figured out what to keep inside of me in order to feel absolutely comfortable in every situation. I did a lot of confessing to adults as a child and felt like my big emotions, my big thoughts were dismissed because they figured there was no way someone so small could have feelings so big. That’s a through line in my life and thus, in my writing-that the way my emotional brain works is too big for my physical britches. So, in a way, maybe my characters having an unquenchable thirst for confession is a funnel through which I feed my desire to confess myself, which really all comes down to a simple readjustment of what they call a Napoleon Complex. Once my friends, then my little brothers, then my friend’s little brothers got bigger and taller than me-I realized I could no longer be noticed eye to eye, so I had to use something else to get everyone’s attention. I chose my words. Anyone can be rambunctious and loud and tap dance on top of the big oak coffee table to the theme from Get Smart but there’s a real respect for someone who can affect you with words and little else.

God, I’m such a rambler, basically, I find it incredibly hard to confess. And (as you can see) to get to the point. I wish I could. So, they do it for me. Plus, it’s dramatic! Who wants to hear 45 minutes of subtext out of 60 on stage? I don’t. I want to set up relationships then break them down and from my experience, relationships between people only move forward if the parties involved confess their inner thoughts and desires to one another. Or else, all there is is stagnancy. There’s no drama in keeping things back except for the person who’s keeping the information. The drama, the catharsis, the explosion, comes from reaction. Relatable action is in the reaction. Think about the silent movie players, Chaplin wasn’t funny because he made stupid decisions in stressful situations, he was funny because the people around him saw him make those mistakes and perceived him a tramp. What would he do if there was no audience? What do I do when I think no one is watching? Interesting stuff, for sure, but how would anyone be able to decipher it?

Where are you in your work?

I use a lot of people I know in my plays. Not verbatim. I’ve realized that what I do at this juncture is take people who affect me, pull out one or two of their biggest emotional/social characteristics-name them something that I feel represents these attributes and build out the character from there. Usually everything I stuff them with is from me. So I guess I’m always there in every scene, just never fully intact. Oh! I also like to write to try and predict the future. It’s actually been successful more than once. More than three times to be vaguely exact.

Are your confessing to us in your plays?

Constantly. But I’ll never make it obvious, sometimes its a big confession, and out of something like guilt or fear, other’s it’s just out of my personal confusion and the need to solve something I can’t let go of. There are little confessions all over the place in my plays but it’s not for you to find, it’s for me to release and revel in. I do believe though, that they will affect anyone who absorbs them consciously or sub-so. I do hope as well, that I will stimulate people to confess themselves, right there in their seats. Even if it's just to themselves, there's always something that needs to be let go of in the dark.

- to be continued

 Giau Truong directs Natalie Breitmeyer & Emily Tate in Mishelle Apalategui's "Downward Facing"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Playwright to Playwright: Mishelle Apalategui (1 of 3)

Mishelle Apalategui
As we quickly approach the Opening Night of Downward Facing by Mishelle Apalategui, I wanted to talk to her about the script and her unique playwriting style.

How did you get hooked up with Dream Theatre? What drew you to their style of theatre?

I answered an ad. No, really. In 2008 I moved to Chicago after living in Milwaukee for 10 months doing a (god awful) life changing acting internship. I give it shit, but it actually was life changing, because I learned the most important lesson of all-what I didn’t want to do with my life. 

Learning that has made everything else much more apparent. Not any easier, but more apparent. I was tired of acting because it just didn’t feel right. It felt forced and stringent and exclusive but in a outdated way. So, I decided to focus on writing. I creeped websites like Chicago Artists Resource for postings for Playwrights. Play festivals. 10 minute plays. All that. And I saw a call for playwrights for Dream Theater’s Theater Of Women 24 hour festival. I sent in some samples and Jeremy sent me an email saying he liked my writing style and I joined the process. I knew nothing of the theatre except what I saw on its site and I really liked the visual aesthetic, I could tell they were a group that didn’t want to impress you, they wanted to effect you. And after I wrote for the 24 hour festival up to the day Jeremy asked to produce one of my plays, I never missed a show there. I couldn't, they drew me to their style

I just sat forward in my seat, gripping my knees  and got involved. 

Your plays are written in a very unique style. They are truly lyrical with very heightened dialogue. You almost seem to reject realism in your work. What drew you to this style?

Katherine Swan as Flax
There wasn’t one style I was drawn to. I look back now and I see a myriad of tiny influences instead of one big one. Beckett, Rivera, Edward Gorey, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sara Kane, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Chaplin those are all definitely in there. And most recently, Jeremy because he was the first playwright who’s work I found absolutely accessible to me without question or dissection. But influences don’t write my plays like style doesn’t write my plays, the people in them do. I’m not sure I reject realism, I just write theatrically, which is why I write plays and not movies. I also find it very difficult to write realism at all because I’m not sure I totally understand it.

Instead of presupposing a play and writing it, I just get it one day. I don’t write all the time veraciously, the ideas sit dormant for a stretch of time and I have no idea they’re even in me. First, I’ll get an itch where I know I need to start writing some self-aware stream of consciousness babble-what I’ve experienced and observed in the past weeks or month-to purge and stimulate the part of my creative mind where I am always collecting information as fodder. So I’ll go to a bar to make sure I’m around people but not anyone I really know, no one to distract me, then I’ll take out whatever I can find in my bag, a pen, a highlighter and the back of a gas bill I’m subconsciously forgetting to pay, and write. Sometimes there’s an imposed structure like poetry with limiting rules, sometimes it’s everything I am thinking for an hour straight but nothing planned. As this is going on and my side of mashed potatoes comes, another part of my brain the one always looking for the next play latches himself onto something; a phrase a couplet of dialogue, a previously unknown whim or desire…something, and I stop. I change my motive and begin to write a scene. It’s always a short dialogue between a few characters that sort of just walk in the space and play for me. I write that until I get too distracted. Then I have the core of the play. Many a time that scene ends up being the first or last. So, through all that, I can’t really surmise what the style is exce
pt, it’s really just me and the way I perceive the things around me and how I find it best to interpret them. Ha! You know the way you talk to yourself out loud when you’re trying t figure out what to say to someone? That’s it, that’s my style.

- to be continued