Rivendell Theatre Ensemble Current Website:
Is Found at: http://rivendelltheatre.org


For a number of years this was the website for the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. If you have inadvertantly ended up here while looking for the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble , go to their current site at: http://rivendelltheatre.org
Content is from the site's 2006- 2011 archived pages, offering a nostalgic look-back to their previous seasons.

Rivendell has been honored with a 3Arts 2009 Vision Award Acknowledging Women Artists

Rivendell 2010/2011 Season

Our Mission…

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is a professional theatre company committed to cultivating the talents of women theatre artists and to seeking out innovative plays that explore the unique female experience in an intimate, salon environment. Over the past fourteen years, Rivendell has grown to fill an important role in the Chicago theatre community as the only Equity Theatre in Chicago committed to producing works about women.

Our Story…

Since our inception in 1995, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble has provided Chicago audiences with artistically challenging, thought-provoking plays that explore the female experience. Driven by the belief that the female experience is dynamic and ever-changing, Rivendell continues to revisit, revise, and re-invigorate its mission to serve women artists and audiences in new and challenging ways.

With each season, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble seeks to deepen its mission, expand our audiences, and challenge ourselves.  Over the course of the past twelve years, Rivendell has produced four world premieres, fourteen regional premieres, received four Equity Wing Joseph Jefferson Awards and eight nominations for artistic excellence.

Most notable productions include the critically acclaimed production of local playwright Anne McGravie's WRENS, the runaway hit Faulkner's Bicycle by Heather McDonald, the darkly hilarious Be Aggressive by Annie Weisman, and the gender-bending Medieval comedy Silence by Moira Buffini.

We strengthen our commitment to the exploration of the female experience by supporting women artists of all types.  In addition to producing women playwrights on our main stage, Rivendell provides opportunities for women designers, actors, directors, technical and administrative staff throughout its programming.  As we embark on a new chapter in Rivendell history – we break ground on a new, permanent home in Chicago’s north side this spring – it is not only the Rivendell story that continues, but that of the audiences and artists we serve.


Rivendell 2010- 2011 Season

August 12
A Special Rivendell Salon

The Trojan Women Project The Trojan Women Project
Curated by Megan Carney and Rebekah Scallet

An ensemble-devised exploration of war as seen through a woman’s lens, this special gathering engages artists throughout the city of Chicago, including female veterans, to craft a portrait of women in wartime throughout history.

Public Performance Thursday, August 12,
at Chicago’s Landmark Ridge Firehouse
5714 N. Ridge Avenue
($10 suggested donation)

Buy Tickets Now!


October 16 – November 21
at Chicago Dramatists (1105 W. Chicago Ave.)

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble in co-production with Teatro Vista proudly presents
the Midwest premiere of

26 Miles
by Quiara Alegria Hudes

Directed by Tara Mallen

An '83 Buick Regal may be an unlikely place to find out what family really means, but when Beatriz and her estranged daughter head west on a spontaneous cross-country road trip, neither is prepared for what lies ahead -- reminding us that the best souvenirs on the road of life are the relationships we make along the way.

"26 Miles" is a co-production between Teatro Vista and Rivendell Theatre, who last collaborated on Hudes's "Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue.



News from the Stage!

Starting October 4th, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble invites you to post your favorite road trip photo to our Facebook page for a chance to win two tickets to 26 Miles, our upcoming co-production with Teatro Vista.

Each week, the cast of 26 Miles will pick two winners based on humor and originality. The grand prize – an ultimate car-care package – will be awarded at the end of the run. Please identify the location and share any funny details about the photo that might help you win. Extra points if your pic includes a buffalo!

So don’t wait: post your road trip pic right away for a chance to win, and purchase tickets to the show today!

We're proud to announce that three of the artists behind the RTE production of "Mary's Wedding" have been nominated for the 2010 Jeff Awards!

Please join us in congratulating our nominees:

  • Victoria DeIorio (Sound Design, Midsize)
  • Jaymi Lee Smith (Lighting Design, Midsize)
  • Cassandra Bissell (Actress in a Principal Role, Play)

Thank you Toy, Jaymi, and Cassie for sharing your time and enormous talents with Rivendell!

A message from Tara Mallen, RTE's artistic director, about the August 12 performance of
"The Trojan Women Project":

"A huge thanks to the gifted, generous, phenomenal artists who braved the less-than-ideal conditions at the Firehouse (heat, filth, mosquitos, some truly bad smells) and fearlessly shared their stories in 'The Trojan Women Project.' I was truly moved and inspired by your work and hope you are as proud of the... result as I certainly am. My heartfelt appreciation and love to you all!"
— Tara

The final performance of "Mary's Wedding" at Theatre On The Lake took place on the evening of July 25 — a gorgeous night enhanced by the full moon rising up over the lake. The actors' performances were riveting, funny, and heartbreaking, and the audience responded with plenty of laughs, tears, and a standing ovation at curtain call.

A huge thanks to Hallie, Krista, Maude, and their amazing team at Theatre On The Lake for helping us make this run a success. Be sure to catch "Ruby Sunrise" presented by The Gift Theatre Company, premiering at Theatre On The Lake on Wednesday, July 28!

Congratulations to RTE's Rachel Walsh, who has been named an inaugural recipient of The Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists!


Noted: When we lived in Chicago we had a subscription to the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. It's been impressive to watch them grow, expand, and become a leader in new play development, a major port for new writers, and now offering a brick and mortar artistic home for women theater artists to develop their work.

Having just moved to NYC, we are still adjusting to the choices we now have for attending theatrical productions, from off-off-Broadway to off-Broadway to Broadway itself. We have made adjustments to our new lifestyle and the opportunities that are available not only for theater but also for restaurants, cultural institutions, and even shopping. One thing that hasn't changed is my penchant for online shopping, which has always been a convenience I've enjoyed, much like the way some people appreciate the efficiency of robotic pool cleaners for their maintenance needs. This preference for efficient solutions has certainly been catered to in New York, as I've found even niche services are just a reservation away, including personal shopping appointments for any kind of product.

Living in the Big Apple has its perks, with the convenience of having everything within reach. But we haven't forgotten the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. Whenever we are in Chicago for business or visiting friends, we try to catch a performance. Their creative vigor is much like the innovation we see in robotics, where a tool like a robotic pool cleaner transforms a routine task into a seamless activity, Rivendell transforms a simple story into an immersive experience.




We've Moved!
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble has a  brand-new online home at http://rivendelltheatre.org
Be sure to visit us at the new site for all our latest announcements and production happenings.
Thanks everyone!

Jane Baxter Miller has just finished recording a CD of her own country inspired music.  CD Release Party will be January 23rd at The Hideout!

Mary Cross has lived in NYC since 2001 and is a member of The Production Company (in NY).

Victoria DeIorio was named head of Sound Design at DePaul University, just opened The Heavens are Hung in Black at Indiana Rep. Upcoming productions include: The Island at Remy Bumppo, Cassie's Chimera at Joe's Pub - The Public, NY, Working it Out at Center Stage in Baltimore, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, and American Fiesta at Renaissance TheatreWorks in Milwaukee.

Meighan Gerachis is currently filming "What's Wrong with Virginia," written and directed by Oscar Winner Dustin Lance Black.

Keith Kupferer is in High Holidays at the Goodman now and will be starring in Trust at Lookingglass Theater, directed by David Schwimmer, this spring.

Katherine Mallen Kupferer is walking, talking and learning to do Quickbooks.

Tara Mallen is busy learning how to juggle keeping Rivendell afloat and being a full time mom. She just filmed a commercial for Harris Bank.

Ashley Neal is currently playing Charlotte in Rivendell’s remount of These Shining Lives at the Raven Theater.

Rebekah Scallet was recently hired to be a teaching artist doing an in-school residency through Raven Theater.

Jaymi Lee Smith’s upcoming projects include Junie B. Jones at South Coast Repertory, Icarus at Lookingglass Theatre, and 39 StepsPride and Prejudice, and Great Expectations at Utah Shakespeare.  She and her partner Kerri were one of the fortunate 18,000 couples to get legally married in the state of California prior to Proposition 8 passing. 

Shera Street is the Associate Director of Project Management at the Adler Planetarium. Current projects include the Sky Theater renovation and production of a world premiere planetarium show to commemorate the reopening of Adler's iconic Sky Theater. 

Mark Ulrich will be directing Mary's Wedding in January for RTE.

Rachel Walshe is currently directing the remount of These Shining Lives at the Raven Theater. She gave birth to baby Alice in the spring of 2009.

Megan Wilkerson is currently designing the sets for the Rogue Valley Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro.



Equal Employment Opportunity

Equal Employment Opportunity has been, and will continue to be, a fundamental principle at Rivendell, where employment is based upon personal capabilities and qualifications without discrimination because of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, citizenship, religion, disability, military status, creed, or any other trait or characteristic protected by law. This policy of Equal Employment Opportunity applies to all policies and procedures relating to recruitment and hiring, compensation, benefits, termination and all other terms and conditions of employment.



You may submit your play through a literary agent or accompanied by a letter of recommendation by a theater professional (i.e. an artistic director or literary manager at a professional theater).

If neither of these apply to you, you may write a letter of inquiry to Rachel Walshe, our literary manager, and submit a brief synopsis, and your resume. Should your materials interest us, we will contact you.

Email Rachel at rachel@rivendelltheatre.net or post to
5775 N. Ridge Road #1
Chicago, IL 60660

Thank you.

Rivendell 2008- 2009 Season

These Shining Lives
by Melanie Marnich
directed by Rachel Walshe
January 7, 2009

Time Out Chicago / Issue 203 : Jan 15–21, 2009
These Shining Lives
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble at Raven Theatre. By Melanie Marnich. Dir. Rachel Walshe. With ensemble cast.

GREETING CARDS Rebecca Spence refuses to tip her hand.
Photo: Anthony Robert Lapenna
One might expect the joy of painting tiny numbers onto watch faces—a hand-done vocation for factory girls well into the 1930s—to quickly exhaust itself. Not so for Shining Lives’ peppy band of Depression-era working women. Newly liberated from the doldrums of domesticity, this motley quartet of coworkers builds a bustling life around its shared workstation in the Radium Dial factory. Yet the gaiety of newfound independence dissipates when the radioactive paint they use begins to wreak havoc on their health, forcing one woman into an arduous lawsuit against the Man.

Marnich, whose play premiered in D.C. last spring, has an ear for warm, natural dialogue that eschews snarky quips and truisms widespread in less authentic scripts set in the same period (“We’re on Easy Street, I tell ya” jars as a notable exception). Though never transcendent, the play’s linguistic honesty satisfies, as does its even more refreshing ability to finish up just as it veers into Ken Burnsian, triumphalist schmaltz. Each member of Rivendell’s ensemble adds beautifully to the pathos. As reserved moralist Frances, Jessie Fisher proves particularly illuminating; few actors could speak such volumes while portraying a persnickety introvert.

Jessica Kuehnau’s set provides a touch of its own storytelling. Early on, when the going’s still good, the ladies dash out one afternoon for a beach romp. Even in their revelry, though, they sit surrounded by Kuehnau’s beautiful but claustrophobic world of steeply angled wooden beams, overused household heirlooms and constantly ticking timepieces. The scenery never releases these allegedly free women from its grasp: Kuehnau’s astute work takes Marnich’s script and spins the yarn yet further.
— Christopher Shea


The Walls
by Lisa Dillman
April 8, 2009

Fresh Produce 2009
July 2009


The Green Room Blog Posts

Behind the Scenes with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tara's Take on The Walls

What shall my blog be, that is the question. And that is the question that has me totally stymied.

Let me start by telling you this – I am a founder of Rivendell as well as the artistic director and, in this particular production, also an actor. We are currently in our third week of performances in The Walls which marks our first foray into the world of self generating work as a group of artists. It is a huge and exciting undertaking for our small company and we are so incredibly grateful to be part of the Visiting Company Initiative – which offers us much much more than just the perfect venue for this piece. I could write a blog post about all the amazing people at Steppenwolf who offer their wisdom, time and energy to mentor visiting companies.

This play marks a new era for Rivendell and is perhaps our most important production to date -- because it explores the often taboo subject of mental illness and more, because it is truly ours. We all bandy about this word “collaborate” but The Walls process offered us a unique opportunity to create something as a collective group of artists from the ground up. I know now that this thing called “collaboration” is not nearly as easy to accomplish as I once thought -- but truly magical in those moments when it all clicks. And inspiring. And it can make you a little crazy. So what better play to create as our first true “collaboration” than one that explores the blurry border between madness and sanity. That might be good fodder for a blog post, too.

A brief back story....Several years ago ensemble member Jane Baxter Miller walked into an company meeting with a book of collected first - hand accounts of women who were incarcerated in mental institutions. Jane thought this book was a terrific germ of an idea for a new play. She was right. These women’s personal stories inspired us to begin a five year journey exploring our own connections to the material and it's relevance to a contemporary audience. Company members engaged in a series of workshops and collaborators Lisa Dillman and director Megan Carney were brought in. Eight artists traveled to upstate New York to participate in a week long retreat at Bard College as part of Voice & Visions summer “Envision” retreat. Lisa wrote a first draft. Several more workshops happened. The Walls was borne.

So perhaps I should write a little about my own personal journey with this project…because it has been a wild ride. One moment it is incredibly exhilarating and then the next, beyond frustrating and absolutely maddening. But wow, am I ever grateful we saw it through to production. I hope we have a chance to produce it again and again - to hone in on what we learned from this production, refining and reshaping the piece alongside Lisa and Megan. This process of building The Walls has taught me much about the absolute generosity needed to create something as a group. It has enriched my life in remarkable ways and I am such a better artist for it. Plus I am having a blast digging deep within my soul to find my inner crazy lady (named Alice) then letting her lead the charge for a bit. I just love being straight jacketed and lobotomized four shows a week. I know that may sound a bit – well, off. But here’s the main thing I have gleaned from our exploration of madness - there is a beauty and joy inherent in letting go of these often self imposed restraints to be sane or normal, to tow the line. So right now? I can’t wait to get back to the theatre on Thursdays to step into my crazy or nutty, or insane, or whack-job, or psycho character’s shoes.

Besides, is Alice after all really truly “crazy”? And what does “crazy” really mean? Or maybe as one patron put it oh so clearly in my favorite comment so far “Aren’t we all just a little crazy”? Hmmmmmmmmmm. Maybe that is a good place to start. Or end.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Big Box Mental Health: Institutions, Treatments, and Mental Illness

From our Dramaturg - Martha Wade Steketee

Eras of Mental Health Treatment in the United States

Urbanization in the United States disrupted extended family supports and the expectation that families would care for mentally ill relatives at home. Individual states built institutions, first called “asylums”, and eventually called “mental hospitals”. The Pennsylvania Hospital opened in Philadelphia in the mid 18th century and housing for patients with mental illness in the basement. At the same time, Colonial Virginia was the first “state” to build an asylum for mentally ill citizens (in its then capital Williamsburg). The mentally ill were also found in jails, almshouses, work houses, and other institutions.

By the time of the Revolutionary War, strains of four sectors of a ‘de facto’ mental health system were forged: general medical/primary care (Pennsylvania Hospital); specialty mental health care (Williamsburg asylum); home care; and human services (almshouse and work house).

The U.S. has had four reform movements in the area of institutional mental health: moral treatment (1800-1850), mental hygiene (1890-1920), community mental health (1955-1970), and community support (1975-present). The balance of this essay discusses each in turn.

Moral treatment was introduced as a reform in the late 19th century, imported from Europe. Reformers including Dorothea Dix and Horace Mann introduced the idea that mental illness could be treated in a controlled environment characterized by “moral” sensibilities. Mental illness was seen as temporary and not chronic and treatment was essentially humane. During this era many public and private asylums were constructed, with one in almost every state.

After the Civil War, professionals recognized the failures of the promise of early treatment, and asylums were built for untreatable, chronic patients. A mental hygiene reform movement began in the late 19th century to combine the emerging concepts of public health (at the time was referred to as “hygiene”), scientific medicine, and social progressivism. State Care Acts were passed between 1894 and World War I to centralize financial responsibility for the care of individuals with mental illness in every state government. State asylums were renamed mental hospitals. The mental hygienists believed in the principles of early treatment and expected to prevent chronic mental illness. To support this effort, they advocated for outpatient treatment to identify early cases of mental disorder and to follow discharged inpatients. The financial problems and overcrowding in the large centralized facilities deepened during the Depression and during World War II.

Enthusiasm for early intervention developed in WWII military health services led to a new mid-20th century reform: “community mental health”. Champions believed that long term institutional care in mental hospitals was neglectful, ineffective, and perhaps harmful. The new focus on community care and ‘deinstitutionalization” (encouraged by decreasing public dollars to support large institutions) led to dramatic declines in hospital stays and the discharge of many patients from hospital custodian care. The special needs of individuals with severe mental illness were not met with this strategy. Early treatment did not prevent disability.

A fourth reform era of “community support” started in 1975 and continues today. Rather than viewing and responding to chronic mental disorders as the object of neglect, this new reform movement focuses on acute treatment and prevention. Envisioned community support systems would address the social welfare needs of individuals with disabling mental illness. The vision is that individuals with mental illnesses can become citizens of their community if provided support and access to mainstream resources including housing and vocational training. Newer medications and new interventions (including “assertive community treatment” for schizophrenia) facilitate support and recovery in the community.

The current mental health system in the U.S. is a layered result of all these historical reform movements and ideologies, of financial incentives that affect availability of services, and of developments in care and treatments.
• 1999 “Firsts Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health”, accessed at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/toc.html


Selected Timeline of Mental Health Treatment Technologies

1752 The Quakers in Philadelphia are the first in America to make an organized effort to care for the mentally ill. The newly-opened Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia provided rooms in the basement complete with shackles attached to the walls to house a small number of mentally ill patients
1886 Sigmund Freud opens in private practice in Vienna
1896 The first psychological clinic is developed at the University of Pennsylvania marking the birth of clinical psychology.
1917 World War I brings with it a need to screen and classify military recruits. One of the tests is Robert Woodworth's Psychoneurotic Inventory, likely the first test to assess abnormal behavior.
1930s Drugs, electro-convulsive therapy, and surgery are used to treat people with schizophrenia and others with persistent mental illnesses.
1932 Sakel introduces insulin coma therapy as a treatment for schizophrenia. Also used to treat morphine withdrawal.
1934 Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) introduced by von Meduna, a Hungarian physician, uses intramuscular injections of camphor. This does not reliably produce seizures, which he believed could ease schizophrenia.
1935 12 November. Neurologist Egas Moniz performs first brain surgery to treat mental illness in Portugal. He calls the procedure a "leucotomy."
1936 14 September. Walter Jackson Freeman modifies Moniz’s procedure, renames it the "lobotomy," and with his neurosurgeon partner James Watts performs the first ever prefrontal lobotomy in the United States. His patient is Alice Hood Hammatt, a housewife from Topeka, Kansas.
1938 After visiting a slaughterhouse and seeing animals knocked out by electric shock, Cerletti and Bini introduce electrically produced seizures. Inadequate anesthesia sometimes results in bone fractures, and patients complain of memory loss, and the process is considered more effective in treating depression than schizophrenia.
1942 Carl Rogers publishes 'Counseling and Psychotherapy' suggesting that respect and a non-judgmental approach to therapy is the foundation for effective treatment of mental health issues.
1945 Freeman begins experimenting with a new way of doing the lobotomy, after hearing about a doctor in Italy who accessed the brain through the eye-sockets.
1946 17 January. Walter Freeman performs the first transorbital lobotomy in the United States on a 29-year-old housewife named Sallie Ellen Ionesco in his Washington, D.C. office.
1954 Psychopharmacology hits the U.S. Thorazine was the biggest selling tranquilizer and manufacturers can't keep up with demand.
1955 More than 55,000 men, women and children in the U.S. undergo lobotomy.
1990s A new generation of anti-psychotic drugs is introduced. These drugs prove to be more effective in treating schizophrenia and have fewer side effects.

• www.psychosurgery.org/about-lobotomy/


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pondering This Play by Martha Wade Steketee

“I never dreamed I’d have a now of my own that looked this good.”

It is 1922. Prohibition has a three year track record, and U.S. women enjoy their second year of the right to vote. One of the most popular songs in America is Al Jolson’s version of “Toot Toot Tootsie (Good-Bye)”. Silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks celebrate their second anniversary and the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations) celebrates its third. U.S. women comprise less the 25 percent of the work force and of those women who work, approximately 25 percent are in white collar jobs, 25 percent are in manufacturing jobs, less than 20 percent work as domestic servants, and most of the balance work in agriculture. Women begin to don the haircut called the “bob” sported by actress Colleen Moore in the 1920 silent film “Dinty. This year the Radium Dial Company continues its recently relocated business in a town named Ottawa, Illinois, about 80 miles southwest of Chicago. And in 1922, Catherine Wolfe Donohue begins a new job at this company located in her home town, just blocks from her home.

The work at Radium Dial involves painting luminous numbers on watch and clock faces for pennies a “dial”. The material Catherine and her colleagues use to paint constantly glowing timepiece dial face numbers is laced with a valuable newly discovered ore called radium. This element was tested for scientific purposes, used during the World War in airmen’s and soldiers’ timepieces and asserted to have medicinal, therapeutic and cosmetic uses. The women of Radium Dial ingest this new compound while doing their work, painting the dials, pointing their paintbrushes between their lips, breathing the radium-filled dust, and sitting near the completed dial faces stacked beside them at their work stations.

And for Catherine, this was her way into a new life, this new American woman, this independence. As dramatized by playwright Melanie Marnich in “These Shining Lives”, Catherine revels in the sensations of working after her first day of work “I walked home that night in the dark. A girl walks differently when she’s making money. I thought to myself, ten years ago a girl like me couldn’t even vote let alone make this kind of money. Couldn’t do better than her father and just as good as her husband. Couldn’t even smoke ... But now? I never dreamed I’d have a now of my own that looked this good.”

This real tale of freedom and independence for Catherine and hundreds of women like her in Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere quickly becomes a story of corporate ignorance, malfeasance, and ultimate responsibility. Legal actions brought by women in a New Jersey radium dial company result in settlements in the 1920s, and the women of Ottawa continue their work. In 1925, the U.S. Department of Labor orders a general survey of all radium plants to investigate radium effects on occupational diseases including the newly identified “radium necrosis”, and the women of Ottawa continue their work. Medical opinion during the 1920s is divided on the effects of radium on the human body and the women of Ottawa continue their work. A Public Health Service conference in December 1928 considers the problem of safeguarding workers in industries using radium, and the women of Ottawa continue their work. And by 1937 the Radium Dial Company stops its work in Ottawa, only to continue it in New York State

In 1922 our dramatized Catherine Donohue is in awe of the “now” that is possible. Sixteen years later, the dramatized and well-documented Catherine testifies on behalf of herself and other dying former Radium Dial employees as “Ottawa’s Living Dead.” This play is their story of humor and independence. And so much more.



Rivendell 2007- 2008 Season


Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue   by Quiara Alegria Hudes             May 23 – June 10, 2007

“Highly Recommended. An exceptionally fine play, which received its Midwest premiere this weekend in a first-rate production…which unspools in just 80 perfect minutes. "

  - Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

This fall, Rivendell was delighted to return to the Steppenwolf garage, as part of the Steppenwolf Visiting Company Initiative, with the Jeff Recommended, critically acclaimed co-production (with Chicago's premiere Latino theater ensemble, Teatro Vista), of Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue , a play which traces the legacy of war through three generations of a Puerto Rican family. Based on our success with the production, six members of the ensemble have been invited to travel to upstate New York to restage the production in association with a small professional theatre called Stageworks/Hudson as part of their 2007 summer season.

The Walls by Lisa Dillman             A New Play Commission                           Ongoing

Over the past year and a half, Ms. Dillman has been creating a new play in collaboration with and specifically for RTE which explores women and mental illness and the perceived link between madness and creativity. The ensemble will continue working on The Walls during Fresh Produce this season and plan on mounting a fully realized production within the next year to be directed by About Face's Associate Artistic Director, Megan Carney.

Fresh Produce, A Celebration of New Plays by Women                        June 11 – July 8, 2007

American Theatre Company, Chicago IL

Fulfilling our mission of supporting women artists and bringing female stories to life on stage, Rivendell host our second annual women's playwriting festival. Fresh Produce will offer three groundbreaking projects initiated by women performers, directors, and writers, further development in a series of highly focused workshops. Projects selected are: On Clarion by Lydia Stryk; Flesh and the Desert by Carson Kreitzer; Stigmata by RTE ensemble member Victoria DeIorio and The Walls by Lisa Dillman in collaboration with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. The festival will feature a weeklong rehearsal process on each work-in-progress. Each project will culminate in a workshop performance or sharing --   free and open to the public. There will be a suggested donation of $10 for the public readings and each will offer an opportunity for a moderated dialogue with the audience.

The 365 Plays/365 Days Project                                                                                Thursday June 28, 2007

Venue: TBD

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is delighted to participate in this year long national festival of plays written by Pulitzer-winner Suzan - Lori Parks festival and infuse the plays with our unique salon style presentation. Various members of our award winning ensemble will direct and perform the seven short plays assigned to RTE. The salon presentation will be accompanied by discussions with the ensemble as well as members of local community organizations.

The Mercury 13 Project: A New Play Commission August 2007 - ongoing

Using the unique collaborative process we developed working on The Walls , Rivendell is beginning work on our next project, creating a stage adaptation based on the book The Mercury 13: The Untold Story of 13 American Women and the Dream of Space Flight . Our project will shed light on the barriers women faced and the persistence and commitment of an earlier generation of women who worked hard to open up doors for all women today. The ensemble will commission a playwright this spring to begin working with the ensemble. The company plans on a long term commitment to the project and will support further development throughout the year with a mind towards a fully realized production in the future.

Mainstage Production #1                                                                         October 2007                                  

Venue: TBD

Rivendell will kick-off our 2007-2008 season with a fully realized mainstage production. Since plans for our current space indicate it will not be ready to utilize until January 2008, we are currently seeking a venue to work in collaboration with director Edward Sobel (Steppenwolf's literary manager and director of RTE projects Faulkner's Bicycle Self Defense and Be Aggressive ) Plays under consideration for this slot are:

  • Victoria Stewart: Math Team Queen by Kathryn Walat
  • Mary's Wedding by Stephen Massicotte
Gum by Karen Hartman

Mainstage Production #2                                                                         January 2008                       

at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble permanent residence                   5775 North Ridge, Chicago

Rivendell is planning to open our brand new venue with a world premiere production of a play that is alignment with our mission, to explore the unique challenges women face and features the work of several ensemble members. Plays under consideration for this slot are:

  • Troy Women by Karen Hartman
  • The Walls by Lisa Dillman in collaboration with members of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
A Remount of Rivendell's 1995 Award Winning, Critically Acclaimed World Premiere production of WRENS by Anne McGravie

Fresh Produce, A Celebration of New Plays by Women                        April   2008

at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble permanent residence                    5775 North Ridge, Chicago

Fulfilling our mission of supporting women artists and bringing female stories to life on stage, Rivendell will again offer a month long workshop series of new plays by women. The program focus on three new works in progress which will rehearse for a one to two week process with the playwright, director, dramaturg, and professional cast.

The Fairy Queen by Myra Paci June 2008

at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble permanent residence                   5775 North Ridge, Chicago

In June of 2008, RTE will produce the World Premiere of Myra Paci's stunning new play, The Fairy Queen featuring internationally acclaimed actress and founder of NYC's Mabou Mines Ruth Maleczech, who will be performing alongside several members from RTE's ensemble.


Rivendell 2005 2006 Season


Upcoming Events!

Slip into your jeans, pull on your cowboy boots, and prepare to do-si-do - it’s the BLUE JEAN BALL, Benefiting Rivendell Theatre Ensemble


Thursday, June 2, 2005 from 6-10 pm
at the Three Arts Club
1300 N. Dearborn, Chicago

Attire: Blue Jeans. Cowboy Boots. Summer Cocktail.

Admission: Early $50.00 Late $60.00 (after May 27th)

6 pm - Cocktails & Silent Auction
7 pm - Dinner Buffet & Entertainment
8:30 pm - Square Dancing and Raffle



June 11 - 21, 2006


Over a two week period, three projects initiated by women theater artists will be further developed through a series of highly focused, dynamic and collaborative workshops that will culminate in opportunities for the artists to formally present their work. 

We hope you will join us at the following staged readings of three important new plays! 

Sunday June 11, 2006 @ 7 pm 
Emmett, Down in my Heart by Clare Coss; directed by Ilesa Duncan 
(There will be a cocktail reception with the playwright prior to the reading)

Saturday, June 17, 2006 @ 3 pm
Catching Flight by Lila Rose Kaplan; directed by Rebekah Scallet
(Discussion and reception following) 

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 @ 7 pm
The Walls by Lisa Dillman in collaboration with members of the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble; directed by Megan Carney 
(Discussion and reception following)

All readings will be held at the Victory Gardens Theater Upstairs Studio—2257 North Lincoln Avenue 

$25 Suggested donation includes all three readings receptions

Call 773-472-1169 to RSVP!