Saturday, December 30, 2017

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Maria Burnham

Maria Burnham, back row left, in Ghostlight's You've Got READ on You: A Shaun of The Dead Live Reading.
Ghostlight is sharing our personal stories of why theatre is so important to us and, in turn, to others. We hope you'll feel inspired to support the arts now and forever more.

Maria Burnham, Marketing Director, Ensemble Member

"'So THAT's where you get it from.'

"It was a warm summer night. We were at a restaurant on the beach with my aunt's family and some friends. My mom and her sister were reminiscing about a film my mom had been in that had been playing on TV all week and...'Wait. Dad, did Thea Anna just say mom was in a film?'

"'No,' answered my dad. 'Your mother was a folk dancer that traveled the world, but I don't think she ever acted.'

"But it turned out that, in fact, my mother had been a film actress in her native Greece and in neighboring Italy — an occurrence that began as an extension of her dancing. When we finally heard the whole story that night, my dad looked at me recognition dawning on him and said, ''So THAT's where you get it from.'

"Theatre and acting had been a part of my life in some way since elementary school, becoming more so once I went to a performing arts magnet school in high school and then studied theatre (and English AND journalism) in college. My attraction to the arts was always a sense of bafflement to my working-class family that excelled in technical skills and mathematics, but had never seen a play until I came along. And now, here was the answer. I had inherited this thing with the arts.

"The revelation that acting was a hereditary trait, that there was this entire history of myself that I didn't know was unsettling. What else didn't I know about the past that made me? But it was also comforting. Theatre connects me to my family history in a way that old photos do not. That I could literally be the same person that my mother had been by taking on a role, that we both understood what it meant to create new people and new worlds, that acting had led my mother to be in Athens when my father was in Athens resulting in my actual existence? Well, now, that's something that, say, engineering could never give me."

Friday, December 29, 2017

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Holly Robison

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Jaclyn Jensen & Mike Wozniak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

From our Artistic Directors: Thank you for an amazing 2017!

Six Authors in Search of a Character
As we approach the end of the year, we at Ghostlight Ensemble are not only celebrating the final days of 2017, but also the final days of our G.E.T. Fundraiser.  We are beyond grateful for the support we've received so far and we hope more of you will join the fun before our fundraiser ends December 31.

In the summer of 2016 we were 10 people gathered in a Northside apartment asking, “What do we want to do?” “What do we want to call ourselves?” and “What sort of theatre company do we want to be?” One main stage production, two holiday shows, five live movie readings, one Fight Night, one short play festival and a year and a half later, we are proud to say Ghostlight Ensemble is the kind of company brave enough and curious enough to do just about anything — to bring you the unexpected. We have accomplished so much in so little time and we couldn’t have done it without you, our audiences, donors, artists, volunteers and subscribers. Thank you!

Nutcracker Nightmare
This is only the beginning, though. As we look to the new year, we have so much more we want to do, so much more entertainment we want to bring you and we hope you’ll join us in bringing it to life.

In the spring we are producing the Oscar Wilde's classic play about political corruption and personal integrity, An Ideal Husbanddirected by Co-Artistic Director Holly Robison. In the summer we inaugurate our Nightlight summer children’s series with our production of Maria Burnham’s original script, The Princess Without Pots, a story about a warrior princess trying to gain her independence and a decidedly un-warrior prince trying to save his kingdom.

Be a part of what's to come. You helped make us the Best New Theatre Company in Chicago in 2017, now help us bring the unexpected to Chicago.
Holly Robison & Michael Wagman
Co-Artistic Directors

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Miona Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Michael Wagman

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

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

Michael Wagman, Co-Artistic Director, Ensemble Member

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 22, 2017

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Keith Gatchel

Keith Gatchel working the booth for Ghostlight's 2017 production of Gingerbread Grindhouse.

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

Keith Gatchel, Technical Director, Ensemble Member

"'What is it that you do?' my childhood friend asked me a few months into Freshman year of high school. My dad had moved my brother and me to a new, separate school, and this was one of the few chances we had to hang out anymore. 

"Everyone had asked me that since the year started, to see what I was going to do to make friends. I had not put much thought into this. I wasn't an introverted child, but I liked my alone time.

"People suggested theatre to me, because I've always had an active imagination. But, it always seemed like it was (I thought) too girly and that I would (I thought) get made fun of.

"But on TV I always liked shots of the control booth, and they were always punching buttons. So, one day, I showed up to my high school scene shop after school, around 3:20 p.m. A little after 4 p.m., I left. The next day, the same. After a few more times, I stopped showing up – all that set- building was hard work.

"The fall play came and went. My dad and I saw it and walked out at intermission. High school theatre, on average, tends not to impress. But, still, they all seemed to be having a lot of fun. Where else do you get to dress up, be silly, and fulfill an elective. But, it seemed too late to go back. They'd remember me quitting. Everyone had already made their friends and wouldn't take any more (I thought).

"Christmas break came and went.

"I don't remember why I was in the cafeteria several hours after school, but one of the guys from the scene shop and I started making small talk. He suggested that I come help with the show, moving sets. It was all I needed to get back in.

"I spent that weekend, then weekday evenings, in tech rehearsal and then the following weekend working the show. I felt accepted there, even though I didn't know anyone.

"That weekend ended last, but I wanted more.

"The next day I showed up back to the scene shop, and, as I'm sure you can predict: I skipped out after an hour. The next day, the same. By the next day, the scene shop teacher finally called me out: 'Keith, if you're going to do something, do it.'

"I thought to myself at that moment, 'What if this is the thing I don't quit? What if I just kept doing this until I can't anymore?'

"That moment will be 20 years ago in January. I haven't quit yet.

"I've asked myself often since if the only reason I've stayed in theatre is because of my dumb, stubborn, self. That's partially true. But, theatre distracts you while you socialize. It gives you a project two of you can work together on while you get to know each other. You forget your weird awkward self and relax, with a community that's made for putting yourself out there. You build friendships while you build a show.

"Three and half years later, I was off to college, ready to start on my BFA in technical theatre. I didn't worry about making friends at that point. I just waited for classes to start."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Jean E. Burr

Jean E. Burr (right) as Clara the rag doll in Ghostlight's 2017 production of "Nutcracker Nightmare."

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

Jean E. Burr, Casting Coordinator, Ensemble Member

"When I was 2 years old, I wanted to be a lion. I would roar at the lions when we went to the zoo (I’m sure they loved that), I would read and re-read my Zoobooks issue all about African cats, I’d play with my lion figurines, developing stories that I can only compare to Young & the Restless: Simba Edition.

"I did all of this, not only because I was a weird kid, but because I watched Disney’s The Lion King. I saw it in theatres… nine times. I listened to the soundtrack constantly and knew that my calling in life was to become a true, African wild cat.

"As I grew up, I realized my dream could never be a reality. I could never turn into a lion a la Animorphs and sing Elton John songs as I slept on a giant kopje with my lion friends.
"Or so I thought.

"When I entered pre-school, I was well over my desire to actually become a lion, but I quickly fell into pretend games with other children. We played Sailor Moon (I was always Sailor Jupiter, thankyouverymuch), Aladdin (I settled for the role of Rajah- not quite a lion, but close enough), Thumbelina (titular role, duh), or our own adventure games on the playground. My imagination ran wild.

"Our pre-school put on the show Peter Pan. I remember being pulled aside after school and offered the role of Wendy. Being the brat that I am, I accepted but told my mom I really wanted to play Tinkerbell. She talked some sense into me and I grew more and more excited. We probably only rehearsed a few days, but it felt like a month-long rehearsal process with clear actions, beats, scene-work, relationships, drama, complete with a show-crush on our Peter Pan.

"The performance was, in my memory, the most magical thing in the world. I felt so happy to be performing in front of my family and peers, and so proud when all of my scenes were well-received. I remember 'walking the plank' before Peter saved me, and thinking to myself, 'I LOVE this.' Afterwards, I received praise and hugs, and I felt like a giant, glowing ball of happiness in a blue nightgown costume. From lions to playground to Peter Pan, I found what I wanted to do. My brother had his sports, and I had theatre. And it would be a giant part of my life from that moment and for the next 22+ years.

"Theatre gave me purpose. It gave me empathy. It helped me form bonds and friendships from pre-school to adulthood. It helped me find my way to my home, Chicago. It gave me hope when I was lost in my late teens and early twenties. It helped me find a partner. It helped me find my place. Without theatre, I would be lost. With it, I can be anything, even a lion."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Chad Wise

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

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

Chad Wise, Managing Director, Ensemble Member

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Why Theatre Matters To Us: Lisa Uhlig

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

Lisa Uhlig (far left) as the Stage Manager in Ghostlight Ensemble's production of "Six Characters in Search of an Author."
Lisa Uhlig, Director of Operations, Ensemble Member

"I was always a ham, the goofball, the candy-crazed kid growing up. Then I hit middle school, and that was TOUGH (we've all got our stories). So by the time I made it to high school, I was still that goofball/candy freak, but only to a select few. Otherwise I was that shy kid in the corner. That's where theatre came in. I found I had a knack for set design and an eye for stage pictures (directing). It was my high school technical director who gave me my first chance to push my comfort zone, to try something new within a safe space. He handed me a list one day and said 'I think you can organize getting all this done.' The faith he had in me encouraged me to excel. I was teaching others the ropes of the shop in no time.

"So I guess that's what theatre has often done for me, and what I believe it does/can do for others, show us what we're really capable of and encourage us to embrace and utilize it — a sense of agency."

Why theatre matters to us

Hello friends of Ghostlight,

As we approach the end of 2017 and the end of our fundraising drive, we wanted to share with you our personal stories of why theatre is so important to us and in turn to others. We know this is the time of year you are bombarded with requests from very worthy organizations and some of them are literally making life or death differences in people's lives.

Supporting the arts is more nebulous, we know. You look at Ghostlight and you think, "They put on theatre. That's nice." And we do that, yes. But theatre can sometimes ALSO make a life or death difference in a person's life. It empowers young people, gives them purpose, gives them friends, makes them realize there are others like them and they are not alone.

It has done that for all of us here at Ghostlight and for countless other theatre kids around this world. It may be doing it right now for someone you know and love, someone you don't realize is struggling to understand why they are here on this planet at this time and place.

That is why you should support the arts and why we hope you will support Ghostlight, as we make a place for future generations of artist to tell the stories that matter to them and to help them find their purpose, their home.

— The Ensemble

Monday, December 18, 2017

Thanks to everyone who attended Gingerbread Grindhouse!

And that's a wrap on our 2017 holiday production!

Thanks to everyone who came out to help Marie and the toys save Christmas during Gingerbread Grindhouse. We had full houses every night and for that we are so very thankful. We hope you have a happy holiday yourself with zero deaths by dolls.

We'll see you in 2018 at our 20th anniversary live reading of Spice World in January and at our spring production of An Ideal Husband in April.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Every nightmare comes to an end...doesn't it?

Thanks to everyone who packed our houses last weekend for Gingerbread Grindhouse!
Only two chances remain to catch Nutcracker Nightmare, plus trailers for Snow Day Bloody Snow Day by Babes With Blades, He'll Raise Her by New Millennium Theatre Co., Krampus!  by Ghostlight Ensemble and various improvised horror by The Stuntmen and Improvised Twilight Zone, all part of Gingerbread Grindhouse!

For those of you returning or attending for the first time, we strongly suggest purchasing tickets in advance, as people were turned away at the door last weekend.

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

Got extra cash lying around and it's been your dream to be killed on stage? We have one victim slot that remains open for Friday night. Learn more about that and all the tantalizing perks that are part of our end-of-the-year fundraiser here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hogan finds humor, humanity amid horror in her latest role

Though her latest production, "Nutcracker Nightmare," is set in a world where toys talk and dolls kill, Actress Annie Hogan found it was the human realities of the play that proved the most challenging.

"The biggest challenge for me is allowing my character to have grief and sadness without losing the humor that is inherent to the play, she said. "This family has experienced an awful tragedy. The grief has to be present, but you have to remember that these people are working through it. It is active. It would be very easy, as an actor, to play one extreme or the other - extreme grief/depression versus sitcom-type sadness. It's a tricky balance."

Read more about Hogan and her work in The Chicago Tribune and the Bucktown-Wicker Park Patch.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Jacobson gives life to children's nightmares in horror-inspired 'Nutcracker'

In Victoria Jacobson's book, things that slither along the ground are scary. Dolls are not. And yet in her latest role as Zipakna, a worry doll that comes to life and terrorizes the Stahlbaum family in "Nutcracker Nightmare," she is tasked with making an audience think just that.

"The biggest challenge was trying to find the balance between doll and creepy in a movement sense, Jacobson said. "What I consider to be bump-in-the-night scary are things that slither or move lower to the floor, while a doll would not necessarily be the type of creature to do so. Exploring a spectrum of movements in that sense is something that I worked on the hardest."

Read more about Victoria and her work in The Chicago Tribune or the Lakeview Patch

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nielsen takes on the (red) mantle for iconic Nutcracker role

Words may be the weapon most closely associated with an actor's trade, but for P. Tyler Nielsen taking on the iconic role of The Nutcracker in "Nutcracker Nightmare" meant acting with his body…and with actual weapons.

"I love the physical challenge of portraying such an iconic character who has so few lines," Nielsen said. "There is much to convey without the chance to verbalize the Nutcracker's internal journey.

"In addition, the chance to discover how a nutcracker might move, fight and express love is a joy," he added.

Read more about Tyler and his work in the Chicago Tribune or the Crystal Lake Patch.

Gingerbread Grindhouse presents: Babes With Blades!

Grindhouse wouldn't be Grindhouse without the trailers that come before the main feature -- often for movies that were never made.

At Gingerbread Grindhouse, we have trailers for plays yet-to-be. Will they ever become features? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, we present: Babes With Blades in Snow Day Bloody Snow Day.

A young schoolteacher finds herself at odds with a group of women devoted to their frosty master. Will she be able to claw her way out of their icy grip or be forced to join their depravity?

Snow Day Bloody Snow Day,written by Elyse Dawson, is directed by Hayley Rice and stars: Chloe Baldwin, Morgan Manasa, Izis Mollinedo, Hayley Rice and Kathrynne Wolf.

Find out more about Gingerbread Grindhouse.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Meet the cast of your Nightmare

Ghostlight Ensemble has announced the cast of Nutcracker Nightmare, the main feature of Gingerbread Grindhouse, which takes over the Greenhouse Theater Center's downstairs studio after-hours in December.

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

Written by Ensemble Member Maria Burnham and directed by Ghostlight Managing Director Chad Wise, Nutcracker Nightmare stars Ensemble Member Jean E. Burr as Clara and Guest Artists Alexandra Alontaga as Balam, Sean Harklerode as Drosselmeier, Annie Hogan as Mother, Maura Hogan as Itzamna, Tatum Hunter as Marie, Kirk Jackson as Truncheon, Victoria Jacobson as Zipakna, Serina Johnston as Rose, Allison McCorkle as Dora and the Evil Doll Queen, P. Tyler Nielsen as the Nutcracker and Mark Pracht as Father.

Full bios of the actors and production team are available online.

Gingerbread Grindhouse will also feature grindhouse-style trailers by Babes With Blades, New Millennium Theatre Co., Improvised Twilight Zone, Improvised Jane Austen, The Stuntmen and Ghostlight Ensemble.

Gingerbread Grindhouse takes place at 10:30 p.m. on December 8, 9, 15 and 16, at the Greenhouse Theater Center (2257 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, 60614) in Lincoln Park. Tickets are $15 and are available now through the Greenhouse website at, via email at or over the phone at 773-404-7336.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thanks to all who attended Must Eat TV

Thanks to everyone who attended Must Eat TV, the latest installment of our live movie reading series, on Tuesday night. We enjoyed sharing our traditional English trifle with you all, as we watched faces get slapped and turkeys get dropped from the sky.

We also want to thank our audience for their generosity in donating to Common Pantry. Thanks to you, a lot of people's lives will be made a little better during this season of thanks. You are truly amazing.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Must Eat TV featured in Chicago Magazine

Chicago Magazine calls our live movie reading series "always entertaining," so don't miss the latest installment in which we trade the big screen for the small one to celebrate Turkey Day.

Must Eat TV: A Live Reading of Your Favorite Thanksgiving Episodes is coming up on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at the Celtic Crown. The lineup features selections from How I Met Your Mother, Friends and WKRP in Cincinnati.

Click on the link above for all the details! We'll see you turkeys there!

VIDEO: Meet the director of our Season 1 Holiday show

Reading is nice, but sometimes it's better to hear things directly from the directors mouth.

So we've put together a little teaser of Nutcracker Nightmare — part of Gingerbread Grindhouse that goes up this December at the Greenhouse Theater Center — and what your support means to this show.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ghostlight featured on Chicago on Stage

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

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

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

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Must Eat TV: A Live Reading of Your Favorite Thanksgiving Episodes

Ghostlight Ensemble presents a special Thanksgiving installment of its ongoing live movie reading series, Must Eat TV: A Live Reading of Your Favorite Thanksgiving Episodes.

Thanksgiving is all about stuffing yourself silly with family and friends; awkward moments with that person who isn't quite either, but is always at all your family functions (exactly who IS Cousin Daisy if she's not really your cousin?); giving thanks; and television. So join your Ghostlight family, friends and weird Cousin Daisy for a celebration of everyone's favorite eating holiday.

The lineup features selections from How I Met Your Mother, Friends and WKRP in Cincinnati at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at the Celtic Crown.

The live reading is directed by Maria Burnham.

There is a suggested donation of $5 at the door, which will help Ghostlight fund its upcoming season, AND a non-perishable good or additional cash donation to benefit Common Pantry, of North Center.

Celtic Crown is located at the corner of Western Avenue and Cullom Avenue at 2356 W Cullom Ave, Chicago, IL 60618.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Our G.E.T. Funding fudraiser is off to a strong start

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ghostlight holding auditions for Nutcracker Nightmare

Ghostlight Ensemble will hold auditions for its production of Nutcracker Nightmare, part of our ongoing Gingerbread Grindhouse holiday horror series on, Tuesday, October 24 and Wednesday 25 from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Theater Momentum (1803 W Byron St #216, Chicago, IL 60613) .

Nutcracker Nightmare is a holiday tale of children, the toys they love and the toys that try to kill everyone they love. It's the perfect holiday entertainment. The play is written by Maria Burnham and will be directed by Chad Wise.

Time Commitment:
Performance Dates: Friday, December 8; Saturday, December 9; Friday December 15 and Satuday, December 16 at 10:30 p.m. at the Greenhouse Theatre Center.

Material To Prepare:
Please prepare a 1-2 minute comic or serio-comic monologue and don't take yourself too seriously. Submit H/R to Jean at casting(at), and she will be in touch to schedule an audition appointment.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ways you can help Ghostlight while some fun in return!

Want to star in your own play? Watch a live reading of your favorite movie? Have tea and biscuits with the wicked Mrs. Cheveley? Get murdered on stage? Then we have just the thing(s) for you...

Ghostlight has launched an independent fundraising drive. Wonder how these two things are releated? Read on.

Between October 1 and December 31, 2017, when you make a donation to our PayPal account, you can get a slew of cool, unique rewards — with a focus on experience-based incentives!

Your help will pay our artists and our rent for rehearsal and performance spaces, as well as fund design elements such as set and costumes, for the three shows that make up Season 1: Gingerbread Grindhouse, An Ideal Husband and The Princess Without Pots.

And by giving, you also G.E.T. Among the items to choose from: tea and biscuits with the cast of An Ideal Husband, getting murdered onstage as part of our holiday show, and having our Ensemble playwrights write a personalized play for you, starring you.

Perks will be given out on an ongoing basis, with all items distributed by the end of our 2017-18 Season.

We are self-producing this fundraiser, so word of mouth is very important to us. If you've supported Ghostlight in the past and enjoy what we do, please take a moment to let your friends know how they can help. You can also tell your enemies — we aren't picky or proud.

Details on exactly how this works and what you need to do are available on the fundraiser page of our website. And periodic updates will be posted there as well.

Ghostlight Ensemble is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so any donation you give is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Live Reading of Shaun of The Dead

Ghostlight is doing a special edition of our live movie reading series in October themed for Halloween.

Join us for You've Got READ On You: A Shaun of The Dead Live Reading at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 17, at the Celtic Crown (2356 W Cullom Ave, Chicago, IL 60618).

Shaun of The Dead is a 2004 British horror comedy film about a man trying to get some focus in his life as he deals with his girlfriend, his mother and stepfather — and also an apocalyptic zombie uprising.

Things may get a little bite-y, so grab a nice cold pint and wait for all of this to blow over.

The live reading is directed by Jean E. Burr. Check out all the details, including cast, on the special events page here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Goodies for Ghostlight: A Potbelly Foodraiser

Fall may be here in theory, but it's still warm enough outside for milkshakes.

So join us on Wednesday October 11, 2017, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lincoln Square Potbelly (4709 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625) for another in our series of delicious fundraisers that will go to support our Season 1 programming.

Potbelly will donate 25 percent of net sales during that time to Ghostlight. You don't need any special paperwork or flyers or code words or secret handshakes, just come in, order and eat.

Ensemble members will be on hand to chat about our Company, the upcoming season, our favorite plays or anything that takes your fancy.

So come say hello and raise a toast — or a toasted sandwich — to the arts in Chicago.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Live Reading of A League of Their Own

The next installment in our ongoing live movie reading series has arrived.

Join us for There's No Crying in Theatre: A League of Their Own Live Reading at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 23, at the Celtic Crown (2356 W Cullom Ave, Chicago, IL 60618).

We're celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the movie's release by jamming a baseball team's worth of actresses in a back room of a bar and performing some Grand Slam feats of entertainment.

Check out all the details, including cast, on the special events page here.