Princess Mary Demands Your Attention

By Resident Playwright Aaron Holland
Based on parts of Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Directed by Artistic Director Lili-Anne Brown

Jan 15 – Feb 21, 2015

Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater
2433 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago

PRINCESS MARY DEMANDS YOUR ATTENTION tells the soulful story of Amari Bolkonski, a gay, black daydreamer seemingly “stuck” in life. A chance meeting throws him into to a decade-long journey to personal acceptance and freedom, guided (and haunted) by an inexplicable and challenging drag queen. With storytelling that incorporates music and dance, PRINCESS MARY DEMANDS YOUR ATTENTION – inspired by parts of Tolstoy’s War and Peace –is a fierce new play that ultimately demands an answer to the question: Is there really anything in your way?

 

Letter from the Artistic Director

Lili-Anne-BrownA few years ago, my friend, colleague and frequent collaborator, Aaron Holland, told me he was reading War and Peace. I had always wanted to take on the tome, but wasn’t sure I had the patience, so I was impressed. I was even more impressed when I found out he was reading it on his phone, on the train to and from work every day. Then again, that is classic Aaron. I don’t know why I was at all surprised when about a year later he called to tell me he’d finished War and Peace—and written a play.

Aaron had already been thinking about writing a semi-autobiographical play, and ironically, War and Peace ended up being the key. He was fascinated by, and felt a kinship with, the storyline of Princess Mary, the plain girl who lives shut away with her father, the Count, struggling with her religious beliefs and her desires, while everyone else is having scandalous love affairs, dancing at balls, going to war. He wondered what was holding her back. This lonely Russian princess from the early 1800s magically transmuted into a young, gay Black boy from Richmond, Virginia in the early 2000s, and the character had been spiritually split into our protagonist, Amari, and his muse/”spirit animal,” Princess Mary. I was snatched sideways by this idea, and by Aaron’s amazing use of language and dialect. It’s a simple, timeless and ultimately relatable finding-oneself story, set in an intriguing world I hadn’t seen on stage before, somewhere between Aaron’s hometown of Richmond, Moscow, and the Twilight Zone. These characters are people I know, but rarely see in plays (which is a shame).

We did an on-the-down-low first reading of the first draft at our friend Rus Rainear’s dining room table, and I have never laughed and cried with a group of people like that while reading a play. It was electric, divine. I hope that your experience tonight is similar. I give very special thanks to our Literary Manager Melissa Young for helping shepherd this new work from that dining room table to this theater. It is a great honor for me to be able to share this play with you.

Tolstoy and Triflin’,

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Lili-Anne Brown, Artistic Director

WHO’S WHO IN THE CAST

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Baron L. Clay, Jr.

Baron L. Clay, Jr.
Princess Mary

TJ Crawford

TJ Crawford
Nathaniel

Armand Fields

Armand Fields
Amari Bolkonski

David Kaplinsky

David Kaplinsky
Christiano Nikolas Parlucci

Pam Mack

Pam Mack
Countess Bolkonski

Rus Rainear

Rus Rainear
Stacy Neighbors

Omer Abbas Salem

Omer Abbas Salem
Bastian

Jeremy Sonkin

Jeremy Sonkin
Barry/Orderly
Mr. Mysterious

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BARON L. CLAY, Jr. (Princess Mary) is thrilled to be returning to Bailiwick Chicago. Credits include Kiss Of The Spider Woman (Bailiwick Repertory Theatre); The Who’s: Tommy (White Horse Theatre Company). “Much love and thanks to my husband, son, family, and friends for all the love and support that they have given me. I GOTCHA(death drop)!”

TJ CRAWFORD (Nathaniel) is living for the gods to be making his Bailiwick Chicago debut. Chicago credits include Clemente: The Legend of 21 (Night Blue Performing Arts Co.); Alice in Wonderland (Theatre-Hikes Chicago); Once Upon a People and The Curtis Mayfield Story (Black Ensemble Theater); and Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theater). TJ received a BA degree from Columbia College Chicago. “Thanks to my supportive family and friends for letting me release my princess.”

ARMAND FIELDS (Amari Bolkonski) is grateful to be a part of his second production with Bailiwick Chicago, where he was last seen in their premiere season production of F***ing Men. Other Chicago credits include Girl You Know It’s True (Pavement Group); Home and Woza Albert! (Fleetwood-Jourdain); Trouble In Mind (Artistic Home). His regional credits include Ragtime and A Christmas Carol (Milwaukee Repertory Theater) where he also completed their 2013/2014 Acting Internship Program. Armand is a graduate of Second City’s Improv Conservatory and the School at Steppenwolf Theatre. “Grateful to God, my family & friends, Lil, Aaron and this amazing cast & crew.”

DAVID KAPLINSKY (Christiano Nikolas Parlucci) is excited to be making his Bailiwick Chicago debut! Chicago credits include It’s a Wonderful Santaland Miracle Nut-Cracking Christmas Story…Jews Welcome! (Stage 773); EL Stories: New In Town (Waltzing Mechanics); A Nightmare on Backstreet: A Boy-Band Parody Musical (Public House Theatre). Regional theatre credits include Twelfth Night, Titus Andronicus (Nebraska Shakespeare Festival); Gayland: The Musical (New Orleans Fringe). He holds a BFA in acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has also studied at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. DavidKaplinsky.com

PAM MACK (Countess Bolkonski) is honored to be part of the talented, loving cast of Bailiwick Chicago’s Princess Mary Demands Your Attention. This is her return to theatre after a few years. She has been as part of Circle theatre/Bailiwick Repertory Jeff Award-winning production of A Piece of My Heart and Fleetwood Jourdain’s Spunk. These productions propelled Pam into the world of commercials, voiceover and film where she has made a career. She has done commercials for McDonalds, Walmart, Jewel to name a few. Film and tv credits include Early Edition, One Week, T.A.C.T.I.C.A.L., and 2 upcoming webseries Gettin Grown and Jaxson Heights.

RUS RAINEAR (Stacy Neighbors) is so honored to have been a part of this play from its first reading around his dining room table to today, and he thanks Aaron, Lil and all at Bailiwick Chicago for the opportunity. Rus, a Bailiwick Chicago company member, is a two-time Jeff-winning Ensemble member for Bailiwick Repertory’s Corpus Christi and Parade and a Jeff Award-nominated supporting actor for Theo Ubique’s Cabaret. He has most recently worked with BoHo on Parade and Amadeus, and Kokandy Productions on Sweet Smell of Success. “Thanks, Mom.”

OMER ABBAS SALEM (Bastian) is thrilled to finally make it to Bailiwick Chicago’s stage! He was last seen in Half Price Cosmos (Bread and Roses Productions), INVASION! (Silk Road Rising), and Trafford Tanzi (Prologue Theater). He is a graduate of Shattered Globe’s Protege Program and has a B.S. and M. Ed. from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. “I would like to thank my friends for their support and always reminding me that Brutus is just as cute as Caesar.” More information at www.omerabbassalem.com.

JEREMY SONKIN (Barry/Orderly/Mr. Mysterious) is elated to be making his debut with Bailiwick Chicago in Princess Mary Demands Your Attention. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Jeremy started his career on the National Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, starring Ted Neeley. Jeremy’s Chicago credits include Big Lake Big City (Lookingglass); Rose and the Rime (House Theatre Chicago); Barnum (Mercury Theatre); Parsifal, Don Giovanni, and Il Trovatore (Lyric Opera Chicago); Some Men (Pride Films and Plays); and Pippin (The Music Theatre Company), to name a few. Jeremy is proud to be represented by the Shirley Hamilton Talent Agency. “Endless love and gratitude to my family, my coaches, and to Lili-Anne, Aaron, and the Bailiwick Chicago team for the opportunity to be apart of this beautiful and impactful play.”

WHO’S WHO

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LILI-ANNE BROWN (Director), a native Chicagoan, is the Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago. Previous directing credits for BC include Dessa Rose, for which she garnered a Joseph Jefferson Award for Direction of a Musical; Michael John LaChiusa’s See What I Wanna See (part of Steppenwolf Theatre’s Garage Rep), and the critically acclaimed Chicago premiere of Passing Strange (Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Director of a Musical, Jeff Award nomination). Other directing credits include On the Boards and Hearts of Darkness at Roosevelt University; Unnecessary Farce, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, all at Timber Lake Playhouse, where she is an Artistic Associate. “Thanks to this unique and marvelous cast and crew, and Buh for entrusting her with this incredibly precious gift.”

AARON HOLLAND (Playwright) has been performing in and around Chicagoland for the past 10 years. In that time, Aaron has also written and produced 7 of his own shows. His latest work, A Plank In Reason, was produced in Prologue Theatre’s Landmark festival in September 2014. Aaron is a two time Black Alliance Award nominee and received the Kingsley Colton award at ACTF at the Kennedy Center in 2003. Aaron has a BFA in Theatre Performance from VCU, and is a Proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association. “For My Mom, who is my Countess, Stacy and Princess Mary all at once. And for the Fam.”

KATE BLACK (Stage Manager) is making her debut with Bailiwick Chicago. Her Chicago credits include Immerse Yourself and Learning Curve (Albany Park Theater Project). Her selected New York credits include Then She Fell (Third Rail Projects); Sleep No More (Punchdrunk); Neil Gaiman: Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains (Foster Entertainment); Organic Shrapnel (Studio 54); and Blood Potato (Apothecary Theatre Co.) She received her BFA in Theatre: Production/Stage Management at Rutgers: Mason Gross School of the Arts.

MEGAN TRUSCOTT (Scenic Designer) is thrilled to return to Bailiwick Chicago after previously designing The Wild Party and Dessa Rose. Her work has been seen at Jackalope Theatre Company, Milwaukee Rep, Pavement Group, TheatreSquared, Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, and the Young Actor’s Guild of Arkansas. Future projects include The Royal Society of Antarctica (Gift Theatre), Murder Ballad (Bailiwick Chicago), and The Velveteen Rabbit (Pennsylvania Youth Theatre). Megan is a resident designer with Bailiwick Chicago. “Thanks to my friends and Anthony for the support.” www.megantruscott.com

RAQUEL ADORNO (Costume Designer) is thrilled to return to Bailiwick Chicago. Recent credits include Hellcab, The Cryptogram, Reasons to be Happy, Annapurna, Cock, Gidion’s Knot, Wrecks, In God’s Hat, In the Company of Men, and The Dream of the Burning Boy (Profiles Theatre); HoliDAZE, Dead Accounts, Darlin’ (World Premiere), and The BenchMark (Step Up Productions); Desperate Dolls (Strawdog Theatre Company), The Submission, Some Men, Songs from an Unmade Bed, and The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret (Pride Films and Plays); RAW (Deluge Theatre Collective), Trafford Tanzi and Patria Libre (Prologue Theatre Company); Gambit (Artemisia, A Chicago Theatre).

BRIAN HOEHNE (Lighting Designer) returns to Bailiwick Chicago after designing The Wild Party and Dessa Rose. Recent designs include The Humans, Hair, Let Me Down Easy (American Theater Company); A View From The Bridge (Teatro Vista); The 48 Hour Musicals: Encore, Do I Hear a Waltz (The Music Theatre Company); The Wizard of Oz, The Nutcracker, Schoolhouse Rock Live! (Marriott Theatre); Passion, Master Class, Chess (Theo Ubique); Parade (BoHo Theatre); Spamalot, Buddy! (Timber Lake Playhouse).

PATRICK BLEY (Sound Designer) is a proud company member with Bailiwick Chicago serving as the resident sound designer. Past shows with Bailiwick Chicago include The Wild Party, Carrie: The Musical, Dessa Rose and Passing Strange. Most recently Patrick designed the world premiere of The Humans at American Theatre Company. His work has also been heard with The Music Theatre Company, Pride Films and Plays, Pioneer Theatre Company (Salt Lake City, UT) and Timber Lake Playhouse (Mt. Carroll, IL).

A native of San Antonio, TAYLOR ELY (Props Master) recently graduated with her BFA from the University of Evansville. Most recently she was a Props Intern at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, where she worked on King Lear and Pericles. In addition to school, she has worked at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Great River Shakespeare Festival, and Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. “Thanks to my family, who constantly remind me that if it makes me happy, it’s worth doing, and if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

KYLE HADEN (Assistant Director) is an Equity actor and director recently relocated to Chicago. His directing credits include Dog Sees God, Noises Off, The Shape Of Things, Your Boyfriend May Be Imaginary and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s production of 365 Days/365 Plays. As an actor, Kyle most recently appeared as Gordon in Do-Gooder at the 16th Street Theater. Regionally, he has performed at the Guthrie Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, Cleveland Play House, Kansas City Rep; Shakespeare Theatre (DC), and was a company member at the Colorado and Oregon Shakespeare Festivals. Kyle is currently an assistant professor of theatre at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. B.A. Wake Forest; M.F.A. Columbia University.

KRISTOF JANEZIC (Master Electrician) is a lighting and scenic designer in Chicago and is happy to be working with Bailiwick Chicago as their master electrician once again, previously for The Wild Party. Past scenic designs include We Three and Jet Black Chevrolet (The Side Project) and A Brief Look At The After Glow (Foundlings Theatre). Past lighting designs include The Tempest (Ithaca Shakespeare), Rung (Curious Theatre Branch), Skelebration/Boneshaker and New Years (Redmoon Theatre Company), Monster In The Hall (Filament Theatre) and Twelfth Night (Foundling’s Theatre) along with numerous playwriting festivals and smaller works. Upcoming projects are lighting designer for The Silk Road Solos Series (Silk Road Rising). He is also a company member with Foundling’s Theatre as their resident lighting and scenic designer. You can reach Kristof at janezic.design@gmail.com for more information on his work and availability.

EUNICE WOODS (Lobby Designer) is a proud Acting Ensemble member of Barrel of Monkeys. Other Chicago acting credits include Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago); Hey! Dancin’! Hey! Musical (The Factory Theater); The True History…of Julia Pastrana (Tympanic Theatre Company); Raskol (Vintage Theater Collective); Miami Nice (Gorilla Tango Theatre); The Rose Parade (Body Project Ensemble & VOTC). She holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University.

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