Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Factory Announces Its 2010 Season!

We've been busy here at La Factory. First off, we had the always successful, always drunken Abbie Hoffman Festivus over the weekend of August 15-16. Despite taking the stage at something like the crack of dawn, the Factory rocked it as usual.

Also, the Factory held its first reading for the soon-to-be-American-Classic 1985, written by the indomitable Chas Vrba and directed by the sublime Eric Thomas Roach (who rocks a blue tie, by the way). As stated previously, our little Rooftop Shuffle is right around the corner. Buy your tickets and get the latest info on bands for this explosive shindig here.

Last but not least, we are proud to announce our season for 2010. These three shows are original works -- all comedies, completely subtlety-free! I think it goes without saying that in 2010 There Will Be Bits. Without further adieu:

"Hey! Dancin'!"
by Kirk Pynchon and Mike Beyer

The year is 1986. The hair is big, the fashion is ridiculous, and dancing is king. The hottest dance show in Chicago rules the cable access airwaves -- and its name is "Hey! Dancin'!" It's the last show of the season, and the station manager is threatening to change the music format because the show has gotten "too black". Our heroine Halle Stanton, with the help of her slutty friend Trisha, finagle their way on to the show. Halle hopes to meet the show's Ray-Ban-wearing star -- Kenny Kaposki, better known as Double K. Will love blossom between the innocent Halle and the dance superstar Double K? Will the show survive the change of music from Cameo to Poison? And will Trisha have sex with the show's older (yet willing) host, Randy Massingil? Find out in "Hey! Dancin'!"

"The League Of Awesome"
by Corri Feuerstein and Sara Sevigny

The superheroes of The League Of Awesome have done it again. A villain has been vanquished, the city's fears have been quelled, newspapers have their story and all is well. See, they decided to punish this villain by trapping him inside a Hardy Boys book. Yeah, it was a little unconventional. Sure, they know that. But it's not like Drake Hurtcliffe, a horrible evil mastermind who inflicted sadness upon an entire city with his SorrowMaker, is gonna get out of the book. Zoe, Sylvia, Penny, Kitty & Rumble wouldn't let him escape. I mean....come on! What are they gonna do, accidentally create another hero who is clueless enough to join Drake's forces or something? That's ridiculous! They'd have to be drunk to do that! Now let's watch them celebrate their victory over Drake with mojitos.

Oh....oh, dear.

"Jenny And Jenni"
by Shannon O'Neill
FALL 2010

Before the Thighmaster. Before Sweatin' To The Oldies. And before Jane Fonda, there was....JENNY AND JENNI. Watch this unlikely duo rise to the top of the exercise and fitness food chain before we even knew there was one. Friends since childhood, Jenny and Jenni overcome difficult parents, initial public mockery, and an evil Jordache model to become trailblazers in the fight to keep America fit and feeling good. Follow the adventures of Jenny and Jenni as they invent the exercise studio, awesome fitness apparel, and the workout video. But will success bring this famous pair true happiness after all they've been through? Or will it tear them apart? One journey, two Jennys.....just spelled differently.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Insider: Exposing a Factory Secret

This post is brought to you by a newer set of eyes. I'll be writing from time to time to show the Factory from a slightly different lens. See, I'm new to the company. Relatively. I've been on board since 2007, but that makes me a squalling infant next to the likes of Mike Beyer, most senior member of the company, and DJ Chas, one of the ruling caste of the organization. The Factory Theater is a storied institution, producing shows in Chicago for over 17 years. That's one of the longest tenured theaters in this city. And they only make their own work! Sure, you could mount existing plays by long dead Greeks or flowery Englishmen or even familiar, home-cooked American playwrights, but this company is a wholly different beast. If I sound reverential, it's because I am. I pretty much squealed with excitement when I was invited into this company. After two years, I thought I’d reflect back on working with this company. In doing so, I decided to expose a secret about this company. I'll get to that, but there’s some history needed to illustrate.

I started watching Factory shows about seven years ago. The Factory produced balls-out theater that was unafraid of taking risks, attracting a strong reputation in the Chicago theater community. A mini-remount of White Trash Wedding and a Funeral for the Abbie Hoffman Festival had an audience packed tighter than a bulk Q-Tips package inside tiny Angel Island Theater, roaring with appreciative laughter very late into the sweaty August night. I'd also heard many happy returns from people who worked with the company. My friend Amanda, playing a crack whore in Poppin’ and Lockdown 2, was so proud of her first line, "I'll suck your cock for a dollar!" That's an entrance. I'd been working in Chicago theater since 1995, but there was something unique and enticing to the Factory. I was aching to play with them. So I auditioned.

Here's where a shift occurs, and this has to do with the secret. After my first Factory audition for a show centered around vaginas, I got the best rejection ever. Everyone at the Top Shelf Gash audition thanked me several times for actually coming to the audition. Later, I'd run into other company members who also thanked me for my time. They'd invite me to company functions where they’d repeat their appreciations over beers. This was unlike the usual silence or one sentence blow-off after an unsuccessful audition. And this wasn’t just for me. After the TSG audition, I heard from other uncast people who received the same courtesies. The Factory appreciated every moment of time given to them, whether you were in the show or not. Most unusual. When I was cast in Factory shows, I discovered flexible scheduling, extra-warm camaraderie, and supportive encouragement to put all of my guts out on to the stage with everyone else. In my second Factory show, I played a poisoned English Teacher going mad with violence and lust toward my students. For the crazy scene, the director said, “You gotta get yer face IN her crotch! ALL THE WAY in her crotch! Go full out!” My nervous reactions weren’t mocked; cast and crew merely made me more comfortable so I could go all the way into that crotch. In subsequent shows, I have experienced support and love that is only akin (and sometimes even superior) to family. While it’s common for cast and crew to bond closely during a production, the Factory creates a closer, more visceral bond that comes from their attitudes toward life and theater.

So here’s the secret I discovered at the Factory Theater. This little company, with all its occasional vaginal humor and irreverent frat boy content, its full-time pulsing playground energy and naughty-naughty language, is one of the city's most mature and well-rounded companies. A paradox? Not so. Here’s why. The Factory Theater understands that all our moments spent together creating theater are at the sacrifice of something else. If an artist chooses to give time to the Factory, they are given the respect and appreciation of the company. This is uncommon in this city. The Factory is keenly aware of reality in the plays they make and appreciates how to produce them. There are no false, high class illusions in Factory plays, which are proud of their coarse, potentially offensive subject matter. There is an integrity to that because the company does not set limits on the theater it creates. The company collaborates openly and honestly, encouraging new works from new sources and fully supporting its artists along the way. For years now, the Ensemble has expanded, allowing more artists to put their stamp on the Factory, which has only made the company grow in its vision and abilities. Honesty, appreciation, and a no-limits approach to theater speaks to me of a mature company. If nothing else, the Factory Theater’s about to turn 18, so it can be tried as an adult. I’m glad to be here. I hope you’ll hear from me again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bear Down!

I'm posting just to fulfill my contractual obligation. I got nothin', you know? The well has run dry. Anything you want to see me write about? Send me ideas. I just finished writing a show with my buddy Kirk, and I guess that took it all out of me. Apologies, Factory Theater Blog followers!

We got a ton of shit coming up this fall at the Factory. Be a part of our magic!! Dead Wrong is sadly closed and struck, but as usual we got one in the hopper that's sure to knock your goddam block off! Our new show, 1985, written by the one and only Chas Vrba, opens November 13 at the Prop Thtr. The show's Facebook page describes itself as "an Orwellian take on Chicago sports".

Directed by comic maestro Eric Roach, this show promises to be another Factory smash. Look at this all-star cast:

Timothy C. Amos
Christy Arington
Ernie Deak
Laura McKenzie
Scott OKen
Mike Ooi
Manny Tamayo
Stacie Barra Tournis
Chas Vrba

Come on! Look at that collection of talent! LOOK AT IT! TRY TO TAKE YOUR EYES OFF IT! YOU CAN'T!

Not only that, but this fall we'll be trying something brand new for our launch party. Instead of our usual digs at Chief O'Neill's, we'll instead be hanging out that night at the Lakeview Baseball Club for our launch party on Saturday, September 26, at 8 p.m. (you can buy tickets here). In case you are a Sox fan, or live under a rock, the Lakeview Baseball Club is a "rooftop" establishment on Sheffield Ave. that overlooks Wrigley Field itself. The Cubs, sadly, will be out of town that night, but our host Stanley Grabowski (filling in for Jackie Shollins, who is currently on his Far East Tour) will be there.

Also, fantastic live bands such as The Cain Mutiny and The Wanton Looks will be there to rock you harder than a Butkus sack. DJ Chas will spinning tunes and reminiscing about the Cubs' 2009 season highlight (the sweep of the hapless Indians). There will be food! Open bar! Prizes for YOU to win! And of course, a preview-type performance related to our upcoming smash hit 1985! You must attend!

For your edification, enjoy the following. Bear Down.

Monday, August 17, 2009


We're a day late with this one and for that we apologize. After not hitting the boards at the Abbie Hoffman Festival until about 2:25 am (scheduled start time was 1am) on Sunday- we totally overslept and missed Beave's big day. The Factory's "oldest living member and resident frat-humorist" deserves more respect. As the primary contributor to this blog and official Factory historian- Beave gives so much, and yet we skip his birthday in return! Shame on us.
Dear readers- if you happen to see Beave in the near future give him a birthday hug and congratulate him for being co-author ( with Kirk Pynchon) of the first show of next season. Hey! Dancin'!
We Love Beave. He Rules! His Cleveland Browns however, suck. His preoccupation with Billy Joel is a bit disturbing as well- and we're not even gonna say a word about that photo.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Down time? No such thing....

As most of our faithful readers know, there hasn't been much to read here as of late. Which probably makes the readers job pretty easy. Well, consider the little hiatus to be the calm before the storm. One might look at the fact that Dead Wrong has closed and think the Factory is taking their summer vaction now. And sure, we like to go to the beach and Lollapalooza and do all sorts of other stuff, but really- it is during this "down time" when we get tons of stuff done. There's a ton of stuff in the works...and some other things to report, so let's do it.

First things first- Long time Factory fans, friends, and followers know that when August rolls around- you'll find us over at Angel Island presenting something for Mary-Arrchie's Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival. Really, you could just forget about Lollapaloolza this weekend- because as far as August festivals in Chicago go, you can't beat Abbie Hoffman- now in it's 21st year. Basically you're looking at 3 days on non-stop entertainment- starting with a march from Daley Plaza to the theater on Friday, August 14th at 2pm and continuing untill the final performance sometime after midnight rolls around Sunday into Monday. Over 50 different companies, groups and performers do their thing and you never no what you'll see. Quite honestly- the opportunity exists for you to see both the best AND worst thing you've ever seen on a Chicago stage before. Very exciting.

The Factory has gotten in on the action for a number of years now. Last year- we performed our Factory Third Shift Production Shameless Shamuses. In previous years, you may have seen our encore performance of Rapid Fire (an older Factory Classic) or a preview of the yet to be produced Wrestling Show. We've also given sneaks peaks of Captain Raspberry, Operation Infiltration, and others before they were produced. Sometimes we do sketch material, we did Speed the Play one year, hell, one time we passed out beer and shaved Jason Lubow head to toe! It's always something nutty with us.

This year- You'll get a couple of sneak previews of our upcoming fall shows (1985 & Hunky Dory) as well as some new sketch material (Nice Ones & The Factory Time Machine) Good times to be had! The schedule is a bit fluid, but show up just after midnight on Saturday August 15th and you should be able to catch us. (Our scheduled start time is 12:30am.) Rich Cotovosky and the Mary-Arrchie gang are great hosts and this Festival is an essential part of our vibrant theatre scene in this city, Get There!

In other Factory Theater News- Our 2010 Season has been selected! We've got three great shows lined up for next year and our busting at the seems to tell you all about 'em. But...we're gonna wait. A formal (or as formal as we get) announcement can be expected in the next few weeks. Stay Tuned!

This Monday (August 10th)- Make sure you are signed up to get the Factory Theater Eblast

as we will be sending our subscribers details about an event that will be too incredible to miss. It's the type of event you'll want to be able to say "Man, I was there" when all is said and done. Look for it!

Finally, In Factory Sports. Our softball team enjoyed another fun season. Now, in truth we are definitely one of those "it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" type teams. We always have tons of fun and on occassion win a few games. This year, we made it to the second round of the playoffs before gracefully bowing out and hitting Christina's for post-game drinks. Whether celebrating victories, or drowning our sorrows- Christina's Place has been our favorite post-game watering hole. We thank them, and whole-heartedly recommend you check out the "Home of the $2.00 Guiness"

And that's What's Going On, Factory Friends! (lame version link in honor of Lollapalooza, good version HERE.)