March brought to Stage Left the long-awaited return to Leapfest. Leapfest began in 2003-04 as an annual new play festival, where playwrights “take the leap” in the development of new work. Now we are proud to present the staged readings of 3 new plays that received workshops in March. The playwrights featured include Stephanie Murphy*, Deana Velandra, and Kimberly Dixon-Mays.
Talkbacks will follow after each performance.
“DOPP KITT IN THE UNCANNY VALLEY”
Directed by Malkia Stampley
Raina Lynn as..................Kitt
Isis Elizabeth as.......................Kick
Camara Stampley as..............Jocelyn/Figure/Ma
“DISTRIKT OF LAKE MICHIGUN”
by Stephanie Murphy*
Directed by Seth Wilson*
Andrew Pond as..................Cap
Kelsey Lesseig as.......................Minnie
Mariah Koss as..............Ma
Drake St. Pierre as........Carraway/Chorus
Allen Murphy with........Stage Directions
“GIVE ME MY FLOWERS”
Directed by Eileen Tull
Carina Lastimosa^ as..................Claire
Kristin Doty as.......................Molly
Molly Hillson as..............Dancer
Produced by Kyle Aschbrenner*, Hannah Kfoury*, and Bobbi Masters*
Stage Management by Carlos Lux
*Indicates Ensemble Member
^ Indicates Artistic Associate
MEET THE ARTISTS
Kimberly Dixon-Mays is a poet, playwright and sometimes performer. Her work was featured in Congo Square Theatre Company’s 2019 August Wilson New Play Initiative, and selected for Goodman Theatre's 2022 Future Lab series. Kimberly was a semi-finalist for the 2019 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and the 2020 National Black Theatre I Am Soul Playwright Residency, as well as nominated for a 2021 3Arts Award and a 2023 finalist for American Blues Theater’s Blue Ink Award. Kimberly is a former Tutterow Fellow with Chicago Dramatists, and one of its Resident Playwrights, and she earned a B.A. from Yale, an M.A. from UCLA, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern. Kimberly aims to showcase the complicated consciousnesses of (Black) (women) with clarity and joy. She considers it a form of caretaking.
Kristin Doty (she/her) is delighted to return as Claire after performing Give Me My Flowers during Stage Left's Spring Fling festival last season. She was most recently seen on Chicago Fire and as Sally Bowles in Cabaret (Metropolis PAC). Other Chicago credits include New Faces Sing Broadway 1971 (Porchlight Music Theatre), Talley's Folly (Oil Lamp Theater), and Lighthouses in the Desert (Glass Apple Theatre). Regional credits include A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Playhouse on the Square); Little Women, and Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook (The Circuit Playhouse). She is represented by Lily's Talent. www.kristindoty.com
Isis Elizabeth (she/her) is excited to be performing with Stage Left Theater’s Leap Fest this year! She was last seen as Alice’s Daughter in Big River ( Mercury Theater Chicago) and Chicago Fire! Other credits include Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors (Citadel Theater) , Charlene in Dreamgirls (Arrow Rock Lyceum Theater) choreographed and under the direction of Deidre Goodwin. Spring Awakening (Porchlight Music Theater), RENT (Possibilities Theater), Chicago (Big Noise Theater), The Wiz (Emerald City Theater). She thanks her family, friends, and agents at Gill Talent Group for their love and support. IG@theisiselizabeth_.
Molly Hillson (she/her), originally from Seattle, Washington, is a Chicago-based dancer and visual artist. She began her training with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Colorado Ballet where she graduated from the Vaganova program in 2009. In the same season Molly received her arts endorsed diploma from Denver School of the Arts and completed her final season with Colorado Youth Dance Theater as a founding member.
In 2013, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from College Chicago’s dance program with a focus in dance education and improvisation and choreographed several original works. Molly has since performed works with Rachel Damon of Synapse Arts, Sara Maslanka of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble, Emily Stein of Secret Experiments in Ballet, Mags Bouffard, Andy Slavin, Timothy Tsang, Kait Dessoffy, Charlotte Kahler, and many other talented Chicago artists. She is thrilled to be a part of this new work process and explore the world of theater with such remarkable artists.
Mariah Koss, She/Her (Minnie) is a Chicago Theatre Maker. She was most recently seen in the Annoyance Theatre’s “Shark Movie the Play” as the 3 Charlottes. Mariah also is a director in Chicago having most recently directed Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons with Snails on a Bike and Blood-lesque with Phantom Moon Productions. Yon can also see her monthly on her Dnd actual play livestream with TinyDuck Media as Lawrence. She is very excited to make her Stage Left debut!
Carina Lastimosa (she/her/hers) is a San Francisco Bay Area native, currently residing in Chicago. Primarily working as an actor, Chicago theatre credits include the world premieres of W.o.W. (Theatre Above The Law), Poison and I Build Giants (The Plagiarists). Selected SF/Bay Area theatre credits include: Dogeaters (Magic Theatre), Sisters Matsumoto (Center REPertory Company), A Dreamplay (Cutting Ball Theater), The Day The Crayons Quit (Bay Area Children's Theatre), Slaughterhouse-Five and Top Girls (Custom Made Theatre Co.), Marat/Sade (Thrillpeddlers), A Kind of Sad Love Story (Bindlestiff Studio) and as a performer/educator for Kaiser’s Educational Theatre. In all her work, Carina aims to celebrate and highlight the strength of Filipino/a/x-Americans. This mission has led her to branch out in other theatre disciplines such as playwriting and directing. Her short play The White Room was selected as one of the recipients of Exposition Review’s Flash 405 contest which received an online publication and a production by Our Digital Stories. She directed Sarah Lina Sparks’ short play Sunshine and the Sea of Lost Things for Ghostlight Ensemble’s Make/Believe festival and Peter Ruiz's new work The Knotted Truth for Stage Left Theatre's Off Stage Left series. Carina is a recipient of the Theatre Bay Area TITAN Award and a graduate of Indiana University. Carina is represented by Lily’s Talent Agency. www.carinalastimosa.com
Kelsey Lesseig (she/her) has just recently celebrated her first year living in Chicago! Throughout that time, she’s been very fortunate to have performed as Mercy Lewis, Abigail Williams u/s in The Crucible (Edge of the Wood Theatre), Amy in Awesome Possum as part of Eclectic Full Contact Theatre’s Patchwork Playfest, and Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Three Brothers Theatre). You can catch her this fall as Dorothy in Murdered to Death (Kirk Players) and in the ensemble of Sleepy Hollow (Three Brothers Theatre).
Carlos Lux (he/him)- Carlos is excited to return to Stage Left. He served as Props Assistant for MAN OF THE PEOPLE and ASM for IN THE BACK/ON THE FLOOR. Carlos is a proud graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, where he received his Bachelor's degree in Communication, Media, and Theatre. While he was there he worked on props and scenery. He would like to thank his family and friends for their support.
Raina Lynn is excited to perform again with Stage Left Theatre after appearing in the staged reading of White People By The Lake. She has performed in a variety of plays in the Chicagoland area, including Jeff Recommended shows Clybourne Park, Good People and The Cake (Buffalo Theatre Ensemble) and Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White (The Artistic Home). Other credits include Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost (Invictus Theatre) and Comfort Stew (ETA Theatre), where she received a nomination for the African American Arts Alliance award for Outstanding Actress. When not on stage, Lynn enjoys recording voiceovers and working on camera. Visit www.RainaLynn.com for more info.
Andrew J. Pond: (he/him) (Cap Streeter) moved to Chicago from South Florida, where he had studied with the likes of Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, José Quintero, and Charles Nelson Reilly. Since moving to Chicago, he has worked as an actor, director, and playwright, is a founder and Artistic Director of Eclectic Full Contact Theatre, an Elvis impersonator, balloon artist, voices characters on several of Eclectic’s audio drama podcasts (one of which he co-writes) narrates audiobooks, and has a degree in philosophy so he can use words like “epistemology” at parties. Otherwise, he is completely normal. Thanks to Jess, his partner in all things.
Drake St Pierre (he/him)- Drake is a Chicago based actor and improviser originally from Chatham Ontario Canada. Moving to Texas at a young age he earned his BA in theater at Stephen F. Austin State University .He is currently enrolled in the Second City Conservatory program. You can also see him performing weekly at the Annoyance with Re-Run Improv, and at Chicago Comedy Clubhouse with One Group Mind.
Camara Stampley is a class of 2022 graduate of Howard University, obtaining a BFA in Musical Theatre. Recent credits include: Sophie in Mamma Mia! and Beneatha in Raisin (Skylight Music Theater); Charlayne in the one woman show Pretty Fire (Milwaukee Chamber Theater); Tamir in Ghetto Symphony (Theater Alliance DC); vocal work with Deborah Cox and the National Philharmonic Orchestra; In My Granny’s Garden (The Goodman Theatre). She is elated to perform in Leap Fest this year and hopes you enjoy the show!
Malkia Stampley is a Milwaukee native multi-hyphenate arts leader and artist. She joined Goodman Theatre as Producer in October 2021 after serving as founding Artistic Producer for the Milwaukee Black Theater Festival for two seasons. Malkia is also a founder of Bronzeville Arts Ensemble where she served as Producing Artistic Director for three seasons. Select directing credits include: BOULEVARD OF BOLD DREAMS (TimeLine); SHAKESFEST (Chicago Shakespeare); LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL (Farmer's Alley); THE GIFT OF THE MAGI (American Players); BLACK NATIVITY (Black Arts MKE/Marcus Center, three years); STEW (Shattered Globe and Milwaukee Chamber); NUNSENSE (Milwaukee Rep); FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE (Skylight Music) with workshops and readings at Congo Square, American Players Theatre, #ENOUGH and Texas State University Black and Latino Playwright Celebration.
Eileen Tull (she/her) is honored to return to Stage Left after “winning” the title of Grand Loser at DrekFest in 2017. Eileen is a theatremaker, poet, educator, and one-woman-show person. She has performed throughout the country, from San Francisco to New York City, including in the SF Fringe, the Cincy Fringe, and the Dallas Solo Festival. Her work has been seen with Broken Nose Theatre, Violet Surprise, The Factory Theatre, Collaboraction, and Loose Chicks, among others. This fall, Eileen will direct the world premiere of Mia McCullough’s Household Spirits at Theater Wit. For Elyse.
Deana Velandra (she/her) is a Chicago based playwright and actor. She graduated from Hope College in 2018 with a BA in Theatre and Women’s and Gender Studies. Deana has been an ensemble member and contributing writer at Cornservatory since 2019. You can see her performing original sketch comedy there in Death Toll this October. Deana is so grateful for the creatives who have worked on Give Me My Flowers, and for the chance to workshop this piece with such talented and generous artists. She would like to sincerely thank everybody for being here, especially her parents, Mike and Brenda.
Bobbi Masters* (Artistic Director) Since taking the helm as Artistic Director, Bobbi has directed the online streaming production of Crystal Skillman's OPEN and created the monthly new play reading series, Off-Stage Left. Throughout her career, she has worked in various roles in the development of countless new works. As a director, her work has been seen regionally at theatres such as Kitchen Dog Theatre (where she served as an artistic associate) to Off-Off Broadway at Theatre for the New City. She previously served as Resident Director at Coffee Black Productions and an Artistic Associate at Milk Can Theatre. Bobbi currently teaches Theatre and Speech at City Colleges of Chicago. She earned her MFA in directing at Southern Illinois University- Go Saluki's! For more information, please visit her website www.bobbimasters.com
David Heimann (Managing Director) enjoys working in every aspect of theatrical production from performance, to direction, to producing. His last performance with Stage Left Theatre was in The Secret of the Old Queen. Over 20 years of performing and directing in Chicago has privileged David with working with numerous theatre companies including Pegasus Players, Chicago Kids Company, Theo Ubique Theatre, and Porchlight Theater. David directed the shows for the World Scout Jamboree in 2019. AMDG.
Stage Left fans and supporters can help Stage Left through these challenging times for live performance, get access to all our public programming for the 2022-23 Season, and receive invitations to special VIP-only events, by taking advantage of our new Membership program. Annual Memberships are $115 and replace our traditional subscription programs. Memberships can be purchased on our website.
About Stage Left
Founded in 1982, Stage Left Theatre is committed to developing and producing plays that raise the level of debate and challenge perspectives on political and social issues. Through a full mainstage season and our new play development program Downstage Left, Stage Left strives to ask provocative social and political questions by producing a mix of new works, regional premieres and timeless classics.
Board of Directors
President: Angelique Sallas, Ph.D.
Melissa Lindberg, Ph.D.
Stage Left Staff
Managing Director: David Heimann
Artistic Director: Bobbi Masters
Robert Mosby Jr.
Jessi D. Hill
John Kohn III