Mimesophobia | Theatre Seven of Chicago

What Happens:

Carlos Murillo’s Mimesophobia cuts between Hollywood and Hyde Park to weave a murder mystery for the reality-TV age. As a devastated woman reconstructs her murdered sister’s diary, two screenwriters desperately try to spin tragedy into cinematic gold. Meanwhile, a deranged academic meditates on the American obsession with violence. In the middle of this dark and savagely funny collage lies the question: what compels us to open doors we know are better left unopened?

Carlos Murillo Playwright
T7 Credits: Mimesophobia (Writer)

Carlos Murillo's plays include: A Thick Description of Harry Smith (Commissioned by Berkeley Rep), Diagram of a Paper Airplane (Sundance Lab), dark play or stories for boys (Humana Festival, and numerous productions around the US), Unfinished American Highwayscape #9 & 32 (Theatre@Boston Court), Mimesophobia (SPF NYC), A Human Interest Story (Hangar Lab, Walkabout), Offspring of the Cold War (Walkabout), Schadenfreude (Circle X, Sundance, Bay Area Playwrights), Never Whistle While You’re Pissing (Seattle’s Group), and Subterraneans (Soho Rep). He co-wrote the site-specific Secret History of the Lower East Side, produced by En Garde Arts in NY in 1998. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, Playscripts, and Smith & Kraus. dark play has been translated into German, Hungarian, Polish and is in its second year at the Vigszinhaz in Budapest, and premiered in Germany at Theatre der Stadt Aalen. His work has been seen at the Public, NY Theatre Workshop, The Goodman, Portland Center Stage, and others. He was a Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow, and has received two Rockefeller grants. Awards: two National Latino Playwriting Awards, the Guernsey Award from the Inge Festival and the Ofner Prize from the Goodman. As a director, he recently staged the Chicago premiere of Jason Grote’s 1001 at DePaul and Julia Cho’s Durango at Silk Road. He co-directs the playwriting program at DePaul and has taught at the Kennedy Center, Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and the Miami Dade Playwriting Fellows program. He is a resident playwright at New Dramatists.

updated september 2012
Margot Bordelon Director
T7 Credits: Killing Women (Abby), Boys & Girls (Director - Never Swim Alone), Yes, This Really Happened to Me (Co-Director), Lies and Liars (Co-Director/Co-Writer), Mimesophobia (Director), We Live Here (Co-Director/Co-Conceiver)

Margot Bordelon is a founding member of Theatre Seven of Chicago. She has worked with Lookingglass, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Collaboraction, Timeline, Pavement Group, Live Bait, Around the Coyote, Bailiwick, and Hell in a Handbag. Before moving to Chicago in 2004, Margot lived in Seattle where she worked with Seattle Repertory Theatre, Empty Space, University of Washington PATP, Live Girls! and Double Shot Productions. She's currently living in New Haven, CT pursuing her MFA in Directing at the Yale School of Drama.

Website: www.margotbordelon.com
updated september 2012
Brian Golden Performer
T7 Credits: Is Chicago, Killing Women, The Sand Castle, Diversey Harbor, Hunting and Gathering, The Water Engine: An American Fable, In the Heart of America, American Storm (Director); Yes This Really Happened to Me, We Live Here, Cooperstown (Writer), Mimesophobia (Man Who Speaks...), Boys & Girls (Frank - Never Swim Alone), The Chicago Landmark Project (Co-Coordinator; Writer - 63rd & Woodlawn: Robust Coffee Lounge; Director - 63rd & Kedzie: Arab American Community Center)

Brian Golden is the Managing Artistic Director and a founding member of Theatre Seven of Chicago. During his leadership, Theatre Seven’s work has been seen by 14,000+ patrons and the company has been nominated for four Jeff Awards, two Black Theatre Alliance Awards, been a three-time finalist and the 2012 winner of Broadway in Chicago’s Emerging Theatre Award, and paid over 300 artists for their work. Brian was the conceiver of a writer for Unwilling and Hostile Instruments: 100 Years of Extraordinary Chicago Women and Co-Coordinator of Theatre Seven’s 2011 The Chicago Landmark Project, 12 World Premiere short plays about 12 specific Chicago landmarks. His play Cooperstown was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award and an Ovation Award (LA), and he was one of eight co-authors of We Live Here, which was nominated for 2 Jeff Awards, including Best New Work. Brian works for Catharsis Productions as the company’s Literary Manager, developing new artistic programs with an emphasis on social justice and violence reduction. Brian is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, a two-time winner of the A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Contest, recipient of the Leota Diesel Ashton Playwriting Prize and John J. Jutkowitz Award, and sits on the Board of the League of Chicago Theatres. 

updated october 2013
Brian Stojak Performer
T7 Credits: Is Chicago (Dennis/Danny), Killing Women (Everybody Else), Boys & Girls (Bill - Never Swim Alone), Election Day (Assistant Director), Diversey Harbor (Dennis), Lies & Liars (Michael), Cooperstown (Director), Mimesophobia (Aaron), The Water Engine: An American Fable (Ensemble/Foley), The Chicago Landmark Project (Director - Ohio & The Lake: Navy Pier)

Brian Stojak is a founding company member of Theatre Seven of Chicago and spent four years as its Director of Marketing.  He has worked as an actor and director in Chicago for Theatre Seven of Chicago, Pavement Group, 2nd Story/Serendipity Theatre Collective, Briar Street Productions, the Abbie Hoffman Festival, Columbia College and The Side Project's Children's Theatre.

updated september 2012
Cassy Sanders Performer
T7 Credits: Yes, This Really Happened to Me; We Live Here (Co-Director); Lies & Liars (Co-Director/Conceiver); Mimesophobia (Jessica); The Water Engine: An American Fable (Ensemble); The Chicago Landmark Project (Co-Coordinator, Co-Dramaturg); Exit, Pursued by a Bear; BlackTop Sky (Director)

Cassy is a Company Member of Theatre Seven, as well as a director, dramaturg, writer, and performer. Recent projects include Co-Directing Theatre Seven of Chicago’s We Live Here and directing Pavement Group’s MilkMilkLemonade. She is a company member of Theatre Seven of Chicago where she co-conceived / co- directed Lies & Liars and co-directed the 2008 summer hit Yes, This Really Happened to Me. Other Chicago directing credits include: The Pigeons (Walkabout Theater), Case of You (The Ruckus Theatre), 2nd Story (Serendipity Theatre Collective), My Future Ex-Boyfriend (Pavement Group), and Love, Valour and Technology (Live Bait’s Fillet of Solo). Cassy co-dramaturged for The Wooden Breeks, and Around the World in 80 Days at Lookinglass Theatre. Her short plays Lesson One and Chicago Summer premiered at The Steppenwolf Garage as part of the 7th and 8th Annual SKETCHBOOK Festivals with Collaboraction. At Collaboraction, Cassy served as Assistant Artistic Director for from 2007 - 2009. In February 2013, Cassy directed BlackTop Sky for Theatre Seven as part of the Steppenwolf Garage Rep. Cassy holds a BFA in Theatre from Cornish College of the Arts.

Website: www.cassysanders.com
updated december 2012
Jessica Thigpen Performer
T7 Credits: The Chicago Landmark Project (Kristin- Honore & Milwaukee), Mimesophobia (Woman Who Speaks), The Water Engine (Ensemble)

Jessica Thigpen's recent Chicago credits include Orpheus Descending (Shattered Globe), Gray Girl (Factory Theatre), the acclaimed Chicago premiere of Frost/Nixon (TimeLine Theatre), Theatre Uncut (Reclaim and MP Productions), as well as projects with Redmoon Theatre, and GreatWorks. Jessica is a member of Gray Talent and a graduate of The Conservatory at Act One. 

updated september 2012
Michael Salinas Performer
T7 Credits: Shikaakwa: The Bachelors (Henry), Shikaakwa: Heads (Jack), Mimesophobia (Henry), Hunting and Gathering (Jesse)

Michael Salinas is an ensemble member of Steep Theatre, where his credits include Under the Blue Sky, Pornography, Festen, A Brief History of Helen of Troy, The Hollow Lands, and In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings (Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best Ensemble). Other Chicago credits include Girl You Know It’s True (Pavement Group); The Gog/Magog Project (MoonPie Prod./Steep); Fedra: Queen of Haiti (Lookingglass); As Told by the Vivian Girls (Dog & Pony); Hatfield & McCoy (The House). He has also worked with Collaboraction, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and The Goodman. Regional: Spinning Into Butter (Southern Repertory Theater). His film credits include Freshman Orientation (2004 Sundance premiere). 

updated august 2013
Cyd Blakewell Performer
T7 Credits: Lies & Liars (Ensemble), Mimesophobia (Shawn), We Live Here (Kim, Ensemble), Shikaakwa: Swimming in the Shallows (Donna)

Cyd Blakewell is a founding member of SiNNERMAN Ensemble. She received her BFA from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX and is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf '05. Other Chicago companies Cyd has had the pleasure of working with include: Pavement Group, Signal Ensemble, Griffin Theatre, Breadline Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre and The House Theatre of Chicago in Association with Tense Forms.

updated september 2012
John Wilson Scenic Designer
T7 Credits: Exit, Pursued By A BearKilling Women, Mimesophobia, The Water Engine (Scenic Design)

John Wilson's most recent designs are Sketchbook 12 (Collaboraction) the Theatre on the Lake remount of Sweet Confinement (Sinnerman) Ren Faire! A Fistfull of Ducats (Factory) and The Life of Death (WildClaw). John is a company member with Collaboraction and The Mammals, a teacher with Steppenwolf, American Theater Company, and Lifeline. He is also a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf.   

updated september 2012
Justin Wardell Lighting Designer
T7 Credits: American Storm, ls ChicagoKilling WomenCooperstown, Boys & GirlsDiversey HarborLies and LiarsThe Water Engine: An American FableThe Chicago Landmark Project (Lighting Design); Yes, This Really Happened to MeElection DayThe Sand Castle (Lighting Design & Technical Director)

Justin Wardell is a company member at Theatre Seven and is a member of 7P, Theatre Seven's Literary Circle. Justin has been designing lighting for theatre, dance, and special events for over 10 years. He has had the opportunity to work in many Chicago Landmarks, including the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Union Station, and many more. Justin was an early addition to Theatre Seven of Chicago, and has been the resident lighting designer since its inception. In his role as an Account Executive for Intelligent Lighting Creations, Justin now has the opportunity to design lighting for trade shows, galas, corporate events, and permanent installations. In addition to design work, Justin has had the honor of guest-lecturing on lighting design and lighting technology for several colleges, universities, and professional organizations. Other theatrical credits include work at the Springfield Municipal Opera, the Building Stage, Flamenco Sin Limites, Porchlight Music Theatre, and many other talented companies.  

updated september 2012

 

 

Whitney McBride Costume Designer
T7: Lies & Liars (Co-Costume Designer); Yes, This Really Happened to Me (Co-Costume Designer), Mimesophobia (Co-Costume Designer)

Whitney's other credits include The Gimmick (Pegasus Players), Return to Haifa (Next Theatre), Lyrics (West Side Theatre Guild), 1001 (The Theatre School), The Overwhelming (Next Theatre), The Shape of a Girl (Pegasus Players), Kita y Fernanda (16th Street Theatre), and Desdemona: A Play about A Handkerchief (The Mill). Whitney has also worked with Writer’s Theatre, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Jillian Brown Productions, TUTA and Around the Coyote.

updated september 2012

 

Katie Cordts Costume Designer
T7 Credits: Lies & Liars, Yes, This Really Happened to Me, and Mimesophobia (Co-Costume Designer)

Katie works in the wig and makeup department at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and teaches a stage makeup class at Roosevelt University. She graduated with a B.F.A in Costume Design from the Theatre School at DePaul University in 2008. She has worked with Theatre Seven of Chicago and Pavement Group.

updated september 2012
Sarah Burnham Props Designer
T7 Credits: Mimesophobia (Props Designer), Hunting & Gathering (Set & Props Designer), The Chicago Landmark Project (Props Designer)

Sarah's most recent work includes properties design for Rantoul and Die (American Blues Theater), Lakeboat (Steep Theater), and State(s) of America: Regina Taylor Project (Northwestern University). She is an ensemble member at American Blues Theater, where she is also on staff as their production manager. She began working at ABT as the technical director for their acclaimed It’s a Wonderful Life: Live at the Biograph! She recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma summa cum laude with a BFA in acting and scenic design.  Since moving to Chicago, Sarah has designed properties and sets for companies such as Theater Seven of Chicago, SiNNERMAN Ensemble and Steep Theater Company. When not at the theatre Sarah is an avid reader and enjoys spending time playing with her puppy, Piper.

updated september 2012
Taylor Fenderbosch Stage Manager
T7 Credits: BlackTop Sky (Stage Manager),  Lies & Liars (Assistant Stage Manager), Mimesophobia (Stage Manager), The Chicago Landmark Project (Production Stage Manager - Program B), We Live Here (Stage Manager).

Taylor is a company member of Theatre Seven. She has worked on five T7 productions since she first fell in love with the company in '09. She has also been seen stage managing and assistant stage managing elsewhere in the Second City; recent productions include: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (The Neo-Futurists), MilkMilkLemonade (Pavement Group) and Madagascar (Next Theatre). 

updated december 2012

 

Mike Smallwood Technical Director
T7 Credits: Cooperstown, Mimesophobia, Hunting and Gathering, The Water Engine: An American Fable, The Chicago Landmark Project (Technical Director).   
updated september 2012

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"Top 25 Plays of 2010"
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  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Jess Thigpen. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r)  Brian Golden. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r)  Brian Stojak, Michael Salinas, Cyd Blakewell, Jess Thigpen, Brian Golden. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r)  Jess Thigpen, Cyd Blakewell. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r)  Cyd Blakewell. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Cyd Blakewell. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Cassy Sanders, Jess Thigpen. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Brian Golden, Cassy Sanders. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r)  Cyd Blakewell. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Cyd Blakewell, Brian Stojak, Michael Salinas. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r)  Cyd Blakewell, Brian Stojak. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Michael Salinas, Brian Stojak,  Cyd Blakewell. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Brian Stojak. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Cyd Blakewell, Brian Golden. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Cyd Blakewell, Brian Golden. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Cassy Sanders. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Jess Thigpen. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Brian Golden. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Brian Golden, Brian Stojak, Michael Salinas, Jess Thigpen. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Michael Salinas, Brian Stojak. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.
  • Mimesphobia, by Carlos Murillo, directed by Margot Bordelon. February 28 - April 4, 2010. (l to r) Brian Stojak, Michael Salinas. Photo Credit: Amanda Clifford.

Chicago Theatre Beat
Oliver Sava
04/04/2010

I knew Mimesophobia  was going to be Brechtian when I saw the costume rack on stage. Underneath the hanging clothes? A shelf of props. Double Brecht. No actors, no dialogue, and it is obvious who is running the show: everyone’s favorite pioneer of epic theatre, Bertolt Brecht. My suspicions are confirmed when the two narrators take the stage, Man-Who-Speaks-Omniscient-Between-the-2nd-and-3rd-Person-a.k.a. Brian Golden and Woman-Who-Speaks-in-the-2nd-Person-Omniscient-a.k.a. Jessica Thigpen. With the articulation of newscasters, the duo introduces us to the world of the play, continuously reminding us that what we are seeing is, without a doubt, a staged retelling.

T7_Mimesophobia_07Suddenly the empty stage is Grauman's Chinese Theater, where two young screenwriters are premiering their new film about the murder-suicide of a New England couple. Henry (Michael Salinas) and Aaron (Brian Stojak) break down the final scene of Before and After frame by frame – don’t forget, this is a retelling – and questions begin forming. Who died? How? And who is this woman going on The Charlie Rose Show and why is this elderly Hyde Park couple terrified of her? These questions will be answered by the end, but more will be left unanswered.

Mimesophobia juggles three storylines, each informing the others but also doubting them. Truth is relative. Cassy Snaders, the sister of the murdered woman, tries to understand the events that lead to the killing by reconstructing her sister’s journals, burned on the night she was killed. At an artist’s colony, Henry and Aaron are working on a first draft ofBefore and After, but struggling with a bad case of writer’s block. Shawn (Cyd Blakewell) is the rambling genius writing One Night Only: Actual Death and the Future of American Entertainment, a nonfiction novel about cultural fascination with the recreation of deadly situations. Stuck on the middle chapter – “the cat burglar’s pick that once turned will drop the tumblers in place opening a door” – she is also living on a cot at the artist’s colony, eating peanut butter tortillas and murmuring like a maniac.

After the Chinese Theater prologue, the history of Shawn and how she crosses paths with Henry and Aaron. The script is clever, the narrators are beginning to have a little more fun – Jessica is playing Beth, Shawn’s mother – and Blakewell delivers each line in a detached monotone that is creepy as hell. Brecht rears his adorable little head with costume changes on stage and actors as set crew, but it works with the play’s theme that entertainment survives by fictionalizing fact. Theater is inherently a lie, but it is the collective experience of the audience seeing a story together that creates truth by asking the viewer to question what they think they know. The play has us asking questions and thinking about the bigger ideas, but is there a human connection? Is this a seriocomic experiment in dialectical metatheatre or will this story resonate on a deeper emotional level?

T7_Mimesophobia_02T7_Mimesophobia_12
T7_Mimesophobia_08T7_Mimesophobia_04

Enter Cassy, the character most impacted by the central tragedy of the plot and our anchor to the truth. Sanders bring vulnerability to the production, her quivering voice and small frame a sharp contrast to the crisp confidence of the other performers, and her scenes are the most visceral of the production. As she uncovers hidden facts about her sister and her troubled marriage, Cassy begins to question her own relationship with the deceased.

The pieces are all in place, now the puzzle building begins, with Murillo’s script layering events to build suspense. Revelations that Cassy finds in her sisters journals provide major breakthroughs in the plot, which are then explored through the creative lens of Henry and Aaron. How Shawn fits into the narrative is the biggest mystery, and Blakewell offers few clues to her enigmatic character’s intentions, a captivating cipher.

Seeing these pieces come together is the fun of Mimesophobia, so the less you know, the better.  Margot Bordelon's direction moves the production at a quick pace that doesn’t sacrifice emotion, and the actors have a firm handle on Carlos Murillo’s stylized dialogue and the relationships, especially Cassy’s with her dead sister. Funny, provocative, and poignant, Theatre Seven’s Mimesophobia is a huge success for the young company, and one of the more refreshing plays to land this season.

 

Chicago Theatre Beat
Oliver Sava
04/04/2010

I knew Mimesophobia  was going to be Brechtian when I saw the costume rack on stage. Underneath the hanging clothes? A shelf of props. Double Brecht. No actors, no dialogue, and it is obvious who is running the show: everyone’s favorite pioneer of epic theatre, Bertolt Brecht. My suspicions are confirmed when the two narrators take the stage, Man-Who-Speaks-Omniscient-Between-the-2nd-and-3rd-Person-a.k.a. Brian Golden and Woman-Who-Speaks-in-the-2nd-Person-Omniscient-a.k.a. Jessica Thigpen. With the articulation of newscasters, the duo introduces us to the world of the play, continuously reminding us that what we are seeing is, without a doubt, a staged retelling.

T7_Mimesophobia_07Suddenly the empty stage is Grauman's Chinese Theater, where two young screenwriters are premiering their new film about the murder-suicide of a New England couple. Henry (Michael Salinas) and Aaron (Brian Stojak) break down the final scene of Before and After frame by frame – don’t forget, this is a retelling – and questions begin forming. Who died? How? And who is this woman going on The Charlie Rose Show and why is this elderly Hyde Park couple terrified of her? These questions will be answered by the end, but more will be left unanswered.

Mimesophobia juggles three storylines, each informing the others but also doubting them. Truth is relative. Cassy Snaders, the sister of the murdered woman, tries to understand the events that lead to the killing by reconstructing her sister’s journals, burned on the night she was killed. At an artist’s colony, Henry and Aaron are working on a first draft ofBefore and After, but struggling with a bad case of writer’s block. Shawn (Cyd Blakewell) is the rambling genius writing One Night Only: Actual Death and the Future of American Entertainment, a nonfiction novel about cultural fascination with the recreation of deadly situations. Stuck on the middle chapter – “the cat burglar’s pick that once turned will drop the tumblers in place opening a door” – she is also living on a cot at the artist’s colony, eating peanut butter tortillas and murmuring like a maniac.

After the Chinese Theater prologue, the history of Shawn and how she crosses paths with Henry and Aaron. The script is clever, the narrators are beginning to have a little more fun – Jessica is playing Beth, Shawn’s mother – and Blakewell delivers each line in a detached monotone that is creepy as hell. Brecht rears his adorable little head with costume changes on stage and actors as set crew, but it works with the play’s theme that entertainment survives by fictionalizing fact. Theater is inherently a lie, but it is the collective experience of the audience seeing a story together that creates truth by asking the viewer to question what they think they know. The play has us asking questions and thinking about the bigger ideas, but is there a human connection? Is this a seriocomic experiment in dialectical metatheatre or will this story resonate on a deeper emotional level?

T7_Mimesophobia_02T7_Mimesophobia_12
T7_Mimesophobia_08T7_Mimesophobia_04

Enter Cassy, the character most impacted by the central tragedy of the plot and our anchor to the truth. Sanders bring vulnerability to the production, her quivering voice and small frame a sharp contrast to the crisp confidence of the other performers, and her scenes are the most visceral of the production. As she uncovers hidden facts about her sister and her troubled marriage, Cassy begins to question her own relationship with the deceased.

The pieces are all in place, now the puzzle building begins, with Murillo’s script layering events to build suspense. Revelations that Cassy finds in her sisters journals provide major breakthroughs in the plot, which are then explored through the creative lens of Henry and Aaron. How Shawn fits into the narrative is the biggest mystery, and Blakewell offers few clues to her enigmatic character’s intentions, a captivating cipher.

Seeing these pieces come together is the fun of Mimesophobia, so the less you know, the better.  Margot Bordelon's direction moves the production at a quick pace that doesn’t sacrifice emotion, and the actors have a firm handle on Carlos Murillo’s stylized dialogue and the relationships, especially Cassy’s with her dead sister. Funny, provocative, and poignant, Theatre Seven’s Mimesophobia is a huge success for the young company, and one of the more refreshing plays to land this season.

 

Chicago Theatre Beat
Oliver Sava
04/04/2010

I knew Mimesophobia  was going to be Brechtian when I saw the costume rack on stage. Underneath the hanging clothes? A shelf of props. Double Brecht. No actors, no dialogue, and it is obvious who is running the show: everyone’s favorite pioneer of epic theatre, Bertolt Brecht. My suspicions are confirmed when the two narrators take the stage, Man-Who-Speaks-Omniscient-Between-the-2nd-and-3rd-Person-a.k.a. Brian Golden and Woman-Who-Speaks-in-the-2nd-Person-Omniscient-a.k.a. Jessica Thigpen. With the articulation of newscasters, the duo introduces us to the world of the play, continuously reminding us that what we are seeing is, without a doubt, a staged retelling.

T7_Mimesophobia_07Suddenly the empty stage is Grauman's Chinese Theater, where two young screenwriters are premiering their new film about the murder-suicide of a New England couple. Henry (Michael Salinas) and Aaron (Brian Stojak) break down the final scene of Before and After frame by frame – don’t forget, this is a retelling – and questions begin forming. Who died? How? And who is this woman going on The Charlie Rose Show and why is this elderly Hyde Park couple terrified of her? These questions will be answered by the end, but more will be left unanswered.

Mimesophobia juggles three storylines, each informing the others but also doubting them. Truth is relative. Cassy Snaders, the sister of the murdered woman, tries to understand the events that lead to the killing by reconstructing her sister’s journals, burned on the night she was killed. At an artist’s colony, Henry and Aaron are working on a first draft ofBefore and After, but struggling with a bad case of writer’s block. Shawn (Cyd Blakewell) is the rambling genius writing One Night Only: Actual Death and the Future of American Entertainment, a nonfiction novel about cultural fascination with the recreation of deadly situations. Stuck on the middle chapter – “the cat burglar’s pick that once turned will drop the tumblers in place opening a door” – she is also living on a cot at the artist’s colony, eating peanut butter tortillas and murmuring like a maniac.

After the Chinese Theater prologue, the history of Shawn and how she crosses paths with Henry and Aaron. The script is clever, the narrators are beginning to have a little more fun – Jessica is playing Beth, Shawn’s mother – and Blakewell delivers each line in a detached monotone that is creepy as hell. Brecht rears his adorable little head with costume changes on stage and actors as set crew, but it works with the play’s theme that entertainment survives by fictionalizing fact. Theater is inherently a lie, but it is the collective experience of the audience seeing a story together that creates truth by asking the viewer to question what they think they know. The play has us asking questions and thinking about the bigger ideas, but is there a human connection? Is this a seriocomic experiment in dialectical metatheatre or will this story resonate on a deeper emotional level?

T7_Mimesophobia_02T7_Mimesophobia_12
T7_Mimesophobia_08T7_Mimesophobia_04

Enter Cassy, the character most impacted by the central tragedy of the plot and our anchor to the truth. Sanders bring vulnerability to the production, her quivering voice and small frame a sharp contrast to the crisp confidence of the other performers, and her scenes are the most visceral of the production. As she uncovers hidden facts about her sister and her troubled marriage, Cassy begins to question her own relationship with the deceased.

The pieces are all in place, now the puzzle building begins, with Murillo’s script layering events to build suspense. Revelations that Cassy finds in her sisters journals provide major breakthroughs in the plot, which are then explored through the creative lens of Henry and Aaron. How Shawn fits into the narrative is the biggest mystery, and Blakewell offers few clues to her enigmatic character’s intentions, a captivating cipher.

Seeing these pieces come together is the fun of Mimesophobia, so the less you know, the better.  Margot Bordelon's direction moves the production at a quick pace that doesn’t sacrifice emotion, and the actors have a firm handle on Carlos Murillo’s stylized dialogue and the relationships, especially Cassy’s with her dead sister. Funny, provocative, and poignant, Theatre Seven’s Mimesophobia is a huge success for the young company, and one of the more refreshing plays to land this season.

 

Chicago Theatre Beat
Oliver Sava
04/04/2010

I knew Mimesophobia  was going to be Brechtian when I saw the costume rack on stage. Underneath the hanging clothes? A shelf of props. Double Brecht. No actors, no dialogue, and it is obvious who is running the show: everyone’s favorite pioneer of epic theatre, Bertolt Brecht. My suspicions are confirmed when the two narrators take the stage, Man-Who-Speaks-Omniscient-Between-the-2nd-and-3rd-Person-a.k.a. Brian Golden and Woman-Who-Speaks-in-the-2nd-Person-Omniscient-a.k.a. Jessica Thigpen. With the articulation of newscasters, the duo introduces us to the world of the play, continuously reminding us that what we are seeing is, without a doubt, a staged retelling.

T7_Mimesophobia_07Suddenly the empty stage is Grauman's Chinese Theater, where two young screenwriters are premiering their new film about the murder-suicide of a New England couple. Henry (Michael Salinas) and Aaron (Brian Stojak) break down the final scene of Before and After frame by frame – don’t forget, this is a retelling – and questions begin forming. Who died? How? And who is this woman going on The Charlie Rose Show and why is this elderly Hyde Park couple terrified of her? These questions will be answered by the end, but more will be left unanswered.

Mimesophobia juggles three storylines, each informing the others but also doubting them. Truth is relative. Cassy Snaders, the sister of the murdered woman, tries to understand the events that lead to the killing by reconstructing her sister’s journals, burned on the night she was killed. At an artist’s colony, Henry and Aaron are working on a first draft ofBefore and After, but struggling with a bad case of writer’s block. Shawn (Cyd Blakewell) is the rambling genius writing One Night Only: Actual Death and the Future of American Entertainment, a nonfiction novel about cultural fascination with the recreation of deadly situations. Stuck on the middle chapter – “the cat burglar’s pick that once turned will drop the tumblers in place opening a door” – she is also living on a cot at the artist’s colony, eating peanut butter tortillas and murmuring like a maniac.

After the Chinese Theater prologue, the history of Shawn and how she crosses paths with Henry and Aaron. The script is clever, the narrators are beginning to have a little more fun – Jessica is playing Beth, Shawn’s mother – and Blakewell delivers each line in a detached monotone that is creepy as hell. Brecht rears his adorable little head with costume changes on stage and actors as set crew, but it works with the play’s theme that entertainment survives by fictionalizing fact. Theater is inherently a lie, but it is the collective experience of the audience seeing a story together that creates truth by asking the viewer to question what they think they know. The play has us asking questions and thinking about the bigger ideas, but is there a human connection? Is this a seriocomic experiment in dialectical metatheatre or will this story resonate on a deeper emotional level?

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Enter Cassy, the character most impacted by the central tragedy of the plot and our anchor to the truth. Sanders bring vulnerability to the production, her quivering voice and small frame a sharp contrast to the crisp confidence of the other performers, and her scenes are the most visceral of the production. As she uncovers hidden facts about her sister and her troubled marriage, Cassy begins to question her own relationship with the deceased.

The pieces are all in place, now the puzzle building begins, with Murillo’s script layering events to build suspense. Revelations that Cassy finds in her sisters journals provide major breakthroughs in the plot, which are then explored through the creative lens of Henry and Aaron. How Shawn fits into the narrative is the biggest mystery, and Blakewell offers few clues to her enigmatic character’s intentions, a captivating cipher.

Seeing these pieces come together is the fun of Mimesophobia, so the less you know, the better.  Margot Bordelon's direction moves the production at a quick pace that doesn’t sacrifice emotion, and the actors have a firm handle on Carlos Murillo’s stylized dialogue and the relationships, especially Cassy’s with her dead sister. Funny, provocative, and poignant, Theatre Seven’s Mimesophobia is a huge success for the young company, and one of the more refreshing plays to land this season.