CHICAGO – Flying Elephant Productions (Leo Schwartz, Executive Director and DC Cathro, Artistic Director) is pleased to announce its inaugural season, launching this winter with the world premiere of WE THE PEOPLE – SONGS OF THE RESISTANCE, a political song cycle about the 2016 election, which takes audiences from the conventions through election night and its immediate aftermath into the realization of “Trump’s America” and finally, a call to action from “We The People.” Six actors play 55 characters in this powerful musical featuring a book by Sean Chandler and music and lyrics by Leo Schwartz, with direction by Derek Van Barham and music direction by Ty Miles.
Next summer, Flying Elephant presents the Chicago premiere of the racially charged comedy DEFACING MICHAEL JACKSON by Aurin Squire and directed by Alexis Roston. Set in 1984, tensions arise when a white teen tries to join an all-black fan club dedicated to “the gloved one.” A memory play, DEFACING MICHAEL JACKSON is about adolescence, sexual discovery and the conflict between community and culture.
Flying Elephant Productions’ full 2018 Season will be presented at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets will go sale at a later date. For additional information, please visit flyingelephantproductions.com.
Comments Executive Director Leo Schwartz, “Flying Elephant Productions has two goals: to bring to the stage non-traditional voices and to promote those works of theatre to other venues around the country and in Canada. This season occurs during one of the most divisive periods in American history since the 1960s. The present occupant of the White House gives us trickle down chaos. Black American citizens are once again having to exert their rights, while their lives are being taken by this country’s institutional racism. We The People gives us the absurdity of the political road we are on in this country and it extols us to get back on track. Defacing Michael Jackson shows that our differences are what bring us together, if we want.
Flying Elephant Productions’ Inaugural Season includes:
January 26 – February 10, 2018
WE THE PEOPLE – SONGS OF THE RESISTANCE – World Premiere!
Book by Sean Chandler. Music and Lyrics by Leo Schwartz
Directed by Derek Van Barham
Music Direction by Ty Miles
The election of 2016: Disappointment, Chaos, Intrigue, Anger, Response! Starting at the party conventions and proceeding up to current events, this world premiere musical takes six actors through 55 characters in this new political musical song cycle.
July 26 – August 12, 2018
DEFACING MICHAEL JACKSON
By Aurin Squire
Directed by Alexis Roston
Set among the swamps and canals of rural Florida, a motley group of African-American teenagers create their own Michael Jackson fan club in 1984. But when a white boy moves to the neighborhood and tries to join the club, all the rules of the community are challenged and changed. DEFACING MICHAEL JACKSON is a satire about the do’s and don’ts of Blackness, hero worship and American identity.
About the Artists
Sean Chandler’s (Book, We The People – Songs of the Resistance) works include At The Flash (Pride Films and Plays Great Gay Play and Musical Contest Winner, Oscar Wilde Best New Work Nomination – Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, Outstanding Solo Performance – New York Fringe Festival), Running: A New Musical, Radical Morality (Nicholl Fellowship Quarter-Finalist, Creative World Awards Semi-Finalist, PFP Great Screenplay Contest Semi-Finalist), Kissing The Frog Prince (Scriptoid Writers Challenge, All Access Screenwriters Competition & The Screenplay Festival Semi- Finalist) and The Pack (Creative World Awards Semi-Finalist). Host of the Theater Podcast “Your Program Is Your Ticket”. Sean resides in New York City and is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild. www.seanwchandler.com
Leo Schwartz (Music & Lyrics, We The People – Songs of the Resistance) won the Jeff Award for Best New Work in 2013 in addition to numerous other awards and recognition for his works of musical theatre and film scores. His works of theatre and concert music have been presented all around the world by various theatres and organizations. Among his successful musicals are HONOR, The Book of Merman, PEN, TILL and NAUGHTY!. He is the Executive Director of Flying Elephant Productions. www.leoschwartz.com
Derek Van Barham (Director, We The People – Songs of the Resistance) is an Artistic Associate with Pride Films & Plays, a member of the Red Tape Theatre ensemble and a former Artistic Director of The Ruckus. For PFP, he has directed Angry Fags (Steppenwolf Garage Repertory), Songs from an Unmade Bed (Jeff nomination: Best Director of a Musical or Revue), PRISCILLA, Queen of the Desert: The Musical and Terrence Mcnally’s Some Men (co-directed by David Zak). He also wrote, directed and choreographed BITE: A Pucking Queer Cabaret and Kill Your Boyfriends. Other directing credits include Miracle! by Dan Savage and Skooby Don’t (Hell in a Handbag), Three Days of Rain (Boho Theatre), Trash and Deep in the Heart of Tuna (New American Folk Theatre) and From These Fatal Loins (The Ruckus). He has choreographed for Black Button Eyes (Coraline the Musical, Goblin Market, Amour), The Plagiarists, Inappropriate Theatre, Brain Surgeon Theatre and Salonathon. He can currently be seen improvising with the LGBT team Baby Wine (Fridays at The Annoyance). He was recently named one of Windy City Times 30 Under 30, recognizing individuals from Chicago’s LGBTQ community. MFA: Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Ty Miles (Music Director) is so excited to be working again on such a timely work. Classically trained in music composition and piano performance, Ty has written original songs and incidental music for several theater works including Derek Van Barham’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ Wealth and Dan Caffery’s play Gregor and the Squonk. He is also proud to have worked with Leo Schwartz before as assistant music director for the last two summer’s productions of We The People and PEN.
Aurin Squire (Playwright – Defacing Michael Jackson) is an award-winning playwright, journalist and multimedia artist. In 2017, he has won the Helen Merrill Prize for Emerging Playwrights, as well as Seattle Public Theatre’s Emerald Prize for new American plays. Squire’s play Defacing Michael Jackson was the winner of the 2014 Act One Writing Contest at Lincoln Center Theatre and the one-act version of the play has been published by Samuel French. His dark comedy To Whom It May Concern won New York LGBT theatre awards for best play, best playwright, and best actor before being optioned and remounted off-Broadway to critical acclaim at the Arclight Theatre. As a documentary writer, Squire received a year-long commission to live in New Mexico, interviewing Jewish Latinos. He worked with an ensemble to create A Light in My Soul, a docudrama produced around New Mexico about Jewish families who fled from the Spanish Inquisition and settled in the American southwest. Squire also wrote Dreams of Freedom, the multimedia installation video about Jewish immigrants in the 20th century for the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Dreams won three national museum awards and is in the permanent exhibit at NMAJH. In 2013, his drama Freefalling was produced at Barrington Stage Company and won the 2013 Fiat Lux Award (“Let There Be Light”) from the Catholic Church’s Theatre Conference. Article 119-1, his drama about a gay rights activist in Belarus, was produced in Florence, Italy, Norway, Vancouver and Los Angeles in March 2014. Squire’s comedy African Americana received its world premiere at London’s Theatre 503 in June 2014. His plays have been produced at venues including Abingdon Theatre, ArcLight Theatre, Ars Nova, Barrington Stage Company, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX), Cherry Lane, Lincoln Center Lab, National Hispanic Cultural Center. TV credits include the new CBS political satire BrainDead, The Good Fight and This is Us. He lives in New York City.
Alexis J Roston (Director – Defacing Michael Jackson) has been deemed a seasoned triple threat. Her list of accomplishments in musical theatre aren’t simply on stage. She has directed as well as vocal arranged for several productions throughout the Chicagoland area. Alexis is an award winner (Jeff Award, Black Excellence Award and Black Theatre Alliance Award) for her performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar And Grill (Porchlight Music Theatre). Other Chicago credits include: Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair (Paramount Theatre), Ain’t Misbehavin’, Crowns (Goodman Theatre), Porgy And Bess, Spunk, Piano Lesson (Court Theatre), Shrek (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), What I Learned In Paris, Black Nativity, Seven Guitars (Congo Square Theatre Company), and Company, The Old Settler (Writer’s Theatre). Alexis is a proud ensemble member of Congo Square Theatre Company, as well as a member of Actor’s Equity and SAG-AFTRA. She is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.
About Flying Elephant Productions
Nothing is more challenging than getting a creative career off the ground. In many ways, it would be easier to get an elephant to fly. Flying Elephant Productions is dedicated to presenting new works, musicals and plays, that are dynamic, impassioned, and, in our belief, prone to fly. We not only give them first voice, but will also work with the creators to market and promote their work further. Our success at production and our entrepreneurial experience make us a uniquely qualified voice in theatre.