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New Artistic And Executive Directors Also Announced

CHICAGO, IL -  Following a successful fifth season with productions at The Side Project Theatre and Collaboraction, The Ruckus Theater is proud to announce its sixth season in Chicago, as well as the appointment of a new Artistic Director and Executive Director. Outgoing Artistic Director Allison Shoemaker, who will now serve as the company’s Director of Marketing and Publicity, and incoming Artistic Director Derek Van Barham releases a season of two plays, each investigating the impact of cataclysm on a community. In addition to announcing Barham’s appointment, the company also proudly announces the appointment of Catherine Bullard as Executive Director.

First up in 2015, Thomas Murray (Waltzing Mechanics) helms the Midwest premiere of Barbecue Apocalypse by Matt Lyle (The Boxer, City Life Supplement). Lyle’s play, which TheatreJones called “furiously funny and finally insightful,” will take the stage at the Athenaeum Theatre (February 15-March 15, 2015). Following Barbecue Apocalypse, Allison Shoemaker will direct a summer 2015 production of Matawan by Ruckus ensemble member Dan Caffrey (Sandalwood, Little Triggers). Matawan, which Shoemaker and Caffrey devised with an ensemble cast as a part of Red Tape Theatre’s Fresh Eyes series, was a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 2013 National Playwrights Conference.

“We’re incredibly excited about this season, from Matt Lyle’s deviously funny ensemble comedy to Dan Caffrey’s lyrical portrait of paranoia, loneliness, and the savagery of nature,” said Shoemaker.

Added Barham, “While apocalypses and shark attacks set these stories in motion, it’s the communities that they disrupt—and create—that resonate with us.”

A founding member of The Ruckus, Shoemaker passes the baton to Barham, who will lead the company alongside incoming Executive Director Catherine Bullard. Bullard succeeds Martin Kettling, who will remain on the company’s Board of Directors. Shoemaker continues as an ensemble member, and will now serve as Director of Marketing and Publicity. Associate Artistic Director Joshua Davis, a founding member of The Ruckus, also departs for a position with the Illinois Arts Council. Resident Dramaturg Jessica Reese succeeds Barham as Literary Manager.

“I’m so proud of the work The Ruckus has done as an ensemble over the last five seasons, and can’t wait to see what happens next, in this season and those to come,” said Shoemaker. “Derek and Catherine are remarkable artists and collaborators, and I look forward to working with them as they continue to grow the company and create great, gutsy theatre.”

“Catherine and I look forward to a vibrant season, more remarkable collaborations, and a significant increase in the number of emails we receive every day,” said Barham.

“The Ruckus’ entire collaborative staff and ensemble, but most significantly Allison herself, has helped build a rich foundation for our theater company’s continued growth,” said Bullard. “We are no longer an upstart storefront company; The Ruckus is growing into its own place in Chicago’s diverse theater scene. I’m thrilled to work with Derek and our company to explore this next chapter in The Ruckus’ life.”

Derek Van Barham (Artistic Director) has served as Literary Manager for The Ruckus since 2012, collaborating with its artists in Dan Caffrey’s Little Triggers, as well as the workshop performances of Matawan and Elise Mayfield is Samuel Clemens, Samuel Clemens is Mark Twain with DCASE.  Derek is an Artistic Associate with Pride Films and Plays, where he directed and choreographed Songs from an Unmade Bed (Jeff nomination: Best Director of a Musical or Revue), Terrence McNally’s Some Men (co-directed by David Zak) and Kill Your Boyfriends. He has performed with BoHo Theatre (Hauptmann), Red Tape Theatre (The Skriker, Stadium Devildare, The Life & Death of Madame Barker), and The Island Theatre (Wallace Shawn’s The Fever). He has choreographed for Black Button Eyes (Coraline the Musical), The Plagiarists, Inappropriate Theatre, Brain Surgeon Theatre, and Salonathon, and is the founder of the Crush Dance Collective. He can currently be seen improvising with the LGBT team Baby Wine (Fridays at iO Chicago). MFA: Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

Catherine Bullard (Executive Director) graduated with a degree in Theater Performance from American University, where she was also executive director of AU Players, the highest-funded student organization on campus. After graduating, Catherine found an artistic home with The Ruckus after helping devise and perform Common Hatred, as well as participating in workshops for Elise Mayfield is Samuel Clemens, Samuel Clemens is Mark Twain at DCASE and Scott T. Barsotti’s Facing Angela. Shortly after becoming an ensemble member with The Ruckus, Catherine became the Social Media Director and interim Company Manager. She’s excited to help shape The Ruckus’ big-picture goals while keeping a hand on the tiller of day-to-day operations. Expressions of congratulations can be made in the form of coffee donations.

Additionally, The Ruckus will partner with the side project to present a series of new play readings throughout October 2014. Playwrights include M.E.H. Lewis, Joe Zarrow, Randall Colburn, Joshua Davis, Will Goldberg, and Wren Graves. Directors include Josh Sobel, Allison Hendrix, Nathan Robbel, Kristin Davis, Dennis Frymire, and Brian Ruby. Further details, including casting and ticket information, will be announced in the coming weeks. This season, the company’s sixth, kicked off this summer with a remount of Jenny Magnus’s The Strange, first produced as a part of Curious Theatre Branch’s MAGNUS IN PLAY festival and brought back to the stage in partnership with Athenaeum Theatre Productions.

Barbecue Apocalypse by Matt Lyle | directed by Thomas Murray
February 15-March 15, 2015 at the Athenaeum Theatre

The yard is wrong. The fence is wrong. The patio furniture is really, really wrong. As Mike and Deb prepare for a backyard barbecue designed to impress their more stylish friends, these concerns threaten to send them into a spiral of shame and self-doubt. But the world is about to fall apart, and apocalypse has a way of putting things in perspective. The Ruckus presents the Midwest premiere of a devilish new comedy from the writer behind The Boxer and the City Life Supplement.

Matawan by Dan Caffrey | directed by Allison Shoemaker
Summer 2015 | dates and location to be announced

In the summer of 1916, a series of freakish and fatal shark attacks paralyzed the Jersey Shore. Further inland, a polio outbreak plagued Philadelphia, while the cloud of World War I loomed over the entire nation. As the forces of nature, disease, and war close in, people struggling to adapt must face a monster whose evolution has led to millions of years of survival— a monster who now faces some terrors of her own. Spanning several cities and the infinite depths of the ocean, Matawan conjures an unusual moment in American history and the ways in which our hidden selves can wreak just as much havoc as catastrophe.

Thank God for Music Stands: a Series of New Play Readings
October 2014 | produced in partnership with the side project

It takes a village, a photocopier, and something to hold all those pages in place to make a reading series. Six remarkable playwrights join forces with up-and-coming Chicago directors and equally renowned audiences to help brand new plays get to that next draft.

About The Ruckus Theater

Founded on the principle that the best art comes from fearless collaborations, The Ruckus is composed of multi-disciplinary artists from across the country and around the globe. We aim to create a company without borders—a theater that blends the lines between playwright and actor, audience and ensemble member. The Ruckus Theater is led by Artistic Director Derek Van Barham, Executive Director Catherine Bullard, and a company and ensemble of twenty-seven.

We’re here to create, to examine, to invent, to explode—to create a ruckus. The Ruckus develops new work and the artists who create that work. Our ensemble breaks down the walls of traditional methods to nurture new plays and challenge exceptional artists. We commit to the growth of our ensemble, the artists we collaborate with, and the plays we develop. We aim to deepen the cultural bedrock of our community by giving megaphones to new voices and by making theater affordable. By fostering conversations that rip through the curtain, we aim to lead both artist and audience down an unexpected path with art that doesn’t play by the rules.

See how we make a ruckus all over the Internet at facebook.com/theruckustheater; view our perfectly squared photos at http://instagram.com/theruckustheater; follow our tweets at twitter.com/ruckustheater; and spend hours at youtube.com/theruckustheater.

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