Philip Lynch Theatre


Lewis University’s Heritage Theatre Company hosts 5th Annual Black Box Blowout

Lewis University’s Heritage Theatre Company (HTC) is proud to host their 5th Annual Black Box Blowout, formerly called the 24 Hr. Theatre Festival on Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17 in the Studio Theatre.

As its name would suggest, a ‘black box’ is a type of theatre space, and is designed as a simple box and typically painted all black. The theatre space is painted black because the dark color works well with the lighting, scenery and costume designs. The space is typically a square shape and open, allowing designers to arrange seating however they desire. The great advantage of a black box is that it is only limited by the creative artist’s imagination.  It can be anything anyone wishes to imagine. A black box theatre is capable of endless new configurations, allowing artists to exercise their creativity, which can be especially valuable in the case of original and experimental performances, like the “Black Box Blowout.”

In January, HTC started seeking playwrights, directors, actors, stage managers, technicians and front-of-house staff for a weekend long experience of creating original live theatre.  They have 1 day – 1,440 minutes – 86,400 seconds – for total play creation.  They will be given a theme, a bag of theatrical supplies and one chance at a glorious performance.  Participants in the “Black Box Blowout” will gather at 7 pm on Friday, March 16 and it concludes with a free public performance of the original scenes created within the 24-hour time period on Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 pm in the Studio Theatre.

HTC board members and Lewis alumni Jo Slowik ’88 and Andrew Nelsen ’04, both of Joliet, are the festival leaders.  Lewis alumni participating in the event include: Kevin Bukauski ’17 and Jordin Richards ’16 of Tinley Park, Taylore Cephas ’17 of Chicago, Kate O’ Neil ’15 of Yorkville, Katy Papineau of Kankakee, Nicole Reidy ’16 of Darien, and Jeff Weiss of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Current Lewis students participating in the festival include: Zackary Abu-Shanab and Briana Knutson of Plainfield, Zeusan Balquin of New Lenox, Bradford Bingham, Jacob Rodriguez, and Jamie Voustros all of Chicago, Dorothy Blome of Macomb, Christy Carlson and Ashley Stajura of Lockport, Kayla Carson of Oak Lawn, Olivia Ferrari of Peru, Estefania Flores all of Tinley Park, Jennifer Glynn of Mt. Greenwood, Simon Merhab of Bartlett, Luke Murphy of Darien, Michael Palermo of Westchester, Eric Redmon of Yorkville, Noah Slowik of Woodridge, and Ted Veremis of Elk Grove Village.

The show is recommended for patrons 18 and above and will have a one-night only performance on Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lewis University Studio Theatre. This event is free and open to the public. Seating will be general admission, first-come-first-serve.  For more information, patrons can call the box office (815) 836-5500 Monday through Friday 1-430 p.m.  Patrons can follow the PLT on social media, @pltlewisu, or email us at The Studio Theatre is located on the main campus, the Oremus Fine Arts Center on Route 53 in Romeoville.

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Playwright Austin Tichenor Visits Lewis University’s Philip Lynch Theatre to See Creation Brought to Life

Photo: The playwright, Austin Tichenor (center), with the cast and crew of Lewis University’s Philip Lynch Theatre production of his script Frankenstein.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of that dark and stormy night when Mary Shelley first imagined “the hideous phantasm of a man.” Countless stage and film versions, parodies, and modern interpretations have changed the associations we have with the Frankenstein name. The stage adaptation by Austin Tichenor attempts to be faithful to Shelley’s 19th century Gothic Romantic thriller while at the same time offering a terrifying, cautionary tale about arrogance, the boundaries of science and creation.

The playwright Austin Tichenor attended the 4 pm matinee on Saturday, February 24 to see his script creation brought to life.  He and his wife, improviser and writer Dee Ryan, live in Chicago where they have two kids and too many cats. He had not seen a production of his stage adaptation since the 1990 American Stage Festival in Milford, New Hampshire. Post-show, Tichenor meet with the cast and crew of the Philip Lynch Theatre production for a brief Q&A.  He praised the performance for it’s commitment to “the emotionally intensity” of the script, and he had “nothing but praise” for the production.  He reflected that the “most autobiographical character in the play is Henry Clerval,” Victor’s Frankenstein’s best friend and man of letters and poetry.  The role of Henry Clerval was played by 2nd year biology major Andrew Wainscott from Mokena.

Tichenor was born in San Francisco, CA., and has a B.A. in History and Theatre from UC Berkeley and an M.F.A. from Boston University.

He is the co-managing  partner  of Reduced  Shakespeare Company, and co-created and co-starred in the original productions of The Complete History of America (abridged), The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged), Western Civilization: The Complete   Musical   (abridged),   All   The   Great   Books   (abridged) (PLT produced in 2006),   Completely   Hollywood(abridged), The Complete World of Sports (abridged), The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), and The  Complete  History  of  Comedy  (abridged).  He also co-starred in the PBS broadcast of the RSC‘s signature work The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (PLT produced in 2001).  Tichenor produces and hosts the award-nominated Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast listed in Broadway World’s Top Ten Podcasts for Theatre Fans.

On February 28, Tichenor will perform in a new Reduced Shakespeare Company script he has co-written entitled William Shakespeare’s Long Long First Play (abridged) at the New Victory Theatre in NYC. In 2016, the play had its world premiere at the Folgers’s Theatre at the Folgers Shakespeare Library.  The Washington Post call it “a breathlessly irreverent and pun-filled romp.”  He has also performed off Broadway, in the West End, and at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre and Northlight Theatre.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,700 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.

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Pictured (left to right): Andrew Nelsen, Sean Gallagher, Zackary Abu-Shanab, Theodore J. Vermis-Dernekzis, Kayla Carson, Keith White, Jessi Sheppard, Jennifer Glynn, Bradford Bingham, Jacob Rodriguez, Michael Palmero, Robert Rigler, Andrew Wainscott, and Conrad Sipiora.

The Lewis University Theatre Department annually participates in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). A page in each Philip Lynch Theatre (PLT) production playbill is devoted to this worthwhile student opportunity.  The KCACTF experience offers student artists the opportunity to showcase their work and receive outside collegiate-level assessment for each production.

KCACTF festivals showcase university productions and offers a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia, and student artists’ individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design. The festival was held January 9-13 in Indianapolis, IN.  Twelve Lewis students in total, along with theatre professors, Keith White and Andrew Nelsen both of Joliet attended the festival.

Three Lewis students, Kayla Marie Carson of Burbank, Sean Gallagher of Mokena and Bradford Bingham of Evergreen Park participated in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions.  The students competed with a partner performing a monologue and a scene in a 3-minute time period.  The Lewis student acting partners were respectively Andrew Wainscott of Mokena, Jessi Sheppard of Peotone and Robert Rigler of Lemont. Since 1972, the Irene Ryan Foundation of Encino, California, has awarded scholarships to the outstanding student performers at each regional festival. These scholarships are made possible by the generosity of the late Irene Ryan who is best remembered for her portrayal of the lovable and feisty "Granny Clampett" on television show “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

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Pictured: The PLT represents Lewis University at the Illinois
High School Theatre Festival.

Jo Slowik ‘88 and resident costume designer, Celeste Mackey, along with Lewis students Jamie Lynn Voustros and Hannah Krause attended the Illinois High School Theatre Festival 2018.  Produced by the Illinois Theatre Association, the festival is the largest and oldest non-competitive high school theatre festival in the world.  The 3-day festival held on the campus of Illinois State University hosted over 4000 students, educators, university representatives, exhibitors and workshop leaders.

The festival featured over 25 different high school productions and over 150 workshops.  Highlights included: a Meisner acting technique workshop entitled “Don’t Act! Act Truthfully!” presented by Slowik, attendance at college auditions for high school juniors and seniors, and the All-State production of Big Fish.  Special effects makeup research for the upcoming production Frankenstein was conducted by attending a DIY Horror Make-up & Blood Effects Workshop.

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Pictured: Dr. Kevin Trudeau with
Jose Lagunas in front of the
LA Upright Citizens Brigade.

Former Lewis University student, Jose Lagunas walked into his first day of improv class at the Upright Citizens Brigade in LA on January 29.  Who else entered the class?  None other than, Lewis University theatre professor Dr. Kevin Trudeau on his Spring 2018 semester sabbatical.

They haven’t seen each other in 11 years and now they’re both in LA in the same improv class!  Small world!  

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Mike Frale ’17 performed the role of Player 3 in Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe by Jonathan Christenson, produced by Black Button Eyes Productions. The show was Jeff recommended!!!