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A staged reading series that showcases new, full-length work by Chicago area playwrights.

Each script is brought to life through collaboration with a director and cast of talented actors.

PRODIGY by Anna Schutz

Directed by Rebecca Willingham

Featuring Moira Begale, Alex Elam, and Katherine Lamb

Monday, May 20

at 7:30pm

Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL

$5 suggested donation

Danielle and Emily's 4-year-old daughter, Macie, shows a promising artistic gift. When gallery owner Rebecca convinces the couple to start displaying and selling Macie's paintings, playtime starts to get serious. Is Macie a prodigy, or just a kid who likes to paint? Can Danielle and Emily's marriage weather Macie's newfound fame? The characters grapple with these and other questions as they traverse the complicated world of old flames, private elementary schools, and modern art.

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ANNA SCHUTZ has worked in Chicago as a playwright, actor, singer, & arts administrator for the past decade. She holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently working towards her Masters in Nonprofit Management at DePaul University. She is a proud founding member of Brown Paper Box Co., performing onstage and working behind-the-scenes on various productions and events. Her play Prodigy was selected for the League of Chicago Theatres Bright Angel Creative Retreat in 2017 and then received a staged reading co-sponsored by DePaul University's Women's & Gender Studies Department. Thank you to Dandelion Theatre, Rebecca Willingham, the performers, and YOU for supporting new work!



We asked Anna a few questions about playwriting, her inspirations, and Prodigy. Here's what she had to say:


Q. What's your hometown?

Skokie, IL just north of the city. You may have heard of it from Usual Suspects.

Q. What about Chicago keeps you here?

To pursue theatre, I either wanted to go to New York or Chicago.  There is more freedom in Chicago to explore and create things on your own. I've been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in my life, but no place ever compares to home for making art.

Q. Why playwriting and the theatre? Is there something specific about them that speaks to you?

Theatre is the most powerful medium to focus on relationships.  I love being able to get inside someone's mind and their thought-process. As a playwright you get to explore those different sides of yourself and the audience, hopefully, can find pieces that relate to who they are as people.  

Q. Which playwrights or other artists have inspired or influenced you the most?

The style of Rebecca Gilman and Annie Baker speak the most to my aesthetic as an artist.  Letting relationships take center stage and allowing the time between dialogue to help inform the character's journey are what I find so appealing and true-to-life.  I hope I can be as creative and poetic as Paula Vogel and Naomi Iizuka in the future.

Q. How did you come to write Prodigy?

This is very loosely adapted from a documentary about a child artist. The most interesting moments of the story to me were about the family and how they navigated this new-found fame. As I began writing, I found so many universal themes about identity through what we do and questions around what we think has value.

Q. What kind of theatre are you most excited about/passionate about?

I love seeing more complicated, nuanced characters on stage.  It makes plot development more difficult, but so much more rewarding and true-to-life. I'm excited about seeing more characters that represent the full scope of humanity on stage, so we can all find a way-in to more directly connect to a play.



REBECCA WILLINGHAM is a Chicago-based director. She is a co-founder and the Artistic Director of The Sound, where she directed Symphony for Six Jonis, Red Bowl at the Jeffs, For Annie, Seagulls and Killed a Man (Joking) (in collaboration with First Floor Theater). Rebecca's other directing credits include Tympanic Theatre, Commission Theatre, Broken Nose Theatre, 20% Theatre, Prologue Theatre, and The Ruckus. She has assistant directed at The Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, Griffin Theatre, Theater Wit, and Steep Theatre. Rebecca is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab and an alumna of Emerson College and the National Theatre Institute. She will be pursuing her MFA in Directing at The Theatre School at DePaul this fall.

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