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Co-Founder / Artistic Director
Associate Artistic Director
Daren Leonard spent five years as the Artistic Director of HealthWorks Theatre, an educational theatre company committed to working with communities to address critical health and social issues for teens. During his tenure he has helped create three new productions, View Finders, 20 Topics and You Gonna Eat That, while maintaining their current repertoire of touring productions . Previously, he has worked with Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, Ozark Actors Theatre, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and Northeastern State University of Oklahoma. Also in Chicago he directed Housework, a new piece produced by Not Waiting Productions, worked on the 365/Days 365/Plays Project and the Spark Play Festival. His credits as an assistant director in Chicago include A Man of No Importance, Violet, and The Cousin from Nowhere. Daren is a proud graduate of Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts directing program.
Alumni Relations Director
Alice Bever is a performer, director, educator and playwright, currently living between Europe and Wyoming. She is developing project1979, a multi-platform storytelling performance about the 30-something generation. The art of performance inspires her to investigate, exchange, share stories, amuse and bemuse. Theatre makes her happy, is how she serves the world and how she is about to be the best version of herself. She is an honored to collaborate with Director’s Lab Chicago. Attending the Lab in 2011 served as a pivotal time in her career and perspective as an artist and for that she is truly grateful.
Wm. Bullion has been a director, actor and producer in Chicago for 20+ years. He’s currently on the artistic staff of Akvavit Theatre (www.akvavittheatre.org), where he’s directing the Chicago premiere of Jon Fosse’s A Summer’s Day, as well as regular staged readings of brand-newly-translated Nordic plays. Back in the day, Billy founded Sliced Bread Productions for whom he directed and produced works by the likes of Shakespeare, Brecht, Bullion, Durrenmatt, Charles Ludlam and, most recently, renowned painter-playwright Jeff Whipple. As an actor, Wm. has also been seen around Chicago with groups like Lifeline, Oak Park Festival, Factory, Prop Thtr, City Lit, Stage Left and Building Stage.
Jenny Montgomery is a stage director who focuses on plays that explore themes of social justice and transcultural connection. She has lived in Québec since 2009, when she moved to Montréal for a Fulbright grant to create a bilingual play from interviews with refugees, Québécois and people in between cultures. Déraciné/Uprooted examines themes of cultural belonging, identity and concepts of “home.” In March 2012, it had a public reading at the Balustrade Theatre of the Monument-National in Montréal. Before living in Québec, Jenny spent seven years directing and assistant directing in Chicago. She also wrote three plays: When All Other Lights Go Out, created from interviews conducted with twenty Chicagoland survivors of seven different genocides; Stain, an adaptation of Euripides’ The Children of Herakles interwoven with text from interviews with refugees from Darfur; and Raining Season, created from interviews with five survivors of three genocides. Her assistant directing credits include the world premieres of Arthur Miller’s Finishing the Picture, directed by Robert Falls (Goodman) and Joanna McClelland Glass’ Trying, directed by Sandy Shinner (Victory Gardens). In 2008, Jenny was the SDCF Observer for Tina Landau and assistant to Tracy Letts on the world premiere of Tracy Lett’s Superior Donuts (Steppenwolf). She was a directing observer on Robert Lepage’s Lipsynch in 2007 in Québec City. Jenny is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, an associate member of the Dramatists Guild and an alumna of the 2005 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. She trained with SITI Company at Skidmore College (2006) and in Chicago (2007, 2008).
Intern Program Director
Vickie Daignault works primarily as an actress but is delighted whenever she gets the chance to direct! With a emphasis on theatre for young audiences, directing credits include Story Theatre, The Dining Room, Quilters, Girls Just Want to Have Fun (original), The Dragon of Nitt (Children’s Theatre of Charlotte); A Joyful Noise (Reader’s Theatre Workshop NY); and How to Eat Like a Child (Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and Apple Tree Theatre). Outside of the realm of TYA, she directed Overtones for New Branch Theatre Co. and Blade for 3 Women at Once, both in Chicago.
As a performer, Vickie has been seen in The Dawns Are Quiet Here (The Lamb’s Theatre); Hats!, the Musical starring Melissa Manchester (The Royal George); On the Brink, Daughter of Beijing (Theatre Building Chicago); Big River, Kindertransport, To Kill a Mockingbird (Apple Tree Theatre); Gauguin, the Musical (Myriad Productions); WTTW’s Great Food Fan Van (WTTW, Chicago); Sondheim in the Park (Cabarah); Stampede of Zebras (Pegasus Players); various other productions with Virginia Theatre Company, North Carolina Shakespeare, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and The DeBron Center in the Netherlands. Vickie is a graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts and may be seen in the film Alien Hand and in a number of commercials and industrials. She is a member of Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity Association and is active on a number of Equity’s committees.
Social / Public Relations Director
Kevin Hanna splits his time between theater and film, take a look on Vimeo. He co-produced and directed the award-winning mockumentary short film The Exorsister (watch and vote for it! imdb.com), which won Best Screenplay and Best Use of Genre at Filmapalooza 2007 Film Festival. In both film and theater, Kevin looks for stories that have never been told, or never told in a particular way because these are the ones that give him the best challenges, like his recent stage project:The First and Last Musical on Mars. Fresh from the recent win of a filmmaking grant to make another short film, he is currently in pre-production for the musical short film Rose’s Colored Glasses; the story of a woman whose life turns upside down when she sees things she’d rather not.
Anita has been the resident photographer for DirectorsLabChicago since the first lab in 2005. She is a co-founder and serves as co-director of the NeuroKitchen Arts Collective (www.neurokitchen.org) where she facilitates ensemble devised performance, teaches teens theater and writing skills while developing healthy, curious minds. At NeuroKitchen, she developed and teaches kids art and science workshops in the Curiosity Club. The performance she directed and facilitated with musical director Stone Damon and an ensemble of teens about Abraham Lincoln’s struggles with depression, Abe’s in a Bad Way was acknowledged in the Chicago Reader’s Best of 2010. She has co-chaperoned ten international tours which have taken the teen ensemble to Germany, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Norway, and Thailand. International tours drew her into the creation of projections for stage performance, initially for translated super-titles, and then growing into an embedded visual layer of productions. She also designed this website so if you have any suggestions, you can send her an email.
Co-Founder, Artistic Director Emeritus
Karin Shook is a director and playwright. As the former Artistic Director of Tripaway Theatre (Chicago), she adapted and directed Aristophanes’ The Acharnians (Tip of the Week, New City) and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Critic’s Choice, Chicago Reader). Other credits include The Lover (First Five Theatre, London) and The Lurker Radio Hour (Best Production – Sketchbook 8 at the Steppenwolf Garage).
She has directed for the One Minute Play Festival (Dominic D’Andrea, prod.) and recently worked with NY Madness, directing both Locked at Urban Stages, and her own play Seedlings at Ensemble Studio Theatre. Her play The Horse and Carriage was selected to be part of Primary Stages’ 2012 ESPA*Drills (dir. Daniel Goldstein), and her prize-winning scripts The Method and Colored Scribbles were produced in Chicago and North Carolina, respectively. Upcoming projects include a production of Seedlings in Seoul, Korea; and a piece in Primary Stages/ESPA’s Detention Series at Jimmy’s No. 43.
Karin is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, and the Dramatists Guild; an alum of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and a proud member of the Lit Wing’s steering committee at the Lark Play Development Center. She lives in New York with her family.
Former Committee Members
Mark Jacob Chaitin