Matei Vişniec – playwright, poet and journalist, was born in Romania in 1956, and now lives in Paris. He began writing for the theatre in 1977. Early in his career, Vişniec’s plays were banned by the Romanian censors. In 1987 he was invited to France by a literary foundation. While there, he asked for and received political asylum. After the fall of communism in Romania, in 1989, Vişniec became one of the most performed playwrights in the country. Vişniec gained international attention in 1992, with productions of Horses at the Window in France, and Old Clown Wanted at the “Bonner Biennale”. Since then, Matei Vişniec’s work has been produced in France, Germany, United States, Denmark, Austria, Poland, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Brazil, Romania, and Moldavia. Most recently, his play the word progress on my mother’s lips doesn’t ring true was the winner of the “Best Play in the Off-section” at the Avignon Festival in 2009.
Episode 1: The Runner & Illusionist
Directed by Katarzyna Wińska
December 3, 2020
Cast: John Kahara, Michael Mejia
Katarzyna Winska (she/her) was born in Warsaw, capital of communist Poland in 1953. Since 1977, she has had M.A. in applied linguistics at the Warsaw University and is the wife of Tomasz Wi?ski, who produces her mixed-media poetry and is the discoverer and curator of all the natural spaces she has applied in my work. Since 1995 (in democratic Poland), she has been conceiving and directing two independent, non-profit, non-permanent-stage theater troupes’ performances: Teatr Opera Buffa with people with schizophrenia, organizing voyages to insanity and back. For example, to Edinburgh and Elsinore with performances of Hamlet; Kinoteatr Bluboks with amateurs and professional actors performing adapted plays or those written by herself. She has published two glamour extravaganza magazines with reviews of 25 years of writing, filming, and performing.
Episode 3:The Man in the Circle, The Man with a Cockroach, Brainwasher 1, The Beggar
Directed by Michael Mejia
December 17, 2020
Cast: Logan Hulick, Neema Lahon, Leslie Lund, Carl Wisniewski
Michael Mejia (they/them) studied acting and music performance at Indiana University before coming to Chicago. Mejia is the company manager for Trap Door Theatre, where they are also a proud ensemble member. Their actor credits include The White Plague, Love and Information, The Killer , The Old Woman Broods, Monsieur Deon is a Woman at Trap Door Theatre; Proxy at Underscore Theatre; Kingdom at Broken Nose Theatre; Little Shop of Horrors at Stoughton Village Players; Hair at Harper Ensemble Theatre. Mejia is also a musician who writes and plays guitar and piano.
Episode 5: How to explain the history of quiet, lucid and fevered madness to brainwashed repairmen
Directed by Nicole Wiesner
January 14, 2021
Cast: Maryam Abdi, Venice Averyheart, Natara Easter, Miguel Long, David Lovejoy, Robin Minkens, Emily Nichelson, Ruben Nicolaescu, Tia Pinson, Matty Robinson
Nicole Wiesner (she/her) joined the Trap ensemble in 1999 and currently serves as the Managing Director. Her directing credits for the company include Minna, The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, Phedre, Monsieur D’eon is a Woman, The Old Woman Broods, and The White Plague. Some of her favorite Trap acting credits include First Ladies (dir. Zeljko Djukic, Joseph Jefferson Citation: Outstanding Actress); OVERWEIGHT, unimportant: MISSHAPE (dir. Yasen Peyankov); and the title roles in The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant; Nana (dir. Beata Pilch) and Alice in Bed. (Director Dado). Regionally, she has appeared at the Goodman Theatre in 2666, directed by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley; Shining City directed by Robert Falls; and Passion Play, directed by Mark Wing-Davy (After Dark Award, Outstanding Performance), at Steppenwolf Theatre in The Book Thief (dir. Hallie Gordon), South of Settling (dir. Adam Goldstein) and Dublin Carol (Dir. Amy Morton); as well as Lookinglass Theatre, Court Theatre, Next Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Epic Theatre.
Episode 7:The Man in the Circle, The Man in the Mirror, The Runner
Directed by Neema Lahon
Assistant Directed by Morgan Symes
January 28, 2021
Cast: Edward Joe Bentley, Lyndsay Kane, Susan Mele, Benjamin Nathan-Serio, and Nora Lise Ulrey
Neema Lahon(she, her, hers) is an actor and director from London. She spent 5 years in Barcelona puppeteering and storytelling for Catalonia’s biggest Theatre in Education company, IPA Productions. Whilst in Spain, she has worked with Escapade Theatre, Thrive Musical Theatre, Trap Door International and Play in a Day BCN. In London, Neema is an experimental Youth Theatre Director and Drama TA. She is also a member of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain where she trained with director Ned Bennett, and was an original cast member for the production of ‘Victoria’s Knickers’. In 2019 she started her own theatre company HURT Theatre, where she takes minor female characters in male driven plays and turns them into protagonists with their own narratives. She is captivated by the playwright Matei Visniec and is overjoyed to be part of Trap Door’s second virtual play.
Written by Matei Vişniec
Translated by Jozefina Komporaly
Directed by Neema Lahon, Marian Masoliver, Michael Mejia, Zachary Nichol, Cristina Pronzati, Catherine Sullivan, Nicole Wiesner and Katarzyna Wińska.
December 3, 2020 – February 4, 2021
Eight episodes premiered weekly in a unique adaptation from Vişniec’s “dialogic spectacle of monologues” performed live between the resident Chicago ensemble and an international group of guest performers and directors.
Stage manager / Anna Klos and Gary Damico Makeup Design / Zsófia Ötvös Costume Design / Rachel Sypniewski Light Design / Richard Norwood
Watch Now (individual or all)
…the epic online presentation is classic Trap Door: a raucous, politically astute exploration of humanity by an eastern European artist, filtered through an often absurdist lens.
Catey Sullivan, Chicago Reader
Weirdness and wonder abound…
Catey Sullivan, Chicago Reader
…we need this unique presentation (adapted by Jozefina Komporaly), a collaboration between this awesome ensemble (…Chicago’s amazing avant-garde company Trap Door Theatre) and an international group of guest performers and directors.
Tony Frankel, Stage and Cinema
Episode 2: The Meat Eater
Directed by Zachary Nicol
December 10, 2020
Cast: Zachary Nicol
Zachary Nicol (they/them) constructs texts across media that address scrutiny, identification, illegibility, and presentation. Their performance, writing, video, and print work has been presented in Chicago, Portland, Toronto, and online. Nicol is a 2020 Artist-in-Residence at Annas Projects and has participated in residencies at ACRE and Links Hall. They work frequently as a collaborative and performing artist in dance, theatre, and film. Recent contributions include projects with Anna Martine Whitehead, Mlondi Zondi, Aram Atamian, Kim Brandt, Alexandra Pirici, Jonas Becker, Ginger Krebs, Elise Cowin, and Catherine Sullivan, among others. Nicol lives and works in Chicago.
Episode 4: The Animal Trainer, The Philosopher, The Human Rubbish Bin
Directed by Marian Masoliver
January 7, 2021
Cast: Caroline Hart, Emily Lotspeich, Keith Surney, Kevin Webb
Marian Masoliver (she/her) has more than thirty years of experience as an international actress, theatre director, drama teacher, and writer. She began her career studying with the 20th-century physical theatre master Jacques Lecoq at his school in Paris. After that she toured extensively around Europe and the USA, working in the field with top theatre companies such as Kneehigh Theatre, UK, and La Fura dels Baus, Spain. In 1999, she co-founded the Actors Space with Simon Edwards, which has become an internationally renowned center in Barcelona dedicated to the research, training, and creation of theatre and film. Mansoliver is the director of the center, where she teaches acting, directing, and writing for theatre and film.. Since 2014, she has also been collaborating with The Prem Rawat Foundation, making documentaries about their Peace Education Program in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
Episode 6: The Brainwasher (i) (ii), The Man in the Circle, The Voice in the Darkness, The Animal Trainer, The Runner, The Man with a Cockroach, The Illusionist
Directed by Cristina Pronzati
January 21, 2021
Cast: Davide Borella, Anarosa Butler, Gary Damico, Kasey Foster, Mike Steele, Keith Surney, Nora Ulrey, and Kevin Webb
Cristina Pronzati (she/her). Having been involved in theatre and film in NY ever since her college days, this is not her first Trap Door experience: she played Helen of Troy in Troy Women, and joined the company cast for Catherine Sullivan’s production of Ice Floes of Franz Josef Land, at the hauntingly beautiful Angel Orensanz Foundation in the Lower East Side in NYC, a memory she treasures. She appeared in a Martin Scorsese film, The Age of Innocence; she wrote, directed and acted in her own short film, Rendez Vous; and loved singing as Loretta Lynn in the corky AMC reality series Into Character. She most recently enjoyed playing Medea with the Hudson Valley Performing Arts Lab in Poughkeepsie; Antigone /Creon in Antigone, and Betty in Living Closely, an original collaborative piece she co-wrote, with The Middle Company in Cold Springs. She also appeared in the community-driven magical production of Our Town, by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.
Episode 8: The Man with the Apple, The Voice in the Blind Light I, The Voice in the Darkness II and III
Directed by Catherine Sullivan
February 4, 2021
Cast: Venice Averyheart, Cristina Pronzati, Bob Wilson
Catherine Sullivan’s (she/her) solo exhibitions, collaborations, performances, and films have been presented at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Secession, Vienna; Tate Modern, London; Opéra de Lyon; Trap Door Theatre, Chicago; Metro Pictures, New York and Galerie Catherine Bastide, Brussels among others. She has participated in the Whitney, Moscow, and Gwangju biennials; Berlin International Film Festival; International Film Festival Rotterdam; and BFI London International Film Festival. Awards include the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the United States Artists Walker Fellowship, Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, and most recently, a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is an associate professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago.