The Balcony
By Jean Genet
Directed by Joanna Settle
Chopin Theatre, Chicago

About the Text: 
In his “warning” to directors of The Balcony, Jean Genet writes:
“In the four beginning scenes almost everything is played exaggeratedly, although there are speeches where the tone should be more natural, to permit the exaggeration to seem even more blown up. So no compromises, but two opposing tones of voice. 
The turntable – in Paris – was nonsense. I want the tableaus to follow one another, the settings to move from left to right, as if they fit one inside the other, and the audience to see this. My intention seems clear.
It is my idea that the three primary dignitaries be up on stilts. How will the actors be able to walk without falling on their faces, without tripping over their laces and their skirts? They had better learn. 
One more thing: not to perform this play as if it were a satire of this or that. It is – and must be played as – the glorification of image and reflection. Its significance – satirical or not – will only then emerge. 
Some of our poets give themselves over to a very curious operation: they sing the praises of ‘the people’ of ‘freedom’ and of ‘rebellion,’ etc., which, by being celebrated, become then as if hurled and nailed into an abstract sky – hanging in distorted constellations, discomfited and deflated – dehumanized, and they become untouchable. Poetry being nostalgia, its voice destroys what it wants to glorify, and so our poets kill what they intend to make live.
Do I make myself understood?”
Set Design: Michael E. Downs
Light Design: David Maheu
Costume Design: Jana Stauffer
Original Score: Jake Perrine
Dramaturg: Greg Berlowitz
Production Stage Manager: Suellen Cottril
Stage Manager: Africa Brown
Assistant Director: Julie Cohen
Assistant Director: Lucy Smith
Timothy Bulow (Torturer/Arthur)
Anne DeAcetis (Elyane or the General’s Girl)
Randy Eddy (Chief of Police)
Nathan Guisinger (Judge)
Kevin Grubb (Tears)
Thomas Jones (Blood)
Federico Hewson (Roger)
Hal Kilgore (Beggar, Slave)
Shayne Kubby (Thief)
Laura Lamson (Carmen)
Xavier Landaverde (Revolutionary)
Jimmy Molina (Wounded Man)
Sam Poretta (Sperm)
Taylor Price (Envoy)
Megan Rodgers (Beggar’s Girl)
Frank Alan Schiender (Envoy)
Rachel Sledd (Irma)
Kameron Steele (Bishop)
Katie Taber (Rosine or the Bishop’s Girl)
Ric Walker (General)
Kai Wedel (Chantal)
Jessica Young (Georgette)
Company Manager: Greg Berlowitz
Production Manager: David Maheu
Master Electrician: Daniel Cruz
Assistant Set Design: Taylor Price
Assistant Costume Design: Cally Rieman
Costume Assistant: Kevin Grubb
Props Assistants: Shayne Kubby and Julie Cohen
Assistant Production Manager: Larra Call
Vocal Coach: Taylor Price
Publicity and Program: Greg Berlowitz
Publicity Consultant and Photography: Stephanie Howard
Sound Operator: Jake Perrine and Larra Call
Light Board Operator: Veloz Gomez and Daniel Cruz
Advertising: Megan Rodgers
Windy City Times, August 29, 1996
The production by the Thirteenth Tribe, currently playing in the bunker-like depths of the Chopin Theatre, rejects this facile interpretation wholly. Far from glossing over Genet’s arguments, director Joanna settle emphasizes them by keeping her actors clothed at all times, albeit in fetishistically provocative garments, and allowing the eroticism to arise out of the ideas articulated by a cast displaying an attention to verbal detail rarely found in actors as young as these.
This show is not a simple talking-heads symposium–Settle keeps the play’s action kinetic (and frequently humorous) with some punctuative staging as intricate and agile as dance (the scene with Irma and her sidekick, Carmen, literally rolling in a pitful of money is a production number by itself). And the 21-member ensemble pace themselves with marathon-runner efficiency so that even in the final scenes, when Genet’s philosophy becomes somewhat opaque, the action remains visually and vocally riveting.
– Mary Shen Barnidge –
New City, August 22, 1996
Panels open to reveal a hellish yet titillating atmosphere of paradox and groveling paranoia. Director Joanna Settle has guided her vinyl-bedecked cast methodically through Genet’s proclivity for combining the microscopically subtle with the grossly overblown. They succeed in tottering between obscene displays and tantalizingly suggestive posturing.
– Lucia Mauro –
Chicago Tribune, August 23, 1996
Imaginatively using the deep space of the theatre’s basement playing area, director Joanna Settle has created a chambered fun house of mirrors, windows, shadows and sliding doors–a shifting scene of illusion and reality.
– Richard Christiansen –
Playbill Online, July 26, 1996

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