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September 17, 2009 / lotcchicago

Forming the Family.

A little bit about LOTC. How the hell did we get this far?


In 2007, the great migration to the midwest began. In July and August, Jessica Neilson and I (Mary Rose O’Connor) voyaged to the great Windy City from Baltimore, Maryland to pursue our respective careers in the theatre world. Only a short month later, Haily Wineland followed suit, and thus “the original three” was formed. original three

(Photo L to R: Mary O’Connor, Haily Wineland, Jessica Neilson)

After a hard first year of getting established, networking, and being an exclusively all-girls club, we ladies were joined by fellow Towson University graduates Michael Carothers and Jason Crutchfield. As we were all close friends in college, this transition and joining of forces just made sense. Around this time, frustrated by the lack of artistic freedom I had and the difficulty I was facing getting directing jobs, I took matters into my own hands. In August 08, after months of pleading and coaxing, I convinced Alex Kliner to get his ass out of D.C. and  into Chicago to start a theatre company with me. We got Emily Levin in on the project too. (This is was a year-long conversation, by the way)

(Photo L to R: Christopher L. Moore, Jason Crutchfield, Michael Carothers)


Discussions started, and eventually we let the rest of the Chicago group know what we were up to. We started having meetings, created a dialogue about what excites us as young people, who we are as artists, as individuals, and most importantly, how the major move to Chicago has influenced us, having all come from the same place. Conceptually we committed to get these ideas onto the stage. We started reading scripts. We solidified our concepts into plans, and somewhat blindly and bravely started making decisions.

In December 2008, over a lock-down-2-day meeting, we wrote our mission statement, solidified our name as Lights Out Theatre Company, filled out all the fun government paperwork, and added ensemble member Chris Moore, also a fellow graduate of Towson University.

Over the next several months, we chose scripts that inspired us, a website, a donor list, and held our first fundraiser at Friar Tuck, which was a huge success. We added Dana Black to our Board of Directors. We performed our first show ONE NIGHT STAND at the brand new, beautiful, Studio-BE in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. And upon closing night, we added Anna Lucero (who had moved to Chicago in 2005… also a TU alum) to our group.

(Photo: Anna Lucero)


Now, almost a year since our conception we are tying up loose ends, getting our asses in gear for the next 5 months, and finally welcoming with open arms Alex Kliner, to the city of Chicago. (Running a company “bi-coastal” is really hard!) Emily Levin’s on her way! We are also happy to have Bobby Libby, Jackie Keough and Bradley Burgess-Donaleski (our new literary manager) in the city of Chicago.

It is truly inspiring to think that something that started as a “We could do that, we should totally do that” conversation over gchat could create so much change, so much creativity, and so much sense of unity. Being so far from our families, this support system has really made Chicago our home, and we are very lucky to have each other as friends and as fellow artists. We hope that when you see future productions you will see the amount of heart and history we have.


(Photo: Alex Kliner and Emily Levin)

alex emmy


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