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The Bishop dressing, his girl (Katie Taber), and the head of a disruptive Judge (Nathan Guisinger) poking in between the mirrors.



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Megan Rodgers and Hal Kilgore during the rarely produced, entirely mute 4th scene, in which a man becomes a beggar, is whipped and humiliated, and wears a wig infested with lice.
The Balcony
Program Information    Cast    Production Staff

By Jean Genet
Directed by Joanna Settle
Chopin Theatre, Chicago
August – September 1996

Kameron Steele as the Bishop.
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?"

About the Production:

Joanna Settle traveled to Chicago to direct Genet's modern classic in between her two years of study at The Juilliard School.  The overwhelming success of this collaboration ultimately led to Settle joining the company as artistic director in 1997.

The Balcony was the company’s first large-scale work — 25 actors rehearsed for 10 weeks on site at the Chopin Theatre. (It was this sort of extended rehearsal opportunity, offered by Chicago’s low cost of living and lower real estate prices, that had first attracted the founding members to Chicago.)

Guest artists on this production included set designer Michael Downs (New York), lighting designer and production manager David Maheu (Concord, New Hampshire) and Juilliard actor Taylor Price (Toronto, Canada) in the role of -The Envoy-.

Downs exposed every inch of the Chopin Theatre's lower level (including its lobby, saircases, and utility rooms), creating a constantly shifting landscape of mirrored panels and hidden performance areas.  Founding resident composer, Jake Perrine, provided a lush and expansive original score, including live vocals.

The Balcony was performed during the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.  It also marked the company's first participation in the annual Around-the-Coyote Arts Festival.  Two midnight performances of this three-hour epic were performed, with audience members receiving caffeine pills with their tickets.

This project contrasted sharply with the company’s intimate founding work, The Precipice.

Program Information:

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)

Production Staff:

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