Playwright Emily Schwartz (BA 2001) and her work as a playwright in Chicago were recently featured in the IU Alumni Magazine. One of her recent plays, The Three Faces of Doctor Crippen, was presented at the Steppenwolf Theatre’s Garage as part of the 2011 “Garage Rep.” Performed by Emily’s theatre group, The Strange Tree Group, Doctor Crippen is a comic exploration of three possible versions of the life and death of the notoriously inept British murderer. Emily’s play has received reviews for which a premiere production usually just wishes, to wit: “Schwartz’s pleasantly off-kilter aesthetic remains as strong as ever.” TimeOUT Chicago; “This superbly visualized little show is the heir to the distinguished Chicago tradition of the sardonic tale of the lovable murderer … a rather splendid little gothic thriller.” Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune; “Of the trio of works on display [at the Garage], it is ‘The Three Faces of Doctor Crippen,’ the Strange Tree Group’s immensely clever, darkly funny, playfully musical, visually sophisticated English music hall-style crime-of-passion parody that gets top prize here.” Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times, etc.
Doctor Crippen wasn’t just a product of one IU Theatre alum: eight members of The Strange Tree Group theatre company are graduates of the Department of Theatre and Drama. They include Stuart Ritter, Scott Cupper, Matt Holzfeind, Kate Nawrocki, Cory Aiello, Carol Enoch, and Rebecca Phend.
The Jeff Awards, as the Stage Directions site notes, “celebrate excellence in Chicago theatre. … Non-Equity Awards take place each spring to non-union shows.” Last Monday night, June 6, Emily won the Jeff Award for New Work for Dr. Crippen (which also picked up the Jeff Award for Best Director, given to Jimmy McDermott). The Strange Tree Group was also up for an award for Best Ensemble; the company was nominated for their work on Doctor Crippen and on Shakespeare’s King Ficus,a co-production with The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, another Chicago theatre group. And The Strange Tree Group won the Jeff Award for Best Ensemble based on the latter production. Altogether, The Strange Tree Group were nominated for five Jeff Awards.
Congratulations to Emily and all the members of The Strange Tree Group (especially Stuart, Scott, Matt, Kate, Cory, Carol, and Rebecca) for their nominations and awards.
The Strange Tree Group’s site: http://www.strangetree.org/
(Thanks to Charles Railsback for the news alert!)