Chicago, IL (November 17, 2020) – Lookingglass Theatre Company, in collaboration with WBEZ 91.5 Chicago, presents a World Premiere audio play of Her Honor Jane Byrne, written and directed by Ensemble Member and Mellon Playwright in Residence J. Nicole Brooks. Her Honor Jane Byrne will air on Chicago’s NPR news station WBEZ 91.5 FM and wbez,org on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26 from 11am-1pm CT and Saturday, November 28 from 2 pm-4 pm CT.
Chicago is “The City That Works”—but does it work for everybody? It’s 1981, the city’s simmering pot of neglected problems boils over, and Chicago’s first woman mayor is moving into Cabrini-Green. Is this just a P.R. stunt, or will it bring the City together? For the next three weeks, residents, activists, media, the “Machine,” and the Mayor herself will collide as the City’s raw truths are exposed. Tune in to find out who will come out on top in Lookingglass Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks’ bold new work, Her Honor Jane Byrne?
Her Honor Jane Byrne premiered on the Lookingglass stage in March 2020 just five days before the Theatre had to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. LookingglassTheatre Company has partnered with WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR news station, to present Her Honor Jane Byrne as a radio play.
The cast features Ensemble Members Christine Mary Dunford (Jane Byrne), Thomas J. Cox (Alderman Roti, Swibel, Photographer, Evidence Tech) and Tracy Walsh (Reporter, Kathy, Claudia) with Robert Cornelius (Black Che, Seller), Nicole Michelle Haskins (Tiger, Rival Kid), Renee Lockett (Mabel Foley), Frank Nall (O’Donnell, Jay McMullen, Daley, Spilotro), Josh Odor (Superintendent Brzcek,Tavern Owner, Bodyguard, Pilot, Host), Taron Patton (Marion Stamps), Willie “Mudlife Roc” Round (Kid, Tral).
The creative team includes Michael Huey (composer), Christopher M. LaPorte (sound designer), Artistic Associate Wendy Mateo (associate director) Jason K. Martin (dialect specialist), Sarah Burnham (production manager), Jeremy Phillips (production assistant) and Ensemble Member Philip R. Smith (casting).
“Our play joins history to myth. Some of it is dramatic interpretation, and some of it is real,” comments J. Nicole Brooks. “When you grow up in a city that’s hyper segregated, run amuck with corruption, and political stunts and discord, you have to work hard to love it. I love the city of Chicago. I love the history. I’m fascinated by ethnic clans. I’m curious about patronage, councils, aldermen, and committeemen. Who get selected and how? Who gets to lead us, and will they actually listen to us? Though I was very little, I can remember when it was announced that Mayor Jane Byrne was moving into Cabrini-Green. Can she stop the violence? Well, no one person can. Here we are decades later, asking the same questions.I hope our audiences walk away with a bit of the past, so they may know how to shape our future.”
“It was devastating to close Her Honor Jane Byrne last Spring just after it opened. A play takes years of work to get it to the point of production, and this play was speaking directly to our city about our city. So we are thrilled and grateful to WBEZ for giving us a new platform to share J. Nicole Brooks’ timely and brilliant play in its new audio form,” comments Artistic Director Heidi Stillman. “Over the past months since the show closed, it’s subject matter has only become more relevant. Her Honor Jane Byrne is ambitious, timely, and an important piece of work about the way geography, race and inequality line up in Chicago – and how choices made in the past are still playing out in our city today.”
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The following sponsors generously supported the premiere of Her Honor Jane Byrne on the Lookingglass stage last spring: Production Sponsors—National Endowment for the Arts and Edgerton Foundation; Lead Sponsors—Melinda McMullen and Duncan Kime; Production Support—Leigh and Henry Bienen, Linda Karn, Rachel E. Kraft and Douglas R. Brown, and Abbie Roth.
Her Honor Jane Byrne
Written and directed by J.Nicole Brooks+
An audio collaboration with Lookingglass Theatre Company
ROBERT CORNELIUS *Black Che, Seller
THOMAS J. COX* +Alderman Roti, Swibel, Photographer, Evidence Tech
CHRISTINE MARY DUNFORD* +Jane Byrne
NICOLE MICHELLE HASKINS* Tiger, Rival Kid
RENEE LOCKETT* Mabel Foley
FRANK NALL * O’Donnell, Jay McMullen, Daley, Spilotro
JOSH ODOR* Superintendent Brzcek, Tavern Owner, Bodyguard, Pilot, Host
TARON PATTON* Marion Stamps
WILLIE “MUDLIFEROC” ROUND Kid,Tral
TRACY WALSH* +Reporter, Kathy, Claudia
MICHAEL HUEY Composer
CHRISTOPHER M. LAPORTE Sound Design
WENDY MATEO+ Associate Director
JASON K.MARTIN Dialect Specialist
SARAH BURNHAM Production Manager
JEREMY PHILLIPS Production Assistant
PHILIP R. SMITH+ Casting
HEIDI STILLMAN+ Artistic Director
RACHEL FINK Executive Director
*Member of Screen Actors Guild
+Lookingglass Theatre Company Ensemble Member or Artistic Associate
This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
An earlier version of Her Honor Jane Byrne was produced for the stage at Lookingglass Theatre Company, March 2020. Information about that production, along with the original creative team, can be found here.