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    MISSION

     through theater and the written word...Her Story Theater


    shines bright lights in dark places on women and children in need of social justice and community support
    creates a place and space to exchange ideas that support writers and performers
    provides educational workshops and classes
     

    this season's light falls on...

    homeless women 
    sex trafficking of children
    violence against women

     

    Contact us by EMAIL below
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      HER STORY THEATER
      staff/production

       

      MARY BONNETT (Producing Artistic Director) created and cofounded HER STORY THEATER.  Mary holds a BFA in Theater Arts, BFA in English Literature, MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, England. Creator and director of GLOSS OVER, SHADOW TOWN, THE JOHNS, MONEY MAKE'M SMILE, MONGERS and CIDE SHOW.  She has won numerous awards for excellence and outstanding contributions in professional theater, writing, directing, theater education. Her plays and directing have been seen in many Chicago theaters, universities and venues.  She speaks regularly to various organizations across Illinois on sex trafficking and the impact the current culture has on our youth.  Mary has appeared on television and numerous radio shows, championing the need for change in laws, mores to protect our children and women.  Under Mary's leadership, Her Story Theater has raised over $40,000 from ticket sales for its partner organizaitons.

      Mary created COURT SIDE in partnership with Federal Judge Virginia Kendall. It focuses on the trauma based behavior and journey of the trafficked victim. Two more works are in the making for medical and law enforcement.

      As part of the outreach plan, THE JOHNS will be premiering in Houton, Texas leading up to the Super Bowl 2017. MONEY MAKE'M SMILE is part of a partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union in developing sex trafficking curriculum and workshop for educators which Mary leads.. 

      She has written the novel, Alabastard of The Mound...literary fiction set in 1930 Mississippi and completed her children's novel The Adventures of Cleaver and Whizjam.  Mary is a member of SAG-AFTRA, SCBWI, CWIP, American Dramatist Guild NYC. Her Story Theater is a proud member of The Chicago League of Theaters. 

      BACKSTAGE.COM Top Ten Best International Theaters that Change Lives.

      SUSAN MUNAKER OPPENHEIMER, (Executive Director -Partner, Liason) Ph.D. retired her business in 2003 after 20 years as a senior organization consultant who partnered with executives and managers to defined and achieve their outcomes.  Prior to that she worked for the Bell System for fifteen years in Network Operations, Engineering and Finance where she participated in and led numerous reorganizations and restructuring efforts. Her last position at Ameritech was Manager of Organization Learning where she was responsible for overseeing department change efforts for 8000 employees.  In 1995 Susan left Ameritech to complete her Ph.D. in Organization Behavior and Development with a sub-specialty in adult learning. 

       In 1992 she met her future husband, Ted Oppenheimer and shortly after began helping him run the Oppenheimer Family Foundation’s Teacher Incentive Program. Through this work she became involved in education efforts in CPS. In 2016 after 40 years the Teacher Incentive Grant has changed its focus and name to EduOpps. Now rather than supporting individual CPS teachers, EduOpps gives grants to organizations that support teachers to bring creative work to their students.  

      Susan’s joint arts passions are tap dance and jazz music.  She has served as a pro-bono consultant to the Jazz Institute of Chicago and to the Chicago Human Rhythm Project whose board she joined and served as its president for two years as they embarked on a strategic planning process.  In her spare type she tries to get her feet to perform in some semblance of tap dance.  

      A long-time social activist, Susan was in the first womens’ group in Chicago in 1966 that ushered in the Second Feminist Wave.  At the same time she was in the civil rights marchers with Dr. M.L. King, in the anti-Vietnam war movement. She served as Assistant Director of Student Activities at the University of Chicago where she supported the 1960’s student movement.  Her activism in social issues continues.In 2012 she learned about sex trafficking of U.S. children within the U.S. A year later she joined Mary Bonnett as a Partner and Liaison in the Her Story Theater just as HST was beginning its cycle plays on sex trafficking. She and Mary joined The Dreamcatcher Foundation on their Advisory Board. Susan’s advice to people looking for a way to help.  Start where you are. Share your skills. 

      HAYLEY HIMMELMAN (INTERN Casting, Production) recently graduated from Northwestern University’s Theatre Program with the Certificate in Musical Theatre. She currently works as an enrichment teacher, teaching theatre, dance and yoga to young kids at the Glencoe Park District. Her first professional theatre experience was in the ensemble of The Savoyaire’s production of Thespis, of which she was also the assistant choreographer. She has a deep history with Her Story Theater, as Mary Bonnett, her mentor, allowed her to direct Mary’s original play Shadow Town at Northwestern University, followed by Hayley’s position as production assistant of Her Story Theater’s production of Money Make’M Smile, another Mary Bonnett original play. Hayley wrote and directed an original interview-based play about experiences of sexuality and sexual violence on college campuses, and how administrations often mishandle those cases. Some recent credits include the leading role of Lily in David Adjmi’s Stunning, Baby Bear and Dance Captain in NU's Dolphin Show Shrek, multiple leading roles in student and grad-student films at Northwestern, Columbia and DePaul, and a featured extra role in an ESPN/GMC commercial for Monday Night Football. She’s thrilled to be a part of Mary’s team.
       

       CATALINA ADRAGNA (INTERN, PRODUCTION) is a native Chicagoan who later moved to Los Angeles, California to study theatre at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Returning back to her roots, she is now using her foundation in theatre studies to expand into political interdisciplinary work. A junior at Bennington College in Vermont, Cat is studying the collaboration of literature, theatre, and psychology to explore how theatre can be used in creating work for those dealing with trauma and violence. Her love for theatre began with the Los Angeles Shakespeare Conservatory: Will Play, which she attended for 4 summers before becoming an intern and later Assistant Director/Producer. She has worked as both an actor and director for numerous productions spanning from middle school to college, with her directorial debut being "Dog Sees God" her senior year of high school and her most recent theatrical production playing Johnna in "August Osage County"; both of these productions leading as great examples of the darker content Cat hopes to utilize for rehabilitative means. In 2012, Cat was named a California Arts Scholar and in 2015 she published her own book of poetry "You don't love me but can I still wear your sweater" dealing with lost love and the journey to rehabilitate. In the past, she has worked with ENCOMPASS, a Californian program that uses theatre and improvisation to teach teachers-in-training how to handle situations of homophobia and racism in the classroom. She has begun work on her upcoming thesis to write, direct, and produce an interdisciplinary production that uses theatre as a form of therapy for those dealing with trauma and violence. Her upcoming work with Her Story Theatre is just the beginning! 
        

      ELAYNE LETRAUNIK (Financial Manager) is a native Chicagoan and has been involved in the Chicago theatre scene since the 1970s.  A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago with honors in History and Theatre, she continued her acting studies at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England. Elayne has worked extensively both as an actress and a producer and starred in the Chicago premieres of “Nuts” and “Extremities.”  She also appeared in “Beyond Therapy” which featured Skipp Sudduth and Carmen Roman. As a producer, she oversaw a number of award winning and critically acclaimed productions including the Chicago premiere of “A Dybbuk” and a revival of “Class Enemy.” Elayne was the auditions columnist for “Performink” newspaper for 15 years and was the founder and Artistic Director of Red Hen Productions and Chicago Jewish Theatre.  Elayne was a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times as well as contributor to Plays and Players Magazine in London.  She is the Associate Artistic Director of Genesis Theatrical Productions which most recently produced the US premiere of "Tunnel Rat" by Neil Cole.  Elayne is a member of Actor’s Equity, Chicago Women in Philanthropy and the League of Professional Theatre Women.  She also acts as Coordinator for the Association for Jewish Theatre and is the Executive Administrator for ShPIeL-Performing Identity.  She also works as a Development Director for Writers in the Heartland.  www.virtualelayne.com for further information.

       

      PRODUCTION TEAM

       

      CLAIRE CHRZAN (Lighting Designer) is a Chicago based lighting designer and graduate of Columbia College Chicago.  She has had the pleasure to design with A Red Orchid Theate, The New Colony, Mary Arrchie, Strawdog, Haven Theatre, Sideshow, Runcible, and more. Claire is also production stage manager form Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's second company HS2.

       

       

       MELINDA WILSON (Choreographer, Educational Outreach) holds a M.Ed. from DePaul University (Chicago) and an MBA from the University of Illinois with additional course work at Northwestern Illinois University.  She has trained at Lou Conte Dance Studios, The Dance Center of Columbia College, the Joel Hall Dance Center, Moming Dance Center, Pineapples (London), The Dance Works (London), Centre de Danse de Paris (Goube of the Paris Opera Ballet), Batsheva Dance Company (Tel-Aviv), and Centre de Danse du Marias (Paris).  

      Melinda has danced locally with David Dorfman, Urban Bush Women and Timothy Buckley. She has choreographed 15 full musicals, created five original musicals, 20 full length dance concerts and over 240 concert dance pieces which have been performed throughout the United States.  
      Her awards include Barcelona Dance Grand Prix First Place in Jazz & Choreography, Golden Apple 2007 recipient, Dance Chicago Choreographer of the Year Award, three consecutive Suave Performance Plus Teacher Awards, Who’s Who Among Teachers, eight Oppenheimer Teacher Incentive Grants, National Honor Roll’s Outstanding American Teachers for Exceptional Performance in the Motivation and Empowerment of Today’s Youth, BP America/A+ For Energy Grant recipient, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Scholarship Recipient for Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education Program and the Successful Strategies Award for Dance Curricula (Volume IV).  
      She served as a test writer for the Illinois Board of Education’s Dance Certification section, was a passing score reviewer for the National Evaluation Systems, Inc, a writer for Chicago Dance Magazine and Beginning Youth Division Dance Supervisor with the Joel Hall Dance Center.  Currently Wilson is a teacher of Ballet and Jazz at Lou Conte Dance Studios, a board member of the Illinois Dance Festival, a member of Centre for International Danse - UNESCO and Dance Artistic Director at Curie Metropolitan High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
       

      WARREN LEVON (Sound Design)  Reared and raised on Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood (“the ’53”, “the low end”, “the dugout”, and “the hood”), Warren has been privileged to have known the stage since the third grade. It has been his saving grace, his divine destiny to be a marquee for the human experience on stage, on film, or behind the microphone. It was while under the tutelage of Professor Sydney Daniels that Warren procured a profound understanding of artistry. Over his seven plus years as a professional actor, Warren has worked with many notable theatre companies throughout Chicago: Raven Theatre, American Blues Theater, Mpacct Theatre, Collaboraction, Teatro Vista, Halcyon Theatre and many more. Warren was recently nominated for a 2011 Black Theatre Alliance Award (BTAA) for his work in August Wilson’s final work “Radio Golf”. In 2009 Warren became a company member of the Halcyon Theatre Company working alongside great Chicago artist Jennifer and Tony Adams, and in 2012 he became a Company Member with the legendary American Blues Theatre Company. His recent film credits include Lac Du Flambeau (Standing Passengers prod), Lioness of Lisabi (Ozzarts Prod. 2009 Chicago Children’s film fest winner!), Fallen Souls (Knight Phoenix Prod.), and Smoke Screen (HalstedMedia Prod. 2008 Hollywood Black film festival finalist). He also does Sound Design and Sound Engineering.

       ROBIN SUBAR (Photographer)

      Robin Subar Photography

      Robin Subar does headshots, celebrity events.

      Her work is featured in numerous magazines. 

      Contact at:  Robin Subar Photography

      See Robin's photography for The Johns, Court Side.

       

       

      TIM FRANK (Production Videographer/Editor) THE FOXHOLE collaborates within our diverse network of Artists and Producers to provide comprehensive services in the areas of: Video Production, Event Management & Design, Audio Recording, Photography, Creative Production Assistance, Talent Booking, Marketing/Activation Support, Creative Corporate Training, and Staffing for our clients. The Foxhole Chicago

       

       

      Button Bonnett (Creative Think Tank Leader)