Indie Boots Theatre Festival

2016: The Ava Plays

Monday, May 16 - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Stage 773 . 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL

2016 Audience Award Winner:
Ava in the End

2016 Audience Award Honorable Mentions:
Three Cheers for Ava

The fourth annual Indie Boots Theatre Festival celebrates new short plays with underrepresented perspectives on whose stories are worth telling, what's funny, and how the world works. From hilarious comedies to thoughtful dramas, from angsty realism to sci-fi adventures, the plays and their characters grapple with love, feminism, LGBTQ communities, friendship, history, intricacies of language, activism, and a missing vibrator.

On Monday, May 16 through Wednesday, May 18 at 7:30pm at Stage 773 (an accessible theatre at 1225 W. Belmont, near the L in the Belmont Theatre District), teams of Chicago directors and actors bring life to new scripts selected from hundreds of submissions inspired by the prompt, "Ava." Then, it's up to the savvy audience to experience these lively, full staged collaborations and determine the winning plays!

Tickets are $15 for this entertaining 100 minute show, with discounts available for artists, students, educators, seniors, low income and social justice workers. Each night, all nine short plays are performed in quick succession with one brief intermission. Due to adult content, viewer discretion is advised. Tickets are available at the Stage 773 box office,, and 773.327.5252.

The Writers: Hannah Benitez, Addison Heimann, Aisha Leverett, Ken Preuss, Kathleen Rooney, Deborah Chava Singer, Ellen Davis Sullivan, Eileen Tull, John Weagly

The Directors: Angela Alise, Ashely Bagot, Juan Castaneda, Majel Cuza, Crystal Hartford, Gaby Labotka, Jessica Rae Olsen, Richard Paro, Breahan Eve Pautsch

The Actors: Bergen Anderson, Becca C. Browne, Miki Byrne, Cat Davidson, Kiera Lynn Haaland, Crystal Hartford, Nicole Michelle Haskins, Katia Jackson, Colleen Kiel, Mark Lancaster, Amanda Lopez, Stella Martin, Julie Mitre, Alex Molnar, Katurah Nelson, Erin K. O'Brien, Cyra K. Polizzi, Robin Posavetz, Jazzma Pryor, Daena Ramos, Danielle Rennalls, Avi Roque, Lindsey Shaw, Elise Spoerlein, Kelly Steik, Hannah Williams, Ashley Yates

The Ava Plays!

All plays are performed each night.
Listing does not reflect running order.
Running time is approximately 100 minutes, including a brief intermission.
2016 Theatre Festival Stage Manager: Amy Hopkins Amy Hopkins (Stage Manager) is excited to jump back in with the Indie Boots crew after stage managing 2014's "THE OLIVIA PLAYS". Amy has staged managed with several companies in Chicago. She is also a company member of Oracle Productions and the education director for Waltzing Mechanics.
For more info about the artists, hover over the photos.

Three Cheers for Ava
Written by Aisha Leveret . Directed by Breahan Eve Pautsch
Featuring: Bergen Anderson, Mark Lancaster, Cyra K. Polizzi, and Richard Paro

Three chums plot the future of their relationship with their annoyingly perfect friend Ava, in this satirical critique of competition, capitalism, and colonialism.

Bergen Anderson was raised in Iowa, lived in Sweden, was schooled in Minnesota, and now calls Chicago home. She has worked with a number of theatres in Chicago including: Black Sheep Productions, Steep Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Stage Left, Raven Theatre, Tin-Fish, Xunesis Productions, and Steppenwolf. She enjoys playing guitar and drinking Kopparberg's pear cider. Mark Lancaster is an actor, a creature F/X model, a violence designer, a Master of Fine Arts, a husband, learning to play guitar, heavier than he used to be, and older than he's ever been. This isn't even his final form. Cyra K. Polizzi graduated from UW-Madison in Theatre Acting, Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies. Cyra works in theatre and film, focusing on stage acting while also engaging in directing, writing, and exhibition. Cyra is particularly interested in pieces incorporating humor and queer alternatives to compulsory behavior. Breahan Eve Pautsch is a director and actor for both stage and screen. She earned her BA in Theatre and English at UW-Madison and is a company member with Indie Boots and Akvavit. She has worked with Raven, Hobo Junction, Full Voice, Stockyards, Hobo Junction, Halcyon, Chicago ScriptWorks, The Side Project, and Butcher's Son Films. Aisha Leverett has written with Just Great and Democracy Burlesque, and directed with The Annoyance Theater (Triple Feature, Asst. Dir. for Lady Mechanics) and Greenhouse Theatre (MPAACT Solo Jams). Aisha has also written and directed radio plays with Atlanta Fringe Festival Audio Fringe. She has a Bachelor's in Art History and a Master's in Applied Social Psychology.
Bergen Anderson Mark Lancaster Cyra K. Polizzi Breahan Eve Pautsch Aisha Leverett

A No-No Box for Ava
Written by Hannah Benitez . Directed by Majel Cuza . Fight Choreography by Jaq Seifert
Featuring: Stella Martin, Alex Molnar, and Bergen Anderson, Mark Lancaster

In this relatable comedy, teen sisters Ava and Yasmin grapple over the mysterious and embarrassing disappearance of a very personal item.

Stella Martin has worked with 16th Street Theater, Lookingglass Theatre, Redtwist Theatre, Interrobang Theatre Project, Jackalope Theatre/Feast Productions, and Sideshow Theatre Company. Stella received an M.A. in Acting for Stage, Screen, and Radio from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and is represented by Shirley Hamilton Inc. Alex Molnar, originally from New Orleans, is so excited to be a part of Indie Boots for the first time. She has recently been part of The Public House Theatre's 12 Ways To Play Festival, and 20% Theatre Company's 10th Annual Snapshots Play Festival. Alex is also excited to be working with director Majel Cuza again. Jaq Seifert is a fight director, actor, director, and Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors, and Certified in Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals. Credits include: Theater Wit, The Other Theater, Chicago Danztheater, Gary Shakespeare, Halcyon, Towle, Big Noise, Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, and Milwaukee Rep. Jaq teaches movement and combat arts at Vagabond School of the Arts. Majel Cuza is excited to participate in the Indie Boots Theatre Festival. She has directed at 20%, Broken Nose, Halcyon, Infamous Commonwealth, and Rubicon. Majel is the production manager at Theater Wit and has worked with Griffin, Windy City Playhouse, The Chicago Commercial Collective, Collaboraction, Soul Theatre, InFusion, and Red Tape. Hannah Benitez is currently a writer in the Playwright Development Program (2 year grant cycle 2015-17). She studied playwriting under Tarell Alvin McCraney & Marco Ramirez at NWSA High Miami. B.F.A in Acting from FSU. Dramatist Guild and Playwrights' Center Member. Contact
Stella Martin Alex Molnar Jaq Seifert Majel Cuza Hannah Benitez

Future Girl Ava Visits Barbie's Mom
Written by Ellen Davis Sullivan . Directed by Angela Alise
Featuring: Becca C. Browne, Julie Mitre

Faced with insecurities about her health and body, Ava travels back in time to meet the unlikely creator of the Barbie doll.

Becca Browne is a recent graduate of Loyola University Chicago and is very excited to be a part of this amazing festival! Credits include Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys (understudy) at Raven Theatre, From the Mississippi Delta, The House of Bernarda Alba, and the film Wacker. Becca thanks Angela and Julie for being so wonderful and talented! Julie Mitre is thrilled to be performing again with Indie Boots. Recent theatre performance include, Jest A Second and Murderers (Oil Lamp Theatre), Resurrected (Theatre-Hikes), The Clean House (Crabapple Productions), The Ruling Class (Goat Song Theatre), and Squabbles (Theatre in the Woods). Thanks to Isaac for his support and encouragement. Angela Alise holds a BA in Theatre and Sociology from Loyola University-Chicago. She is the Artistic Director of Prologue Theatre Company and has also worked with Boho Theatre Company, Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, Ouroboros/Big Noise Theatre, Erasing the Distance, and Red Tape Theatre. Ellen Davis Sullivan's one-act plays have been produced in theaters across the United States. She is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction whose work has appeared in journals including Clarion, Stonecoast Review and Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Ellen is a member of the Dramatists' Guild.
Becca C. Browne Julie Mitre Angela Alise Ellen Davis Sullivan

For Ava & Ava & Ava & Ava, Amen
Written by Kathleen Rooney . Directed by Richard Paro
Featuring: Miki Byrne, Katurah Nelson, Jazzma Pryor, Hannah Williams, Ashley Yates

A high school language arts teacher is surprised to find her class filled with historical Avas.

Miki Byrne holds a BA in Opera/Vocal Performance from Loyola University New Orleans. Now a local Chicagoland actress, Miki has performed with a number of companies including Underscore Theatre and Alphabet's Soup Children's Theatre. Katurah Nelson is so pleased to work with Indie Boots again, because the folks are really cool. She was also seen in There Might Be... Stumble and Ella's Children. Jazzma Pryor Hannah Williams is excited to be working with Indie Boots for the first time! In the past she's worked with Citadel, Big Noise Theatre, Oil Lamp, Waltzing Mechanics, 20% Theatre, and The Right Brain Project. She also serves as a company member at The Right Brain Project. Check us out: Ashley Yates moved to Chicago in 2011 after graduating from the University of Iowa with a BA in Theater Arts. Ashley is a founding member of Wayward Productions. Chicago credits include: Burn the Black Dog, Richard III, Abbey Fest and Fight Night performances, as well as work with Tympanic Theater, Abraham Werewolf, and Waltzing Mechanics.
Miki Byrne Katurah Nelson Jazzma Pryor Hannah Williams Ashley Yates
Richard Paro is an award-winning director based in Chicago, where he's also found acting and writing. He's the artistic director of Indie Boots/Mudgeonsoul and has worked with various companies including Full Voice, Hobo Junction, Prologue, Tympanic, Arc, Stage 773, Fury, Theatre-Hikes, and Stockyards. In addition, his films screen at festivals around the world. Kathleen Rooney (From Dust to Stardust - Lake Union, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey - Penguin Press, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk - St. Martin's Press) is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. With Eric Plattner, she is co-editor of Rene Magritte: Selected Writings, coming out this Fall. @KathleenMrooney
Richard Paro Kathleen Rooney

Ava's Visit
Written by Deborah Chava Singer . Directed by Juan Castañeda
Featuring: Katia Jackson, Amanda Lopez, Daena Ramos, Lindsey Shaw

Ava is thrown back into the activist world, still torn by her decision to leave, the inner workings of the organization, and how to move forward.

Katia Jackson is extremely excited to be joining the production! The Chicago native has attended Lookingglass Theatre Company and Second City Training Center. When not acting, she is the Assistant Curator for her sister, abstract artist, EA7160. Katia would like to thank Juan Castaneda and everyone at Indie Boots Theatre Festival for the opportunity! Amanda Lopez will have (hopefully!) graduated from Columbia College Chicago by the time you read this, where she was most recently seen on stage as Carmen in its production of "Glockenspiel." This is her first Indie Boots Theatre Festival. When she's not acting, Amanda enjoys designing costumes and cosplaying as her favorite heroes and villains. Daena Ramos recently worked with Urban Theater Company as the Assistant Director and understudy for "Adoracion" in Adoration of the Old Woman. Born and raised in Chicago, Daena received a Bachelor's in Advertising/PR from Loyola University Chicago and Master's in CSPA from Illinois State University. Lindsey Shaw is a transplant from the Detroit area and has studied Meisner Technique in NYC as well as taken class here at The Second City, iO Theater and Green Room Studio. She performs stand up comedy open mics around town, does freelance copywriting and is writing a web series to be shot over the summer.
Katia Jackson Amanda Lopez Daena Ramos Lindsey Shaw
Juan CastaƱeda is the Artistic Director at UrbanTheater Company. His Chicago credits include companies such as Steep, Teatro Vista, Strange Loop, Broken Nose, American Theatre Company, Halcyon, The People's Theatre Company of Chicago, Chicago Dramatists, EX-Pats, The Mammals, Hobo Junction, Chicago Fusion, Splitpillow, Fine Print, Clockwise, La Molecula Artistica and Colectivo el Pozo. Deborah Chava Singer is originally from San Diego, California where she studied truth with the Mesa College Theatre Company and Queer Players. She currently resides in Vancouver, Washington where she is a poet, playwright and assorted other things. You can find her credits and upcoming news at
Juan Castañeda Deborah Chava Singer

Ava Takes Up Aviation
Written by John Weagly . Directed by Crystal Hartford
Featuring: Cat Davidson, Erin K. O'Brien, Danielle Rennalls

Ava's friends have their hands full when they find her up a tree, in this heartbreak- and cocaine- fueled comedy.

Cat Davidson is a theater and film actor and writer. Recent credits include "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Pulse Theatre) and "Gee's Bend" (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre). Cat is pursuing an M.F.A. in Writing for the Screen and Stage at Northwestern University. She holds a degree in Theater Arts from Muhlenberg College. She can be seen in "Decrypted" and "The Scarlet Line." Erin O'Brien is an Oklahoma native. She has been living in Chicago and immersing herself in the theatre community since 2010. An up and coming performer with a whole lot of snark, you may have previously seen her in the first stage adaptation of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Strawdog Theatre Company and Trip. Theatre's Finding Graffenberg. Danielle Rennalls wears many hats and loves storytelling. UNC School of the Arts Directing 2011. Credits: Lyric Opera, Redmoon Theater, Rising Phoenix Rep, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and the Edinburgh Fringe. Crystal Hartford attended Avila University in Kansas City, MO where she received her B.F.A in Theatre. Some of Crystal's favorite roles include "Brooke" in Noises off, "Helena" in The Rover, and "Cinderella" in Into The Woods. Crystal can also be found performing with the Chicago-based bands The Dust Bunnies and Harford/Focht. John Weagly's short plays have received over 100 productions by theaters around the world. His last appearance in this fine festival was in 2014 when his play "Olivia Names Her Octopus" was part of THE OLIVIA PLAYS.
Cat Davidson Erin K. O'Brien Danielle Rennalls Crystal Hartford John Weagly

Ava in the End
Written by Addison Heimann . Directed by Jessica Rae Olsen
Featuring: Kiera Lynn Haaland, Colleen Kiel

In this dark comedy, Ava is suddenly awoken in a hard drive, the computer her only companion as she faces her mortality.

Kiera Lynn Haaland moved to Chicago in 2008 to pursue acting. Since then, she's found herself in the music industry and completed writing her first two-act play, RockStarBaby!, in 2013. Kiera is happy to be working with long time friend Jessica Rae. Love & Gratitude to family, friends and Ren. Colleen Kiel moved to Chicago from Iowa and is excited to be making her Chicago acting debut. Jessica Rae Olsen is Co-Artistic Director of New Millennium Theatre Company and company member since 2011. She studied Theater Performance at the University of Northern Iowa and although a performer at heart, she found her calling working offstage and deeply enjoys being a part of the many cogs and inner workings that make the theatre clock tick. Addison Heimann is a playwright and actor currently residing in Chicago. His plays have received readings/workshops through Shattered Globe, The New Colony, and The Poor Theatre, among others. He has written for the One Minute Play festival, and was the writer on the devised SGT Protege program production of "We're Fine."
Kiera Lynn Haaland Colleen Kiel Jessica Rae Olsen Addison Heimann

Ava in Heat
Written by Eileen Tull . Directed by Gaby Labotka
Featuring: Avi Roque, Kelly Steik

Ava and Shay sweat in the heat of a Chicago summer, contemplating the impermanence of changing seasons, love, and global warming.

Avi Roque (The Owl House - Disney) is an active participant in the Chicago theatre scene having recently worked with Lookingglass, Goodman & Collaboraction, where they are a company member. As an artist and activist, they are excited to be a part of the Indie Boots Theatre Festival 2016: The Ava Plays! To learn more about their whereabouts you can visit Kelly Steik is delighted to join her first production with Indie Boots. Kelly is a graduate of Illinois State University where she studied Acting and was an active member of The Improv Mafia. She has worked with Redmoon Theater and The Living Canvas. Gaby Labotka had her debut with The Living Canvas: Rain. Since then, she has AD'd for The House and Mary-Arrchie, and directed in Abbie Fests XXIV-XXVI (The Living Canvas), Hobo Junction, and Fight Nights 2012 and 2014 (Mary-Arrchie and Wayward Productions). She is also an actor, playwright, and choreographer. For more information, please check out her Facebook Page: Eileen Tull is writer and performer whose short plays have been seen at Prologue Theatre, 20% Theatre, Stage Left, and Hobo Junction, as well as on stages in New York City, Boca Raton, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and San Francisco. Eileen co-curates Sappho's Salon, a performance series at Women and Children First that amplifies the voices of artists exploring gender, feminism, and sexuality.
Avi Roque Kelly Steik Gaby Labotka Eileen Tull

Written by Ken Preuss . Directed by Ashely Bagot
Featuring: Nicole Michelle Haskins, Cyra K. Polizzi, Robin Posavetz, Elise Spoerlein

Ella sets out to prove Ana is still in love with her ex-girlfriend, Ava. Wordplay, romance, and smoothies ensue.

Nicole Michelle Haskins is Motor City born and bred, and a proud Chicago Actor/Singer/Writer/Cupcake addict. Nicole is beyond excited to join this remarkable ensemble of talent. Recent credits include: Rent (Theo Ubique) and World Premiere of For her as a Piano (Pegasus Theatre), School at Steppenwolf Acting Fellow 14' and MOSAIC Youth Theatre of Detroit Alum. Cyra K. Polizzi graduated from UW-Madison in Theatre Acting, Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies. Cyra works in theatre and film, focusing on stage acting while also engaging in directing, writing, and exhibition. Cyra is particularly interested in pieces incorporating humor and queer alternatives to compulsory behavior. Robin Posavetz Elise Spoerlein is an actor and playwright and is in love with the Chicago theatre scene. She is the Associate Artistic Director of Broken Nose Theatre (a pay-what-you-can company) and a company member with Waltzing Mechanics. Credits include Lyric Opera, Factory, Strawdog, The New Colony, Hobo Junction, and Stage 773. Much love to Spenser and the cats.
Nicole Michelle Haskins Cyra K. Polizzi Robin Posavetz Elise Spoerlein
Ashely Bagot is a director, actor, and costume designer. In addition to her work with Indie Boots, she frequently works with Hobo Junction, Full Voice, and Stockyards Theatre Project. Ashely also works assisting people dealing with mental illness access recovery services. Ken Preuss is a Central Florida playwright and teacher. His 14 published one-acts for teens include Shuffling and Campsite Chaos. His 10-minute plays, Binged There-Done That and Gift of the Matt-Guy, have been produced on both coasts, and his 2015 Orlando Play-in-a-Day short was named Best in Show.
Ashely Bagot Ken Preuss

Rutabagas, Business Cards, and Ava (Out of Competition Bonus Play!)
By Kristin P.
Featuring: Crystal Hartford, Cyra K. Polizzi

Brit and Ava, both gunning for a hard to secure job at the LGBTQ advocacy office, struggle to connect over veganism and bisexuality as they await their interviews, in this comedy about community.

Crystal Hartford attended Avila University in Kansas City, MO where she received her B.F.A in Theatre. Some of Crystal's favorite roles include "Brooke" in Noises off, "Helena" in The Rover, and "Cinderella" in Into The Woods. Crystal can also be found performing with the Chicago-based bands The Dust Bunnies and Harford/Focht. Cyra K. Polizzi graduated from UW-Madison in Theatre Acting, Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies. Cyra works in theatre and film, focusing on stage acting while also engaging in directing, writing, and exhibition. Cyra is particularly interested in pieces incorporating humor and queer alternatives to compulsory behavior. Kristin P. is credited with short and full length, feminist and queer theatre pieces, many of them workshopped in Chicago with Stockyards Theatre Project and further developed by Full Voice.
Crystal Hartford Cyra K. Polizzi Kristin P.