Indie Boots Theatre Festival

2017: The Zoe Plays

Monday, May 8 - Wednesday, May 10, 2017 . 7:30pm
Stage 773 . 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL

2017 Audience Award Winner:
Zoe & Regina (Not This White Woman)

2017 Audience Award Honorable Mention:
Zoe for the People

The fifth annual Indie Boots Theatre Festival 2017: The Zoe Plays celebrates new short plays featuring underrepresented perspectives on whose stories are worth telling, what's funny, and how the world works. The plays grapple with our unstable present and unknown future though hilarious comedy, engaging drama, biting satire, complicated realism, and a queer time traveling farce.

On Monday, May 8 through Wednesday, May 10 at 7:30pm at Stage 773, teams of Chicago directors and actors bring life to new scripts selected from hundreds of submissions inspired by this year's writing prompt, "Zoe." All the finalists are performed each night in quick succession. Then, it's up to the savvy audience to experience these lively, full staged collaborations and determine the winning play!

Tickets are $15 for this entertaining show, with discounts available for artists, students, educators, seniors, low income and social justice workers. Tickets are available at, 773.327.5252, and Stage 773, an accessible theatre at 1225 W. Belmont, near the L in the Belmont Theatre District.

For information about our additional community building efforts at the festival this year with Chicago Women's Health Center and Voters Take The Stage, please contact us at or scroll to the bottom of this page.

Help us make the festival more accessible!
- Make the front row available to people using wheelchairs, who are hard of hearing, with low vision, or who need to be close to the stage or exit for any health reason.
- Wear fewer fragranced products. Fragrances can trigger serious health reactions.
- Be respectful of people in bathrooms.
- Large print black and white programs are available at the door and via email.
- Please contact us at to share ways we might be able to improve your experience at the festival. We know we have more work to do and will continue to try to improve access at our events.

The Zoe Plays!

For more info about the artists, hover over the photos.
All plays are performed each night. Listing does not reflect running order.
Running time is 75 minutes, with no intermission.
2017 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" and 2016's "The Ava Plays." Amy has staged managed with several companies in Chicago, including Oracle Productions and Waltzing Mechanics.

Zoe's Interview, Or Success is Within Your Grasp
Written by Eileen Tull . Directed by Jessica Rae Olsen
Featuring: Rosie O'Leary, Jessica Vann

Zoe's job interview goes off the rails in this hilarious critique of the modern American workplace and the frantic desperation it instills in the workforce.

photo of Rosie O'Leary Rosie O'Leary is thrilled to be part of Indie Boots' Zoe Plays! Rosie moved to Chicago after touring with National Players. Credits include: "El Stories" (Waltzing Mechanics) and "Because I Love You...A Comedy about Parenting" (Gorilla Tango). Rosie graduated from Boston University with a BFA in Acting. "Thank you, Jes, for giving me this opportunity to tell untold stories!" photo of Jessica Vann Jessica Vann is elated to join this loving cast! Credits include: First Lady Suite; Circle Theatre, Jeff Recommended Story of a Story; Underscore Theater, Big Noise Theater; HAIR, Ragtime and Beehive, New Millennium Theater; Crazy for Swayze, Burlesque Dancer for Flaming Dames, Lead Vocalist for Simplistic Soul. "Love to Mom, Dad, broham, and Granny, you all are my rock!" photo of Jessica Rae Olsen 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. photo of Eileen Tull Eileen Tull is a storyteller, solo performer, and playwright. She's performed across the country, from NYC to San Francisco. Her work has been seen at Chicago Dramatists, Salonathon, Hobo Junction, The Plagiarists, You're Being Ridiculous, and Knife & Fork. Eileen is a teaching artist with American Blues Theater and co-hosts Sappho's Salon, a monthly performance series at WCF bookstore.
Rosie O'Leary Jessica Vann Jessica Rae Olsen Eileen Tull

goodbye, zoe
Written by Theo Germaine . Directed by Gaby Labotka
Featuring: Jojo Brown, Gabriel Faith Howard . Casting Director: Charlie Hano

On January 21st, 2017, Zoe is surprised to find someone in their darkened theatre. Zoe quickly realizes the visitor is in fact a ghost, come to share a message with a fellow trans person during an uncertain time.

photo of Jojo Brown Jojo Brown (Single Drunk Female - Freeform/Hulu) is very excited to be acting in Indie Boots Theatre Festival 2017. Recently she has been seen in The Room at A Red Orchid Theatre (playing what Hedy Weiss called "a sexually ambiguous zombie".) You can catch her biking down the Lakefront trail scream singing 90s r&b. photo of Gabriel Faith Howard Gabriel Faith Howard is a actor, dancer, circus artist, and fight director. Since moving to Chicago in 2007 he has worked with a variety of theater ensembles, including Imaginez Ensemblez, Cave Painting Theater, and The Living Canvas. Gabriel is on a lifelong mission to tell significantly silly and/or viscerally powerful stories. Indie Boots logo Charlie Hano is a freelance casting professional in Chicago. Currently, they are a Casting Associate with The Chicago Inclusion Project. Earlier this year, they Assistant Directed [Trans]formation with Nothing Without a Company. They've cast for Victory Gardens, Oak Park Theater, Pivot Arts, and many more. You can check out more of their work on the webseries BRUJOS on photo of Gaby Labotka Gaby Labotka is excited to return for her third Indie Boots Festival! She recently directed the world premier of [Trans]formation produced by The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company at Collaboraction Studios. Credits include: The House, Mary-Arrchie, Abbie Fests XXIV-XXVII, Hobo Junction, and most Fight Nights since 2012 (curating Valkyries). She's also an actor, playwright, and choreographer. photo of Theo Germaine Theo Germaine (The Politician - Netflix, They/Them - Peacock)
Jojo Brown Gabriel Faith Howard Charlie Hano Gaby Labotka Theo Germaine

Zoe What's her Butt
Written by June Thiele . Directed by Breahan Eve Pautsch
Featuring: Cyra K. Polizzi, June Thiele

Two queer friends lightheartedly prep for a night on the town, joking about fashion, porn, Gabrielle's Native American identity, and Kelly's lack thereof, until complications arise in their relationships with each other and to racism.

photo of Cyra K. Polizzi Cyra K. Polizzi is a theatre actor who also engages in directing, writing, education, live lit, community movement forms, and independent film. Cyra is especially interested in performance incorporating humor, intersectionality, and queer alternatives to compulsory actions. Cyra graduated from UW-Madison in Theatre Acting, Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies. photo of June Thiele June Thiele (Molly of Denali - PBS, True Detective - HBO) is a queer, two-spirited, Native American actor, writer, and performance artist. Indigenous to Alaska, she travelled here over 10 years ago to study at Columbia College Chicago. She has had a lot of great opportunities in Chicago and is excited to see where it takes her. photo of Breahan Eve Pautsch 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.
Cyra K. Polizzi June Thiele Breahan Eve Pautsch

Zoe & Regina (Not This White Woman)
Written by Adrienne Dawes . Directed by Helen Young
Featuring: Nicole Michelle Haskins, Taylor Raye, Laura Stephenson

Commuters Zoe and Regina react very differently to Karen Michelle's self-absorbed attempts to rectify a newfound shame in America. (The title of the piece references shirts marketed by two people named Karen and Michelle.)

photo of Nicole Michelle Haskins 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. photo of Taylor Raye Taylor Raye (Actor) photo of Laura Stephenson Laura Stephenson is a Company Manager and Casting Director of Halcyon Theatre, and has been fortunate enough to work with numerous theatres in Chicago, Oklahoma and Texas. She's an animal enthusiast, sports fan, and Star Wars nerd who enjoys new play development and dabbling with Shakespeare. She hopes to continue creating opportunities in the theatre for under-represented communities. photo of Helen Young Helen Young photo of Adrienne Dawes Adrienne Dawes is an award-winning ​playwright and producer from Austin, TX. She is currently based in Tulsa, OK as part of the first writing cohort of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Follow her @heckleher or
Nicole Michelle Haskins Taylor Raye Laura Stephenson Helen Young Adrienne Dawes

Zoe for the People
Written by L.C. Bernadine . Directed by Ashely Bagot
Featuring: Jessica Jane Childs, Laura Elliott

Zoe's unusual behavior at the movie theatre prompts an usher to respond as trained, but Zoe is working on a training of their own: practicing for what could come next in life without a safety net in an isolating system that undervalues mental healthcare.

photo of Jessica Jane Childs Jessica Jane Childs is pumped to the max to be kickin' it with Indie Boots again! Previous Indie Boots credits include The Ella Plays and The Olivia Plays. She also performed and co-produced the anti-Valentine's cabaret "Letters/X" for eight years, and sang around town in the bluegrass and honkytonk bands, Moonshine & Honeysuckle and True Historians. photo of Laura Elliott Laura Elliott is a Chicago based actor heralding from Virginia. Since arriving to Chicago, Laura has had the privilege of working with theatre companies such as, Sideshow Theatre Company, Dandelion Theatre Company, and Collaboraction Theatre Company. She also co-produced and performed in the midwestern premiere of Malefactions at Gorilla Tango Theatre Company. photo of Ashely Bagot Ashely Bagot is a director, actor, and costume designer. In addition to her work with Indie Boots, Ashely can frequently be seen with Full Voice and Stockyards Theatre Project. Ashely also works assisting people with mental illness access housing and recovery services. photo of L.C. Bernadine L.C. Bernadine is the author of BORDERLANDS (Underscore Theatre), STYLE (William Inge Theatre Festival), WILL THE CIRCLE (Chicago Musical Theatre Festival 2016, Kansas City Fringe 2017) and other plays. She is currently at work on a new script called SUMMER WORK TRAVEL set within a questionable State Department program for foreign students. Contact at
Jessica Jane Childs Laura Elliott Ashely Bagot L.C. Bernadine

Zoe Might (Out of Competition)
By Richard Paro
Featuring: Ellen Girvin, Joshua K. Harris, Katia Jackson, Justine Krueger, Stephanie Mattos, Danny Mulae, Cyra K. Polizzi, Daena Ramos, Ashley Yates

The future is on the line in this queer time traveling farce filled with vegan, atheist, and poly folks, who all want to know, where do we go from here?

photo of Ellen Girvin Ellen Girvin is excited to be part of a project that gives a voice to under represented people and a platform to tell their stories. Ellen is a proud graduate of Florida State University's School of Theatre and the training program at iO. Ellen is an actor and improvisor and acts with Murder Mystery Company. Represented by BMG Talent. photo of Joshua K. Harris Joshua K. Harris is seeping with elation to be back with Indie Boots. Catch him performing at various Chicago storytelling and variety shows; the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Music Box lounge with Redacted - comic staged readings of films we love, hate, or both; or at your local taqueria. photo of Katia Jackson 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 everyone at Indie Boots Theatre Festival for the opportunity! photo of Justine	Krueger Justine Krueger photo of Stephanie Mattos Stephanie Mattos is excited to perform with Indie Boots for the first time! Previous credits include FYI Plays FIRST: A play about virginity (Unicorn), Tango 21 Dance Theatre's Feathers (Robin), and Odd's Bodskins Taming of the Shrew (u/s Petruchio). Check her out on!
Ellen Girvin Joshua K. Harris Katia Jackson Justine Krueger Stephanie Mattos
photo of Danny Mulae Danny Mulae has worked at several theatres including Goodman, Signal Ensemble, Collaboraction, The Right Brain Project, Steep, and American Theatre Company, and has appeared on Chicago Fire. photo of Cyra K. Polizzi Cyra K. Polizzi is a theatre actor who also engages in directing, writing, education, live lit, community movement forms, and independent film. Cyra is especially interested in performance incorporating humor, intersectionality, and queer alternatives to compulsory actions. Cyra graduated from UW-Madison in Theatre Acting, Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies. photo of Daena Ramos Daena Ramos has previously collaborated with Chicago's Urban Theater Company as Assistant Director and understudy for their 2016 production of Adoration of the Old Woman. Daena is a native to the southwest side suburbs. Her experience also expands to fashion and merchandising for Chicago's annual Stylemax Showcase. Daena is extremely humbled and excited to work with Indie Boots again! photo of Ashley Yates 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. photo of Richard Paro 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 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.
Danny Mulae Cyra K. Polizzi Daena Ramos Ashley Yates Richard Paro

Indie Boots Theatre Festival 2017 Selected Plays

Congratulations to all the Semi-Finalists, which were selected from hundreds of submissions!

* goodbye, zoe, by Theo Germaine (Finalist)
* Zoe & Regina (Not This White Woman), by Adrienne Dawes (Finalist)
* Zoe for the People, by L.C. Bernadine (Finalist)
* Zoe What's her Butt, by June Thiele (Finalist)
* Zoe's Interview, Or Success is Within Your Grasp, by Eileen Tull (Finalist)
* Zoe Might by Richard Paro (Out of Competition)
I Hate You, Zoe Kravitz, by Marlene I. Burrell (Semi-Finalist)
It's Zoe's Fault, by Nancy Cooper Frank (Semi-Finalist)
Nesting Zoe, by Jennifer Persechino (Semi-Finalist)
Red Line Train To Zoe, by Alex Molnar (Semi-Finalist)
Zoe 3D, by Russell Nichols (Semi-Finalist)
Zoe Is It, by Mark Harvey Levine (Semi-Finalist)
Zoe Picks a Drink, by Deborah Chava Singer (Semi-Finalist)
Zoe The Pigeon Girl; Or, It Takes A Flock To Fight The Patriarchy, by Kathleen Rooney (Semi-Finalist)
Zoe's Bar Club Experience, by Alex Rubin (Semi-Finalist)
Zoe's New Year's Eve, by Brenda Foley (Semi-Finalist)

* Selected for Performance

Additional Community Building Initiatives

Chicago Women's Health Center logo

Audience members are invited to join us in donating wish list items to Chicago Women's Health Center. Each night, Indie Boots will collect donations at the shows and then deliver them directly to this essential local organization to help support the services they provide, "facilitating the empowerment of women and trans people by providing access to health care and health education in a respectful environment where people pay what they can afford." To view the wish list, please visit: CWHC

Voters Take The Stage logo

Indie Boots Theatre Festival 2017: The Zoe Plays is the inaugural participating production of Voters Take The Stage, a new grassroots effort to empower performing arts organizations and audiences to become more active in elections. Participating theatres compile and distribute to audiences, local resources about voter registration, upcoming elections, candidate information, and voting rights.