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these shining lives

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble proudly presents the Midwest premiere

By Melanie Marnich


January 8, 2009


Sponsored by The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation


Directed by RTE’s Rachel Walshe, “These Shining Lives” tells the story of the young women employed at Ottawa’s Radium Dial and Luminous Processes watch and clock factories in the 1920s and ’30s. While employers assured the women’s safety, their exposure to and ingestion of radium-based paint proved deadly.





Rebecca Spence as Catherine
Rebecca Spence Rebecca is honored to make her Rivendell debut. Theatre credits include her most recent role as Alice in Remy Bumppo’s The Voysey Inheritance. Other Chicago credits include: The Crucible, Household Spirits, As if Body Loop, The Human Capacity, Our Lady of 121st Street and the world premiere of Pacific with Steppenwolf Theatre. She has also appeared in Touch(ed) and IN with Northlight Theatre; Twelfth Night (Noble Fool Theatricals); Dracula (Defiant Theatre); Days of Wine and Roses (Keyhole Players) and Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief (TriArts). Regional credits include: Roxanne in Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Cyrano and its subsequent tour. Film credits include: Public Enemies, Grace is Gone and The Break Up. She has appeared on the FOX Television show Prison Break and the upcoming A&E drama The Beast.


Sean Cooper as Tom
Sean CooperSean has been acting in Chicago for fifteen years. Recent theatre credits include The Final Toast (International Mystery Writers Festival); Wedding Play (About Face Theatre); Honus and Me, Dandelion Wine (Chicago Children’s Theatre); Cradle of Man (Victory Gardens); Red Herring (Northlight Theatre); Mojo (Mary-Arrchie); Eurydice, Melancholy Play, Mad Forest, Book of Days (Piven Theatre); Merchant of Venice (Strawdog Theatre); A Lesson Before Dying (Steppenwolf Theatre); Lysistrata (Running With Scissors); H2O and K. (The Neo-Futurists), and a slew of shows with The Shakespeare Project of Chicago. His film and television work includes Whirlybird, A Pirate’s Life, The Malcontents, and a guest-starring role on A&E’s The Beast.


Justine C. Turner as Charlotte
Justine C. Turner is thrilled to be making her Rivendell debut. She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. She is a proud founding member of The Plagiarists where she was just seen in Promiscuous Stories. She was part of the Jeff Award-winning ensemble of Cider House Rules: Pt 1 and 2 with Famous Door and the Jeff Citation Award-winning ensemble of Action Movie the Play with Defiant theatre. She has also worked with Writers’ theatre, A Crew of Patches, The Journeymen, and Noble Fool theatricals. This spring she can be seen in Strawdog Theatre’s Red Noses. She would like to thank the lovely group of folks who work to tell this story, Tara for keeping her in line and mind, and her amazing folks for keeping her under roof.


Ashley Neal as Pearl
Ashley has been a member of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble for 7 years. During that time she has appeared in Be Aggressive, Expecting Isabel, The Walls, These Shining Lives, and most recently 26 Miles. As a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and having worked with numerous theatre companies throughout Chicago, Ashley is proud to call Chicago her home — and Rivendell her family!


Jessie Fisher as Frances
Jessie Fisher is thrilled to be working with Rivendell Ensemble. She recently performed the one-woman show My Name is Rachel Corrie with Purple Bench Productions. She has worked with Profiles Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, The Artistic Home, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Curious Theatre Branch, among others. Jessie is a recent graduate of the School at Steppenwolf and can be seen in Of Mice and Men this spring for Steppenwolf’s TYA series. Jessie would like to thank Erica for the support and Mad Animal’s for the constant love and inspiration.


Ron Wells as Mr. Reed
Ron was most recently seen as Peter in Caffeine Theatre’s fall production of Many Loves. He also received the 2008 Non-AEA Jeff Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the psychopathic killer Sean in Mary Arrchie Theatre’s A Prayer For My Daughter. Other recent roles include Michael in The Fourposter at Citadel Theatre and Annibale Carracci in Silk Road Theatre’s Caravaggio. Other Chicago credits: Voyeurs de Venus at Chicago Dramatists (where he is an Associate Artist); A Trip To Bountiful, Medea, and Skin of our Teeth at American Theatre Company (where he is an Affiliated Artist); Cuttings, The Waiting Room, and Prairie Lights at Stage Left; The Grey Zone at A Red Orchid Theatre; and Detail Of A Larger Work at Steppenwolf.





Melanie Marnich
Melanie is originally from Duluth, Minnesota, where she developed a keen appreciation for the dramatic extremes of the characters and climate around her. Her love of such a careening environment has informed her work ever since. Her plays are driven by people who are compelled, by personality and by place, to seek answers to life’s most human and confusing questions. Her voice is idiosyncratically comic, exuberantly theatrical, and emotionally real. Melanie has received two McKnight Advancement Grants and two Jerome Fellowships (The Playwrights’ Center), two Samuel Goldwyn Awards and the Francesca Primus Prize. Her work has been seen at The Guthrie Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Steppenwolf Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Dallas Theater Center, London’s Royal Court Theatre and the O’Neill Theatre Center. Commissions include The Guthrie Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, and the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis. She is a core member of The Playwrights’ Center.




Director — Rachel Walshe
Rachel Walshe became an ensemble member in 2007. She is Artistic Director of Fresh Produce and Director of New Play Development. For Rivendell, Rachel directed These Shining Lives; assistant directed Quiara Alegria Hudes’ Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue (director: Lisa Portes); and directed the staged reading of Carson Kreitzer’s Flesh and the Desert. Rachel holds her MFA from DePaul University’s Theatre School where she directed Machinal by Sophie Treadwell; Eighteen by Allison Moore; Breath, Boom by Kia Corthron; Living Out by Lisa Loomer and Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. Other Chicago directing credits include readings of Annie Levine’s Disaster City and Lisa Rosenthal’s The Good Harvest, both at Chicago Dramatists. Rachel hails from Providence, RI, where she has worked extensively as a dramaturge and director. Rachel has dramaturged Tom Stoppard’s Travesties and David Mamet’s Oleanna, both for the Gamm Theatre. She served as literary associate for Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul, Henry IV and Henry V, all for Trinity Rep. RI directing credits include Marie Jones’ A Night in November for the Firehouse Theatre in Newport and Kayla Hazzard’s The Dinosaur Play for Perishable Theatre’s Manton Avenue Project. She is currently directing the remount of These Shining Lives. She gave birth to baby Alice in the spring of 2009.


Assistant Director — Shera Street
Shera Street has been a proud member of Rivendell Theater Ensemble since 2001. She has more than 10 years of experience in theater production, including 6 years as Assistant Production Manager with the Goodman Theatre. Production management credits with Rivendell include These Shining Lives at Theater on the Lake; Fresh Produce; Be Aggressive; The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek; and Faulkner’s Bicycle. Directing credits with Rivendell include 365 Days 365 Plays and assistant direction for These Shining Lives. Shera was Producer for Rivendell’s production of Indulgences in the Louisville Harem and Associate Producer for RTE’s Silence. Acting credits include 365 Days 365 Plays with Lifeline Theatre and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Expecting Isabel, and Silence (performing understudy) also with Rivendell. She has also performed in Chicago-area productions of Romeo and Juliet; Lost In Yonkers; Arsenic and Old Lace; and King Lear with the Iowa Shakespeare Project. She received her BFA in Theatre from Drake University and currently works as a project manager for planetarium shows and exhibits at the Adler Planetarium.


Scenic Design — Jessica Kuehnau
Jessica is pleased to be designing her first set for Rivendell Theatre. Ms. Kuehnau is a recent graduate of Northwestern University receiving her MFA in both set and costume design. Her Chicago credits include designing for Pegasus Players, Griffin Theatre, Lifeline, MPAACT, Adventure Stage Chicago, Light Opera Works, and Metropolis Performing Art Center. Jessica is currently the resident set designer and design professor at North Park University and full time teaching faculty at Northeastern Illinois University. Look for her costume designs this spring with Steep, Circle Theatre and Adventure Stage Chicago.


Lighting Design — Diane Fairchild
Diane Fairchild is a proud ensemble member of Rivendell, an Artistic Associate of Next Theatre, an Artistic Affiliate of BoHo Theatre, and part time faculty at The School of the Art Institute. Previous designs for Rivendell include Rasheeda Speaking, The Electric Baby, WRENS (2012), Crooked, Precious Little, These Shining Lives, 26 Miles, The Walls, and Psalms of a Questionable Nature.

Other design credits include work at Lifeline, Babes with Blades, BoHo, Next, Northlight, Court, Timeline, Wheaton College, City Lit, Chicago Dramatists, Redmoon, Pegasus, Side Project, Raven, and the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. Awards she has been nominated for include a Non-Equity Jeff (The Gimmick, 2010), Broadway World Chicago (Floyd Collins, 2012 and Kiss of the Spider Woman, 2013), and a Wilde (Love’s Labours Lost, 2012). Ms. Fairchild holds an MFA in theater design from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and she earned her BFA in design and technology for theater from Wright State University in her hometown of Dayton, Ohio.


Costume Design — Ruthanne Swanson
Ruthanne is thrilled to be working on These Shining Lives as her first production with Rivendell Theatre. Most recently she designed Many Loves for Caffeine Theatre. Other design credits include Tristan & Yseult (National High School Institute, Theatre Arts) G. B. Shaw’s Misalliance, A. A. Milne’s The Man in the Bowler Hat, and Peter Shaffer’s White Lies (Vanderbilt University), and Cheaper By the Dozen (Summer Place Theatre). By day Ruthanne is a stitcher at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Northwestern University. She holds a BA in Theatre from Vanderbilt University.


Sound Design — Nick Keenan
Nick is thrilled to be working with Rivendell for the first time. Nick has designed over 100 shows in Chicago with companies including A Red Orchid (Not a Game for Boys), BackStage (How I Learned to Drive), Raven (Book of Days, A Few Good Men), Greasy Joan & Co. (Sueño, Woyzeck) and his artistic home, New Leaf Theatre (Touch, Six Years, The Dining Room). Nick has assisted at the Chicago Shakespeare (Amadeus) and the Goodman Theatre (Trip to Bountiful, Shining City) Nick is a sound operator at the Goodman, and explores behind-the-scenes on his blog


Composer / Associate Sound Design — Stephanie Sherline
Stephanie is thrilled to be making her Rivendell debut with this exciting production! Stephanie is a recent graduate of Northwestern University’s theatre department where she composed music for several plays. In Chicago, she has sound designed and/or composed for The Mill, Apex Theatre Company, PEOPLES Theatre of Chicago, Profiles Theatre, The New Colony, and Curious Theatre Branch. Thanks to Nick Keenan and Rivendell for this opportunity.


Dramaturg — Martha Wade Steketee
Martha Wade Steketee has been a script reader for Washington, DC theatres (Theatre J and Studio Theatre), Chicago theatres (Steppenwolf, Goodman, and Northlight), and online publisher Playscripts, Inc. She has dramaturged productions at Writers’ Theatre, readings at Columbia College and Chicago Dramatists, and reviewed Chicago theatre for Our “Radium Girls” along with Hedda Gabler and Jeff Committee membership currently fill her days and nights with theatre. Steketee is a happy immigrant to Chicago after an eight-year stint in Washington, D.C., most of those with a national court research organization.


Stage Manager — Stephanie Hurovitz
Stephanie Hurovitz has been stage managing in Chicago since 2003 and she is very happy to have a home with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. She stage managed the extension of Rivendell’s Eat Your Heart Out (2014); as well as the full productions of American Wee Pie (2013); Wrens (2012); Crooked (2012); Falling: A Wake (2012); Precious Little (2011); Mary’s Wedding (2010); The Walls (2009); These Shining Lives (all four incarnations, 2008-2010); and assistant stage managed Rivendell’s co-production of Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue (2006) with Teatro Vista at the Steppenwolf Garage. She most recently stage managed the Jeff Award Winning production of A View From the Bridge with Teatro Vista (2014), and is preparing to begin rehearsals with TV once again, for Between You, Me, and The Lampshade. Other recent credits outside of Rivendell include: Remy Bumppo’s An Inspector Calls (2013-14), The Runaway Circus’ Overcome (2013); 3 Squares Production’s Lipstick Goes on Last (2013); Teatro Vista’s world premier of i put the fear of mexico in ‘em (2012). She has also worked with: SuzBo Productions (a staged reading of One Is One; Two Is Math at Steppenwolf); Route 66 Theatre Company (A Twist of Water); Pegasus Players; Lifeline Theatre (Lyle, Lyle Crocodile; The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!; Gaudy Night; Giggle, Giggle Quack; A Long Way From Chicago; and Deep In The Jungle); Bailiwick Reparatory (Sunday on the Rocks) and ASM (Naked Boys Singing); Theatre Building Chicago, where she worked with Hancock Productions (The Brother and ‘Night Mother); Walk-About Theatre Company, in conjunction with Lookingglass (The Coast of Chicago); Collaboraction Theatre Company (Casanova); the (since re-named) International Theatre of Chicago (Safe); Brown Couch Theatre Company (Tempting Fate and Defying Gravity); Reverie Theatre Company (All’s Well That Ends Well); and (since-dissolved) Pywackett Theatre Company (Misery).


Assistant Stage Manager — Coco Ree Lemery
CoCo is a technical theater student at Columbia College Chicago. Aside from working at Columbia, she has worked at numerous theaters including The Lyric Opera House, Pegasus Players and Black Ensemble. Most importantly, she is grateful for the opportunity at Rivendell and looks forward to work with them again.

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