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laura and the sea
an unhappy comedy

by Kate Tarker
Directed by Devon de Mayo

Featuring ensemble members Tara Mallen, Paula Ramirez and Mark Ulrich

A World Premiere
October 25 – December 8, 2019

Please be advised, LAURA AND THE SEA contains a theatrical depiction and discussions of suicide.

Awards: 2016 Kilroys List / Finalist, L. Arnold Weissberger Award, 2016 / Finalist, Princess Grace Award, 2016 / Semi Finalist, The Relentless Award, 2016



It’s company outing day, and Laura, one of the top travel agents of her generation, is having the best/worst day of her life. So much so that she decides to end it all. Afterwards, her colleagues try to piece things together on a memorial blog. But how do you mourn someone you didn’t know that well? A comedy about depression, or: a treatise on travel agents who don’t travel.



Review: 'Laura and the Sea’ asks, how well do you know your coworkers? What if there’s a suicide?


“The beautiful metaphor Tarker uses throughout the play is the company’s desire to move toward the future, offering trips to Mars. All Laura wants to do is to offer people the chance to explore their own city, not escape. Give people, and herself, a chance to find who they are where they are instead of constantly running away.”

Read more here


Laura and the Sea examines our working relationships

We spend at least 40 hours a week next to them and countless more rehashing our interactions, but how well do we really know our coworkers? Laura and the Sea, a Rivendell Theatre Ensemble world premiere by Kate Tarker, directed by Devon de Mayo, examines both the false sense of closeness and utter disconnection that can come with close proximity of desks, not hearts and minds.

Read more here


Ship of Fools: A Review of Laura and the Sea at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

"...Director Devon de Mayo finds brilliance in juggling the comic and tragic potential of such a situation: the mundanity of office life, the dread of losing a colleague, the absolute awkward interactions that anyone in an office setting will recognize all too well. The entire cast keeps things moving at an engaging pace, navigating the often treacherous and turbulent depths that the play dares to plumb."

Read more here


LAURA AND THE SEA with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

" Mayo’s precise guidance was able to highlight the barriers that we put up between one another and how the line between protecting and hiding oneself is very thin. The blog that started as a way to ask why someone would commit suicide unraveled into an investigation without placing blame or coming to a definitive answer. Are you affected by someone’s death because you miss them or are you so affected by someone’s death because, in actuality, you are unaffected and you fear that your own death will be met with the same apathy from those around you?"

Read more here

Community EVENTS

Rivendell provides several opportunities throughout our runs to see the performance and also take part in additional access, entertainment, or insight. Check this space for information on special events for LAURA AND THE SEA.



Friday, October 25 – 8:00pm

Saturday, October 26, 8:00pm

Sunday, October 27, 3:00pm

Thursday, October 31, 8:00pm

Friday, November 1, 8:00pm

Saturday, November 2, 8:00pm



Saturday, November 2nd –  6:30pm
Industry Night/NNPN Night
Pre-performance conversation with playwright Kate Tarker and director Devon de Mayo

Friday, November 8th – 8pm
Performance to Benefit Planned Parenthood
$10 off every ticket benefits Planned Parenthood of Illinois



Open Captioned Performance
Friday, November 15th

Join Rivendell for an 8:00pm performance with open captioning. 50% OFF Tickets available with the code “OPEN CAPTION”.

Saturday, November 16th 
Town Hall Discussion – after the 4pm matinee
Featured Organization: TBD 

Sunday, November 24th
Exclusive Pre-show Champagne Brunch
Join us before the show for a special brunch followed by our matinee performance.


Tara Mallen (Laura)
Tara Mallen (Rivendell Artistic Director / Producer) is an actor, director, and the Producing Artistic Director at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. She is the 2017 3Arts William Franklin Grisham Awardee and the 2014 Volunteers of America Silver Star Awardee. Most recently Mallen was seen onstage in The Cake for which she won the 2018 Jeff Award for Performer in a Principal Role. In 2016 she performed in the world premiere production of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat at Arena Stage. Prior to that she was in Rivendell’s Jeff nominated world premiere productions of Look, we are breathing and Rasheeda Speaking. Tara appeared in Steppenwolf’s How Long Will I Cry: Stories of Youth Violence written by Chicago Journalist Miles Harvey. She was part of the ensemble in Rivendell’s world premiere, Jeff nominated production of The Walls and played Jolene Palmer (inspired by the true-life story of Aileen Wuornos) in Rivendell’s award winning production of Self Defense, or the Death of Some Salesmen—both productions part of Steppenwolf’s Visiting Theater Initiative.

For Rivendell, Tara has produced and acted in over twenty-five productions. She received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Gwenyth in WRENS as part of that production’s Jeff-winning ensemble. She was nominated the following year for Actress in a Principal Role for her work in My Simple City. Her screen credits include Steven Soderbergh’s film Contagion opposite Kate Winslet, the Starz series Boss starring Kelsey Grammer, the NBC pilot of Chicago Fire, the CBS/Sony Pictures pilot Doubt, the NBC series Chicago P.D. and the Netflix series Sense8 directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski. With Rivendell, Tara conceived and directed the world premiere of WOMEN AT WAR, directed the Jeff nominated Midwest premieres of The Electric Baby, 26 Miles (co-production with Teatro Vista); Fighting Words; Psalms of a Questionable Nature; the co-production of Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue with Stageworks/Hudson in Hudson, NY; and the brief and brilliant Shady Meadows by Lisa Dillman as part of the 2007 Chicago Humanities Festival.



Paula Ramirez (Mary)
Paula is is thrilled to be back at Rivendell Ensemble Theatre, where she is an ensemble member and was last seen in their production of Women at War. Originally from Venezuela, Paula has spent the last two years touring the country performing scripted and improvised material as a Sexual Assault Prevention Educator with Catharsis Productions. Other Chicago stage credits include Another Word for Beauty (Goodman Theatre; ensemble + u/s), Fefu and her Friends (Goodman Theatre/Rivendell Theatre as part of the Latino Theatre Festival), Heat Wave (CBD/Steppenwolf Garage), PUTAS!, Crossed, GL2010 and Gen Sex (Teatro Luna). Recent TV/Film credits include Mixtape (Netflix), Chicago Fire (NBC) and Brujos (OTV).





Mark Ulrich (Jack)
Mark Ulrich is totally besotted with happiness to be back with his favorite theatre company in the universe, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, for Laura and the Sea.  Mark has been a proud member of RTE for the past twelve seasons.  Previous Rivendell credits as an Actor include Silence, The Walls, Falling: A Wake, and American Wee Pie; and as Director, Mary’s Wedding, and Winter (co-directed by Megan Carney).  Other Chicago area credits include Remy Bumppo, Steppenwolf, TimeLine, Goodman, The Raven, A Red Orchid, 16th Street, Silk Road Rising, Artistic Home, Northlight, and Writer’s Theatre.




Jordan Arredondo (Joe)
Jordan Arredondo is thrilled to be making his Rivendell Theater debut! His previous Chicago credits include: Much Ado About Nothing (Verges/Messenger) at OPFT, First Love is the Revolution (Basti) at Steep Theatre Company, American Jornalero (Marcelo) & Romeo and Juliet (Romeo) at Teatro Vista, Waiting For Godot (Lucky) at Tympanic Theatre, The Party House (Jake) at The Runaways Lab Theater. TV/Film Credit include: Chicago Fire, Killing Eleanor, Defer, Binx, and Tantalization. He graduated with his B.F.A in Acting from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Jordan is represented by Gray Talent Group. Jordan would like to thank his family, the Gray fam, and Sabrina for all the endless love and support.

Adithi Chandrashekar (Annie) is an actor and writer hailing from Chicago. Adithi’s solo performance piece Open Season is currently under development, and was originally written and produced as part of The Gift Theatre’s inaugural 4802 residency. Chicago credits include the upcoming Dance Nation (Winter 2019, Steppenwolf Theater), Bull in a Shop (About Face Theatre), We’re Gonna Be Okay (American Theater Company), and Wit (The Hypocrites). TV credits include: NBC’s Chicago Med and ABC’s Betrayal. Adithi is a proud 2015 graduate of the School at Steppenwolf. She is represented by Stewart Talent Agency.






Alex Gillmor (Stan)   
Alex is excited to be working with Devon de Mayo again and working with Rivendell for the first time.  Some of the favorite parts that Alex has played are Mugsy in Dealers Choice, Bruce in Bang the Drum Slowly, The Man in The Vandal, and Dale in Parlour Song.  All at Steep theatre.  Thanks to the cast and crew for making this yet another great experience.   Thanks to everyone involved in this production.  Of course, special thanks to Anna, Lili, and Greta for there love and support.



Headshot Devon de Mayo.jpg

Kate Tarker (Playwright)

Kate Tarker’s plays include THUNDERBODIES (Soho Rep., NYTimes Unforgettable Theater Moments of 2018), Dionysus Was Such a Nice Man (The Wilma), and Laura and the Sea (2016 Kilroys list; finalist: 2016 L. Arnold Weissberger Award, Princess Grace Award, and Relentless Award). Her works have been developed at The Lark, The Vineyard, Rattlestick, The Wilma, Ars Nova, NYTW, Magic Theatre, Cutting Ball, the Playwrights’ Center, Theatre503, and The O’Neill, among others. She is the recipient of a Jerome Fellowship, The Vineyard’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the National Science Playwriting Award, Theater Masters’ Visionary Playwright Award, a PWCenter/NET Ensemble Collaboration Grant, and she has been featured twice on the Kilroys List.  Residencies: Tofte Lake Center, SPACE at Ryder Farm, and two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow. Alum of Ars Nova Play Group, New Georges Jam, and Playwrights’ Center Core Writer. Tarker has also collaborated with Pig Iron and SITI Company Conservatory, and currently holds commissions from Theater Masters, Soho Rep., and Playwrights Horizons. MFA Yale.  Teaching: Wesleyan, University of the Arts, PlayPenn, and Playwrights’ Center. M.F.A. Yale. Kate lives in Brooklyn.




Devon de Mayo (Director and Movement Director)

Devon de Mayo directed the world premiere of The Scientific Method by Jenny Connell Davis for Rivendell Theatre. Other Directing credits include: If I Forget (Victory Gardens Theatre); First Love is the Revolution (Steep Theatre); Women Laughing Alone With Salad (Theatre Wit); The Burn (Steppenwolf Theatre), Harvey (Court Theatre), Sycamore (Raven Theatre), You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites), Animals Out of Paper (Shattered Globe Theatre), You Can’t Take it With You, and Lost in Yonkers (Northlight Theatre), Jet Black Chevrolet (side project); Compulsion and Everything is Illuminated (Next); Roadkill Confidential, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, and Clouds (Dog & Pony). Directing and devising credits: Don’t Look Back/Must Look Back (Pivot Arts); Guerra: A Clown Play (La Piara, Mexico); The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls and The Twins Would Like to Say (Dog & Pony). She received her MFA from Middlesex University in London and did further studies at the Russian Academy of Dramatic Arts in Moscow and the Indonesian Institute for the Arts in Bali, Indonesia.

Production Team


Lucia Lombardi (Production Stage Manager) has over forty years of experience in both the commercial and not for profit theatre communities. Her national touring credits include The Lion King, Billy Elliot, Love Loss and What I Wore and Scrooge The Musical. Here in Chicago she has worked at the Broadway Playhouse, the Drury Lane Theatre, the Royal George Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, the Briar Street Theatre, Northlight, Victory Gardens, Porchlight, the Ivanhoe Theatre, the Body Politic Theatre, the Organic Theatre Company, the Remains Theatre Company and Friends of the Zoo. Lucia is delighted to be making her Rivendell debut.

Courtney O’Neill (Scenic Design) is a Chicago-based Scenic Designer who works nationally as well as locally. She is the recipient of the 2017 Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award, the 2013 USITT Scene Design Award, and her designs were featured in the 2011 Prague Quadrennial United States Student Exhibition. Courtney won a Jeff Award for Mud (The Hypocrites) and has received multiple nominations. Her work has been featured in Live Design, American Theatre, and Washingtonian magazines. She holds an MFA from Northwestern University, a BFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University, and currently teaches part-time at both institutions.

Anthony Churchill (Projections Design) collaborates on media for theatre, events, and installations. Recent projections and media with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Greenhouse Theatre, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Raven Theatre, The Cher Show, Q Brothers, Porchlight Music Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Theatre Wit, Stage Left, Museum of Broadcast Communications, Big Noise Theatre, and 16th Street Theatre – Berwyn.  Tony has been nominated for five Jeff Awards for Projections, and awarded one. When not working on plays, he enjoys sculpting tiny astronauts in peril, and exploring with his beautiful wife Sara, and rescue pit bull Cheetoh.

Heather Sparling (Lighting Design) is grateful to be working with Rivendell again after Scientific Method. Recent design credits include The Fly Honey Show (The Inconvenience), Empower Youth! (Lyric Unlimited); The Burn (Steppenwolf); Twelfth Night and The Heart of Robin Hood (Door Shakespeare), Yardbird (Hackney Empire, London), La Havana Madrid (Teatro Vista), Longer! Louder! Wagner! (Lyric Opera of Chicago), The Way She Spoke (Greenhouse Theater). Heather is a proud alum of Boston University. For more information on her work, visit

Hannah Foerschler (Original Music and Sound Design)

K Clare McKellaston (Costume Design) is a Chicago-based Costume Designer, construction artist, and educator.  Tours: Pemberley Production’s The Woman in Black (Associate Designer). Regional: Steppenwolf’s How to Be a Rock Critic (Wardrobe), The Second City’s 100th Mainstage Revue: Who Do We Think We Are? and We’re All in This Room Together (Designer). Fashion: International Casual Furnishings Association Gala.  As an educator, she serves as Adjunct Faculty and Costume Shop Manager at Dominican University, where she has recently designed Waiting for Godot, Mother Courage and her Children, and The Addams Family Musical.

Jonathan Berg-Einhorn (Properties Designer) is a Chicago-based designer and artisan. Jonathan has previously worked with Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Paramount Theatre, and Lookingglass Theatre, among others. Scenic Design: Alice in Wonderland, The ARC Trials (Mudlark Theatre); Curious George: The Golden Meatball (Hope Summer Repertory Theater); Brooke Astor’s Last Affair (Chicago Musical Theatre Festival); The Seven Deadly Sins, Endgame (Boston University). Prop Design: Scientific Method, I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); HeLa, The Ridiculous Darkness (Sideshow Theatre); Haymarket (Underscore Theatre); Hannah and Martin (Shattered Globe Theatre); Johnny 10 Beers’ Daughter (Something Marvelous); Bomber’s Moon (William Street Rep); I Know My Own Heart (Pride Films and Plays). Jonathan holds a BFA in scenic and costume design from Boston University.

Catherine Allen (Production Manager) is thrilled to continue her work with Rivendell where she previously production managed I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart, Scientific Method, The Cake, and Cal in Camo. Other production management credits include work with Steep Theatre, where she is an Artistic Associate, Sideshow Theatre, About Face Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Route 66, Congo Square, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Pegasus Theatre Chicago, Haven Theatre, and many circuses with Actors Gymnasium where she is the staff Production Manager. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she received a BFA in Acting.

Gaby Sant’Anna (Assistant Director and Dramaturg) is a Chicago-based director and dramaturg, originally from San Jose, California. She is thrilled to be working on another Kate Tarker play, following her direction of An Almanac for Farmers and Lovers in Mexico (Northwestern University) and an SDCF Observership on Dionysus Was Such a Nice Man (The Wilma). Gaby has interned in the literary departments at San Francisco Playhouse and the Goodman Theatre and holds a BA in Theatre and English Literature from Northwestern University.

Kristen Osborn (Outreach Coordinator) is a Chicago-based director and theatre maker who is passionate about sparking compassion through storytelling. Currently, Kristen serves as Artistic Associate and Outreach Coordinator at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, and the Literary Manager and Casting Associate at Northlight Theatre. She is the founder and producing artistic director of JoyistLA. Directing credits include Eugene O’Neill’s Fog, JoyistLA’s First Embrace, and an original adaptation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, Lift. Assistant directing credits include Henry IV, (dir. Daniel Sullivan, Shakespeare Center LA,) The Scene (dir. Kimberly Senior, Writers Theatre,) Sex With Strangers (dir. Kimberly Senior, Geffen Playhouse,) Relativity (dir. BJ Jones, Northlight Theatre,) The Cake (dir. Lauren Shouse, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble,) Choir Boy (dir. Trip Cullman, Geffen Playhouse), Fighting Shadows (dir. Robert Egan, Inner-City Arts.) Kristen’s previous work with the Ojai Playwrights Conference, serving as Artistic Associate and Associate Director, has ignited in her an insatiable appetite for new play development processes. She is a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Jackie Banks-Mahlum (Rivendell Managing Director / Producer) is an arts manager, producer, and educator based in Chicago. Jackie is also the Membership and Development Associate at Arts Alliance Illinois, and the Co-Producer for Theatricum Botanicum. Previously Jackie was in the Los Angeles area where she worked with Center Theatre Group’s P.L.A.Y., the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Theatricum Botanicum. She has also freelanced regionally where she has had the opportunity to work in a variety of performing arts including opera, ballet, modern dance, improv, and theatre. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, has a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Production and Business Management from Bradley University, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Producing from the California Institute of the Arts.



Laura and the Sea production photos are courtesy of Michael Brosilow.
Video: Laura and the Sea trailer
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