Tony's blog

Special Events for In Love and Warcraft

  • Posted on: 19 August 2015
  • By: Tony

Siobhan Reddy-Best as Evie in In Love and Warcraft, photo by Tom McGrath.

Plate and Play Thursdays
On Thursday nights beginning August 20, Halcyon is partnering with three neighborhood restaurants for a pre-show meal package for audience members of In Love and Warcraft; Ruk Sushi & Thai, Semiramis Lebanese Cuisine and Tortugas Cantina. Find out more.

Tortugas Cantina
A gem in Albany Park bringing authentic Latin American food, drink and entertainment
3224 West Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625

Semiramis Lebanese Cuisine
Everything we serve is made from scratch daily, using only the freshest ingredients.
4639-41 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

Ruk Sushi & Thai
Our menu is inspired by Thai and Japanese cusine offering the best of both worlds. It doesn't matter if it's pad thai, tom yum, curry or sushi, we have a dish to suit almost any taste.
4700 N. Kimball Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

Cosplay night - Friday, August 28The characters of In Love and Warcraft use cosplay to bring to life their Warcraft avatars - and to show how they really see themselves.  Come dressed in your favourite cosplay outfit (no genre restrictions, no judgement, but bear in mind that we don't have great climate control in the theater) and share in a geek-friendly good time.

Panel Discussion - Saturday August 29 at 5pm
There will be a panel discussion featuring Sex Therapist Constance Sheehan, on the topic of sex communication, sexuality and internet role playing games. Additional panelists TBA.

Constance Sheehan, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., received a Master of Clinical Social Work at New York University and Ph.D. at Loyola University Chicago. She completed an Interdisciplinary Fellowship in Palliative Care at the Bronx VA and subsequently completed post-graduate studies at: NYU’s International Trauma Studies Program; Ackerman Institute for the Family; Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Medicine program as well as Harvard’s Positive Psychology in Mind/Body Medicine. She trained at Loyola Medical Center in Sexual Dysfunction Clinic.

Constance has a long-standing interest in yoga and mindfulness and it’s integration in psychotherapeutic approaches and is a certified yoga instructor in restorative yoga, and yoga for depression and yoga for homeless youth. She is fully teacher trained in Mindful Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) through UMASS Medical Center. She has had extensive training in Restorative Justice and is a certified Circle Keeper. Constance was Clinical Faculty for nine years at The Family Institute at Northwestern University where she taught Sex Therapy and Integration of Family of Origin an Systems and remains the founding director of The Mental Health Human Rights Clinic in the Counseling Program at Northwestern. She is full time Clinical Faculty at DePaul University Department of Social Work. She also teaches Human Rights at University of Chicago SSA, and Clinical courses at Loyola University Chicago MSW program. She has a private practice in Evanston, IL.

Understudy Performance - Saturday Sept. 5th at 8pm.
Understudies Krystal Ortiz (Evie), Alexandra Gonzalez (Kitty) Ian Michael Smith (Raul) and Ted Kitterman (Ryan) will perform in the show alongside Allyce Torres (Female) and Michael Turrentine (Male)

Game Day - New Works Edition
Saturday, September 12 from 3-7pm. Tickets are $30 for Games and advance admission to the 8pm performance, $20 for advance admission to the show only.

To celebrate the Chicago premiere of In Love and Warcraft, Halcyon's Game Day fundraiser this year celebrates new board/card/tabletop games being developed here in town! Come hang out with Halcyon on Saturday, September 12th (3pm-7pm), and play a wide range of boardgames, with an emphasis on new and developing games designed locally. A number of designers, including The Nerdologues and Ironrise Games, will be on-hand to teach their games in exchange for your valuable playtesting feedback. Food and drink are included in the price of admission, as is a ticket to see In Love and Warcraft after the gaming event wraps up. Join us for an epic day of eating, drinking, gaming, and theatre.

pictured at top: Siobhan Reddy-Best (Evie), photo by Tom McGrath.

Arthur Chu On In Love and Warcraft

  • Posted on: 15 August 2015
  • By: Tony

A note from the program for Halcyon's production of In Love and Warcraft

Arthur Chu HeadshotWhenever I need a funny anecdote to tell people about my personal life, I fall back on the story of how my Dungeons and Dragons character started dating my wife’s Dungeons and Dragons character before we ourselves began dating in real life.

That was, at least, an in-person “virtual” relationship conducted at a tabletop over game books, dice and pizza on paper plates--although I’ve also had my share of brushes with the kind of online romance In Love and Warcraft deals with.

It’s an unusual story but maybe not as unusual as it seems at first glance--it’s not so different from the fairly common story of actors who play characters who are in love with each other and end up dating in real life. (Disclaimer: I know nothing whatsoever about the cast of this production or whether this applies to them.)

All relationships start on the surface before going deeper. Everything starts off as a fantasy, a possibility--imagining what it would be like to know this person, love this person, have sex with this person, live forever with this person--that we hold at arm’s length for some time in consideration before we plunge into the reality.

After all, isn’t “normal” dating a role-playing game? We dress up nicer than we normally look, we psych ourselves up to be wittier and more interesting than we normally act, we tell little white lies to put ourselves in the best possible light. We sell a fantasy version of ourselves. Just like the role-playing game of a job interview, or Thanksgiving with your parents.

Geeks just tend to take this a little further than most, as geeks are wont to do. I include the geeks who play D&D and World of Warcraft alongside the theatre geeks here--there is, after all, major overlap between the two groups.

I’d like to think that those of us who are drawn to any form of escapism--high art or low art, Shakespeare or Star Wars--are so drawn because we see the fantasy in reality and the reality in fantasy. We know that all the world’s a stage, and we’re unhappy with the roles we’ve been asked to play. We gravitate to “abnormal” environments where we play “artificial” roles that we feel somehow reveal more of our true selves than what we show when we’re at the office or hanging out at the bar. We’ll repurpose any environment we’re given to our own ends, be it elaborate sword-and-sorcery sagas like World of Warcraft or simple iPhone apps like Words with Friends. (My two friends who got together over Words with Friends got married last weekend.)

And yes, a lot of what we do is messed up and unhealthy. But is it that much more unhealthy than what everyone else does?

In Love and Warcraft isn’t the first work of art I’ve seen that explores the messy world of online gaming from an authentic, insider’s perspective--I’d have to give credit for that to Felicia Day’s The Guild. But In Love and Warcraft isn’t really about Warcraft the way The Guild is.

Only one of the major characters is a gamer, and rather than the all-too-common approach of treating Evie’s alienation from the “real world” as a bizarrely fascinating sickness to be studied and cured, our playwright Madhuri Shekhar explores how Evie’s alienation is just one alienation among many.

Evie is a Cyrano de Bergerac, someone intimately familiar with and fascinated by the idea of romance, enough to make a living ghostwriting love letters for other people. But she’s never experienced romance in the flesh, is physically a virgin and is wrestling with her fear of intimacy. She loves the idea of love but is terrified of its physical reality, whether it will or won’t live up to the image she’s built up for it in her mind.

That’s not so unusual in a world where all of us are inundated by book and film and TV romance plots long before we hit puberty. I certainly find her more relatable than her roommate and best friend Kitty, who’s been through the trappings of romance time and time again--especially the sex part, which is the most fun part--but has neither experience with nor desire for a “real relationship.”

Our culture has plenty of people in both situations. Our technology enables us to move as far as we want in either direction. There’s couples on the Internet who spend months or years communicating by emails and chats without ever meeting; there’s people who get smartphone apps so they can swipe right on a person’s photo within five miles of their location for an instant hookup, no questions asked.

Both are valid strategies. Both are ways to choose to expose one part of your life while keeping another protected. Both are masks you can wear, roles you can play. One isn’t any more or less real than the other.

In Love and Warcraft presents the complicated world we live in and the many masks we wear without judgment, asking us simply to empathize with the hard choices the characters make about what to conceal and what to reveal at any moment.

As a gamer I love finally being able to hear terms like “DPS”, “L2P!” and “noob” on a theatrical stage. But ultimately In Love and Warcraft isn’t about games. It just uses one particular, colorful stage and set of masks--the avatars players assume when they enter the mystic land of Azeroth--to illustrate the eternal challenge of one person, in her time, forced to play many parts.

In 2014 Arthur Chu found himself a viral celebrity after winning $400,000 on the game show Jeopardy!, becoming a controversial public figure in the process. Along the way, he caught the attention of the media speaking on the toxicity in online culture and “geek” spaces. He currently writes about his various cultural and political obsessions for The Daily Beast, Salon and other publications.

CTA Construction Saturday, August 16 and Sunday, August 17

  • Posted on: 16 August 2014
  • By: Tony

Just in case you are taking the CTA to the show this weekend, we wanted to give you a heads up that there's brown line construction this weekend.

Saturday, August 16 and Sunday, August 17, shuttle buses replace rail service between Western and Kimball. Trains will operate between the Western station and the Loop only. Shuttle buses will make stops at the Western and Kimball stations, and the #81 Lawrence bus stops on Lawrence at Rockwell, Sacramento, and Kedzie.

More details here:

Please allow extra travel time getting to the show if you're taking the brown line train.

The War Zone is My Bed Trailer

  • Posted on: 13 July 2014
  • By: Tony

The trailer was written and directed by artist-in-residence Ted James, and features company members Laura Stephenson and Fin Coe.

The War Zone is My Bed
By Yasmine Beverly Rana
Directed by Dani Snyder-Young

Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 6pm.
August 14 through September  7, 2014
At Christ Lutheran Church, 4541 N Spaulding Ave. in Chicago

In 1994 Sarajevo, in a bedroom brimming with bullet holes, Dahlia and Peter have a whirlwind romance. A famous writer reporting on the Bosnian War, he leaves her to return to his wife. In 2001 Kabul, in a bedroom with blacked out windows, an Afghan prostitute is having affair with a member of the Taliban religious police. Dahlia’s book about Leila, Ash and the aftermath of their affair in Kabul makes her a famous writer in her own right. On her book tour, struggling with how we all profit from telling stories of war from a safe distance, Dahlia and Peter meet again.

Find out more about the show at

Introducing Alcyone 13

  • Posted on: 31 July 2013
  • By: Tony

We’re gearing up for the Alcyone Festival again. This year is a little later in the year than last. It’ll open September 7th, instead of in mid-summer as we normally do.

I’m pretty excited to say we’ll be performing this year’s festival in Albany Park, which has been our home base for a while now, even though we’ve been doing most of our public performances in other parts of the city. With the new location, we took a little more time for planning.

Performances will be at Christ Lutheran Church, where we’ve been rehearsing for the past two years.  I also love that it’s where Albany Park Theatre Project started. They’re one of my favorite arts organizations in the country, so I’m happy to be performing where they began.

In addition to the new performance location, we’ve also made a lot of internal changes. Our organizational model is completely different, we’ve added awesome company members and the artists-in-residence program and  a lot of really exciting new programming that’s about to go out of the lab and into the world in the next year.

So with all that, it seemed a natural fit to have this year’s theme for the Alcyone festival be “A New Dawn, A New Day.”

This year’s lineup includes a pretty great mix of plays, from classical farce to new plays being developed in the festival.

The full lineup includes:

  • The Emperor of the Moon by Aphra Behn, directed by Jennifer Adams
  • Heart  Shaped Nebula by Marisela Treviño Orta, directed by Juan Castañeda
  • One Week in Spring by Kristiana Colón, directed by Tara Branham
  • The First Woman by Nambi E. Kelley, directed by Alexander St. John
  • MAY 39th by Callie Kimball, directed by Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary

For me it’s also a great mix of people we’ve worked with for a long time, people we’ve wanted to work with for a long time and great artists we’ve meeting for the first time.

As we get closer to the festival, each of the plays and their processes will be talked about more here, but I’m really excited to be able to share these with you.