Chicago Writers’ Bloc celebrates 30th Anniversary -Benefit and 2022 New Play Festival

Raven Theatre, Photo Gerald
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Festival to feature new work by John S. Green, Chloe Bolan, and other local Chicago playwrights  

Chicago Writers’ Bloc is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with a  benefit and staged readings of 10 new works presented as part of its 2022 New Plays Festival, running May 23 to June 14 at the Raven Theater in Edgewater. The festival features six new  plays and four new musicals from 12 local Chicago playwrights including John S. Green (Jeff  winner and Pulitzer nominated, THE LIQUID MOON), Chloe Bolan (O’Neill semi-finalist, LOVE  IN THE TIME OF DEMENTIA), Joanne Koch (National Nantucket Short Play Competition  winner), Fern Schumer Capman (Illinois Author of the Year), Richard Reardon (Goodman  Theater, Marriott Lincolnshire), Brian Kalz (Hell in a Handbag) among others. Launching the festival is a benefit featuring MOTHERLAND by Fern Schumer and founding member of  Chicago Writer’s Bloc, Joanne Koch. Based on a book by Schumer Chapman, the play details the true story of a post-Holocaust homecoming for a Jewish family. The performance will be  available in person as well as on-line. Tickets and more information are available HERE

This is the last picture taken of 12-year-old Edith with her parents, just days before she boarded the ship for America all by herself

The 2022 New Plays Festival will begin on May 23 with the 30th Anniversary Benefit featuring  food and drink, a silent auction, raffle, an in-person performance and online pass to  MOTHERLAND, and a pass to see any show in the series. The proceeds from the benefit will  go towards continuing Chicago Writers’ Bloc’s mission to develop and present new plays and  musicals from Chicago area writers. Over the past 30 years, the theater has helped launch  many new plays and musicals. Many produced works have gone on to win national and  international prizes with productions locally and around the country.

In addition to MOTHERLAND, the festival will include four new musicals including HELL IS  CANCELLED (by Wencke Braathen with music by Gerald H. Bailey), A STRANGER IN THIS  WORLD (by Gerald Cole with additional music and lyrics by Gerald H. Bailey and John S.  Green), DRIVING THE DREAM (by Chloe Bolan with music by Gerald H. Bailey), and MEET  ME ON THE CORNER (by Gayle Ann Weinstein with music by Gerald H. Bailey). The series  also features two evenings of short works, by Trish Elliott and Brian Kalz, respectively.  

You can hear Gary Zidek, host of The Arts Section on WDCB 90.9 FM, talk with Gerald Cole, the organizer of the Chicago Writers’ Bloc’s 2022 New Plays Festival. Enjoy!


May 23 – June 14, 2022 

Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, at 7:30 pm (No performance Memorial Day, Monday  May 30) 

Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago 

Tickets $10.00 

For tickets and further information

Staged readings of 10 new works presented as part of its 2022 New Plays Festival, running May  23 to June 14 at the Raven Theater in Edgewater. The festival features six new plays and four  new musicals from 12 local Chicago playwrights including John S. Green (Jeff winner and  Pulitzer nominated, THE LIQUID MOON), Chloe Bolan(O’Neill semi-finalist, LOVE IN THETIME  OF DEMENTIA), Joanne Koch (National Nantucket Short Play Competition winner), Fern Schumer Capman (Illinois Author of the Year), Richard Reardon (Goodman Theater, Marriott  Lincolnshire), Brian Kalz (Hell in a Handbag) among others. The festival will launch with a May  23 benefit featuring MOTHERLAND by Fern Schumer and founding member of Chicago Writer’s  Bloc, Joanne Koch. Based on a book by Schumer Chapman, the play details the true story of a  post-Holocaust homecoming for a Jewish family. The performance will be available in person as  well as on-line. 

(Left) Diane Dorsey, (Right) Suzy Brack, Courtesy of Fern Schumer Chapman


May 23 at 7:30 PM. MOTHERLAND by Joanne Koch and Fern Schumer Capman (based on the  book by Fern Schumer Chapman). 52 years after she had fled to America for safety, Edith  Westerfeld returns to her small German hometown with her daughter and faces the  townspeople who turned against the family in 1938-all but one. The true story of what happened  to their family during the Holocaust. 

May 24 at 7:30 PM. LONG TERM CARE by Richard Reardon. A battle begins at the Baptist’s  Heavenly Acres Assisted Living Facility: Our hero, Herber Aarden, a gay senior, is at war with  Jesus, His followers, and the ghosts of his past. Who will win? 

May 25 at 7:30 PM. HELL IS CANCELLED: THE MUSICAL by Wencke Braathen with music by  Gerald H. Bailey. Archangel Michael comes down to Hell to tell Lucifer that God has decided to  liquidate his department.  

Evie Drenth as Lucy and Eric Jorgenson as Lucifer discovering who this mysterious woman is who walks about in Hell unscathed, Photo: Courtesy of Wencke Johanne Braathen

May 31 at 7:30 PM. A STRANGER IN THIS WORLD: THE MUSICAL by Gerald Cole with  additional music and lyrics by Gerald H. Bailey and John S. Green. Gender is in question as  Frankie struggles to become Therese, the woman she has always known she is. But her  struggles include a sister and father who are opposed to transgender identities. 

June 1 at 7:30 PM. CAFÉ SOUNION by Barbara Georgans. As a young playwright, inspired by  the works of Agatha Christie, types her new play, a restaurant patron at the Café Sounion is  killed. Then another, and another, and… 

June 6 at 7:30 PM. A CORNUCOPIA OF SHORT PLAYS by Brian Kalz. Included are: “Mr.  Beauty Culture, 1984”; “The Power Play;” “Lois from Omro;” “I’m Sorry, Two Thousand Four.”

Clip art for “Boundaries” by John Green

June 7 at 7:30 PM. BOUNDARIES by John S. Green. A poignant family drama exploring mental  illness, alcoholism and spiritual healing. “When you throw a life preserver to someone, make  sure you tie it to the pier.” 

n Picture Left to Right: Cast of Driving The Dream.  Anthony Whitaker, Maggie Cain (Adele), Mary McCormick (Bertha Benz), Morgan Reesh (Delia
( (Not in picture: Nicole Bohorquez (Louise)  Creative Team: Mary Bonnett (Director), Carl Chadek (Musical Director), Sean Smyth (Stage Manager)
Photos by Chloe Bolan
Driving The Dream Rehearsal:  In photo: seated at piano, Carl Chadek (Musical Director), 
Seated with script, Morgan Reesh (Delia), standing Mary Mccormick (Bertha Benz)

June 8 at 7:30 PM. DRIVING THE DREAM: THE MUSICAL by Chloe Bolan with music by  Gerald H. Bailey. A musical about Bertha Benz whose contribution to the automobile in 1888  Germany was the marketing event that drove the industry, leaping from the most common form  of transportation, the horse, to the future one, horsepower. 

June 13 at 7:30 PM. A STUNNING EVENING OF SHORT PLAYS by Trish Elliott. 4 short plays  with Chicago and International settings that explore love, art, dreams, and relationships.  

Meet Me at the Corner, top from left Oskar, director; Gerald H Bailey composer and arranger; Nick music director; 
bottom from left actors Kay Rower, Moriah Gilman, Mary Bonnett & Luke McDermott, (missing is Kevin Pollack), Photo credit: Gail Duberchin

June 14 at 7:30 PM. MEET ME ON THE CORNER: THE MUSICAL by Gayle Ann Weinstein  with music by Gerald H. Bailey. In the early 1900’s, a couple immigrate from Russia and Poland.  The author chronicles these entertaining stories about her grandparents’ journeys. 

 Music Director, Nick Kabat, “Meet Me at the Corner”, Photos: Gail Duberchin


Joanne Koch – the founding member of the Chicago Writers’ Bloc, Joanne’s show SOUL  SISTERS has toured 32 universities across the country and is anthologized in her collection  (along with Sarah Blacher Cohen) SHARED STAGES: 10 AMERICAN DRAMAS OF BLACKS  AND JEWS. Her one-act, 2-person play, STARDUST, won the National Nantucket Short Play  Competition. 

Fern Schumer Chapman – is the author of MOTHERLAND, her memoir of discovering her  past. Her most recent book, BROTHERS, SISTERS, STRANGERS: SIBLING  ESTRANGEMENT AND THE ROAD TO RECONCILIATION was released in April 2021. In  2004, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE) named Ms. Chapman the “Illinois  Author of the Year.” Twice.

Richard Reardon – prior to pursuing his writing career was an actor at the Goodman Theater,  Marriott Lincolnshire, and the Broadway tour of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, among  others. His work has been featured in the Three Brother’s Theater Reading Series. Richard was  recently awarded a residency at the Ragdale Foundation. 

Wencke Braathen – is a student of art history, medieval history, and the theater. She found out  that the stage is the perfect vehicle for our world and its interactions between humans, ghosts,  angels, and everyone else. Her latest work is the historical novel, MARY MAGDALENE:  RITUALS IN SACRED STONE. 

Gerald H. Bailey – (composer) has been involved in over 200 productions as an actor, director,  musical director, and composer in several professional Midwest theaters. Mr. Bailey’s works  include: ALL THAT ENTERTAINMENT (Playhouse at Mill Dinner Theater) and The Christmas  Cookie Caper. His most recent musical, THE NEXT BIG THING, played off-Broadway at the  Helen Mills Theater featuring Tony Award nominee Christiane Noll. 

Gerald Cole – Gerald Cole is the author of KRAMPUS AND FRIENDS: TALES OF  TERRIFYING CHRISTMAS MONSTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. A Chicago  Playwright, author, and screenwriter, he has had productions of his plays in Chicago and San  Diego. His short play, THE QUIET WOMAN, has been published and is available at Heartland  Plays, Inc. ( 

Barbara Georgans – is a diverse playwright who has written comedy, drama, and book for  musical theater. She recently was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Grant for her work on her  play . 

Brian Kalz – has been writing and acting in Chicago since 1996. He has been published in  William Johnson’s quarterly MARY, and in DAY W/O ART by Pandemonium Press. BC has  performed in many stage productions, including THE BIRDS (twice) by Hell in A Handbag. 

John S. Green – is a busy Chicago-based writer, actor, and musician. His play, THE LIQUID  MOON, won Chicago’s Jeff and After Dark awards for Best New Work and was nominated for a  Pulitzer. His collection of poetry, ORDINARY LIGHT, was published by Xlibris Publications, his fictional story, THE ME ZONE, won the Guild Literary Complex, and he won the Jeff Award for  his rendition of George in Of Mice and Men. 

Chloe Bolan – has won fellowships and grants for playwriting from Illinois Arts Council and  Target, among others. She is a published poet, short-story writer, and essayist. Her musical  PARASOL with Jerry Bailey composing was a finalist in 3 contests; her play LOVE IN THE  TIME OF DEMENTIA was an O’Neill semi-finalist. 

Trish Elliott – BA and MA in theatre from Purdue and University of Illinois, working in theatre,  film, and commercials since 1977. In 1989 she started Redmink Productions, where she  produced, created, and/or performed in over 1,000 events a year. She is also Audible Books  narrator and an AT Team Member of the Jeff Committee. 

Gayle Ann Weinstein – is a graduate of the Creative Writing Certificate program and the  Graham School of the University of Chicago. Her play, RAIZEL’S RETURN, won honorable  mention in the Jewish Play Project in 2021. Many of her stories have been published in works  such as, Persimmon Tree Literary Magazine and Lilith Magazine.  


Chicago Writers’ Bloc is a play development group that focuses on presenting new plays  developed in monthly sessions and regular new play festivals. Led by Joanne Koch, a widely  produced playwright and noted Emeritus Director of the National Louis University Master’s in  Written Communication Program, the not-for-profit 501 (c ) (3) Writers’ Bloc has brought over  250 new plays and musicals to Chicago area audiences, supported in part by grants and by  festival attendees and contributors. Many of these plays have gone on to win national and  international prizes with productions locally and around the country, including Midwest, East  Coast, West Coast, off-Broadway and in publications.  


1 Comment

  1. I’m so impressed with this article and the photos. Congratulations to everyone who put this together. And to Writers Bloc on their 30th Birthday!

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