What do a Founding Father, a Victorian novelist and a Russian revolutionary have in common? Not much, but each of these notoriously great minds was once brazen enough to pen his own Gospel. Brought together, they debate the meaning of life and the nature of God in a whip-smart comedy that illuminates the brilliance, flaws and humor of three unforgettable philosophers.
“Hugely entertaining! As funny as it is brainy. Kimberly Senior’s animated direction and pitch-perfect casting also could not be more ideal.”- Chicago Sun-Times
Production photos by Michael Brosilow.
Vibrant ‘Discord’ among big thinkers Jefferson, Dickens, Tolstoy
By HEDY WEISS
No, it’s not a joke (although it often is as funny as it is brainy), but here’s the premise: Three men with radically different personalities and histories are catapulted, one by one, into a cold, gray interrogation room where the door slams shut quite decisively behind them. One is a founding father of the United States (not that Hamilton guy), one is the most famous British novelist of the Victorian era, and the third is a towering Russian novelist who seems to be irrationally jealous of Shakespeare.
The result is the very best production of Northlight Theatre’s current season, a philosophical debate bristling with mischief, mania, hubris and flamboyance, penned by a writer (best known for his work on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” and as the producer of the first 1,100 episodes of Maher’s “Politically Incorrect”) with a grand gift for making profound intellectual arguments at once accessible and hugely entertaining. Kimberly Senior’s animated direction and pitch-perfect casting also could not be more ideal.
In smart ‘Gospel,’ Jefferson, Dickens and Tolstoy duke it out in hell
By CHRIS JONES
Did you know Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy all wrote their own versions of the Bible? Ah! The ego of the refined mind! Hello, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Thomas, Charles and Leo!
This 2014 play was penned by Scott Carter, the longtime writer and executive producer for “Real Time With Bill Maher,” which indicates both the pedigree and the wonkish bona fides of the scribe. But Carter actually has written an amusing little play, cheerfully anachronistic and irreverent, that imagines Jefferson (Nathan Hosner in Kimberly Senior’s production), Dickens (Jeff Parker) and Tolstoy (Mark Montgomery) all stuck together in purgatory, here aptly defined as three towering egos obliged to argue with one another for eternity.
If you like some catnip for the noggin, this is your show.
Nathan returns to Northlight after appearing in Discord. Chicago credits include productions with Lookingglass, Court, Writers, Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman, Paramount, About Face, First Folio, Shaw Chicago and Shakespeare Project of Chicago. Other credits include: Peter and the Starcatcher (first national tour) and productions with American Players Theatre, New Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, BoarsHead Theater, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and Door Shakespeare. Nathan is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London
Mark returns to Northlight where he appeared in Discord, Outside Mullingar (Jeff nomination, Best Actor), As Bees in Honey Drown and Experiment with an Air Pump. Other select Chicago credits: 2666, Rapture, Blister, Burn, Camino Real and Stage Kiss (Goodman); Hedda Gabler, The Letters, Buried Child and The Scene (Writers); Agamemnon, Iphigenia in Aulis, and M. Butterfly (Court) and productions with Chicago Shakespeare, Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf, Journeymen and Remy Bumppo among others. New York credits: Mamma Mia! (Broadway), Our Town (Barrow Street), Macbeth (Public). Regional credits: Julius Caesar (American Repertory) as well as the show’s French tour. Television: Law & Order, Chicago Fire and Empire.
Jeff returns to Northlight where he most recently appeared in Mothers and Sons. Recent Chicago credits: Objects in the Mirror (Goodman), The Secret Garden (Court),Samsara (Victory Gardens) and Isaac’s Eye (Writers). Other Chicago credits include: Camino Real,Candide, Turn of the Century and Bounce (Goodman); The Brother/Sister Plays (Jeff Award – Best Ensemble) and Venus (Steppenwolf); Cymbeline, As You Like It and The Three Musketeers (Chicago Shakespeare); Sweet Charity and Days Like Today (Writers); and Nine (Jeff Nomination – Best Actor in a Musical, Porchlight). Off-Broadway and regional credits: Candide (Huntington), My Fair Lady(Asolo Repertory), 1776 (A.C.T.), Boy Gets Girl (Manhattan Theatre Club), The American in Me(Magic) and Winesburg, Ohio (Kansas City Repertory). Television and film credits: Chicago P.D., Love is a Four Letter Word, Prison Break and Early Edition. Jeff holds a B.F.A. in Acting from the University of Southern California. jeffparkeractor.tumblr.com
Scott is Executive Producer/Writer for “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO. He produced the first 1,100 episodes of “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher,” from its 1993 Comedy Central debut to its 1997 move to ABC. While at “P.I.,” producer/writer Carter won eight Emmy nominations and three consecutive Cable Ace Awards for Best Talk Series. In 1997 Variety named him one of “50 Creatives to Watch.” In 2007, he won the Producers’ Guild of America’s Johnny Carson Award for “Real Time.” In addition to his two full-length monologues Heavy Breathing and Suspension Bridge, Carter’s full-length play, The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy had an extremely successful 2014 and was produced at both the NoHo Arts Center and the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
Previously at Northlight: 4000 Miles, The Whipping Man. Broadway: Disgraced (2013 Pulitzer Prize, Best Play Tony nominee). Her many Chicago credits include Disgraced; Rapture, Blister, Burn (The Goodman); Marjorie Prime, The Diary of Anne Frank, Hedda Gabler, The Letters (Writers Theatre, where she is a Resident Director); Want, The North Plan(Steppenwolf); Inana, My Name is Asher Lev, All My Sons, Dolly West’s Kitchen (TimeLine Theatre, where she is an Associate Artist); Disgraced (American Theater Company); Waiting for Lefty (American Blues), among others. New York and regional credits include: Sex with Strangers (Geffen Playhouse); Disgraced (Lincoln Center Theater 3, Seattle Rep, Berkeley Rep);The Who and The What (La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center Theater 3); Little Gem (City Theatre); Games Afoot, Murder on the Nile, A Few Good Men(Peninsula Players); Mauritius (Theatre Squared, Fayetteville, AR). Kimberly is a proud member of SDC. kimberlysenior.net
Jack most recently designed Discord and Mothers and Sons at Northlight. Recent Chicago and regional design credits include Other Than Honorable (Geva Theatre), Evita (Kansas City Rep), The Flick (Steppenwolf), Rapture Blister Burn (Goodman), The Who and The What (Lincoln Center Theatre-LCT3 and La Jolla Playhouse), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Court), East Texas Hot Links and The Diary of Anne Frank (Writers), South Pacific (Clarence Brown Theatre), Man of La Mancha and The Mousetrap (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre). Ten Jeff Award nominations include designs for The Diary of Anne Frank (Writers) and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Court). Upcoming projects include A Flea In Her Ear (American Players Theatre) and Fences (Kansas City Rep). Jack lives in Chicago and teaches design at The Theatre School at DePaul University. www.jackmagaw.com
Nan returns to Northlight, where she has designed many productions including Mauritius, The Good War, Sky Girls and Visiting Mr. Green. Her frequently Jeff-nominated costumes have been seen at Writers, Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Court, Indiana Repertory, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Peninsula Players, Victory Gardens, Colorado Shakespeare, Joffrey, Hubbard Street, River North, Gus Giordano and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where she designed costumes for Welcome Yule for 20 years. She designed the makeup and prosthetics for Grace on Broadway with Michael Shannon. She formed and runs the makeup and wig program at the Theatre School of DePaul University and is the Director of Wigs and Hair Chicago. In 2014, Nan formed the Chicago Green Theatre Alliance, which operates within the League of Chicago Theatres to help theatres produce theatre with a reduced carbon footprint.
Sarah is pleased to be working on her eighth design with Northlight after Miss Bennet, The City of Conversation, Discord, Butler, The Commons of Pensacola, Tom Jones and Black Pearl Sings!. Recent Chicago credits include Vietgone, The Scene, Doubt: A Parable, The Diary of Anne Frank (Writers); Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth (Lookingglass); Straight White Men (Steppenwolf); Moby Dick (Blair Thomas & Co.); Cocked, The Who and the What, Samsara (Victory Gardens). Other recent credits include Crossing Mnisose and Sense and Sensibility (Portland Center Stage); The Cake (Asolo Rep); and As You Like It (Guthrie Theater). Ms. Hughey has received a Jeff Award (Scorched, Silk Road Rising), and the Maggio Emerging Designer Award. She holds an MFA from Northwestern University.
Andrew returns to Northlight where he previously collaborated on Discord, Funnyman, Outside Mullingar, White Guy on the Bus, Tom Jones, Stella & Lou, The Outgoing Tide, She Stoops to Conquer and Mauritius. Andy is an Associate Artist at TimeLine where he has been designing since 1999. Regionally he has composed for American Players, Indiana Rep, Summer Shakespeare at Notre Dame and Montana Shakespeare in the Parks.
Stephan is a DP, photographer, documentarian and visual designer. Stephan’s projection design for Northlight includes: Faceless, Discord, Funnyman, Shining Lives, Better Late (Larry Gelbart & Craig Wright) and Three Women Talking (Arnold Wesker). Other projection design credits include: Fundamentals, Russian Transport, The Wheel, Tempest, Sonja Flew, The Cherry Orchard and Of Mice and Men, all at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. stephanmazurek.com
Production Stage Manager
Rita is proud to be returning to Northlight for her 39th production, and delighted to be collaborating again with Cody Estle. Other favorite stage management projects include the recent hit The Luckiest at Raven Theatre, three years of The Polar Express Train Ride, seven seasons of The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater, and productions at Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, and Northlight’s productions of Chapatti and Stella & Lou in Galway, Ireland. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to nine-year-old Charlie, and last year she celebrated her 20th anniversary as a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Thank you for supporting live theatre!