Eighteen-year-old Susie Glenn is on trial for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism, and recent Harvard Law grad and practicing Muslim, Claire Fathi, has been brought on to prosecute. Though pitted against one another in the courtroom, these two young women are fighting a similar battle to defend their morals, motives and religious freedoms in this riveting and timely new drama.
This world premiere comes from an exciting new playwright – the two-time winner of the Agnes Nixon Playwriting Festival and the recipient of the first annual Judith Barlow Prize.
This production is supported in part by an Edgerton Foundation for New Plays Award.
Photos by Michael Brosilow
The Daily Herald
by Barbara Vitello
February 9, 2017
Northlight’s timely ‘Faceless’ examines terrorism in heady courtroom drama
“Faceless” may well leave you breathless. Selina Fillinger’s timely new play about identity and faith expresses its myriad ideas so quickly and so unrelentingly that it threatens to overwhelm the audience.
Fillinger gives us plenty to ponder in this sharply written, 90-minute courtroom drama about an American teenager and convert to Islam who’s recruited by terrorists into aiding their cause. Developed through Northlight Theatre’s Interplay Program, the company’s blistering world premiere is helmed by Northlight artistic director BJ Jones. And his taut production boasts an A-list cast.
by Alex Huntsberger
February 8, 2017
A young writer makes a promising debut with a topical courtroom drama
The characters in Faceless, a new play by 22-year-old recent Northwestern graduate Selina Fillinger, rarely keep their thoughts to themselves. They are forthright, prickly, and all too quick with an unpopular opinion. The confidence with which they all hold court—sometimes literally, since it’s a courtroom drama—echoes the confidence baked into every word of Fillinger’s script. It’s uncommon for 22-year-olds to have their work produced at a theater like Northlight under a director like BJ Jones, but Faceless is not the kind of play that 22-year-olds commonly write. While it certainly has its flaws—more on those in a bit—Faceless really is one hell of a debut.
Faceless leaves little doubt that Fillinger is a master of craft, slicing and dicing with tools that most playwrights her age are still years away from honing. The play is well-made, well-structured, and well-paced to a degree that’s rare in a professional debut. And like all great debuts, Faceless will leave you eagerly waiting to see what Fillinger does next.
by Noel Schecter
February 4, 2017
A Timely Tale of Race and Religion: A Review of Faceless at Northlight Theatre
Although maybe not so great for America, a Trump presidency will likely be a boon for the theater world as a whole new wave of artists can be expected to explore how race and religion factor in an increasingly totalitarian world. Presented as a world premiere at Northlight Theatre, Selina Fillinger’s “Faceless” will likely serve as a benchmark for what this type of drama is capable of achieving.
BJ Jones directs a production that is as compelling to look at as it is to discuss. The quick pacing allows for a sense of authenticity and Stephan Mazurek’s clever projection design (projected texts and brightly colored emojis) perfectly captures Susie’s online world while a creepy ISIS recruiter is seen only as a shadow hiding behind a screen. As relevant as the plot is to today’s political world, the timeless themes of identity and discovery offered here will undoubtedly resonate well past the current president’s term.
by Chris Jones
February 6, 2017
‘Faceless’: Much to like in young writer’s lively but formulaic courtroom drama
“Faceless,” the lively new drama at Northlight Theatre that deals with the recruitment — over Twitter and Facebook — of a young American woman to join the jihad, is the work of 22-year-old playwright Selina Fillinger. It is a notable achievement for a scribe so early in her career.
This is what Fillinger does uncommonly well.
Fillinger can tell a dramatic story — she can really tell a story, and I suspect any TV network in receipt of this script would have its interest immediately perked. You can see that she can pack more moment-by-moment tension into a play than most playwrights ever manage in their careers and Jones responds by forging a heightened production that holds your attention easily and lets Stock’s performance take hold of the show, as it should.
Seth Saith (blog)
by Seth Arkin
February 5, 2017
Of Enemies and Empathy: Northlight’s ‘Faceless’ provides a Riveting Look Into Our Hearts, Minds and Humanity
Certainly, anti-Muslim vitriol from certain quarters–and empathy for the predominantly peaceful followers of Islam from others–is nothing new, and in recent years I’ve seen three excellent plays by Rohina Malik (Unveiled, The Mecca Tales and Yasmina’s Necklace) that have aided my cultural understanding rather acutely after terrorist acts have exacerbated American Islamophobia.
But with President Trump’s immigration-restricting executive order that many, including me, read as a Muslim Ban resulting in great agitation and mass protest–and assuredly widespread support as well–Faceless comes at about the most salient juncture imaginable.
If this helps garner press and sell tickets for Fillinger’s smart, empathetic and humane drama–astutely-directed by Northlight artistic director BJ Jones–in which every character has relatable and objectionable aspects, the timing can’t be considered inopportune.
The 90-minute Faceless may be most skillful for what it isn’t, at least not in preponderance. Sure, it’s partly a courtroom thriller, partly a religious lesson, partly a look at prejudice and presumption, partly a discussion of Islam and intolerance, partly a character study of a young American who joins ISIS. But to quote Selina Fillinger directly (from a marketing piece for Faceless): “This play is first and foremost about two young women trying to face their fears, find their voices, and leave their marks.”
Joe returns to Northlight where he has appeared in The Mousetrap, Inherit the Wind, and All in the Timing. More recently, he acted in Twist Your Dickens (The Second City at Goodman), Blues Skies Process (Goodman), and West Side Story (Paramount). Around Chicago, he has also acted at Steppenwolf, Court, Lookingglass, Remy Bumppo, many others, and regionally at Milwaukee Rep, St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Centerstage (Baltimore), and City Theatre (Pittsburgh). TV credits include E.R., Early Edition, What about Joan?, and Chicago Fire. He is an alum of The Second City National Touring Company and the Neo-Futurists, writing and performing in their 28-year signature show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. RIP. He dedicates this show to his mother.
Susaan Jamshidi is a Chicago based actor (SAG/AFTRA, AEA). She is excited to participate in her second workshop of A Distinct Society. She recently performed in several shows at Goodman Theatre: A Christmas Carol ’19 and ’20 (the latter which was produced as a free streaming audio play), The Winter’s Tale, and Rohina Malik’s Yasmina’s Necklace. Chicago credits include work with Lookingglass, Victory Gardens, Drury Lane, The Gift, Northlight, Remy Bumppo, Theatre Wit, and Sideshow Theatre Company (Jeff Award for Best Ensemble – Idomeneus), among others. International tours: Oh My Sweet Land (London/Toronto/Vancouver with Silk Road Rising). Regional theater credits include Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, among others. Film and television credits include Little Nations, Cicero in Winter, The Wallet, Chicago Med, Chicago P.D. and Sirens. Susaan earned her MFA from DePaul University and is represented by Paonessa Talent. Susaan is also an avid potter. You can follow her on Instagram @susaanlayla and @littlefigwheelworks
Timothy Edward Kane
Timothy Edward Kane is pleased to return to Northlight, having previously appeared in Faceless, Lost in Yonkers, The Miser and She Stoops to Conquer. Other Chicago credits include work with Court Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Writers Theatre, Rivendell, TimeLine, Goodman, Steppenwolf. Regional credits: The Mark Taper Forum, Notre Dame Shakespeare, Peninsula Players, and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. TV: Chicago P.D. (NBC), Chicago Fire (NBC), and Empire (FOX). Awards: Jeff Award, AfterDark, Chicago Magazine. Mr. Kane is married to actress Kate Fry with whom he has two sons; he is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Loyola University Chicago.
Ross is very happy to return to Northlight. Ross’s Broadway credits include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Tempest, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Other Chicago credits include As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida (Chicago Shakespeare); Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Waiting for Godot, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Rover, A Christmas Carol, and Stage Kiss (Goodman Theatre); The Man Who Came to Dinner and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Steppenwolf); A Man of No Importance, The Dresser both directed by Dr. Mark Lococo and Where’s Charlie (Apple Tree Theatre); As You Like It, and Bach at Leipzig (Writers); One Man, Two Guvnors (Court). He has received five Jeff Awards and two After Dark awards. His appearance as Koko in The Hot Mikado in London’s West End earned him a Laurence Olivier Award nomination. Last year, Ross was an “Artist in Residence” in Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts.
Lindsay is excited to make her Northlight debut. Chicago credits include Soup, Stews, Casseroles 1976 (Goodman); Sketchbook 15 (Collaboraction); EL Stories and Art on Track (Waltzing Mechanics) as well as staged readings and workshops with The Gift Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, and Pride Films and Plays. Additionally, she has appeared on NBC’s Chicago PD and is represented by Big Mouth Talent.
Selina is a Chicago-based actress and playwright. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied playwriting under the instruction of Laura Schellhardt. Her original work includes The Armor Plays, Three Landings and a Fire Escape, and The Coho Salmon Pub & Grub. Selina was a two-time winning playwright in the university’s Agnes Nixon Festival. Three Landings and a Fire Escape was awarded the 2015 Judith Barlow Prize and received a reading in New York under the direction of Kathleen Chalfant. Selina is one of three Chicago playwrights currently writing for Sideshow Theatre’s Freshness Initiative: her play, Something Clean, will receive a staged reading this June.
BJ JONES is in his 25th season as Artistic Director of Northlight. Mr. Jones is a two-time Joseph Jefferson Award Winning actor and a three-time nominated director. He’s directed the world premieres of Charm (Jeff Award Best New Play), The Outgoing Tide (Jeff Award Best New Play), White Guy on the Bus (Jeff Nominated Best New Play), Chapatti (Nominated Jeff Award Best New Play), Better Late, and Rounding Third. Notably, he has directed productions of Outside Mullingar, Grey Gardens, The Price, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. As a producer he has guided the three world premieres of The Christmas at Pemberley Trilogy (Jeff Award Best New Play), Shining Lives, The Last Five Years, and Studs Terkel’s ‘The Good War’. Additional directorial credits include Pitmen Painters (Timeline, Jeff Award Best Production); 100 Saints You Should Know (Steppenwolf); Glengarry Glen Ross (Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, Suzi Bass nomination Best Director); The Lady with All the Answers (Cherry Lane, New York); Animal Crackers (Baltimore Center Stage); Three Musketeers, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing (Utah Shakespeare Festival), and four productions at the Galway International Arts Festival. As a performer, he has appeared at Northlight, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court, and other theatres throughout Chicago. Film/TV credits include The Fugitive, Body Double, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Early Edition, Cupid, and Turks, among others.
John previously designed Northlight productions of White Guy on the Bus, Faceless, and Grey Gardens. Other recent Chicago scenic and lighting design credits include: Gospel at Colonus, Arsenic and Old Lace, Oedipus Rex, The Adventures of Augie March (Court); The Chinese Lady, Chimerica and Juno (TimeLine); Villette (Lookingglass); Objects in the Mirror and Having Our Say (Goodman) and Twelfth Night and Arcadia (Writers Theatre). Regional credits include productions with Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Long Wharf, Berkeley Repertory, McCarter and Shakespeare Theatre Company. Other projects include the lighting design for the Chicago Park District’s Buckingham Fountain. Mr. Culbert served as Dean of The Theatre School at DePaul University for over 20 years.
Northlight: The Mousetrap, You Can’t Take It With You, Charm, Faceless, The Mother of the Maid, Mansfield Park, How A Boy Falls. Regional: Dishwasher Dreams (Writers Theatre, Hartford Stage), Fahrenheit 451 (Indiana Repartory Theatre); Million Dollar Quartet Christmas (Evan Bernardin Productions, The Phoenix Theatre Company); Pride and Prejudice (Long Wharf Theatre); King of The Yees (Goodman Theatre, Kirk Douglas Theatre); Cambodian Rock Band (Victory Gardens Theater, City Theatre Company, Merrimack Repertory); The Who And The What (Milwaukee Rep); Animal Farm (Milwaukee Rep, Baltimore Center Stage); Other credits: Animal Farm, The Crucible, We Are Proud To Present…, The Constellations, A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); An Issue Of Blood, The House That Will Not Stand, A Wonder In My Soul, If I Forget (Victory Gardens Theater); Smart People, A Doll’s House (Writers Theatre); Harvey, Titanic (Court Theatre). Affiliations: United Scenic Artists USA-829. Education: M.F.A. in Stage Design, Northwestern University.
Heather returns to Northlight where she previously designed You Can’t Take It With You, Mothers and Sons and Faceless. Ms. Gilbert’s lighting designs have been seen on many Chicago stages including Hypocrites, Goodman, Court, Steppenwolf, Steep, Victory Gardens, Remy Bumppo, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Writers, Timeline, About Face and countless storefronts. Regional credits include Oregon Shakespeare, American Repertory, Kansas City Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory, Huntington, Williamstown, Alley, Berkeley Repertory and Actors Theatre of Louisville. International credits include Almeida in London and Singapore Repertory. Heather was a recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Grant and the 3Arts Award. Heather serves as the Head of Lighting Design at Columbia College Chicago, and received her MFA at the Theatre School at DePaul. She is a member of The Hypocrites community.
Andre has designed the Broadway productions of Metamorphoses, I Am My Own Wife and 33 Variations (Drama Desk Award nomination) as well as the world premiere of The Clean House at Yale Repertory and Lincoln Center. Based in Chicago, his work has appeared on most of the city’s stages including Northlight (Shining Lives with Amanda Dehnert), Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court, and Lookingglass where he is an associate artist. He has composed music and designed sound for theaters around the U.S., most frequently at the Oregon and California Shakespeare Festivals, Berkeley Repertory, Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Seattle Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse and Center Theater Group. Choral works include: Winesburg, Ohio,Eastland, Whitman, Undone (with Ben Sussman), and Paris By Night (with Amy Warren).
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
Rita Vreeland has been a frequent stage manager at Northlight since 2007, with Selling Kabul marking her 43rd production here. Other favorite recent projects include Ernest Shackleton Loves Me at Porchlight Music Theatre, A Christmas Carol at Drury Lane, The Luckiest at Raven Theatre, three years of The Polar Express Train Ride, and productions at Mercury Theatre, Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, and The Galway International Arts Festival in Galway, Ireland. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to ten-year-old Charlie, and this year she celebrated her 22nd anniversary as a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Thank you for supporting live theatre!
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