Collaboraction to present "1001" by Jason Grote (Sep9-Oct9)


Seth Bockley Directs First Professional Production of Jason Grote’s Work in Chicago

Critics hail “1001” as “wild and beautiful” (Variety); a “kaleidoscopic reinvention’” (The New York Times); “endlessly compelling” (The Boston Globe); and “dynamic, intellectually agile…a postmodern epic about the cultural narratives that shape our lives” (Time Out New York)

CHICAGO – Collaboraction kicks off its 15th anniversary season with the Chicago premiere of “1001,” a provocative, funny and fast-paced post-modern retelling of “The Arabian Nights.”  This piece introduces Chicago audiences to the work of New York-based playwright Jason Grote, who has been hailed as a thrilling new voice in American theater. Under the direction of Seth Bockley, an equally thrilling new visionary in American theater, this explosive, highly anticipated production runs Sept. 9 – Oct. 9 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division Ave. Press night is Monday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit

Sexy and surreal, “1001” is a theatrical mash-up that mixes Middle East politics with a modern tale of young love, asking the question “Can passion conquer history?” A six-actor ensemble plays a dizzying variety of roles, including the fabled princess Scheherezade, a Palestinian businessman, Sindbad the sailor, an American Jew named Alan, Gustave Flaubert, a princess with a lisp and even Osama Bin Laden. Featuring Collaboraction’s signature blend of modern media and visceral storytelling, this moving and hilarious intimate production promises to take audiences on a theatrical journey into uncharted territory.

Jason Grote is one of a generation of brainy new American dramatists — including Tracy Letts and Will Eno — who understand that to reach new audiences, political theater needs to move beyond moral indignation and outrage, past spoon-feeding an attitude,” says LA WeeklyThe Washington Post says Grote “has made a name for himself in recent years with scripts that explode the boundaries between the ordinary and the chimerical, the political and the aesthetic, the intimate and the dizzyingly cosmic.”
“I’m thrilled to be bringing the entertaining, provocative and brave work of Jason Grote to Chicago audiences,” says Bockley. “This is a politically charged play that goes back centuries and hyperlinks to today, tackling the collision of East and West, cultural confusion and identity in a modern aesthetic unique to Grote’s dynamic form of storytelling.  In a post-9/11 New York underground subway station, an amazing array of characters played by six versatile actors serve as our guides on a hallucinatory and hilarious journey.”
Seth Bockley is a director, writer and performer in high demand in Chicago and beyond. In 2009, Bockley adapted and directed the critically acclaimed world premiere of “Jon” at The Building Stage in Chicago. Produced by Collaboraction, the stage premiere was adapted from Saunders’ short story of the same name first published in The New Yorker in 2003. “Jon” earned Bockley an Equity Jeff Award for ‘Best New Adaptation.’
Bockley recently received the 2009 Ofner Prize from the Goodman Theater to develop a new adaptation of “CommComm,” a short story by George Saunders. The new work will be workshopped at the Goodman in January 2011.
Bockley is currently developing a new musical theater piece, “February House” for thePublic Theater in New York with composer and pop artist Gabriel Kahane. Commissioned by the Public’s “New Music Theater Initiative,” the piece is based on the nonfiction book by Sherill Tippins about the group of well-known artists, writers and burlesque performers, including Gypsy Rose Lee, W.H. Auden, Carson McCullers and others, who shared a unique communal living space in a Brooklyn brownstone in the 1940s.
In 2007, Bockley completed a two-year mentorship in directing and art directing with Redmoon Theater made possible by Theatre Communication Group’s competitive New Generations grant.  His credits with Redmoon include directing many events, components of major Spectacle works, and creating the role of Joop for Spectacle 2009, “Last of My Species.”  Writing credits include the Jeff-nominated puppet folk opera “Boneyard Prayer” and “Laika’s Coffin,” which toured to New York City as part of Great Small Works’ 2008 Toy Theater Festival and was seen in May 2010 under his direction at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Other directing credits include Keith Huff’s “The Deep Blue Sea,” Walkabout’s “Impossible Cities: A Utopian Experiment,” Dog & Pony’s “The Twins Would Like To Say” at the Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theatre and “Four and a Half Rooms of Jorge Luis Borges,” a commissioned work for the University of Chicago.  
Bockley and Grote first collaborated on Grote’s 10-minute play “Yetsi’at Metzrayim,” which premiered as part of Collaboraction’s 10th annual SKETCHBOOK Festival this past June.
“1001” marks Jason Grote’s first professional production in Chicago. The play has been produced by The Denver Center Theater; Page 73 (N.Y.); The Theater @ Boston Court (Sacramento, Calif.); Contemporary American Theater Festival (Shepherdstown, W. Va.); Mixed Blood Theater (Minneapolis, Minn.); Rorschach Theater (Washington, D.C.); and Just Theater (San Francisco, Calif.).
Upon its premiere at the Denver Center Theater, “1001” was named “Best New Play” by from Denver’s alternative weekly, Westword. “1001” was also included in critics’ year-end top ten lists in Time Out New York, The Rocky Mountain News and The Boulder Daily Camera, was nominated for Best New Play of 2008 by L.A. Weekly and was listed as the 72nd Most Important American Play in a national poll of theater professionals conducted by The Denver Post.
Of the New York premiere of “1001,” Time Out New York declared, “With brave, smart strokes, Grote pulled the orientalist rug out from under the conflict between West and Middle East,” and Variety said the production was "…a wild and beautiful glimpse at the yarns that shape our lives… Even if it isn’t always true, the story we keep telling — about the power of love, violence, and death — is a comfort. Grote tackles that concept with gripping imagination, achieving a cosmic scope by eliminating the barriers between worlds." The New York Times called it a “kaleidoscopic reinvention” of the ‘1001 Nights’ tales…Moving fluently back and forth from the “Arabian Nights” of legend…to New York in a dusty, apocalyptic near-future, these stories within stories come to include Flaubert during his wild-oats days in Egypt and even a cameo appearance by Jorge Luis Borges, the master of labyrinthine fictions."
Back Stage proclaims, “In a time when political leaders and television programmers have made it difficult to discern reality from fantasy, Grote believes in stepping boldly through the looking glass — to restore imagination to theatre and, conversely, to challenge standard narratives to reach a larger truth."
Grote has been produced nationally and internationally, and has received wide-spread critical acclaim and recognition. Additional plays include “Maria/Stuart” (Woolly Mammoth); “Hamilton Township” (Salvage Vanguard); “This Storm Is What We Call Progress” (Rorschach Theater); “Box Americana; Civilization (All You Can Eat)”; and “Darwin’s Challenge.” His work has also been produced or developed at The O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference, The Sundance Theater Lab, Playwrights’ Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, The Atlantic Theater, Soho Rep, Portland Center Stage, The Edinborough Festival Fringe, The Williamstown Theater Festival, The Bielefeld Festival (Germany), HERE, Baltimore Centerstage, The Glej Theater (Ljubljana, Slovenia), The Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab, among others. Grote has been commissioned to write new work by ACT/Seattle, The Denver Center, The Keen Company/Playscripts Inc., among others. He has developed many projects for radio, both solo and with Karinne Keithley (“So Many Important Things” at The Conflux Festival, The Acousmatic Theater Hour on WFMU, and an upcoming comedic live radio play tribute to Tim Burton at The Museum of Modern Art). For more information on Jason Grote, visit
“1001” previews run Thursday, Sept. 9 – Sunday, Sept. 12. Press night is Monday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. The regular run continues through Saturday, Oct. 9 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. The show schedule is Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. andSunday at 3 p.m. There is an additional performance Monday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

General admission is $25. Preview tickets are $15. For tickets or more information,

Cast and Design Team
The cast of “1001” features Mouzam Makkar (Scheherazade/Dahna); HB Ward (One-eyed Arab, Jumul’s Master, Mostafa, Slave, Sindbad, Voice of Alan Dershowitz, Dhnn);Joel Gross (Shahriyar, Alan); Carly Ciarrocchi (The Virgin Bride, Dunyazade, The Princess Maridah, Juml, Kuchuk Hanem, Lubna); Antonio Brunetti (Jorge Luis Borges, The Emir Ghassan, The Horrible Monster, Osama Bin Laden, Wazir); Edgar Sanchez (Yahya Alhumsayni, Asser, Gustave Flaubert, The Orthodox Jewish Student, Voice of Moderation, A Eunuch).

The “1001” design team features Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Design and Composition); AJ Tarzian (Set Design); Elsa Hiltner (Costume Design); Deborah Lindell (Props Design); and Mac Vaughey (Lighting Design).

Collaboraction celebrates its 15th year as a Chicago-based arts organization and remains focused on becoming a national leader of contemporary theater. By incorporating innovative artists and inter-disciplinary collaboration, Collaboraction audiences are sure to experience groundbreaking theatrical and art-based events. Presenting such smash hits as 2008’s “Jon” by George Saunders and adapted and directed by Seth Bockley, and 2007’s critically acclaimed production of “The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow: an instant message with excitable music” by Rolin Jones, as well as the annual SKETCHBOOK Festival, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, Collaboraction has worked with more than 2,500 artists to bring more than 60 productions and events to more than 50,000 audience members. For more information, visit

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