Heidi Stillman is a writer, director, and ensemble member of The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago, where she also serves as the Artistic Director of New Work. Writing/directing work for Lookingglass includes:Hephaestus, a circus with story, in collaboration with Tony Hernandez; an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (2009 Raven award); an adaptation of Dickens’ Hard Times (5 Jeff awards including director, new work, and production); and an adaptation of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita (Jeff nominated). Additional adaptation work: Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop with Laura Eason and Raymond Fox (Jeff award for adaptation), and Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees with Larry DiStasi (Jeff nominated). Directing work with Lookingglass includesTrust written by David Schwimmer and Andy Bellin, The Wooden Breeks by Glen Berger, and Hillbilly Antigone book and music by Rick Sims. Heidi has staged Laura Eason’s Around the World in 80 Days at Kansas City Repertory, and staged Mary Zimmerman’s The Arabian Nights at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2010.
THE NORTH CHINA LOVER
Adapted from the novel by Marguerite Duras
You never forget your first lover. The affair plays like a moving picture over and over in your mind: passionate, consuming, secret, taboo. Fade in: the seamy French Quarter of Southern Indochina in the 1930s where the 14-year-old impoverished schoolgirl who will someday be French novelist Marguerite Duras is about to meet and captivate a wealthy 27-year-old Chinese aristocrat. With the older Duras as our guide, THE NORTH CHINA LOVER transports us on a provocative and haunting journey of awakening and sacrifice, revealing the delicate and indelible effect of life on art.
Premiered at The Lookingglass Theatre (2013).
“In THE NORTH CHINA LOVER, an altogether exquisite Lookingglass Theatre premiere, adapter-director Heidi Stillman has worked a small miracle of artistic transubstantiation, creating a play that magically combines the meditative poetry of the page, the dreamy luminosity of cinema and the vivid reality of the stage.” – Chicago Sun Times
“(Four out of five stars) spare, seductive…Stillman inserts the elder Duras into the work, marvelously played by Deanna Dunagan as narrator and observer. This has the effect of making THE NORTH CHINA LOVER as evocative a stage rendering of the quality of memory as the best productions of THE GLASS MENAGERIE.” – Time Out Chicago
“[a] rich dramatic experience…While there is no shortage of plays about star-crossed lovers — from Romeo and Juliet on — the tone and beauty of this one, make it something special.” – Chicago Critic
“intriguing…In Stillman’s fluid staging, a pitch-black set, designed by Daniel Ostling, is illuminated by solitary pools of light, evoking both the candlelit quality of memory and the minimalism of Duras’s prose….Stillman vividly portrays the act of remembering…” – Chicago Reader
In this sensual tale of love and hunger, the audience joins the guests of the boardinghouse Cascabel at their courtyard table. From his meager kitchen, the mysterious new cook conjures an enchanting cuisine, which seems to give those who eat it fantastic and magical abilities. But he is singularly focused on the proprietress of the house, a melancholy woman with no interest in his food, who barely ever leaves her room. Will she ever try a bite? And what will happen if she does? A never-before-seen combination of flavor, circus, comedy, dance and music.
Produced by The Lookingglass Theatre (2013).
“Successfully captures the intersection of sensory pleasures, providing an evening of indulgent escapism that will leave you utterly joyful.” – Chicago Theater Beat
Adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens.
The rational Thomas Gradgrind’s regimented ideas about life are inflicted on his children, Louisa and Tom, who are brought up thinking, “Facts alone are wanted in life.” When he brings home an abandoned circus girl, Sissy Jupe, to live with them, Louisa begins to glimpse the possibility of something different. The family hurtles towards crisis; Sissy leads them towards help. HARD TIMES is a bittersweet celebration of beauty, empathy, and the imagination and a repudiation of the dehumanizing effects of industrialization and “progress.”
Produced by Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago (2001, 2002), Arden Theatre, Philadelphia (2004).
5 Jeff Awards: Direction, New Work, Production, Choreography, Lighting.
Published by Northwestern University Press.
“…Heidi Stillman—in her finest, most nuanced work as both adaptor and director—has crafted a show of tremendous grace and heart, darkness and light. She has brought to life a Victorian-era epic that bursts with wit and whimsy, and all the outrage, hope, severity, and sentimentality of the novel.” – Chicago Sun Times
“…as brilliantly conceived as any Dickens stage adaptation I have ever seen. It’s a tribute not only to the glory of Dickens, but to the joy of theater.” – Chicago Tribune
THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
3F, 8M, 4 children
Adapted from the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
“God and the Devil are at war, and the battlefield is the human heart.” A stormy murder mystery, revolving around the four brothers Karamazov – all involved in some way in their drunken, lecherous father’s murder, though their involvement is not necessarily obvious or even literal. The ideas swirling around and within the plot have to do with the existence of God, the meaning of life, the broadness and contradictions in human nature, and the interconnectedness of humanity (that we are “all responsible for all”), in other words, all the biggest, deepest life questions…
Premiered at The Lookingglass Theatre (2008). Received The 2009 Raven Award for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment.
“…an entirely new, happily uncompromising, fully realized and wholly sincere dramatic adaptation of THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV— in all it’s throbbing, three-act, 19th century glory… – Chicago Tribune
“…Stillman has streamlined Dostoyevsky’s novel yet deftly highlighted its major religious, moral, and philosophical arguments while capturing the near hallucinatory heat of its snowy landscape.” – Chicago Sun Times
“…starkly poetic, mordantly funny…” – Chicago Reader
A circus based on the myth of Hephaestus, god of the forge, who was thrown from the Heavens by his own mother, and eventually makes his way back to Mount Olympus. It is narrated by a little girl nursing her own parental sorrow.
Produced by Lookingglass (2005). Subsequent productions at Lookingglass (2008) and The Goodman Theatre (2010).
“Part Cirque du Soleil and part STOMP—but with storytelling raised to a level that puts both operations to shame—HEPHAESTUS takes Lookingglass’ devotion to physical theatre to the outer limits”. – Chicago Sun Times
“…few things are as pleasurable as watching an audience experience something that exceeds their expectations. This one has people’s mouths hanging open”. – Chicago Tribune