Jenny Connell Davis’s (Playwright) plays include End of Shift, Goddess of Mercy, The Dragon Play, and Scientific Method. Her work has been produced or developed at Chance Theater, the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, The Playwrights’ Center, Icicle Creek Theater Festival, ACT Seattle, ATC Chicago, the Araca Group, Asolo Rep, New York Stage and Film, Ars Nova, The Gift Theatre, Shrewd Productions, ScriptWorks, NAATCO and Rivendell. Her first screenplay, Playing House, was a finalist for the Nicholl Fellowship; her second, Two Truths and a Lie, was a semi-finalist. Her short with writer/director Soham Mehta, Fatakra, has screened worldwide and been recognized with more than a dozen audience awards and jury prizes. She currently has film and television projects in development with Maven Pictures/Tangerine Entertainment, Fox Animation, Astronauts Wanted/Cinestar Pictures, and Iconoclast/Anonymous Content. Jenny has an MFA from UT Austin, is a former member of Ars Nova’s Play Group, an Affiliated Writer with the Playwrights’ Center, and was the 2014-2015 Hot Seat Resident Playwright at Baltimore’s Center Stage. She is a proud member of Chicago’s Gift Theatre Company, Scriptworks, and the MARTHAs, an Austin-based playwrights’ collective.
Devon de Mayo (Director) is working with Rivendell for the first time. Recent directing credits include: Women Laughing Alone With Salad (Theatre Wit); The Burn (Steppenwolf Theatre), Harvey (Court Theatre), Sycamore (Raven Theatre), You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites), Animals Out of Paper (Shattered Globe Theatre), You Can’t Take it With You, and Lost in Yonkers (Northlight Theatre), Jet Black Chevrolet (side project); Compulsion and Everything is Illuminated (Next); Roadkill Confidential, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, and Clouds (Dog & Pony). Directing and devising credits: Don’t Look Back/Must Look Back (Pivot Arts); Guerra: A Clown Play (La Piara, Mexico); The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls and The Twins Would Like to Say (Dog & Pony). She received her MFA from Middlesex University in London and did further studies at the Russian Academy of Dramatic Arts in Moscow and the Indonesian Institute for the Arts in Bali, Indonesia.
Skyler Gray (Dramaturg) is thrilled to return to Rivendell after working on The Cake. Gray is the Director of New Play Development at Victory Gardens Theater. Before joining Victory Gardens, he was the Literary Manager at the Alley Theatre in Houston, TX. Gray has developed new work with the Williamstown Theatre Festival, South Coast Repertory, Alley Theatre, Chance Theater, Rogue Artists Ensemble, UC Irvine, Columbia University, Children’s Musical Theaterworks, WildWind Lab, Echo Theater Company, Artists at Play, and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. He has also worked in the literary departments at South Coast Repertory, Williamstown Theatre Festival and William Morris Endeavor in New York City, as well as serving as the Artistic Director of Children’s Musical Theaterworks and The Underground @ CMT in Fresno, CA. Gray holds a BA in Theater from the University of California, Irvine with Honors in Directing and Stage Management.
Jenniffer Thusing (Stage Manager) is excited to return to Rivendell. She previously stage managed The Cake, Cal in Camo, Alias Grace, Grizzly Mama, and Winter. Jenniffer has stage managed for SoloChicago, Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Commercial Collective, Noble Fool, Nuns for Fun, Emerald City and Light Opera Works. Her work as a set designer with her partner Robert Groth has been seen at Irish Theatre of Chicago, Mary Arrchie, The Royal George, Metropolis Performing Arts, The Broadway Playhouse, The Apollo Theater, and Emerald City’s Little Theater. Jenniffer is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.
Lauren Nichols (Scenic Design) is a freelance designer who also works full time as a studio assistant building scale models. In the past she has worked as a projections designer for Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre and held the position of production manager for Emergent Theatre. Recent design credits include Caroline or Change (Firebrand Theatre), The Pajama Game (Highland Park Players), Surely, Goodness, and Mercy (Redtwist), and also children’s musicals Yo Vikings! and Elephant and Piggie (Northbrook). Upcoming projects include Follies (Harper College), You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (NU), Pinkalicious (Northbrook), and Ghosts (Redtwist). Prior to her graduate studies she was a scenic artist for 5 years. MFA Northwestern. Laurenangeldesigns.com
Anthony Churchill (Projections Design) collaborates on media for theatre, events, and installations. Recent projections and media with Q Brothers, Marriott Theatre, The Cher Show, Porchlight Music Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Theatre Wit, Stage Left, Museum of Broadcast Communications, Big Noise Theatre, 16th Street Theatre—Berwyn, and BoHo Theatre—which he is a proud company member of. Tony has been nominated for three Jeff Awards for Projections, winning one in 2017 for Body of An American. When not working on plays, he enjoys sculpting tiny astronauts in peril, and playing projections with his band, Grape Juice Plus. www.artlabchicago.com
Heather Sparling (Lighting Design) is grateful to be working with Rivendell for the first time. Recent design credits include The Fly Honey Show (The Inconvenience), Empower Youth! (Lyric Unlimited); The Burn (Steppenwolf ); Twelfth Night and The Heart of Robin Hood (Door Shakespeare), Yardbird (Hackney Empire, London), La Havana Madrid (Teatro Vista), Longer! Louder! Wagner! (Lyric Opera of Chicago), The Way She Spoke (Greenhouse Theater). Heather is a proud alum of Boston University. For more information on her work, visit www.sparlingdesigns.com
Shain Longbehn (Original Music and Sound Design) makes his Rivendell debut. He also works around Chicago as a projection designer, audio engineer, and composer. Recent design credits include: In the Canyon, Franklinland (Jackalope), Student Body (Northwestern), Brainstorm, Godspell, Gilgamesh K-12 (Perry Mansfield i/a/w The House), Ofrenda (Albany Park Theater), Women Laughing Alone with Salad (Wit), Red Bowl at the Jeffs (The Sound), and Luz Estrada (Mercy Street). Recent technical credits include: Borealis, Hatfield & McCoy, The Nutcracker (The House), Aristophenesathon (Hypocrites), Trevor, Parade (Writers), and Thrones! The Musical Parody (Apollo Theater). He graduated with a BA in Theater from Loyola University Chicago. shainlongbehn.com
Izumi Inaba (Costume Design) is excited to be working with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble for the first time. Recent Chicago credits: Borealis (House), Frankenstein (Lifeline), Koalas (16th Street), Zurich (Steep), Frederick (Chicago Children’s), and Cosmologies (The Gift). Upcoming: Mansfield Park (Northlight), A Doll’s House Part 2 (Steppenwolf ), Twilight Bowl (Goodman). She is a resident artist at Albany Park Theater Project, an ensemble member at Red Tape, and a member of United Scenic Artists USA Local 829.
Jonathan Berg-Einhorn (Properties Design) is a Chicago based designer and artisan. Jonathan has previously worked with companies such as Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Paramount Theater, Hope Summer Repertory Theater, Underscore Theatre, Something Marvelous, and Mudlark Theatre, Favorite design credits include Haymarket, Johnny 10 Beers’ Daughter, Bomber’s Moon, Curious George: The Golden Meatball, Alice in Wonderland, Ghosts, The Seven Deadly Sins, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Endgame, and Prometheus Bound. He holds a BFA in Scenic and Costume Design from Boston University. Jonathanbergeinhorn.com
Catherine Allen (Production Manager) is thrilled to return to Rivendell where she previously production managed The Cake and Cal in Camo. Recent production management credits include Significant Other (About Face Theater), Violet and Ragtime (Griffin Theatre), Invisible Hand, Hookman, and Bobbie Clearly (Steep Theatre), A Funny Thing Happened… (Route 66 Theatre Company), and many circuses with Actors Gymnasium where she is the staff Production Manager. She has also worked with Congo Square Theatre, Pegasus Theatre Chicago, Haven Theatre, Chimera Ensemble, and Step Up Productions where she was an Artistic Associate. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she received a BFA in Acting.
Robert Groth (Technical Director) is excited to return to Rivendell. He has been a freelance technical director, scenic carpenter and designer for over 15 years. Robert has also worked as a scenic designer for several theater companies with his partner Jenniffer Thusing including Mary Arrchie, Pinebox, Emerald City and most recently Chicago Theatre Workshop’s production of Little Miss Sunshine. Their design work was recognized in 2011 with a nomination for an Equity Wing Jeff for Best Scenic Design—Midsized Theater.
Izzy French (Assistant Stage Manager) is ecstatic to be working with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble for the first time. Her previous stage management credits include Weathervane Theatre Season 53, Conference of the Birds (Columbia College), Fear & Misery in the Third Riech (Haven Theatre), Servant of Two Masters (Columbia College), King Liz (Windy City Playhouse), and Dying For It (Columbia College). She is a senior pursuing a BFA in Theatre Technology at Columbia College Chicago, although Izzy is originally from White Bear Lake, Minnesota. In addition to stage management, She also works in scenic painting, props, and Illustration.
Brent Ervin-Eickhoff (Assistant Projections Designer) is a director, writer, and educator based in Chicago, IL. He has worked with A Red Orchid Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Facility Theatre, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co., Greenhouse Theatre, Chicago›s Night Out in the Parks, The Barrens Theatre, The Rockwell Theatre Bandits, and other storefronts around Chicago. Brent served as Co-Artistic Director and later as Managing Director of Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble, of which he was a founding member. An award-winning filmmaker, Brent’s films have screened as part of the Frog Baby Film Festival and Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project. He graduated from Ball State University with degrees in Directing and Theatre Education, and currently serves on the board of The Passage Theatre.
Arianna Soloway (Assistant Director) is thrilled to be working with Rivendell for the first time. Recent directing credits include Guardians (Mary Arrchie Theatre), Carrie & Francine (Haven Theatre), and Pine in a site specific production. Recent assistant directing credits include Linda (Steep Theatre) How to Use a Knife (Shattered Globe), Pillars of the Community (Strawdog Theatre), Roz and Ray (Victory Gardens), Red Handed Otter (A Red Orchid Theatre), Seminar (Haven Theatre Company), and Intelligence (Arena Stage). Arianna has a BFA in directing from Columbia College and is an associate member of the SDC.
Tara Mallen (Rivendell Artistic Director/ Producer/Marie Understudy) is an actor, director, and the Producing Artistic Director at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. She is the 2017 3Arts William Franklin Grisham Awardee and the 2014 Volunteers of America Silver Star Awardee. Most recently Mallen was seen onstage in The Cake for which she was nominated for a 2018 Jeff Award for “Actor in a Principal Role”. In 2016, she performed in the world premiere production of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat at Arena Stage. Prior to that she was in Rivendell’s world premiere productions of Look, we are breathing and Rasheeda Speaking. Tara appeared in the Steppenwolf for Young Audience’s production of How Long Will I Cry: Stories of Youth Violence written by Chicago Journalist Miles Harvey. One of Rivendell’s founding members, Tara has now produced and acted in over thirty productions. She received a Joseph Jefferson award for “Supporting Actress” for work in WRENS as part of that production’s Jeff winning ensemble. She was nominated the following year for “Actress in a Principal Role” for her work in My Simple City. Screen credits include Steven Soderbergh’s film Contagion; Empire (Fox); Boss (Starz); Chicago Fire (NBC); Doubt (CBS/Sony Pictures pilot); Chicago P.D. (NBC); Sense8 (Netflix) and the independent feature FOOLS. Tara co-conceived and directed the world premiere of WOMEN AT WAR, directed the Jeff nominated Midwest premieres of The Electric Baby, 26 Miles (co-production with Teatro Vista); Fighting Words; Psalms of a Questionable Nature; Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue (co-production with Stageworks/ Hudson); and the brief and brilliant Shady Meadows by Lisa Dillman as part of the 2007 Chicago Humanities Festival.
Jackie Banks-Mahlum (Rivendell Managing Director / Producer) is an arts manager, producer, and educator based in Chicago. She was thrilled to join the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble as the Managing Director in March 2014. Jackie is also the Membership and Development Associate at Arts Alliance Illinois, and the Co-Producer for Theatricum Botanicum. Previously Jackie was in the Los Angeles area where she worked with Center Theatre Group’s P.L.A.Y., the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Theatricum Botanicum. She has also freelanced regionally where she has had the opportunity to work in a variety of performing arts including opera, ballet, modern dance, improv, and theatre. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, has a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Production and Business Management from Bradley University, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Producing from the California Institute of the Arts.