William Francis Hoffman (Playwright)
Hallie Gordon (Director)
Jenniffer Thusing (Stage Manager) is thrilled to be returning to Rivendell. She previously stage managed 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. In addition to having stage managed 14 productions at Chicago Dramatists, she also served as props designer, co-designed a set (Aiming for Sainthood at the Pritzker Pavilion) and is an artistic associate there. Jenniffer’s 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.
Joanna Iwanicka (Scenic Design)
Janice Pytel (Costume Design) has been an ensemble member since 2010 and serves on Rivendell’s Literary Committee. She has a special interest in new play development, and has designed costumes for numerous world premiers by noted playwrights such as Bruce Norris and Moises Kauffman. Recent design credits include: Bootycandy (Windy City Playhouse); Song from the Uproar (Chicago Fringe Opera); Alias Grace, Grizzly Mama, Dry Land, Body / Courage, Look, we are breathing, and WOMEN AT WAR (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); The Low Down Dirty Blues (Milwaukee Rep); The Clean House (Remy Bumppo); Queen, Hand to God, Cocked, Hillary and Clinton, and Rest (Victory Gardens Theater); and The Qualms (Steppenwolf). In Chicago, Janice has worked with Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, TimeLine Theatre, Next Theater, About Face Theater, Lookingglass, Chicago Shakespeare, Silk Road Rising, Piven, and others. Her Broadway credits are 33 Variations and I Am My Own Wife. Regionally she has worked with The Alley Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kansas City Rep, Geffen Playhouse, Milwaukee Rep, Madison Rep, Alliance Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Centerstage, Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group, La Jolla Playhouse and others. She has designed costumes for opera, dance, film, and performance art, and her work has been seen in numerous cities across five continents. In addition to her freelance work, Janice is a personal and commercial stylist with her company Wardrobe Solutions, Inc.
Charles Cooper (Lighting Design)
Victoria Deiorio (Original Composition and Sound Designer)
Blake Burke (Properties Design)
Catherine Allen (Production Manager)
Robert Groth (Technical Director) Robert is excited to return to Rivendell Theatre Ensemble where he recently worked on Alias Grace. 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.
Audrey Klein (Assistant Stage Manager)
Laura Duncan (Assistant Costume Design) is a recent graduate of Loyola University Chicago. During her time at Loyola, she costumed A Doll’s House (directed by Ann Shanahan) and Baltimore Waltz (directed by Maggie Cramer) under the mentorship of the incomparable Rachel Healy. This is Laura’s first time assisting Janice on a project. Laura is thankful to have this opportunity to work with such an incredible ensemble of artists at Rivendell.
Tara Mallen (Rivendell Artistic Director / Producer) is the founder and Artistic Director of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. An actor, director and producer, she was most recently on stage in RTE’s world premiere The Firebirds Take the Field. Prior to that she appeared in Lynn Nottage’s pulitzer-prize winning play Sweat at Arena Stage and Steppenwolf’s How Long Will I Cry: Stories of Youth Violence written by Chicago Journalist Miles Harvey. Other notable productions at Rivendell include Jeff Nominated, world premiere productions of Look, we are breathing; Rasheeda Speaking; The Walls; and Self Defense, or the Death of Some Salesmen. Tara has produced and/or acted in over thirty productions at Rivendell and received a Joseph Jefferson award for “Supporting Actress” for WRENS as well as being part of that production’s Jeff-winning “Best Ensemble”. She was nominated the following year for “Actress in a Principal Role” for her work in My Simple City. Tara co-conceived and directed the critically acclaimed World Premiere of WOMEN AT WAR, a theatrical exploration of women in today’s military that played to sold out houses in the fall of 2014 and is now touring throughout the mid-west; she also directed the Jeff nominated Midwest premieres of The Electric Baby, 26 Miles (in co-production with Teatro Vista); Fighting Words; Psalms of a Questionable Nature; and the co-production of Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue with Stageworks/Hudson. Screen credits include Steven Soderbergh’s film Contagion, Boss, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Sense8, the CBS/Sony pilot Doubt, the FOX pilot Doubt, and the independent feature film Fools.
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.