Barbara Robertson as Jan-the-Unnamed in Season 25's production of the Chicago premiere of Yeast Nation (the triumph of life).  Photo by Michael Brosilow.

mission & history

American Theater Company is an ensemble of artists committed to producing new and classic American stories that ask the question: "What does it mean to be an American?"

We provide a truly intimate home for the community to experience meaningful stories. We foster a nurturing environment for artists to take risks and create essential work.

founded to affect the average Chicagoan
American Theater Company (ATC) was founded in July 1985 as American Blues Theatre, a company dedicated to exploring, nurturing, and developing theater that addressed and affected the real working-class people of Chicago. From 1986 to 1993, American Blues Theatre produced such critically acclaimed productions as The Hairy Ape; Rick Cleveland's Bad Moon; and Monsters and Monsters II, collections of commissioned monologues by Chicago playwrights including Douglas Post, Dwight Okita, David Mamet, and Paula Killen. The Hairy Ape was hailed by Richard Christiansen of the Chicago Tribune as one of the three best shows of the year.

a permanent home in a vital neighborhood
In August 1993, the company leased a warehouse in the primarily working-class neighborhood of Northcenter, and in an amazing 38 days, transformed it into an intimate 134-seat theater. From the beginning, the theater was a community center, playing host to Chamber of Commerce meetings and neighborhood events. From 1994 to 1997, the theater presented such critically acclaimed productions as On the Waterfront, the World Premiere of The Flight of the Phoenix (two Joseph Jefferson Citations), and Stalag 17 (five Jeff Citations).

professionalism and growth
In March 1997, Brian Russell became the company's first full-time, paid artistic director, and the theater changed its name to American Theater Company. Mr. Russell ushered in a new era of growth and professionalism, producing four-play subscription seasons, growing the budget from approximately $70,000 to $385,000, increasing the audience ten-fold, and growing the full-time staff. Among the highlights were The Threepenny Opera, American Buffalo (with Mike Nessbaum), and Endgame.

stability and American focus
In 2002, Mr. Russell stepped down and the Board of Directors hired Damon Kiely as the company’s second artistic director. His vision returned the company to its roots of producing only American stories, and revised the mission statement to ask our audience the question: "What does it mean to be an American?" Highlights include a hit revival of The Hairy Ape, Lisa Loomer’s Living Out (co-produced by Teatro Vista), and broke box office records with his re-imagining of Oklahoma! which also played at Theater on the Lake. Damon resigned at the end of the 2007 season to take a full time faculty position at DePaul University.

new leaders usher change and expansion
In November 2007, the Board of Directors hired PJ Paparelli as the company’s third artistic director and in August 2008, hired its first Executive Director, Michael Thomas Newberry. Newberry and Paparelli helmed the company’s most significant era of growth and transformation, expanding to a six-play season, doubling the staff, and growing the budget to just over $1M. Nationally recognized projects included the regional premiere of Speech & Debate (TimeOut Chicago’s top three production of 2008), Chicago premiere of The People’s Temple by members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, and an unprecedented repertory of African American and Caucasian productions of True West and Topdog/Underdog (first Caucasian cast) in collaboration with Congo Square Theatre Company. ATC was awarded the 2008 Princess Grace Award with a residency for director Jaime Castañeda and significantly increased its corporate and foundation support. The Chicago Tribune wrote, “An exciting new era. Demonstrably, ATC is now on a whole new track… comparable to what you’d see at America’s leading progressive theaters.”

community involvement
In January 2008, ATC launched two comprehensive outreach initiatives, American Mosaic and The Chicago Chronicle. American Mosaic is a ninth grade residency in six Chicago Public Schools, focused on the literary and performance aspects of a play in our season. Over 600 students from Logan Square, the South Side, and North Center studied and performed scenes from True West and Topdog/Underdog on the set of the professional productions and attended a student matinee. The Chicago Chronicle combined eight professional playwrights with teenagers from Chase Elementary to create a documentary style play from interviews with community members in Logan Square.

the future
In March of 2009, members of the Ensemble left the organization to reform American Blues Theatre. ATC recommitted to its mission of exploring a diverse and complex American identity the reflects our country today. In its first collaboration with About Face Theatre, Hedwig and the Angry Inch broke all previous box office records with two extensions, cultivating a rich audience of all ages, cultural backgrounds, and sexual orientations.

Season 25 celebrates the American Family with the Chicago Premiere of Yeast Nation (the triumph of life) the new musical from the Tony Award winning writers of Urinetown; the World Premiere of Welcome to Arroyo’s, and the Chicago Premiere of Lisa Loomer’s Distracted. In a historic commission from the Chicago Community Trust, ATC, Congo Square and the National Public Housing Musuem began development on a documentary style play that explores the history of public housing in Chicago.




Nancy Shields, president/Civic Volunteer

John Bienko, vice president/ZS Associates

Art Cunningham, vice president/Television Industry Executive

David Katz, treasurer/Sparrow Pharmaceuticals

Michelle Beck, secretary/Bretford Manufacturing, Inc.

Larry Broutman/Broutman Photography

Lynn Hughitt/HR & Finance Executive


Wyllys Mann/Green Business Development Center

Timothy McKeon/Fifth Third Bank

Jeffrey Morof/Bryan Cave LLP

Barbara Mousigian/

PJ Paparelli/Artistic Director; ex-officio

Melanie Peterson/Civic Volunteer

Margaret Schuchardt/Locke, Lord, Bissell, & Lyddell LLP

resident ensemble

Patrick Andrews

ATC credits: The People’s Temple and Speech & Debate.

Chicago credits: American Buffalo (Steppenwolf Theater); Cabaret (Drury Lane Theatre); Stupid Kids, The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later (About Face Theatre); The Snow Queen (Victory Gardens Theater); The Actor (Goodman Theatre); Willy Wonka (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Into the Woods and Oliver (Marriott Theatre); collaboratively created and performed in Dorian (Bailiwick Theatre); and The Sparrow (The House Theatre).

Regional and Touring: West Side Story (Walnut Street Theatre, Pennsylvania) and Fosse (National Tour).

Patrick studies at Black Box Acting Studio and works with About Face’s GLBTQA Youth Ensemble.

Kareem Bandealy holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from University of Central Florida where, in 1999, he became a national finalist in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival's Irene Ryan Acting Competition. In April 2007, he was profiled in TimeOut Chicago as one of ten actors considered to be "the backbone of our theatre scene." Kareem is a member of SAG, AFTRA, and AEA.

ATC Credits: George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play and Ali Hakim in Oklahoma!

Upcoming Projects: Heartbreak House at Writers' Theatre.

Chicago Credits: Rock 'N' Roll, Gas For Less, King Lear (Goodman Theatre); A Midsummer Night's Dream, Edward II, Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Peter Pan (Lookingglass Theatre Company); The Real Thing (Remy Bumppo); Wedding Play (About Face Theatre); and Our Enemies, Back of the Throat, 10 Acrobats (Silk Road Theatre Project where he is an associate artist).

Regional Credits: Cyrano de Bergerac, The Winter's Tale, Jack & the Beanstalk, Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet (Orlando Shakespeare Theater), Julius Caesar, Stuff Happens (Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre) Love's Labour's Lost (Notre Dame Summer Shakespeare Festival) and most recently The Tempest, The Three Musketeers, and The Merry Wives of Windsor (Illinois Shakespeare Festival).

Film: In Plain Sight, Counting Backwards, Bodega, and The Merry Gentleman (dir. Michael Keaton).

Jaime Castañeda is a TCG New Generations Future Leaders Award Recipient, through which he is the Artistic Leadership Associate at Atlantic Theater Company in New York City. Jaime has received various Dallas/Fort Worth Critics Forum awards, a Live Theatre League award, a Drama League fall fellowship, and a 2008 Princess Grace Award. Jaime is the Producing Artistic Director of FireStarter Productions.

ATC credits: Jaime will direct ATC's upcoming production of Welcome to Arroyo's, and was assistant director on True West and Topdog/ Underdog.

Regional directing credits: Assistant Director for Speed the Plow (also on Broadway at the Barrymore Theatre), Anon, Almost an Evening, and Parlour Song (Atlantic Theater Company); One for the Road (DirectorFest); Crave, Closer, Momentahn, Blue/Orange, Nocturne, Sonnets for an Old Century (FireStarter Productions); Red Light Winter (Perseverance Theatre); Attack of the Asians (workshop at The Kennedy Center); This is How it Goes, Credeaux Canvas, Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Out to Get You (Amphibian Stage Productions); Lincolnesque, Chesapeake, A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant (Circle Theatre). Assistant director: Pig Farm (Old Globe Theatre); Going Gone (Cincinnati Playhouse); Two Unrelated Plays (Center Theatre Group).

Education: MFA, Directing (University of Texas at Austin).

Tyler Ravelson

ATC credits:

Other Chicago credits

Sadieh Rifai has been has been an ensemble member at ATC since 2008. This coming Spring you can see her in ATC's world premiere hip-hop play Welcome to Arroyo's.

ATC credits: Natalie in Distracted, Yitzahk in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Violet/Mrs. Hatch/Others in It's A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play, and Diwata in Speech & Debate (After Dark Award for Outstanding Performance).

Other Chicago credits: Ski DubaiI and Johnna understudy in August: Osage County (Steppenwolf Theatre) and Noorani in Merchant on Venice (Silk Road Theatre). Sadieh is a proud graduate of the School at Steppenwolf (2006).

youth ensemble:

Lupe Bollas Max DizonTevion Lanier
Michael Sandoval Lawren Carter Casey Edwards
Kiah McKirnanEddie Cotton Olivia Shine
Matt Gomez-Hidaka Madison Pulman



Bonnie Metzger

interim artistic director

Sandeep Das

artistic associates

Jason Gerace

Allison Crisostomo

assistant to the artistic director


Dee Sandt

managing director

Gabriel Benghiat

administrative manager

Emma Palermo

development associate

Brittany Gillespie

audience services manager

Emma Hendren

development assistant

Sarah Slight

grants manager

Ben Kaye

community engagement apprentice

Christina Casano

marketing apprentice

Raven Pick-Isenberg


The Silverman Group


Martin Frank, The Saints

usher coordinator

Christian Helem

box office manager

Elizabeth Dieterich

box office associates

Leela Singh


Markie Gray

production manager

Kristen Jamerson

producing fellow

Ricardo Diaz

production management apprentice

Lucas Jimenez  

producing apprentice


Jessica Alldredge

education associates

Caitlin Kane

Tracy Strimple

Dana Anderson

education apprentices

Elizabeth Dieterich

Stephanie Niro

Brian Crawford

teaching artists

Kody C. Jones

Christina Lepri

Kelly O’Sullivan

Matthew Scott

Alyssa Vera Ramos

Kristen Williams

Paul Whitehouse


Sarah Slight

literary manager

Sam Weiner

literary apprentice

Will Cotter

New play development apprentices

Kevin Dorff

Sandeep Das

literary circle

Al Evangelista

Kathleen Geraghty

Sarah Gitenstein

David Charles Goyette


Shelly Horwitz

Polly Hubbard

Joshua Jaeger

Caitlin Kane

Derek Matson

Kevin McDonald

Bonnie Metzgar

PJ Paparelli

Sarah Slight



Address: 1909 West Byron Street, Chicago, Illinois 60613

Phone: 773.409.4125

Box Office Hours:
Monday through Friday: noon to 6pm
Saturdays: 1pm to 8pm (on performance days)
Sundays: noon to 5pm (on performance days)

If you call during these hours, and do not reach us right away, we are assisting another patron.
Please leave a message, and we will return your call as soon as possible!


Location: ATC is located on the SE corner of Lincoln Avenue and Byron Street, two blocks south of Irving Park in North Center, Chicago.

CTA Stop: Three blocks south of Irving Park Station on the Brown Line. 4 blocks north of the Addison Stop on the Brown Line.

Metra Stop: Ten blocks south of Ravenswood Station.