Adventure Stage Chicago, the participatory arts program of Northwestern Settlement, creates and tells heroic stories about and for young people. We do this to engage our community and inspire all of us to be heroes in our own lives.
ASC counts on the support of dedicated staff, artists, and board members who embody our mission, strengthen our efforts, and impact youth and community throughout the season.
ASC is a proud member of many arts and community organizations. We count on and appreciate their support throughout the year.
Tom Arvetis (Producing Artistic Director) is the founder of Adventure Stage Chicago. Playwriting credits: Walk Two Moons (Dramatic Publishing; AATE Distinguished Play of 2013), Spark: Chapter One of the Prometheus Project, Sight Unseen: Chapter Two of the Prometheus Project, and I Dream in Blues. Directing credits include: Augusta and Noble, Six Stories Tall, And a Child Shall Lead, 500 Clown: Trapped, Katrina: The Girl Who Wanted Her Name Back, The Blue House. In 2013, Tom received the Orlin Corey Award for Artistic Excellence from AATE. Tom was a member of AATE’s first Theater Leadership Institute in 2007, an Ann Shaw Fellow with TYA/USA in 2009 and twice a finalist for a Chicago Community Trust Fellowship. He has served on the AATE board of directors and is an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University.
Mary Kate Barley–Jenkins (Executive Director) joined ASC in 2014. In that time, she launched the company’s first tours (national and international), increased earned revenue by 29%, and created the ASC Auxiliary Board, which has increased individual giving by 16%. Mary Kate previously served as the Managing Director, Programming and Production at the Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF). She conceived and was the Artistic Director of Stages, Sights and Sounds, an international performing arts festival for young audiences and recipient of a program award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Previously, she was the Director of Communications for the School of Communication at Northwestern University. Mary Kate has served as President of International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY), the premiere membership organization supporting performing arts for young audiences. She is an alumna of Northwestern, having graduated with a Masters in Theatre and Arts Administration.
Christian Helem (Community Engagement Coordinator) is an actor, teaching artist, playwright, and director. He's mainly known for his work in documentary theater, original work, devising, and teaching theater to young people. He has worked with American Theater Company, About Face Theatre, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, and Chicago High School for the Arts. Christian was commissioned by the UIC School of Nursing as the lead director and collaborator of The Anne Zimmerman Project, which will be published in the coming year. Christian will be continuing his directing work with columbinus in the fall and the premiere of his second play in Spring 2018.
Laura B. Kollar (Audience Services Manager) became the company’s first Box Office Manager in 2014, and now, as Audience Services Manager, is focused on the overall experience of Adventure Stage patrons. Since 2006, she has proudly designed costumes for ASC productions, including: Worthy, Walk Two Moons, Augusta and Noble, The Giver, And A Child Shall Lead. Laura has a BA in Theatre from Loyola University, and she has two young daughters/fans of ASC.
Anne McNamee-Keels (Education Manager) has over ten years of experience as an artist and educator working with and for young people, educators, and communities. She first fell for ASC in 2008 as a member of AmeriCorps Project YES!. Five years and one master’s degree later, she returned to ASC as a teaching artist and later came onboard as Education Manager. A Chicago native, she holds a BS in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and an MFA in Drama & Theatre for Youth & Communities from the University of Texas at Austin. Anne has worked as an applied theatre artist and educator in a variety of settings locally and globally, from small town Texas to rural India. She has mentored classroom teachers in drama-based instruction with UT Austin's Drama for Schools program, taught undergrad theatre classes at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and worked with students at over 20 Chicago Public Schools with American Theatre Company, Changing Worlds, Urban Gateways, Columbia College Chicago, and others. Above all, Anne is interested in theatre's potential as a tool for education, dialogue, and social change.
Carlos Murillo (Playwright-in-Residence) heads the BFA Playwriting Program at The Theatre School of DePaul University. In 2016, The Javier Plays, a collection of three interrelated plays, was released by 53rd State. Dark Play or Stories for Boys, his best-known work, premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville; has been performed throughout the US, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania; and appeared in the anthology New Playwrights: Best New Plays of 2007 (Smith & Kraus). His work has been commissioned by and performed at companies throughout the US and Europe. Awards include a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award, a 2017 AATE Distinguished Play Award, the Met Life Nuestros Voces Award from Repertorio Español, the Frederick Loewe Award from New Dramatists, the Ofner Prize from the Goodman Theatre, the Otis Guernsey Award from the William Inge Theatre Festival, a Jerome Fellowship at The Playwrights' Center and two National Latino Playwriting Awards from Arizona Theatre Company. He is married to the director Lisa Portes; they live in the south side of Chicago with their two children.
Andrew Sutherland (Marketing & Communication Coordinator) started his journey in the arts at the young age of four, when his mom signed him up for piano classes. Since then, he’s been dedicated to the performing arts, playing in pit orchestras, sound engineering, and working behind the scenes with all types of performers. Through these experiences, Andrew decided to devote his life to helping arts organizations professionally. Graduating from Butler University with dual degrees in Recording Industry Studies and Digital Media Production, he has brought his mission to life through arts marketing. He’s enjoyed positions at several arts organizations before settling in with the Adventure Stage team. When not in the ASC offices, you can usually find Andrew enjoying the sights at Wrigley Field, playing his drum set, or on the hunt for the next big thing from Chicago’s brewing community.
Scott Wagner (Venue Manager) Enjoys cultivating an artistic life via Lighting Design, Acting, and Playwriting. His passion for storytelling has been shared with such theatre companies as The Hypocrites, The Ruffians, Haven Theatre, The Factory Theatre, ICU Ensemble, and so many more. Scott graduated from North Park University with a BA in Theatre and Performance Studies, where the curriculum focuses solely on Chicago Storefront Theatre. With an emphasis on low-budget theatre, small house counts, and immense audience interaction, Scott was able to cultivate riveting theatrical performances using minimal resources. Scott's hobbies include fishing, reading books, and calculating the cost to reproduce famous movie cars (specifically the Jurassic Park Jeep Wrangler).
Sarah Rose Graber
Jessica Kuehnau Wardell
Allison Latta Lashford
Emilio G. Robles
John Conneely, Chair
Mariaelena Morales, Secretary
Betsy Driver Williams