Loyola University Chicago


Department of Fine and Performing Arts

Second Stage Laboratory Projects


Life is a Cabaret

Project Lead: Phoebe Ludwig

Life is a Cabaret explores the emotional journeys of young women (though applicable to any gender) through popular musical theater songs. The show takes on a cabaret-like structure with added dialogue, monologue, and choreography. As the show progresses, the audience gains an understanding of the relatability of musical theater in the modern era, specifically how this genre of music is applicable to everyone's own story, despite the context it may be written in. Part of this project is to communicate the idea that a tool as powerful as storytelling can be even stronger through music and performance. This piece takes all of these learning elements and varying themes to produce a "classic" piece of musical theater that anyone can enjoy!


Without Words

Project Lead: Hemani Mehta

The project will begin with a master class in which the project members will learn techniques from ancient Sanskrit theatre (specifically rasas). We will spend a few hours playing with the rasa boxes and improving the emotional and movement skills of the actors. Over the next couple of days, the project members will come up with a movement and choose music/poetry to create a story. This is what will be performed for the audience. The story will only be told through movement and accompanying music/poetry. There will not be any words.  A lot of what we learn in our classes are western styles of performance. We discuss other types of performance in our Theatre History and Literature classes, but a lot of the time we never to get to experience or learn them. 



Project Lead: Grace Herman

In their local coffee shop, creatives of all ages gather to work on, discuss, and perform art. Cafecito is a story about how the capitalist world constantly demands productivity and perfection from us, killing our creative joy. All in a desperate desire for profit in a not inherently profitable industry. Leading to extreme competition, self-doubt, and pressure. This original one-act play challenges the characters and the audience to reclaim their creative joy and reexamine how they operate as artists and humans within this capitalist society. 


#Enough: Plays to End Gun Violence

Project Lead: Katie Nowak

With the rampant nature of gun violence in educational settings, it is essential to hear the voice of students affected by this epidemic. “#ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence” is a 2020 series of seven 10-minute plays written by high school students about gun violence in schools. Project leader Katie Nowak will produce three of these plays - “Malcolm,” “Ms. Martin’s Malaise,” and “Guns in Dragonland” - in the Underground Theatre with a student-based cast to open a dialogue about this ubiquitous violence. Along with the production, we will partner with a Chicago-based gun-violence-centered group such as Students Demand Action or One Aim Illinois either do a talkback or fundraise. This project aims to produce theater that creates real change in the educational community. 



Project Lead: Grace Elizabeth Mealey

Dramatically bringing art to life, this project employs sophisticated tableaux vivants of Greek artwork to propel actors into scenes and monologues from Ancient Greek theatre. Animating artwork and telling the stories of female characters, such as Clytemnestra, Antigone, and Iphigenia, the Women in Theatre ensemble asks how we can challenge our preconceptions of women or of female characters by, quite literally, seeing ourselves in them. This physical embodiment draws on the Ancient Greek concept of "anagnorisis": the enlightening, revelatory moment of self-recognition. This project unites a passion for both the performing arts and visual fine arts, utilizing the visceral & instantly impactful emotions one feels when looking at a piece of artwork into performance — and vice versa, using one's experience & process as an actor to better understand figures depicted in art. With a variety of positions for performers and designers, this project hopes to ultimately culminate in collaboration with an art museum or gallery.


The Hopes And The Skeptics

Project Lead: Joseph Cunningham

The Hopes And The Skeptics is a project that explores the relationship between two characters portrayed by four human actors. Inspired by Absurdism, the play features a narrative that devolves into nonsensicality which during staging explores the possibility of any actor being able to speak any line in any order they choose. The goal of this Second Stage is to stage a reading of the play in which actors read the play as written but potentially considering options of randomization at a certain point in the script. The script centers on two characters named Hope and Skeptic, who find themselves at the end of their relationship together yet seemingly unable to leave each other. The play itself is a new piece and therefore is under constant revision and will continue to be so during and after this Second Stage. This Second Stage will feature an ensemble aspect as two actors will be playing the same character at the same time and is an opportunity to help shape new work together.


Girl, That's so Tragic

Project Lead: Annika Halonen

Girl, That's so Tragic is a contemporary exploration of Aristotle’s Poetics with a goal of making the original text more accessible and developing an understanding of a highly valued theoretical text on performance. Following Aristotle’s definition of tragedy and the structure of ancient Greek tragedies, a small ensemble of students will brainstorm ideas of “contemporary tragedies” that could be applied with this form and structure. Throughout a devising process, these ideas would be tested and tweaked by the ensemble until everyone has a strong understanding of Greek Tragedy and all of its elements and how they function in performance. The ensemble will then choose one idea to turn into a fully realized contemporary tragedy, utilizing contemporary language and ideas while maintaining the balance explored in the workshop with elements from ancient Greece.