Madelyn Sergel

Madelyn Sergel

The world premiere of Sergel’s Conversations About an Empty Suit was mounted at Three Brothers Theatre in March 2020. A resident playwright at Three Brothers Theatre, other full productions include Taking Turns (Three Brothers Theatre), Special Needs, (Magnetic Theatre, Clockwise Theatre), The Party in the Kitchen (Clockwise Theatre), and Another Piece of Cake (Citadel Theatre). Her YA play Totally Okay, Right...
The world premiere of Sergel’s Conversations About an Empty Suit was mounted at Three Brothers Theatre in March 2020. A resident playwright at Three Brothers Theatre, other full productions include Taking Turns (Three Brothers Theatre), Special Needs, (Magnetic Theatre, Clockwise Theatre), The Party in the Kitchen (Clockwise Theatre), and Another Piece of Cake (Citadel Theatre). Her YA play Totally Okay, Right Now is published by YouthPLAYS. Her work has received readings at American Theatre Company, Citadel Theatre, Gift Theatre, Clockwise Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Skokie Theatre, and Gurnee Theatre Company. Awards and festival selections include the finalist for the Christopher Brian Wolk Award; semi-finalist in the Dorothy Silver Playwriting Competition (Special Needs); Artemisia 2018 Fall Festival finalist (Throwing Rice); Artemisia 2019 Fall Festival finalist (Another Piece of Cake), Her Rah New Plays Festival (Another Piece of Cake); and finalist in the Moondance International Film Festival, play division, (Another Piece of Cake), featured play in New Jersey’s Equity children’s theatre Growing Stage Theatre New Play-Reading Series, honorable mention in the Julie Harris Play Competition for youth theatre, the Marilyn Hall Award (Totally Okay, Right Now).

In addition, as the founding Artistic Director of Clockwise Theatre she co-produced the company’s first 13 productions. Madelyn acted professionally for many years in theatres throughout Chicago including stints at Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatists, Bailiwick, Organic, and many others, and she was a member of SAG/AFTRA. She also was selected as one of the Daily Herald’s Influential Women in Business (2015) for her work at Clockwise Theatre and she acted as Literary Manager for Citadel Theatre (2006-2007), where she also co-produced numerous productions. She has been published in Cabin Life magazine and the Ducts on-line literary journal. www.madelynsergel.com

Plays

  • Conversations About an Empty Suit
    In an industry where most never “make it” what is the definition of success? Or failure?
    Abby is a success. Artistic director of a small storefront theatre in Chicago, happily married, she gets to do the work she loves with talented artists.
    Peter is a success. Emmy award-winning show runner, writer and director, wealthy, influential, he has made it to the top of one of the most competitive...
    In an industry where most never “make it” what is the definition of success? Or failure?
    Abby is a success. Artistic director of a small storefront theatre in Chicago, happily married, she gets to do the work she loves with talented artists.
    Peter is a success. Emmy award-winning show runner, writer and director, wealthy, influential, he has made it to the top of one of the most competitive professions in the world.
    Faced with the death of their college professor, former students Abby and Peter find themselves debating the meaning of artistic success, failure, privilege, self-doubt, and how to find peace when your achievements have fallen short of your dreams. 2W/2M. Simple set
  • Taking Turns
    "Taking Turns" is about a multi-generational blue-collar family dealing with ageing, siblings, bickering, and loving, and like all families, all that is all mixed up together.
    “Taking Turns” starts with a simple action, an adult son telling his elderly father that it’s his turn to speak at the city council meeting. This leads to the unveiling of an incredibly rich story about three generations...
    "Taking Turns" is about a multi-generational blue-collar family dealing with ageing, siblings, bickering, and loving, and like all families, all that is all mixed up together.
    “Taking Turns” starts with a simple action, an adult son telling his elderly father that it’s his turn to speak at the city council meeting. This leads to the unveiling of an incredibly rich story about three generations of the Parson family. Moving back and forth between the present and the past, we see the moments that have defined each of these people as they attempt to find out who’s turn is it to be the caregiver or cared-for. “Taking Turns” is for any adult suddenly finding themselves parenting a parent…or suddenly finding themselves being parented by their child!
  • The Wind Phone
    One fact about the past can change everything about the present. Preparing to sell their family home, adult sisters Jenny and Ellen, with their mother Patty, are unpacking and sorting out five decades of living. With a single sentence from her mother, Jenny’s understanding of who her father was is reinvented.War, PTSD, homophobia, and sexual assault take their toll not just on one person but also on the...
    One fact about the past can change everything about the present. Preparing to sell their family home, adult sisters Jenny and Ellen, with their mother Patty, are unpacking and sorting out five decades of living. With a single sentence from her mother, Jenny’s understanding of who her father was is reinvented.War, PTSD, homophobia, and sexual assault take their toll not just on one person but also on the generations which follow. As Jennifer opens the Pandora’s Box of her father’s past, she finds that act of keeping memories in a box is just as damaging as the contents.
  • SPIN
    On doctor’s orders to get in better shape, Fancy joins a gym. At her first indoor cycling class, as she begins spinning her legs, her thoughts start spinning as well. Past and current interactions are played out as spin instructor Angel becomes her combative and distant mother Gwen, her sister, and, eventually even Fancy herself, while another student morphs into her son, her father, and Spencer, a student she...
    On doctor’s orders to get in better shape, Fancy joins a gym. At her first indoor cycling class, as she begins spinning her legs, her thoughts start spinning as well. Past and current interactions are played out as spin instructor Angel becomes her combative and distant mother Gwen, her sister, and, eventually even Fancy herself, while another student morphs into her son, her father, and Spencer, a student she counsels at her job at a therapeutic day school. As her mind unspools these complex relationships, her body working harder and harder, Fancy confronts the biggest question of her life, “Can you love someone but not like them?” Making peace with her body sends her down the road of making peace with her past, and eventually, peace with herself. 3W/1M
  • Special Needs
    An Atypical Play about an Atypical Kid
    PIERCE, a brilliant, creative teenager with autism, and his family, mother CONNIE, father MATT and older sister JEN, are all in the special needs trenches. Pierce fights to balance his fascinating inner reality with getting over the hurdles of daily life. Connie struggles with reaching Pierce, as well as with her stress, guilt and fears for her family. Matt battles...
    An Atypical Play about an Atypical Kid
    PIERCE, a brilliant, creative teenager with autism, and his family, mother CONNIE, father MATT and older sister JEN, are all in the special needs trenches. Pierce fights to balance his fascinating inner reality with getting over the hurdles of daily life. Connie struggles with reaching Pierce, as well as with her stress, guilt and fears for her family. Matt battles loving impatience and Jen is a brave but frustrated champion for her brother. ALPHA, a warrior, is Pierce’s inner self who throughout the play is the active representation of Pierce’s mental landscape. Connie, her inner life played out by OMEGA, a female warrior, juggles the myriad tasks and emotions of the multi-tasking parent.
    The day begins with the challenge of getting Pierce out the door. From the bus to classroom to encounters with the school bully BRENT, Pierce traverses his world as various theatrical devices are used to illuminate the perception and experience of Pierce, including use of masks, gibberish, stage combat, and tilting set pieces.
    At home Connie, with the help of best friend and neighbor CHARLOTTE, another mother with a special needs teenager, hangs on, piecing together fabric for homemade prom dresses as she pieces together how to help her unique son.
    Pierce and Jen arrive home from school. As Jen chats about the social interactions that come so easily to her, Connie prepares for the Friday night Shabbat ceremony. Pierce and Alpha are immediately consumed by a computer game complete with labyrinths, monsters and monumental trials. These challenges feel much easier to win.
    But eventually his personal monster Brent confronts Pierce, locking him into his locker at school. After he is released, Connie desperately searches for ways to calm her hysterical son, eventually reaching him by letting him immerse himself in his computer game. Jen is the one who finally connects with Pierce, engaging him in the territory he knows…the two player game mode.
    But Pierce still must face his demon and Matt is at a loss on how to reach his perplexing son. He finally lands on the biblical story of the behemoth. Through story and game play, Matt and Pierce find common ground.
    The confrontation that is inevitable happens. So Pierce, no match physically, summons his mental powers and assails Brent with themes, ideas, and devastating imagery that, for the moment, stops Brent in his tracks. The battle is won…for the day.
    Gathered around the Shabbat candles, the tight knit family gives thanks for each other, for skirmishes won…and for really cool computer games.
  • Another Piece of Cake
    Visiting her great-aunt CLARA on her birthday, DIANE and her mother TANDY are joined by Clara’s friends, MAGGIE, TERRY and ANN. Realizing Diane is reaching an age at which she can actually begin to see the bigger picture of life, Clara starts telling Diane what she really thinks. About humanity. Youth. Life. Aging. Rage. Family. Maggie, Terry and Ann join in and the four old women float back and forth from the...
    Visiting her great-aunt CLARA on her birthday, DIANE and her mother TANDY are joined by Clara’s friends, MAGGIE, TERRY and ANN. Realizing Diane is reaching an age at which she can actually begin to see the bigger picture of life, Clara starts telling Diane what she really thinks. About humanity. Youth. Life. Aging. Rage. Family. Maggie, Terry and Ann join in and the four old women float back and forth from the present to various places in their past. With the arrival of EDWARD, the FedEx delivery guy, the memories shift to marriage, sensuality, passion, sexual violence and desire. This is not what Diane expected from the afternoon.
    Tandy is enjoying it all but is taken aback when she realizes she has crossed the frontier from youthful eagerness to elder wisdom. Her battle with breast cancer mirrors the challenges of the others in the room, challenges of surviving rape, soul-crushing marriages, the loss of children and beloved partners. She is becoming the women she sees in front of her. Munching on birthday cake, the memories, jokes and opinions fly, finally to arrive at the big question. Death.
    Clearly, it’s time for intermission.
    Act Two opens with the putting away of the cake and the breaking out of the bourbon. With night falling, the women enter the darker corners of existence. Maggie relives the motorcycle accident that would eventually put her in her wheelchair; Clara’s fading sight makes all but memories appear shadowed and faded and Terry’s family chips away at her strength. The final frontier of life is not for the faint of heart. Gently the women welcome Tandy into the crone fold and coax Diane along, encouraging her to embrace her voice, her strength and her freedom from constricting thong underwear.
  • Throwing Rice
    Set in an upscale country club, Throwing Rice is set during the 12 hour period of the wedding day of the “1%.” Issues of class, wealth, entitlement, and race are explored amidst the donning of finery, toasts, dancing, and celebration. 6W/3M, single set with two additional flexible playing areas
  • TALK
    Three couples spend a weekend away at a cabin in the woods of Wisconsin...and their inner selves join them. Directing, cajoling or bullying their outer selves, TALK is a play about the vast difference between what we say as opposed to what we think.
  • Totally Okay, Right Now
    "Between everyone demanding that I know what I am going to do with my entire life right now, parents full of way-too-much loving, supportive and very irritating advice, friends with their own set of problems that somehow keep ending up in my in-box, I have to tell you, it's not exactly easy being a teenager these days!"
    - Lizzie in Totally Okay, Right Now
  • Six Fights on a Summer’s Night
    Six women gather one evening on the back porch of their family summer home. As the sun slowly sets, relationships and conflicts are revealed both through dialogue and different forms of stage combat. An exploration of aging, beauty, death, mental illness, and the power of sisterhood. Approx. running time: 1 hour
  • The Party in the Kitchen
    “Some people say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. I say it’s the mouth of the home!” – Lil in "The Party in the Kitchen." Beginning on an idyllic early fall day in September 2001, a group of friends gather, unsuspecting of the upheaval to follow. From business tycoon Guy and Ava's tumultuous marriage, just-getting-started Danny and his pregnant wife Mary, and middle management Phil and...
    “Some people say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. I say it’s the mouth of the home!” – Lil in "The Party in the Kitchen." Beginning on an idyllic early fall day in September 2001, a group of friends gather, unsuspecting of the upheaval to follow. From business tycoon Guy and Ava's tumultuous marriage, just-getting-started Danny and his pregnant wife Mary, and middle management Phil and Lily's happy home, all will be changed by events already launched in faraway lands and the deals made in distant corporate headquarters.
  • Dogs Are People Too
    Cindy is now an empty nester. And boy, is the nest quiet. So, she could shop too much, eat too much, watch too much TV, or bring home a new roommate who behaves very much like a four-legged friend…but has two legs. Yes, Buddy will make a mess. But Buddy will change Cindy’s world. Comedy, one act. 4W/3M