Big changes are afoot at the Hypocrites theater company. Founder Sean Graney is stepping down from his leadership role as artistic director. Long-time company member Halena Kays will take on duties as Artistic Director in the fall. Graney will remain on board in the newly created position of “founding director,” and will helm two shows for both the 2011/12 and 2012/13 season.
Graney has been increasingly busy of late with projects at some of Chicago’s biggest Equity houses, directing shows for the Court Theatre (The Mystery of Irma Vep, The Comedy of Errors, What the Butler Saw), the Goodman Theatre (The Hairy Ape), Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Edward II) among others.
Hypocrites Board President Bob Webb acknowledged as much in a prepared statement: “As Sean’s success with The Hypocrites has opened up new opportunities across Chicago and nationwide, he and the Board of Directors felt that this was a good time to work together to make some moves that would reduce his daily responsibilities.” As founding director, Graney will be able to keep a position of artistic leadership without having to remain involved with the day-to-day administrative duties running a successful company entails.
Kays, Webb added “has Hypocrites DNA,” and has directed some of the companies “edgiest” productions. She joined the company in 2001. She’s been an infrequent presence on stage of late – Kays is currently finishing her MFA in directing at the University of Texas-Austin. Her most recent performances with the Hypocrites include roles in Mud and Oedipus. Kays has also worked at nuerous theaters around town, including a memorable performance at the Steppenwolf in Sarah Gubbins’ Fair Use. Most signficantly, she is the founder and driving artistic force with Barrel of Monkeys, a company that travels to area whipping up enthusiasm for both theater and creative writing among students. BOM’s long-running show That’s Weird Grandma – performed by the Monkeys and written by students – is one of the best examples in the city of theater with an appeal that spans generations and is utterly compelling to young people and their parents alike.
Graney founded the Hypocrites in 1997. Since,the thriving company has produced more than 40 mainstage productions and eight festival pieces, winning 13 Jeff Citations and two After Dark Awards. Among his notable and prolific work at Hypocrites, Graney recently directed Frankenstein and the company’s current production, The Pirates of Penzance. Recent Hypocrites productions include Cabaret, directed by Matt Hawkins, and Our Town, directed by MacArthur Genius fellow David Cromer;
The Pirates of Penzance continues through Jan. 30, 2011 at the Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division. The Hypocrites next production will be Graney’s original adaptation of Woyzeck, opening in April. Tickets for both productions are available at the-hypocrites.com