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I Know My Own Heart by Emma Donoghue

Pride Films & Plays


Photo Credit: Katie Stanley

Creative Team

Inspired by the secret coded diaries of  Yorkshire gentlewoman Anne Lister, I Know My Own Heart subverts all the conventions of a Regency Romance. Teasing out the entangled lives of Lister (nicknamed 'Gentleman Jack') and three of her many lovers, this play explores the choices women make in times of limits and prohibitions.

Playwright: Emma Donoghue

Director: Elizabeth Swanson

Producer: Paul Cook

Stage Manager: Corey Bradberry

Intimacy Choreographer: Sarah Scanlon

Assistant Director: Melanie Thompson

I Know My Own Heart  was a Jeff Recommended production.

I Know My Own Heart was a Jeff Recommended production.

Lighting Designer: Blake Cordell

Prop Designer: Jonathan Berg-Einhorn

Sound Designer: Blake Cordell

Scenic Painter: Elyse Balogh

Dialect Coach: Vahishta Vafadari


Jessie Ellingsen - Nancy Brown

Eleanor Katz - Isabella (Tib) Norcliff

Lauren Grace Thompson - Marianne Lawton

Vahishta Vafadari - Anne Lister

Sonia Goldberg - u/s Anne, Tib

Liz Weiner - u/s Marianne, Nancy



Director Elizabeth Swanson delivers a poignant and warm tapestry of desire and frustration, moving a text-heavy piece with quick scene changes, and clever use of space … What this production portrays so clearly is the acute pain that comes from living, and loving, in a world that cannot imagine you existing in it. Donoghue has mined questions of erasure, identity, and desire from the story of Anne Lister, someone who perhaps considered herself utterly unique, and therefore quite alone. Swanson and her fantastic team tackle Donoghue’s questions head-on with fiery determination, and Chicago is all the warmer for it.

--Lucas Carcia, Rescripted

...An intellectual accomplishment...I Know My Own Heart escapes its stuffy collars and labyrinthian complications of relationships altogether and depicts the joys and solidarity of 19th-century women enjoying each other's company, having an eye only for the present.

--Dan Jakes, Chicago Reader

...A simultaneously funny and tense look at how real life is conducted under the strict gaze of 19th-century moral code. The artistic team is intent on capturing rebellious moments that are disguised as innocent female friendship but are practically bursting with love, jealousy, and longing.

...Director Elizabeth Swanson pulls off the impressive feat of making the staging compelling and cohesive from every angle.  

--Sean Margaret Wagner, Theatre By Numbers

...An intimate and intense production...directed with care and feeling by Elizabeth Swanson.

--Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times

In a polished, surprisingly provocative production, Emma Donoghue’s US theatrical premiere has been beautifully directed in Chicago by Elizabeth Swanson and stunningly enacted by a cast of four talented young actresses.

--Colin Douglas, Chicago Theatre Review


Hildegard: A New Musical by Ethan Krupp & Davyd Reddyk

With a Machete Productions | Chicago Fringe Festival


Photo Credit: Thomas Bock Photography

Hildegard is an ongoing collaboration between writer/composers Ethan Krupp and Davyd Reddyk and director Elizabeth Swanson. The musical follows Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century nun and saint who wrote the first recorded opera and who tried to reform the church from within.

The artistic team presented Act I of the musical at the Chicago Fringe Festival in Jefferson Park in September 2018. Hildegard was sold out for each performance, winning Unlimited Pass Choice Award and Top Seller Award for our venue.

Reddyk & Krupp are currently writing Act II.

Creative Team

Writers: Ethan Krupp & Davyd Reddyk

Director: Elizabeth Swanson

Music Director: Davyd Reddyk

Producer: Taylor Walters-Chapman

Stage Manager: Lucas Hart


Harvey by Mary Chase

Three Brothers Theater


Photo Credit: Tracy Adams

“Dr. Chumley, my mother used to say to me...“In this world, Elwood, you must be oh, so smart or oh, so pleasant.” For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.

Our main character, Elwood, constantly shocks those around him. And it’s not just because of  his...unusual choice of companion. He challenges his family and the well-to-dos of the community with his unbridled enthusiasm and radical kindness. When Elwood meets a stranger, he sees a potential friend. Regardless of your background or income, he can’t wait to share a drink with you. He’ll toast your good news and commiserate over your cares and concerns.

Elwood and his pal Harvey have granted me the opportunity to work with Three Brothers, one of the most pleasant theater companies I’ve ever encountered. I’ve watched this company celebrate each other’s wins and rally to support one another in tough times. And they’re quick to extend their family outward to encompass whoever walks through their doors, including this director from Chicago. The Three Brothers ensemble has poured countless hours into this show ripping up platforms, sourcing costumes, providing donuts, and volunteering afternoons at the tech booth. Many cast members doubled as build team, pitching in to fix doors, paint flats, and hunt down props. There’s a lot of love and kindness wrapped up in this show, and all that generosity has culminated in a fabulous production.

I’m so glad you’re spending your evening with us. As Elwood would say, we’re glad to know you!

Warmest Regards,

Elizabeth Swanson


Creative Team

Director: Elizabeth Swanson

Producer: Richard W. Adams

Stage Manager: Darreyl Atkins

Asst. Stage Manager: Jordan Wilson

Set Designer: Elyse Balough

Sound Designer: Natsha Siri

Prop Designers: Jordan Wilson & David Motley

Shop Foreman: Jim Neal

Costume Designer: Jordan Wilson

Set Crew: Jim Neal, Elyse Balough, Richard W. Adams, Darreyl Atkins, Nick Gross, Todd Fugelseth, Bradley J. Paschall, C. Arthur Kennett


Where All the White Sneakers At? by Devin Middleton

Second City


Video Credit: Sean Ely

Ayyyyyyyyyyyy! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 Do you enjoy celebrating diverse characters and perspectives? Do you enjoy rap music? Beyonce? Rhythm? Seasoned chicken? 🐓? Well look no further! 👀

From the makers of "hmm, I think this milk is expired" 🍼 comes "Where All The White Sneakers At?" 👟👟Featuring the talented acting of Jillian Ebanks, Shantel Hamilton, Devin Middleton, Shelby Quinn, Jordan Stafford, David Tarantino, and Becca Tham, as well as the brilliant directing of Elizabeth Swanson. 🎥

Written by Devin Middleton and the spirit of 2004-2012 KanYe West 🙅🏾‍♂️👱🏾, "Where All The White Sneakers At?" is available at no local retailers, but is in The Second City Training Center. We look forward to seeing you there. 👀

Creative Team

Writer: Devin Middleton

Director: Elizabeth Swanson

Performers: Jillian Ebanks, Shantel Hamilton, Devin Middleton, Shelby Quinn, Jordan Stafford, David Tarantino, and Becca Tham

Filmed and Edited by Sean Ely on July 15th, 2017 at Donny's Skybox in The Second City Training Center


The Artist’s Lab

Stage 773

Fall 2016 Cycle

Elizabeth was selected through an application process to gather a team of writers and performers to create and perform four brand new hour-long comedy shows during fall 2016.

Murder, They Wrote - August 2018

A sketch review contemplating murder in its many forms - from the urge to murder your coworkers to a multi-generational feud between a human family and a murder of crows.

Stop the Insanity: A Low Fat Murder Mystery - September 2018

The year is 1993. Bill Clinton is newly elected and his top campaign aid, Rebecca, books a relaxing vacation on the world’s smallest cruise ship. But her vacation is interrupted when one of the passengers is brutally murdered. Can she figure out who done it before the passengers run out of Snackwells and 90s pop culture references?

Trick or Trump - October 2018

A Halloween sketch review featuring Clinton/Trump debates, Cubs bad luck charms, and ghoulish drunk, basic bitches.

Volunteer Comedians at Sketchfest - January 2019

A compilation of our favorite sketches, featuring the drunk, basic bitches returning for some winter fun.

Creative Team

Writers: Ricardo Angulo, Amber Bakeberg, Stephen Bromfield, Brett Flynn, Reina Hardy, Rory Leahy, Erika Magnus & Devin Middleton

Performers: Jessica Brill, Stephen Bromfield, Maggie Dempsey, Kimberly Florian, Nicholas Hodge, Alison Limke, Devin Middleton, & Josh Otusanya

Director: Elizabeth Swanson


Lungs by Duncan Macmillan

Granary Theatre

Cork, Ireland | 2015

Photo Credit: Éadaoin O’Donoghue

“Director Elizabeth Swanson has chosen a really engaging, intelligent, compassionate, contemporary and non-sentimental play for her memorable contribution to the New Directors Festival…This is the type of pared down, no frills show that gives black box theatre a good name… Swanson responds to the script with just the right kind of punk ethic.”

-Liam Heylin, The Cork Daily Echo

Creative Team

Director: Elizabeth Swanson

Stage Manager: Éadaoin O’Donoghue

Lighting Designer: Tony McCleane-Fay

Mentor for New Directors Festival: Carmel Winters


Electra by Nick Payne (MFA thesis production)

Lir National Academy for Dramatic Arts, Trinity College, Dublin


Photo credit: Keith Dixon

This is a haunting new version by Nick Payne of Sophocles' tragic masterpiece, Electra.

When a young Electra's father is murdered by her mother, her world changes irrevocably. Ten years on, bound by grief and unwilling to forgive, Electra surrenders to an all-consuming desire for revenge that propels her towards a bloody and terrifying conclusion.

Creative Team

Writer: Nick Payne

Director: Elizabeth Swanson

Performers: Katie Honan, Una Kavanagh, Ava Geyer, Robert Thompson, Ben Smith-Short, Gerard Lee, Danielle Galligan

Director: Elizabeth Swanson

Set Designer: Áine O'Hara

Lighting Designer: Moyra D’Arcy

Costume Designer: Naomi Faughnan

Composer/Sound Designer: Kim V Porcelli

Assistant Director: Jan Schneider

Production Manager: Stephen Bourke

Company Stage Manager: Mary Kilduff

Assistant Stage Manager: Ciara Dredge

Set Assistant: Gemma McGuinness

Lighting Programmer: John Gunning


Merrily We Roll Along by Stephen Sondheim & George Furth

Princeton University Players


Photo Credit: Princeton University Players

“...I heartily recommend this show. It is clear that Swanson has taken painstaking effort with many aspects of the production. Creative staging and efficient application of the neutral set pieces saved the visuals from seeming too sparse. Similarly, frequent and dramatic costume changes helped emphasize the passage of time and differentiate between the surprisingly extensive list of minor characters. But beyond the technical aspects, “Merrily” is simply a wonderful time. There was hardly a moment when I wasn’t feeling some sort of emotion in response to the devoted performances of the leads. Do yourself a favor and catch this show this weekend — you certainly will not be let down.”

-Chris Doubet, The Princeton Paw

Creative Team

Director: Elizabeth Swanson

Music Directors: Katie Dubbs & Anthony Sacco

Assistant Music Director: Emily Whitaker

Stage Manager: Ariceli Alfaro

Assistant Stage Manager: Julia Hammer

Production Manager: Izzy Kasdin

Assistant Production Manager: Joseph Labatt

Set Designer: Christina Campodonico

Lighting Designer: Eric Falcon

Sound Designer: Christina Henricks

Master Builder: Josh Haecker

Props Designer: Molly O’Neill & Christina Henricks

Costume Designers: Abigail Kelly, Emma Boettcher

& Paul Fanto

Rehearsal Pianists: Emily Whitaker & Steven Tran