Stage Center Theatre 2014 Fall Season
Main Stage Production

Why Torture Is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them
by Christopher Durang
Directed by Dan Wirth

Fall Semester, 2014

Christopher Durang turns political humor upside down with this raucous and provocative satire about America's growing homeland "insecurity." Why Torture Is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them tells the story of a young woman suddenly in crisis: Is her new husband, whom she married when drunk, a terrorist? Or just crazy? Or both? Is her father's hobby of butterfly collecting really a cover for his involvement in a shadow government? Why does her mother enjoy going to the theatre so much? Does she seek mental escape, or is she insane? Honing in on our private terrors both at home and abroad, Durang oddly relieves our fears in this black comedy for an era of yellow, orange and red alerts.  (

Christopher Durang was born on January 2, 1949, in Montclair, New Jersey. Educated at Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, he has had plays both on and off Broadway including The Nature and Purpose of the Universe; Titanic; A History of the American Film; Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You; Beyond Therapy; Baby With the Bathwater; The Marriage of Bette and Boo; Laughing Wild; Betty's Summer Vacation, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. He won Obie Awards for Sister Mary Ignatius and The Marriage of Bette and Boo, received a Drama Desk nomination for Betty's Summer Vacation, and received a Tony nomination for "Best Book of a Musical" for A History of the American Film. In 2013 his play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike won the Tony Award for Best Play, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play, the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play. He has also written several screenplays including Beyond Therapy; The Nun Who Shot Liberty Valence; The House of Husbands (which he co-authored with Wendy Wasserstein); and The Adventures of Lola.

Durang has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants including a Guggenheim, a Rockefeller, the CBS Playwriting Fellowship, the Lecompte du Nouy Foundation Grant, the Kenyon Festival Theatre Playwriting Prize, and the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers Award. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council and is co-chair of the playwriting program at Juilliard.

"Christopher Durang (1949- )." Christopher Durang (1949- ). N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2014. <>

 Accordionist...Tyler Miles
 Felicity...Hilary Metzger
 Zamir...Jacob Belser
 Voice/Narrator...Bryan Lubash
 Luella...BethAnn Smukowski
 Leonard...Duncan Stephens
 Reverend Mike...Tony Gasbarro
 Hildegarde...Carolyn Bowes

Production Staff___________
Director.....Dan Wirth
Assistant Director.....Lexi McKean
Stage Manager.....Quentin Heard
Assistant Stage Manager.....Sean Bowers
Assistant Stage Manager.....Racquel Malone
Scenic Designer.....Lizz Otto-Cramer
Lighting Designer.....John Rodriguez   
Costume Designer.....Jana Anderson
Musical and Vocal Director.....Tyler Miles
Sound Coordinator.....Erika Daybook
Light Board Operator.....Khadiga Armed
Sound Board Operator.....Ariana Nunez, Maciej Mardosz

TIME  The Present
PLACE  New Jersey, USA

Director's Notes...


This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties.

-FDR's First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933    


            I take these words on fear and terror from a famous speech by Franklin Roosevelt. And it is a very interesting coincidence that a song featured in the script of this play, Dancing in the Dark, stems from the same time period. Fear can put us in the dark in so many ways.

What about torture? Is torture funny? No, it isn't. Does Playwright Christopher Durang think it is funny? No, I don't believe he does. In times of stress and uncertainty, our fear may increase to the point of paranoia. And I do think Durang believes that torture stemming from paranoia is absurd and crazy.

            Durang wonders if the fear is dehumanizing us - making us into exaggerated caricatures - and that these are cartoonish versions of our former selves. If we start torturing each other out of the fear that everyone is a potential terrorist, then the real terrorists have won, and don't need to do anything. We would be doing their work for them.

            So it would be inaccurate to say that Why Torture is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them is a comedy about torture. It is a satire about the dehumanizing effects of fear.

            Is the play racist? Actually I think it is the opposite. The play ridicules the idea of profiling someone because they are "suspicious." The news is full of reports of the devastating effects of poorly executed profiling based on race, ethnicity or religion, or perceived ethnicity or religion, and the net result is almost always tragic. Satire is Durang's way to shine a light on it and bring it to our attention in the theatre.


            --Dan Wirth


Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon and as a tool to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.
Elliott, Robert C. "The nature of satire", 2004. Encyclopedia Britannica. 10 Oct. 2014    <>

Tyler Miles (Accordionist, Musical and Vocal Director) had a blast working on this project. A piano player his whole life, he got to pick up an accordion for the first time ever and discovered that it's actually super fun. As an actor, he has played Rod in Avenue Q (awarded best production of a musical at the American College Theatre Festival), Carl in bobrauschenbergamerica, and numerous other roles. A sophomore-level transfer at NEIU, he would like to thank the cast for being extremely warm and his roommates for being his family. He would also like to thank his family.

Hilary Metzger (Felicity) is new to NEIU and hopes to seize this opportunity to earn a degree to teach high school theatre. She has mostly done community theatre and recently moved here from Tucson Arizona just in time for lasts years fabulous winter. Some of her previous roles include Cherie in Bus Stop, Abigail Williams The Crucible, and Rachel Inherit the Wind. She's very grateful to be a part of her first Stage Center Theatre production!

Jacob Belser (Zamir) has already performed twice in The Stage Center productions: All My Sons by Arthur Miller and the English translation of Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti. He's very happy to be involved in a dark satire with the seriousness of All My Sons and the humor of Boeing Boeing. He will be finishing his degree in Philosophy at NEIU this semester, and is sure that there will be plenty of jobs out there for someone with a philosophy degree. Thank you to all his cast-mates, as well as family and friends for the support during the rehearsal process.

Bryan Lubash (Voice/Narrator) has performed in shows ranging from Shakespeare's The Tempest and Monty Python's Spamalot to Cariani's AlmostMaine. This is Bryan's first production with Stage Center. Excited to perform in his first production at NEIU, Bryan can hardly contain his excitement and quotes Why Torture is Wrong wherever he goes. He would like to thank his family and friends for sticking by him through his many years of theatre. He'd also like to thank his kitten, Johnny Wattson, for all the hours they spent rehearsing lines.

BethAnn Smukowski (Luella) is happy to be back at Stage Center for her fifth NEIU production in the past two years. Before that she’d been on a long, loooooong break from performing, and she's thrilled to be onstage again. Credits prior to the hiatus include The Mute in The Fantasticks, The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, Cinderella in Cinderella, Amy in Company, and Martha in A Change in the Heir. Thanks go out to the cast and crew for the many moments of hilarity (extra shout out to Bryan for babysitting her phone), to family and friends for their invaluable love and encouragement, and to Dan for giving her the chance to play this wonderfully zany character. Oh, and like Luella, she really does love a delicious plate of French toast.

Duncan Stephens (Leonard) was last seen in NEIU's Stage Center production of The Cherry Orchard. Duncan is very glad to be working with Dan Wirth, BethAnn and Tony again, and has been having a ball brushing up on his comedy chops with all the actors in this production. He is especially glad to be working again with his wife, Carolyn:  the last time they appeared onstage together was in a 1988 production of The Foreigner. Duncan is originally from the beautiful state of Vermont; he has acted in theaters there, and in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida. Duncan builds amazing scenery at Ravenswood Studio in Lincolnwood, and is the proud father of Lily Calder and Fiona Stephens.

Tony Gasbarro (Reverend Mike) seen most recently in Stage Center's 2013 productions of Primrose (Studio Series), The Cherry Orchard, and Blithe Spirit, Tony makes his tenth Stage Center appearance with this production. He is thrilled to have been cast once again in a Dan Wirth show, and happy as well to rub elbows once more with BethAnn and Duncan. He is also very excited to share the stage with all the fine talent making their Stage Center debuts. Tony extends his gratitude to Dan for yet another opportunity, and his appreciation to Donna for her understanding and her acceptance as she stepped boldly into the whirlwind, not to mention helping him work on his lines! Tony dedicates today's performance to the memory of his sister, Marie, who passed away in June of this year.

Carolyn Bowes (Hildegarde) earned a BFA in Acting from Penn State many, many years ago. She has played roles ranging from Princess Fred in Once Upon A Mattress to Polly Peachum in The Beggar's Opera, and various hookers, bimbos and best friends in between, in regional theaters from Vermont to Florida. She has also worked as a cabaret singer and a musical director as well as a church musician. Carolyn is returning to the stage after a 22-year absence. During the intervening years she raised two daughters, Lily and Fiona (along with husband Duncan Stephens), earned a degree in music therapy and has worked as a board-certified hospice music therapist for the past 14 years. She's delighted to be part of the "Torture" company and hopes to do more of this acting stuff in the future.

Dan Wirth (Director) has an M.F.A. from The University of California, San Diego, and a B.S. from Central Michigan University. As a professional actor, he toured throughout the United States with The Acting Company. He appeared in The Beckett Plays in New York City, in London's West End, and at The International Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. While in New York City, he performed at the Public Theatre, the Harold Clurman Theatre, the 18th Street Playhouse, the Lamb's Theatre, Playwright’s Horizons, The American Place Theatre, and the Actor’s and Director’s Lab (later renamed the Samuel Beckett Theatre.) Regionally, he has appeared at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, and at the Utah and Oregon Shakespeare Festivals. He has worked with the esteemed directors Alan Schneider, Joseph Papp, Michael Langham, Liviu Ciulei, Garland Wright, Jerry Turner, Eric Christmas, and Sharon Ott, and has appeared on-stage with James Cromwell, J. T. Walsh, Jimmy Smits, Jamey Sheridan, Bob Gunton, Diane Venora, Kathleen Widdoes, David Warrilow, Alvin Epstein, Leigh Taylor-Young, Margaret Reed, Howard Korder, Wayne Knight, and Jeff Daniels. An award winning playwright, Dan’s plays have been performed in Ohio, California, and Washington, D.C. His play Used Carlotta won two new play contests and was also a finalist in the O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference. Dan has directed for seven theatre companies in the Chicago area, most recently adapting and directing The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Fury Theatre Company. Also a published poet and a film maker, Dan has taught at Dominican University, Wright College, Harper College, Oakton Community College, Daley College, Barat College, and Lake Forest College. He has been an Instructor at Northeastern Illinois University for eighteen years, where he has directed twelve main stage plays, four plays for Children's Theatre, and nine one-act plays for the Summer Transition Program.

Lexi McKean (Assistant Director) is a 19-year-old Communication, Media and Theatre major here at NEIU. She moved to the North Side of Chicago a little over two years ago from Wilmington, NC after being born in Pittsburgh. She starred in her first short film titled Lexie's Lights in 2007, which premiered at WE Fest. She also co-directed her first short at the age of 12, which was shown by Cucalorus at Jengo’s Playhouse. She has since had small roles in over 10 short and feature length films and commercials. However, her claim to fame is being the winner of Scariest Motherf***er of the Night at Panic Attack’s Haunted Attraction. Her claim to infamy is being the reason her father wasn't able to sit down with George A. Romero and pitch a movie (in her inexcusable defense, she happened to be born the week of the meeting).

Quentin Heard (Stage Manager) is a junior and CMT major. This is Quentin's first involvement in a theatre production and his first production as Stage Manager. Although theatre is a new venture for him, he has been immersed in the arts for most of his life. Working on this show has given Quentin a newfound appreciation for theatre, and possibly a new career path. He would like to thank Dan Wirth and Lizz Otto-Cramer for this eye-opening opportunity.

Sean Bowers (Assistant Stage Manager) is a CMT major. He is a first year senior at NEIU. This will be his first production at Stage Center.
Racquel Malone (Assistant Stage Manager)  is a writer for the stage and screen. Currently a senior in her final semester, Racquel is eagerly awaiting her December 14th commencement ceremony. After testing the waters backstage as an ASM, she is thrilled to get back to playwriting. She thanks the CMT Department for the opportunity to work with Stage Center.

Lizz Otto-Cramer (Scenic Designer) is a graduate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Lizz has designed, painted, and created props for numerous theatres across the country, including the Kennedy Center and Universal Studios Hollywood. She greatly enjoys working with her students and fellow faculty at NEIU.

John Rodriguez (Lighting Designer) has been the resident lighting designer for the Stage Center Theater for the past eleven years. This past summer he designed the lighting for The 39 Steps and Boeing Boeing. And last year at NEIU he also designed the lighting for The Cherry Orchard, When the World was Green, All My Sons and Miss Julie.

Jana Anderson (Costume Designer) has worked with the Stage Center Theatre for the last few years. Her work has also been featured by numerous theatre groups including Redmoon Theatre, Light Opera Works, Irish Repertory Theatre, just to name a few. Prior to coming to the United States, Jana created elaborate costumes for classical opera productions at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. When she's not preparing costumes for theatre productions, Jana is busy designing and creating unique haute couture fashions for individual clients in the US and Europe.

Erika Daybook (Sound Coordinator) is a senior, majoring in Communication, Media, and Theatre.
Angela Sweigart-Gallagher (Managing Artistic Director) is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Northeastern Illinois University. She has directed When the World was Green: A Chief's Fable (Fall 2013) and How I Learned to Drive (Spring 2013) for Stage Center Theatre. She appeared on stage last spring as Kate Keller in the Stage Center's production of All My Sons. Angie is also one half of the The Wandering Uterus Project, a multimedia performance duo. She encourages everyone to audition for her upcoming production of Gregor and the Squonk next semester.

Maciej Mardosz and Hilary Metzger, Box Office Manager and Box Office Assistant

Khadiga Ahmed, Light Board Operator

Ariana Nunez and Ann Stoner, Sound Board Operators

Phil Morris and Maciej Mardosz, PR and Publicity

Diane Chlimon, Amanda Ghezzi Run Crew:

Sean Ihnat, Master Electrician

Set Construction/Electric Crew:Miguel Aguila, Maysam Amanishourbariki, Alex Arce, Bilal Bakaliya, Gregory Buissereth, Laura Carmer, Noel Contreras, Katherine Cruz,Elizabeth Deahl, Damien Deanda, Sara Diaz, Edward Dudzinski, Tea Dzuzdanovic, Margaret Feldheim, Nicole Gallardo, Taylor Gligorovic, Sean Ihnat, Nicole Jaehnke, Alexandros Karahalios, Michelle Lacatus, George Lanzourakis, Aurora Lipnitzky, Daniel Lopez, Melanie Macaso, Morena Martinez, Brittany Moore, Jessica Morgan, Jisi Ochana, Jeremy Pass, Alan Pearson, Alison Petroski, Peter Post, Arnell Pugh-Peek, Jimmy Raschdorf, omin Rodriguez, Valerie Rodriguez, Michael Saylor, Heidi Schmidt, Viviana Serrano, Samia Siddiqui, Aarenell Smith, Jr, Joe Sobczak, Ajoyi Stackhouse, Natalija Stankovic, George Tapling, Mitchell Tran, Carly Welch, Jonathan Wiedemann, Ronald Wilson

Strangers in the Night

Women in my Family

Blowing Up the House

Swallowtail Boredom

The French Toast Is Ready Now


Going Mad

Making a Joke To Myself

Burka Burka Burka

Kind of Yello

Tennis Anyone

Sometimes a Scene Gets Crowded

Your Father is Such a History Buff

I Just Want To See It

Green Dress Putrid

Cry Me a River-Ventriloquist Style

When You Are A Ventriloquist You Are Never Alone

The Butterfly Room

A Singalong and An Argument

I Have to Go...See My Mother About...a Horse

Hildegarde Likes Leonard's Birdwing

Tiny Tim and Tup Tim Adjustment

I Can See That Would Be Helpful

Operation New Jersey Freedom

When I was a Debutante in San Antonio


Two More Beers. But Who's Counting

The Big Bang

Mace in the Face

She Had a Cocktail

What Were You Saying a Moment Ago

The Miserables

Under My Skin Goody Goody

Sewere Fewocity

She Didn't Know What Normal Felt Like

Pretend I Said Nothing

Hello, I'm Scooby-Doo

Be Vewwwy Quiet

I've Turned the Sound Off

Owivia deHaviwwand

That Poor Schiavo Woman

Hey Scumbug

Pull the Plug

I'm Not a Doctor

F**k You, Weese's Peanut Butter Cup

Viowence Viowence

Tell Him Something Else

We'd Be Attacked Tomorrow

The Madwoman Of Chaillot

Who Am I

Triple Faint

Back in Time

The Definition of Gallant

Dancing in the Dark


Mary and Sherry Capsize

Comment Among the Hoi Polloi

Lonny Jack Hawkins

Good Jobs With a Philosophy Degree

Feminist Stuff Makes Me Puke

Dancing is Walking Slowly


Produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc. Originally Produced at The Public Theatre in April 2009, Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Andrew D. Hamingson, Executive Director

"Dancing in the Dark" Written by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz (c)1931 (Renewed), WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) and Arthur Schwartz Music Publishing Ltd. (ASCAP)
This selection is used by special arrangement with WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) and Arthur Schwartz Music Publishing Ltd. (ASCAP). All rights reserved.

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