Nora Dunn directs "Augusta" for the American Theater Company

February 7, 2008 10:15:30 AM PST
Saturday Night Live veteran Nora Dunn directs the first production of the year for The American Theater Company in Chicago. Richard Dresser's Augusta has just opened and will run through March 2. The story takes place in a small Maine town, where Molly and Claire are caught in the working class vise, desperately clinging to jobs that barely allow them to make ends meet. Their tentative work friendship is threatened by their fast-talking new manager, Jimmy, who has his eye on a promotion. When dirty little secrets begin to show through their brightly scrubbed surfaces, things start to spin out of control. Dresser's fierce satire takes a hard look at working class life, and questions how far each person will go to secure their slice of the American Dream. "Nora Dunn is the quintessential Chicago artist. She's not afraid to roll up her sleeves and dig into any challenge," says ATC Artistic Director PJ Paparelli. "Besides her infectious laugh and no-nonsense approach to the work, Nora has an eye for truth. She wants the work to ring true and that is exactly what we are after here at ATC."

Director Nora Dunn adds, "I have always wanted to work in Chicago theater, and ATC is a theater company with great talent, experience and charm. I feel truly privileged to be able to make my Chicago directorial debut with Dresser's brilliant comedy and such a fine cast."

Richard Dresser's plays are widely produced regionally, in New York, and in Europe. Rounding Third enjoyed regional productions in Chicago, Laguna Beach and the Old Globe in San Diego before it appeared in New York off-Broadway at the John Houseman Theatre in 2003. Other plays include Below the Belt and Gun-Shy, both of which started in the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville before moving off-Broadway. Also, Wonderful World, Something in the Air, The Downside, Alone at the Beach and Better Days. One acts include Road to Ruin, Splitsville and At Home and Bed & Breakfast (both of which appeared in the EnsembleStudio Theatre Marathon).

Director Nora Dunn is a Chicago native, Dunn attended The Art Institute of Chicago, and later studied at the Jean Sheldon Acting Workshop in San Francisco with Anne Macy. She performed comedy there until moving back to Chicago to join Second City where she was spotted by Saturday Night Live casting directors. She cast duly on Saturday Night Live in 1985 with the return of the show's original producer, Lorne Michaels.

Dunn's recent credits include the upcoming Judd Apatow production of Pineapple Express, and Southland Tales from the writer/director of Donny Darko, Richard Kelly. She also appears in the soon to be released Dada Films independent feature, Certifiably Jonathon, where she plays opposite Jonathon Winters. Dunn also appears as a recurring character on the CBS drama Shark, and has appeared most notably in Entourage, Boston Legal, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Dunn's first film role was in Mike Nichols' Working Girl, and she later worked for him again in What Planet Are You From? She appeared in Warren Beatty's Bullworth and co-starred with George Clooney in David O. Russell's Three Kings. Runaway Jury, Bruce Almighty, and Zoolander are among her other recent credits.

In addition to her film roles, Ms. Dunn performed her critically acclaimed a one-woman-show, Small Prey, in Los Angeles, which is based on her book, Nobody's Rib. She is currently writing another book and is a collaborative writer/performer in Dada Films' next feature comedy about physicist Nikola Tesla.

Augusta features American Theatre Company Ensemble Members Kate Buddeke (Molly), Gwendolyn Whiteside (Claire) and Ed Kross (Jimmy); Grant Sabin (Set Designer), Emily McConnell (Costumes), Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer), Lindsay Jones (Sound Designer), and Michael Groth (Props). Jaclyn Holsey is Stage Manager.

Augusta will be performed at American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St. in Chicago. Previews are tonight through Saturday, February 9 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, February 10 at 3 p.m. Regular performances through March 2 will run Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Parking is available on the street and at the metered lot on the corner of Lincoln and Berenice. ATC is wheelchair accessible. Tickets are $20 during previews. Throughout the regular run, tickets are $30 on Thursday, Saturday matinees and Sunday evenings, and $35 on Friday and Saturday evenings. Student and group discounts are available. ATC's box office is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on performance Saturdays and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on performance Sundays. For reservations or further information, call 773-929-1031 or visit

  • Augusta is Saturday Night Live Veteran Nora Dunn's directorial debut in her hometown of Chicago. Dunn began her career in comedy at Second City and went on to become a cast member of Saturday Night Live for seven seasons.
  • Augusta premiered in summer 2006 at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in Sheperdstown, West Virginia. ATC's production marks Augusta's Midwest premiere.
  • The Midwest premiere of Augusta is Kate Buddeke's first production at ATC since returning from her Broadway appearance in Gypsy.
  • Augusta is the first in a trilogy of plays by Richard Dresser about class struggle in contemporary America.
  • For more information visit .