Robert Simonson, Mixologist
ROBERT SIMONSON write about cocktails, spirits, bars and bartenders for The New York Times. He is the author of the books “The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail” and “A Proper Drink,” the first-ever history of the cocktail renaissance. His upcoming book, “Three-Ingredient Cocktails,” will be published this fall. He was a major contributor to “The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails.” His writing have appeared in Imbibe, Whiskey Advocate, Eater, Food & Wine, Saveur, Lucky Peach and Punch, where he is a contributing editor. He also has a monthly drinks column, “Notes From Brandyland,” in Milwaukee Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn.
Julia Rhoads, Artistic Director, Lucky Plush Productions
JULIA RHOADS is the founding Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions, a dance-theater company recognized for its layered choreography, nuanced dialogue, surprising humor, and socially relevant storytelling. Her work with Lucky Plush has been presented in over 40 US cities from Maine to Hawaii, and international partners span from New Zealand to Cuba. Her independent choreography credits include Steppenwolf Theatre’s Love Kills, Lookingglass Theatre’s The Great Fire, Walkabout Theater’s Mama: A Play for Voices, Redmoon’s Project Y, River North Chicago Dance Company’s Oasis and Between Three, among others, and she will create a new work for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2017.
Under Rhoads’s leadership, Lucky Plush received the prestigious MacArthur Award in 2016, recognizing the company’s exceptional creativity and impact. Her independent and collaborative work for the company has also been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, National Performance Network, and MetLife Foundation, among others, and commissioning presenters include Harris Theater (IL), Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (IL), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (IL), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (MD), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), and Links Hall (IL).
Rhoads is the recipient of the 2013 Alpert Award in Dance, a fellowship from the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, a Cliff Dwellers Choreography Award, two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships for Choreography, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, and a 2014 Fractured Atlas Arts Entrepreneurship Award for spearheading a shared fundraising model between Lucky Plush, Grammy-winning Eighth Blackbird, and puppet theater company Blair Thomas & Co. She was named as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2010, and has three times been named in Newcity’s “Players: The 50 People Who Really Perform for Chicago.”
Rhoads is a former member of the San Francisco Ballet and ensemble member of XSIGHT! Performance Group. She received her BA in History from Northwestern University, her MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and she has taught in the dance and theater programs of several Chicago-area colleges and universities. She is currently a Part-time Lecturer and Dance Advisor in Theater and Performance Studies at The University of Chicago.
Leslie Buxbaum Danzig, Collaborating Director, Lucky Plush Productions
LESLIE BUXBAUM DANZIG is a collaborating director with Julia Rhoads/Lucky Plush Productions, where she co-created The Better Half, and The Queue. For over a decade, Leslie was resident director of the Chicago-based nationally touring physical theater company 500 Clown, whose shows (Macbeth, Frankenstein, Christmas and Elephant Deal) performed in Chicago at venues including Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Lookingglass Theatre. Other credits include stage directing Wild Sound, composed by Wilco’s Glenn Kotche for Third Coast Percussion, with performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, and with upcoming tours in the US and Europe; directing Damon Kiely’s The Revel (House Theatre), Redmoon’s Hunchback, and About Face Theater’s Float; co-directing Redmoon’s The Elephant and the Whale; and touring nationally and internationally as an actor with NYC’s Elevator Repair Service. Leslie has taught for University of Chicago’s Theater & Performance Studies and Northwestern’s MFA Directing program. She received her PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University and trained in physical theater at Écoles Jacques Lecoq and Philippe Gaulier. She is the curator of the University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, a laboratory for experimental collaborations between artists and scholars.
The Festival Team
Eric Simonson, Founder
Simonson, a Wisconsin native and part-time Door County resident, has a rich and varied career, including writing, directing and acting in Broadway plays, and directing for opera, film and television. He has been nominated for a Tony, an Emmy and an Oscar, winning the Oscar for his documentary film “A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin.” He is an ensemble member of the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago and has developed television shows for HBO, STARZ, USA, FX, History Channel and NatGeo networks.
Alan Kopischke, Executive Director
Alan Kopischke is an actor and arts consultant with a long career in new play development and producing collaborative arts events. As an actor, he won a Dramalogue Award and performed with the American Conservatory Theatre, Steppenwolf, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Organic, Peninsula Players and Victory Gardens, in addition to film and television appearances including “Walker, Texas Ranger.” He has produced play reading series for American Conservatory Theatre and Peninsula Players and produced The Big Read Door County.
Dana Brawer, Festival Coordinator
Dana Brawer, an honors graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, is a director, producer, and editor. Her most recent short film, The Red Card, that she wrote/director/edited, has been selected for 9 international film festivals and has won various awards like a Platinum Remi in Worldfest-Houston, an Award of Merit, Special Mention in the Best Shorts Competition, an Award of Merit in Indiefest, and a nomination for Best Short Film in the Female Eye Film Festival.