Past Director's Corners

We invite you to read Chris's past articles on happenings at iTheatre Collaborative. Each article gives a window into iTheatre, as through the eyes of its creative director. Take a journey back in time in our own Wayback Machine.

iTheatre Collaborative artistic director

Christopher Haines

iTheatre Collaborative Creative Director

Join Us in Celebrating our 20th Season!

Here’s a landmark: we are about to start our 20th Season. Where has the time gone? It's staggering to think I was 33 years old when Rosie and I started this little company writing our aspirations for it on cocktail napkins. 74 different shows later we embark on Season 20.

First up, Sept. 9-24, is Ideation, a comedic thriller written in 2013 that is strangely prescient by Aaron Loeb. A group of ideating corporate consultants is tasked with how to mitigate a deadly virus that will kill up to a million people. What to do with all those bodies and not cause mass panic?

Next, Oct. 21-Nov. 5, is Cordelia Lynn's Lela and Co.. Essentially, this is a one-woman play, as Lela recounts her harrowing journey of being a child bride, sex trafficked in a foreign country, her escape, and return to her homeland. One other actor portrays all the men in her life that caused her misery. It's a gut-wrenching tour de force.

Then, Jan. 20-Feb. 4, Kill Move Paradise by James Ijames (a recent Pulitzer prize winner) is the story of four black men trapped in a mysterious room. They know they have died but don't know where or why they are there. Think NO EXIT, but with a Black Lives Matter bent.

Finally, March 24-April 8, David Ives' Venus in Fur is hilarious romp through the S&M world. A playwright is holding auditions for his new play, based on the book, when in walks Vanda who takes over the audition and the playwright.

That's the season. I hope you’ll come see. Tickets will go on sale soon. Watch this space!

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu to Season 19

So, two years in the making, iTheatre's 19th season has come to a close. What a long strange trip it's been. But really satisfying. As I am scrambling to figure out next season (and reading plays like crazy), I wanted to look back and say farewell to this 19th season.

I was astounded by the turnout for our delightful production of Larissa Fasthorse's The Thanksgiving Play (which, by the way, will be going to Broadway next season). I have to give kudos to my cast and crew with a special shoutout to our media designer, Jacob Nichols. His work on those interlude videos made the show. I was in director's heaven working with all of those talented people. We saw the return of our annual Christmas Cabaret with Jeff Kennedy with each show being very nearly sold out.

Once again while mixing the sound for our Cabaret, I fell in love with each of those artists' talent and skill. It was most satisfying to finally be able to produce the show we were going to do when we had to shut down back in March 2020. I am, of course, talking about I'll Eat You Last with the incomparable Laura Durant.

Again, nearly sold-out shows as Laura tickled and delighted audiences with her portrayal of the delicious and wicked talent agent, Sue Mengers. We closed out the season with a show I had been wanting to produce since 2019, Pass Over. Oh my... during the spring/summer of 2020 with the George Floyd murder and its subsequent protests, and BLM movement, I so wished we could have brought this play forward. But alas, I had to wait. This play’s powerful story and its riff on Waiting for Godot stunned, shocked, and overwhelmed audiences. I hope you got to see it.

And, that's a wrap. Have a safe, happy, and, hopefully, cool summer. We'll be back in the fall with our 20th Season (Yikes!). When I know what we're doing, I will let you know. Also, we'll have a big funding announcement very, very soon. Thank you so much for your support and interest in iTheatre.

Season 19 is Finally Here!

So I have been trying to write this for quite some time. Always starting, then stopping. Deleting what I started. Starting over. What do you say after a year and a half of not saying anything? In some ways, I am relearning how to express and do my work. I know there will be stumbles along the way, but stumbles are better than nothing at all. So without further ado, I am here to announce our first play since January 2020. It is "The Thanksgiving Play" by Larissa Fasthorse. I first met Larissa, who is Sicangu of the Lakota Nation, in 2018 at a TCG conference in New York. I immediately became a fan.

This play, "The Thanksgiving Play," had just come out, and I knew we needed to do it here. And we were, plans were already made, but then "it" happened, which meant nothing else could happen. Now, we hope the storm clouds are receding and maybe that is the Sun starting to peek out. "The Thanksgiving Play" is the most biting satire of our current "woke" society, I have ever read.

Imagine, if you will, four well-intentioned white people trying to write a play for children about Thanksgiving and trying to be respectful of Native Americans and the true history behind the fairytale we’ve all been told. We open November 5, just in time for Thanksgiving. You'll probably have to wear your mask and be vaccinated (What's good enough for Broadway is good enough for us). We hope you will venture out to join us in the Kax. And, we may just have a surprise Christmas present for all you fans of iTheatre.

"I'll Eat You Last" Postponed Until September

iTheatre Collaborative, Resident Company on the Kax Stage at the Herberger Theater Center, in light of the present threat of the COVID-19, has decided to postpone its upcoming production of “I'll Eat You Last” starring Laura Durant scheduled to open March 27th. The show will open the company’s 2020-2021 Season in September of this year. Specific dates have not been finalized with the Herberger. To emphasize, this is a postponement not a cancellation. All ticket holders will have the opportunity to receive a credit or refund.

"This was not a decision made easily or lightly, but 'Discretion is the better part of valor,'" Christopher Haines, Artistic Director. "We are utmost concerned with the health and safety of our patrons, artists, staff, and volunteers. Given the lack of knowledge of the scope and spread of this virus in our community and our country, we feel it would be irresponsible of us to 'Go on with the show' just in case this turns out not to be as serious as it currently appears to be. While this will be a financial hardship for us, we will survive. To put it in perspective, when all of the major sporting organizations postpone or cancel with a much larger scale of revenue on the line, this is a no-brainer. The well-being of our community comes first."

First Person Singular (I, me, my, mine and myself)

Our 17th Season

This season is one of individuals. Individual voices and perspectives, thus the title of this post, "First Person Singular." Such as the two individuals in our first play, Actually by Anna Ziegler opening September 6th. It is about the perspective of a boy and of a girl, in college and all of the exigencies that come with being in college. Next comes Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women opening October 18th, which is really about one woman but at three different ages and periods of her life. We start the New Year with Kunstler by Jeffrey Sweet. In this play is the point of view of the radical attorney, William Kunstler, attorney for the Chicago Seven, the Catonsville Nine (remember last season?), inmates from the Attica Riots, Native Americans from Wounded Knee, etc. And finally, we wrap up Season 17 in March/April with the one-women show I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers by John Logan. True story, Sue was THE talent agent to the stars back in the 60’s and 70’s, but by the early 80s they were leaving her for the big corporate agencies. Think Sue has a perspective and is a little bitter, a little pissed off? You bet, and she is going to dish all the dirt.

So "First Person Singular," it’s about point of view: it’s about perspective. And after 16 seasons, going into 17, that’s what iTheatre Collaborative is up to. See you at the theater!

iTheatre Collaborative is a Resident Company of the Kax Stage at the Herberger. Click on the links above for more info on each of our shows this season.

Civil Dis-

"Dis-" is a Latin prefix meaning “apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having a privative, negative, or reversing force.

Mirroring the times we are living through, our 16th Season is one of civil dissonance and discord and disconnect and disobedience; thus a season called Civil Dis-.

Opening on September 7th is White Guy on the Bus by Bruce Graham; a no-holds barred and very disturbing play about the civil discord and disconnect in America. This is followed in October by the true story of the civil disobedience of nine individuals during the Vietnam era in The Trial of the Catonsville Nine by Daniel Berrigan. Civil dissonance is on full display in the regional premiere of Michelle Kholos Brooks’ Hostage which is set during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. Our season of Civil Dis- concludes with Peter Morgan’s play about a President trying to hide the truth and the TV personality wanting his confession; Frost/Nixon opens March 29.

iTheatre Collaborative is a Resident Company of the Kax Stage at the Herberger. Click on the links above for more info on each of our shows this season.

15th Season Highlights

Our 15th Season is pretty exciting. We have four very hot, very new plays; two of which just recently closed in New York in June. We start with The Effect by Lucy Prebble; a funny and poignant play about two patients in a clinical trial for a new anti-depressant drug. The two patients fall in love, but is it really love or just the drugs talking?

Next up, Building the Wall, looks into the future at what might happen if campaign rhetoric is made policy. Building the Wall has been in a rolling premiere all across the country, and iTheatre is very pleased to be bringing this incredibly current play to Phoenix.

Next, we present A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney by Lucas Hnath. Walt, the king of the Magic Kingdom, has written a movie about his death and he wants to read it to you with the help of his daughter and his brother, Roy. This is a funny, no-holds barred look into the dark side of the creator of Mickey Mouse.

Finally, we close the season with the political comedy/drama, Church & State by Jason Odell Williams. A southern Republican Senator, up for re-election, is having second thoughts about God and guns, in the wake of a local school shooting.Church & State asks if there is any room for truth and honesty in our current politics or will it just get you killed—at the polls?

Dark Comedy "Velocity" Arrives

The Velocity of Autumn is a dark comedy about Alexandra, an artist of 80 year who barricades herself in her Brooklyn Brownstone apartment and refuses to come out or let anyone in. Surrounding herself with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the block, it’s a showdown with her family over where to place her as she becomes less independent. Her estranged son Chris returns after 20 years, crawls through Alexandra’s second story window only to face the dilemma’s that families are facing every day.

The Velocity of Autumn exposes the frustrations of realizing how one’s sense of individuality leaves us as our body and minds grow older. I want to give the audience a powerful look at aging. A sense that we are not in this alone and as we gradually lose our individuality we still hold who we are inside, our soul and our passion to fight till the end. I dedicate this play to my mom who struggled with dementia, and to my family who stood by her as she gradually lost her individuality.

Presenting "Hostages" and Other Plays

What do you do when the lead actress in your upcoming show decides one beautiful day to go to a Farmer’s Market, slips on a gravel walkway, breaks her foot in three places, has surgery a week later, and is told by her doctor to not put weight on the foot for at least four months? Well, if you’re this Artistic Director, and that actress is Judy Rollings, and the show is Velocity of Autumn, you postpone the show.

So first of all, announcing the first show of our 2016/2017 Season at iTheatre Collaborative…Velocity of Autumn by Eric Coble starring Judy Rollings and Brad Bond! More on the rest of the season to come.

Second announcement, opening May 20th are three one-acts by Arab-American playwright Yussef El Guindi. We are calling the evening "Hostages" & other plays. I have known Yussef since around 1988, when he was teaching playwrighting at Duke University, and I was just a bright-eyed undergrad. The play of his I saw was "Hostages," and obviously, I never forgot about it. Since then, Yussef has gone on to become an accomplished playwright, and I have gone on to start a little theatre company. And the intervening years have been fruitful and productive for both of us.

Hostages is a play about two men, taken hostage, somewhere in the Middle East. It is a play not so much about politics or world affairs, but what it is like to be a hostage, the mental aspect of the ordeal. The other two plays are both monologues. "The Birds Flew In" is about an Arab-American mother whose son has been killed in the Middle East while in the U.S. Army serving his new country. The grief stricken mother is trying to bury her son and come to terms with what his death means to her. The final play, "The Tyrant," imagines if a recently deposed and arrested dictator was given the opportunity to speak to an American audience. What does his side of the story sound like?

Please join us May 20-29 for Hostages & other plays by Yussef El Guindi presented by iTheatre Collaborative.

We're a Resident Theatre Company!

Resident Company. This is something we have been waiting and working toward for many years. Proof of the old adage, "Good things come to those who wait." Well, we have been waiting thirteen years!

You may ask what does this mean for iTheatre? In terms of our work, the kind of theater we do will not be changing. We will still perform on the Kax Stage utilizing the best local artists possible. If you saw "Passing Strange" which just closed or "Grounded" at the beginning of this season, we will still be doing work of that caliber and quality. What it does mean for us is a new level of stature and presence both at the Herberger and within our community. No longer will we be "the best kept secret in Phoenix."

So, raise a glass to iTheatre Collaborative (the next time you have a glass in hand) and drink a toast to the Herberger’s newest Resident Company.

More Performances for Cabaret


First of all, “Grounded.” What a ride! Thank you to everyone who came. Critical and popular success. Incredible! Thank you Caitlin Newman, the star of the show. Thank you for sharing your talent. (She will also be sharing her talents with us at Christmas. Shhhhh ... you didn’t hear that from me).

Ok, now the bad news. For several years now we have received a general operating support grant from the City of Phoenix. This season we are not receiving that grant. Oh well. We could wring our collective hands and cry, “Poor us!” We’re not that kind of theater company. This is a business, after all. So, you lose a $5K grant (which, for us, is typically the budget for a show), we have to drop a show. Out of the five we were planning to produce this season, we decided that “Port Authority,” our next scheduled play, would be the one we are dropping from the season. I hope you hadn’t bought tickets yet. My apologies if you had (to make up for it, I’ll come cook you dinner).

Now the good news. We are adding one more performance of the ever-popular Christmas Cabaret. Monday, December 14th at 8pm. It’s a little awkward on a Monday, but it is certainly better than a sharp, pointy stick in the eye. Oh, by the way, the title of the show is “That’s Christmas to Me.”

"Port Authority" is Canceled

Is it me or did July just whip past?

August and we are rapidly approaching the opening show of our 13th season. That show, "Grounded," is already in rehearsal. Caitlin Newman is playing the Pilot in this one-woman show. Caitlin literally just moved to the Valley from New York. We hope you will welcome her to Phoenix by coming to see this gripping, contemporary play opening August 21st.

Next up, in October, will be...well, I’m not sure. We have "Port Authority," a play I’ve wanted to do for some time. Or there is a play by one of the best Arab-American playwrights writing today and also an old friend and professor from my college days at Duke. His name is Yussef El Guindi. The play is "Hostages" which is about two Westerners taken hostage somewhere in the Middle East. It is a play about the mental trauma of being a hostage.

Both are great plays. I thought since "Grounded" is about the mental aspects of our military drone program, "Hostages" would be nice companion piece. Yussef is very excited about our producing it (not surprising, since he wrote it), but I am waiting on word from his agent to finalize the agreement. Then, I’ll pull the plug on "Port Authority." Well, actually, I’ll probably put it back in my back pocket. Probably should do an entire season of those plays that are back there; my back pocket is getting pretty full.

Coming Soon: "Grounded"

Well, it’s July. It’s hot. And we’re waiting for the next haboob to hit. For us at iTheatre, we are hunkered down in the iTC Command Center planning Season #13. Yes, you read that right, our 13th Season. And what a dozy of a season.

First off, we scored “Grounded.” This play just closed at The Public starring Anne Hathaway, and rumors are that it may move to Broadway. But not before iTheatre has a crack at it. This play is a one-woman show about an Air Force fighter pilot who has a baby. When she returns from leave, she is grounded by the Air Force and stationed in a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas flying Predator drones in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a harrowing examination of our country’s drone program and the real costs of war. I wish I could tell you who the one-woman is, but we have auditions on July 13th. So check back in a couple of weeks.

I was drawn to this show mostly because of the subject matter. Our drone program is drawing more and more attention and it is not all good. While the idea of a drone going into combat instead of a human, sounds like a good idea, there is still a human being "driving" that drone. And in war there is always a price to be paid. Also, this play is beautifully written (by George Brant) and is more poetry than prose.

Next up, for this spot will be the second show in our season. Currently it is “Port Authority,” but that might be changing. How’s that for a teaser?