You might have seen him eating breakfast at M. Henry or watching a White Sox game. Either way, television and film star Hamish Linklater was in our midst this past summer. The American actor and screenwriter has been working with Andersonville’s Steep Theatre to produce the world premiere of “The Cheats,” his much-anticipated second play that explores the way we can hastily judge others while refusing to acknowledge our own flaws.
Linklater, 39, has worked extensively as an actor on the stage and in TV and film.
He’s starred on the CBS comedy series “The Crazy Ones” and has appeared in “5 Days to Midnight” and “Live from Baghdad,” as well as “The Good Wife,” “The Newsroom,” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” His film credits include “42,” “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” “Lola Versus,” “Beyond Redemption,” “Battleship,” and Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight.” He has also been a stage performer for many Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, according to a press release.
Linklater initially came to Andersonville last fall to attend Steep Theatre’s production of his play “The Vandal.” While he was still in town, the company presented readings of two of his scripts, both of which were still in development. One of those scripts became “The Cheats,” and when Linklater expressed interest in developing it with Steep, the company leapt at the opportunity, the press release said.
“The Vandal was a remarkable playwriting debut,” Steep Artistic Director Peter Moore said. “With ‘The Cheats,’ Hamish is poised to establish himself as one of the most intriguing and exciting voices in theatre today. We’re all thrilled to have the opportunity to help bring it to the world.”
“The Cheats” premieres Oct. 1 and will continue Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. until Nov. 7. Sunday 3 p.m. matinees are scheduled for Oct. 11, Oct. 18 and Nov. 1. The Saturday, Oct. 24, performance will be a 3 p.m. matinee.
Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn Ave., has become known for hard-hitting, finely tuned ensemble work. Steep productions over the years have been named to TimeOut Chicago’s Top Ten Shows of the Year list five times, the Chicago Tribune’s Top Ten List twice, the Tribune’s Best of the Fringe list twice, the Sun Times’ best of the year list twice, and WBEZ’s Top Ten Shows of the Decade. Steep has received 24 Jeff Nominations and won the 2009 Jeff Award for Best Ensemble, the 2010 Jeff Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, the 2011 Jeff Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the 2015 Jeff Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Steep was named the 2010 Broadway in Chicago Emerging Theatre Award Winner.
For more information on “The Cheats,” visit http://www.steeptheatre.com.
Last week, the Edgeville Buzz caught up with Linklater, who has returned to Los Angeles, to talk about his new play, the cast that will perform it, and his experiences in Andersonville and Chicago:
EVB: How do you feel about Steep Theatre producing your play?
HL: I’m incredibly grateful, after their smashing (to my mind) production of “The Vandal” last fall, that Steep wanted to do “The Cheats.” I honestly couldn’t put this new play in better hands.
EVB: Why is Steep Theatre a good fit for “The Cheats”?
HL: The play centers around a couple that’s been together for awhile, and having an ensemble to draw from that has that lived in, (polygamously) married shorthand with one another cuts out a huge part of the familiarizing part of the rehearsal process. They don’t need to do the trust fall exercises. They just dive in head-long knowing they’ll be caught.
EVB: How long did it take you to develop and write “The Cheats”?
HL: The first draft of the play began on the day the play takes place, Halloween, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy was winding down, and Chris Christie was giving Barack Obama a big ol’ hug. Now we’re approaching Halloween, 2015, so there have been a number of drafts.
EVB: Why is this play’s theme important to you?
HL: The play is about voyeurism and marriage and the thrill ride you can go on when you combine the two. Based on how well tabloid magazines still sell, to say nothing of celebrity websites, I’d say other people’s marriages are pretty interesting to a lot of people.
EVB: How has your experience been here in Edgewater so far?
HL: I was staying in Andersonville just off Clark during rehearsals and ate a lot of delicious breakfasts at M. Henry, got in a lot of book browsing at Women and Children First, and had a lot of yummy dinners at Hop Leaf and Hamburger Mary’s. I also heard an awesome retelling of the hatchet burglary first-hand from the employees at Papa John’s on North Broadway.
EVB: How well have you gotten to know the four-person cast?
HL: Kendra Thulin was unbelievably stellar in “The Vandal” last year, and I got to know Pete Moore, Brad Akin, and Julia Siple also during that time while workshopping “The Cheats.” I couldn’t be more excited by this cast. They’re great actors, collaborators, and pretty decent humans to boot.
EVB: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
HL: I also went to a White Sox game last week, first time to the new Comiskey Park (U.S. Cellular Field.) The good guys lost, but (it was) super fun. Also, I can’t believe the Corpse Flower never bloomed. Why so lazy, Spike?