Cicada Summer: A Coming-of-Age Interspecies Romance Tragedy

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In a bleak pocket of the urban Midwest, a thirteen year old falls in love with a cicada. Emerging from childhood – and from 13 years underground –human and bug collide. Tangled in adolescent passion, the new teens stumble treacherously through the journey to independence, the hunt for intimacy, and the struggle to make sense of the chaos of change.

Penned by Claire Saxe, directed by Michael Brown and set in a puppet world created by designer Emily Breyer and puppet director Mike Oleon, Cicada Summer is a rich physical, visual exploration of the agony and ecstasy of metamorphosis – human and otherwise.

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Artistic Team

Cast: Peter Andersen (BENJAMIN), Noah Appelbaum (BUG/ENSEMBLE), Kat Christensen (BUG/ENSEMBLE), Jessie Ellingsen (MAY), Kathleen Hoil (BUG/ENSEMBLE), Hannah Larson (BUG/ENSEMBLE)

Crew: Claire Saxe (Playwright), Michael Brown (Director), Mike Oleon (Puppetry Director), Emily Breyer (Puppet and Scenic Designer), Jeremy Kazan (Dramaturg), Jay Epps (Stage Manager), Corey Smith (Sound Designer), Michael Rathbun (Lighting Designer),   Warren Wernick (Scenic Engineer)


Peter G. Andersen (Benjamin) is a graduate of Emerson College where he obtained his BFA in Acting.  Recent roles include Aaron in Titus Andronicus (The Humanist Project), Avery in The Flick (Company One)Laertes in Hamlet (Shakespeare and Company)Young Clifford in Henry VI Pt 2 (Actor’s Shakespeare Project)Panthino in Two Gentlemen of Verona and Solanio The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare and Company).  He has also worked at TimeLine Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Yale Repertory Theatre as an assistant director. For more information about his acting and directing work visit his webpage at  He would like to thank his parents and family for their endless support and love. 



Noah Appelbaum (Bug/Ensemble) is thrilled to be making his Rough House debut! Previous credits include work with Walkabout (Tall Girl and the Lightning ParadeThe Wild Outdoors), Suitcase Shakespeare (They Fight!, The Tempest), MCL (Alien Locusts From Beyond the StarsThe One Where They Sing), Collaboraction (Our Last Night on Earth), and Redmoon (Dis/Re-Placement, numerous events). Noah has also choreographed movement and fights for shows with Walkabout, Teatro Luna, and Kasey Foster’s Dance Tribute, and serves as a producer and director for Od Theatre’s MixTape: A Night of Live Music Videos. Noah teaches Clowning and Physical Comedy at The Second City, and wushu at EKF Martial Arts.



Kat Christensen (Bug/Ensemble) is a Chicago based theatremaker who has a B.A. in Theatre from Barnard College and a tattoo from the Moscow Art Theatre (if only they knew and cared). Since moving to Chicago one year ago, she has devised for Rhinofest and Pop Magic Productions. Kat has long believed that all theatre should include more branches and bugs, so this project has been especially thrilling to work on.


Jessie Ellingsen (May) is an actor native to Chicago, and is over the moon to make her professional debut with Rough House in Cicada Summer. She recently wrote for and performed in Wise Women and Witches (Piven Theatre Workshop), and has also worked with Women’s Theatre Alliance. She recently graduated from Loyola University Chicago where she studied theatre and Shakespeare. Offstage, Jessie can be seen walking pups and driving Lyft & Uber passengers around Chicagoland.



Kathleen Hoil (Bug/Ensemble) is thrilled to be performing with Rough House! Kathleen graduated from Iowa State University, and is a Chicago-based theatre artist, circus performer, and burlesque dancer. Kathleen is a company member with Imaginez Ensemblez, and has worked with Uptown Underground, The Drifter, The House Theatre, and Lincoln Center, among others. In their free time, Kathleen enjoys eating pizza and having solo dance parties in their kitchen.



Hannah Larson (Bug/Ensemble) is a transplant to Chicago from the San Francisco Bay Area. Favorite credits include: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Mae), The Drunken City (Marnie), Romeo and Juliet (Benvolio), Three Sisters (Natasha/Solyony), The Dybbuk (Gitl), and Reasons to be Pretty (Steph). In Chicago, she has worked with the

Raven Theatre, the Right Brain Project, and the Blue Goose Ensemble. Hannah was an ensemble member and co-director of education for the Hungry River Theatre Company and has trained with Steppenwolf Classes West. She is a graduate of the UC San Diego Department of Theatre


Jay Epps (Stage Manager) is excited to be working with Rough House Theater for the first time! Since moving to Chicago a year ago Jay has stage managed Graham Cracker with Broad Shoulder Productions, OCTAGON with Jackalope Theatre, and good friday with Oracle. They completed their degree in Theatre for Community Engagement at Cornell College where they also first discovered the beauty of puppetry. Jay thanks their family and friends for all their continued support and care.


Jeremy Kazan (Dramaturg) is a poet, theatremaker , writer, and investigator, who has had a marvelous time collaborating with Claire Sax and Rough House Theater on Cicada Summer. Recently he has worked as a dramaturg on WastwaterPosh, and Brilliant Adventures at Steep Theatre and Juliet: A Dialogue About Love at the Edinburgh Fringe. His dramaturgical work largely focuses on British Isle and Continental theatrical traditions.


Corey Smith (Sound Designer) is a composer, writer, and performer living and working in Chicago, Illinois. He is classically trained, but is interested in an art that obscures the boundaries between worlds: words that are sound, music that is image, body that is text. He is in search of a personal and regional identity that contains contradictions, one that is queer, questioning, ephemeral. He is a collaborator, a friend, a proud midwesterner. Most recent collaborative credits include works performed at Defibrillator Gallery, Links Hall, Collaboraction, Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum. Original collaborative credits also include We Are a LightHouse, a piece of experimental theatre with director Lindsey Barlag-Thornton, and EIGHT EASY STEPS TO BE LESS BLAND, a guerilla-style public lecture. Corey is the recipient of a 2017 DCASE Individual Artist Grant for his upcoming solo performance, THE NEW PRAIRIE SCHOOL, slated to premiere January 2018 at Links Hall. He is online at

Michael Rathbun (Lighting Designer) is a Chicago-based lighting designer whose designs have also graced stages in New York, New Orleans, Wisconsin, Thailand, and Vietnam.  He is  the resident designer for Aquijon Theater and has also designed for a number of other Chicago based companies, including: Urban Theatre Company, Theatre Y, The Agency Theater Collective, Polemic Theatre Company, Grippo Stage Company, and the Cuckoo’s Theatre Project, among others.  He has also worked as an assistant designer at The House Theatre of Chicago.  His portfolio can be found at



Michael Brown (Director) has directed numerous productions in the US, UK, and China, most recently creating a physical adaptation of Jason and the Argonauts for AFTEC theatre company in Hong Kong, China. Michael has also performed on stages across the US and the UK, in feature films including Dark Shadows and World War Z, and has served as a movement artist and trainer for the international phenomenon War Horse and for the feature film Gravity. Michael currently lives in Chicago with his wife and 6-year-old son, where he (Michael, not his son) is Director of the MFA in physical and devised theatre at Columbia College Chicago.


Warren Wernick (Scenic Designer) is delighted to be working with Rough House for the first time and glad to have found  some artists that value the funky, surreal kinda stuff he holds so dear. A California native, he moved to Chicago in 2015 lured by the fertile theatre scene. An actor, musician, designer, and maker, he embraces the challenge of working in as many roles within the medium as he can. Outside of the theatre, he can be found setting routes for the First Ascent climbing gyms or wrestling rocks across our great land. Gratitude to you, dear reader, for supporting the magic of theatre.

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