As Founding Artistic Director, Jen Shook directed 10 of Caffeine Theatre's 17 productions (2002-2012), in addition to several new play development workshops and multi-arts Caffeine Coffeehouse events. Caffeine Theatre developed a reputation for language-intense, idea-driven performances, true to its mission to mine the poetic tradition to explore social questions, to explore the role of art in society, to reclaim theatre's roots as a public forum with the idealism of the coffeehouse community and a return to the radical tradition of poetry to pose questions of social conscience and of dramaturgical form.  Connecting the mind to the ear to the heart to the voice and body, Caffeine created, discovered, uncovered, and produced theatre that embraces and explores language—work that speaks—and that sparks conversation. Seven of Caffeine's productions were recommended by the Joseph Jefferson Awards committee, resulting in several nominations and an award. Encouragement came from poets, professors, press, and collaborative partners from the Poetry Foundation to the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Illinois Arts Foundation, the Donnelley Foundation, University of Chicago's Summer Inc residency, the Istituto Italiano della Cultura, Hellenic Society, the Chicago Tafia, the Japanese American Culture Center, the Joyce Foundation, and more.  Kerry Reid of the Chicago Tribune called Caffeine “Chicago’s most reliable source for oddball gems.” The above slideshow consists of Caffeine productions she directed. Jen has also directed plays and readings for Mary-Arrchie, American Theatre Company, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Collaboraction, Court Theatre, Live Bait, Estrogen Fest, San Francisco Fringe, Camenae Ensemble Theatre, Bailiwick, Stone Circle Theatre Ensemble, and Dallas Theater Center. (See CV for more complete list of credits.)

(Photos by Jason Beck and Jennifer Shook)

 

 

 "On a Poetry Jag" interview: " What happens when emotion and intellect meet in some sort of in-between ground? What happens when they meet on the stage, the place that is both public and private?" 

"On a Poetry Jag" interview: "What happens when emotion and intellect meet in some sort of in-between ground? What happens when they meet on the stage, the place that is both public and private?"