This went public a few months ago but I’ve gotten a lovely response so decided to plop it in my blog!


To whom it may concern:

I am stepping down as Clockwise Theatre Artistic Director.




…oh no. No, no, no. The formal, simple, brief announcement might work for some but…well….I’m me, so grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and let me fill you in…

This resignation? Not a bad thing! Oh, yes, I love Clockwise. I mean, I LOVE CLOCKWISE. But it’s time.

First, the professional reasons:

I’ve taken the theatre as far as I can. Truly, I have thrown everything in the Madelyn-arsenal at the organization. And it’s worked! I mean, Clockwise is awesome! See its magnificent production history at the bottom of this e-mail.

But I’ve got nothing left in the tank. I’ve nudged and nagged and bothered everybody. Started stacks of projects, some took, others didn’t. I’ve worked every contact, friend, acquaintance and near-stranger. Over-e-mailed pretty much everyone I’ve ever met. It’s time for someone else to bring their ideas, energy, vision, and momentum to the table (AKA Bob Sanders. We’ll get to him soon. But right now this is still all about me. Yup. ‘Cuz a gal doesn’t get many resignation letters. I’m milking this puppy)

One of my goals from Day One was to build such a strong company that I became dispensable. No organization that is too linked to its founder(s) survives succession. And after all this work, I want Clockwise to thrive. Because I so believe in the mission. I adore theatre. I love new work, current work, art about us, elegant stories illuminating our experience.

I must add: I am so proud of Clockwise. I’m proud of its toughness, fiscal responsibility, and devotion to excellence.

Another professional reason is that my own writing has suffered.

No. Wait. That’s not quite right.

My writing time has suffered.

I’ve learned oodles that I now bring to my own work. I am a smarter, better writer but the constant distraction of Clockwise (and yes, a fairly ugly Facebook and on-line Scrabble addition) has taken its toll. I have more plays in me that need to come out, and I want to bring the same energy to marketing my own work that I brought to marketing Clockwise. I want to get my work out into the greater world, hopefully getting some of my plays produced…which is where my creative heart finds the most peace.

Second, the personal reasons:

I have a really big life right now. I have two teenagers who have become really interesting people, people I want to spend time with before they scamper off to change the world. The generation ahead of me is also interesting and wonderful, and I want to spend time with them before they scamper off as well. There is my delightful husband whom I just adore spending time with.

And I need to stare at the sky and ponder the world.

Paint things.

Plant things.

It is time to throttle back and see what bubbles to the surface.

The What’s Next portion:

My successor is Bob Sanders. He’s AWESOME! Brought up in Lake Forest, 40 years in NYC, back living in Lake Forest, he’s already brought new people in, is generating new ideas, projects, organizing, and generally tearing it UP! Please, please support him. He has my backing 100%. We get along like a house afire and his presence has me so energized about the future of Clockwise. His e-mail is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Shoot him a kudos/welcome/etc. He is a SUPER guy bringing so much to the table. Clockwise is very lucky to get him!

The Thank You portion:

As I began to think of this letter, dozens of names flooded my mind. All the people that have helped me and Clockwise along the way. I fear naming people because one ALWAYS leaves out SOMEBODY super-important. Then they get mad. But don’t tell you. But you sense it. Then ya worry. Fret.

Oh hell, life’s too short. I’ll just dive in…

Rebecca Adler

Clockwise would not exist without Rebecca. She taught me so much about business, about myself, professionalism, tenacity, toughness, and resiliency. One of the most elegant and intelligent people I have ever met, I know I will go to my grave treasuring the time I was lucky enough to spend with her, building this organization. And I am lucky enough get to hang out with her still! She is a Jedi Master.

Pat Kerr

Oh, Pat. Pat, Pat, Pat. One of the highlights of my professional life will be the memory of my feet propped up on my desk, distracting you from paperwork, insisting you talk to me. The times we have spent, laughing our heads off, talking each other in off the ledge, and hashing out problems has been sublime. Your wisdom has guided me with a steady and true hand. I am forever grateful. You’re the best.

The rest of the world

Early on, when Clockwise was just a glimmer of an idea, there were many, MANY people who said, “Do not do it. DO NOT DO IT!” Three people told me, “Do it” at just that perfect time, right when the “no” votes were tipping the scales. So for that belief in me, I thank you, Judy Fried, Maggie Speer, and Jane Waller.

My deepest thanks to the Clockwise Board of Directors (past & present), the Clockwise Artistic Advisory Board, the City of Waukegan, Bob Sabonjian, Noelle Kischer-Loepper, Russ Tomlin, David Motley, Waukegan City Council (past & present), Mayor Wayne Motley, Violet Ricker, Less Boyd, Wayne Mell, Doug McDade, Jim Neal, Evan Lasko, Dan Moran, Myrna Petlicki, Waukegan Main Street, Jamie O’Meara (another Jedi Master), Waukegan Arts Council, Bruce Kennedy, Christopher Davis, Cassandra Ellwing, Amariah Henderson, Brad Paschall, Jeri Tocco, Kylie Welker, Norma Serna, Mason Absher, Amy Chapin, Anne & Craig Linn, Lori Neirheim, Jane Ferry, Claudia Chocolate Freeman, Jason Clark, Bob Sanders, Greg Hughes, Peter Handler, Sandra Carobine, Eric Ziegenhagen, Susan Lieberman, Russ Tutterow, Sandy Shinner, Justin DiGiacomo, Brian Boston, Doug Post & The Dramatists Guild, Jen Green & Piven Theatre Workshop, Chicago Dramatists, the entire Genesee Theatre staff (you all could have been a big monster and instead you were a gentle giant!), TreSe Productions, Rigo Serna, FIST, Bowen Park Theatre Company, Driehaus Foundation, Three Brothers, Losch Beverages, First Midwest Bank, Waukegan Theatre District, Clockwise subscribers, donors, supporters, volunteers, other local business owners, and our AUDIENCE!!!

A SPECIAL THANKS to all the playwrights, actors, directors, and designers who have thrown their lot in with us, created brilliant work on a shoestring budget. One of the greatest satisfactions of Clockwise has been being able to greenlight work I believe in and hire people I admired. One of the toughest parts was not being able to compensate all of you enough. So thank you for the generous sharing of your time, talent and energy. Artists are the greatest supporters of the arts.

Thank you all for this journey. Clockwise has been, and I am certain will remain, one of the high points of my creative and professional life (with an extra shout out to our production of Special Needs, the cast and crew…love vibes to Lisabeth)

Finally, thanks to my friends and my family, David, Lucas, Izzy, Tori, Nancy, Kassandra, and Sandy & Erwin. Your patience, support, and belief have been a true constant for me. David especially.

Onwards to theatrical world domination!


Madelyn Sergel

Clockwise Production History

Bolded credits indicate women or artists of color


  • Kita y Fernanda by Tanya Saracho, directed by Doug McDade, July 30th-August 15th, 2010
  • Special Needs, written and directed by Madelyn Sergel, February 25th -March 27, 2011. World premiere
  • goodness by Sean Christopher Lewis, directed by debrah neal, April 29th-May 29th, 2011
  • The Long Awaited by Claudia Allen, directed by Madeline Franklin, October 21st-November 13th, 2011
  • Courting Vampires by Laura Schellhardt, directed by Alexandra Main, January 20th-February 12th, 2012
  • Palmer Park by Joanna McClelland Glass, directed by Doug McDade, March 16th- through April 8th, 2012
  • Soul Sisters by Joanne Koch and Sarah Blacher Cohen, directed by Joyce Becker Lee, October 19th-November 11th, 2012
  • Cars and Quinceaneras by Susan Lieberman, directed by Juan Castaneda, January 25th-February 17th, 2013. World premiere
  • The Party in the Kitchen by Madelyn Sergel, directed by Andrea J. Dymond, April 19th - May 12th, 2013. World premiere
  • Carnegie Hill by Dorian Palumbo, directed by Wayne Mell, October 17th-November 10, 2013. Midwestern premiere
  • Doubting Thomas by John Green, directed by Doug McDade, January 24th-February 16th, 2014
  • A Fine Line by Rob Winn Anderson, directed by Andrea J. Dymond, April 11th-May 4th, 2014. World premiere
  • Impenetrable by Mia McCullough, directed by Judy Blue, October 10th-November 2nd, 2014
  • Captain Superlative byJessica Puller, directed byMadeline Franklin, November 21st-December 14th, 2014
  • Mr. Benny by Mark Humphrey, directed by Bob Sanders, January 29th -February 15th, 2015
  • Constant State of Panic by Patrick Gabridge, director Richard Shavzin, April 17th-May 10th, 2015