Carissa Casbon, Fire & Nice

Lake County Board member Carissa Casbon first really popped up on my radar because of her Facebook page. Why? Because she shared useful stuff! Job fairs & local events, her page was always active with the nuts & bolts of serving her constituents. Heck, I still go to her website for connecting to a state agency because it is the easiest link to find!

I slowly began noticing this tenacious advocate everywhere. Boasting a head of bright ginger hair and a wide grin, one could underestimate her. I have learned that would be unwise. Because beyond her warmth, there is a steely-eyed warrior.

Carissa feels like Lake County’s Katie Porter. She’s focused on kitchen table issues. She hammers away to provide pragmatic results to real problems. Her website is filled with specifics. What she has done. What she believes. When I research a candidate, I don’t want buzz words and generalities. I want specific plans and concrete accomplishments around topics like fiscal responsibility, healthcare, community services, veteran’s services, schools & education, safety and security, infrastructure, zoning, floodplain, environment. I want to see a long list of endorsements from established public servants and reputable organizations. She’s got all that.

I don’t see anyone outworking her either. If she’s not going door-to-door, talking to constituents (check out her animal-centric canvassing posts. They are a delight!), then she’s showing up at local events, organizations’ fundraisers, supporting other candidates, and promoting exposure and support for Lake County constituents and businesses.

Is she perfect? Of course not! But “perfect” doesn’t exist. We are all human, flawed and messy. For example, I think Carissa may occasionally piss people off. She has the ability of telling truth to power (more notes of Katie Porter!) Sometimes that can cause waves. But we need truth tellers. Especially in this political climate. The stakes are too high for fluffing and prevaricating. In the rough and tumble world of politics, I want a representative who advocates loudly. Who nudges and pushes, who stands up for her constituents, for our community. To defend democracy at every level of government I believe we need honorable, ethical public servants. But these days, those same people need to be scrappy fighters as well. Tough and tenacious advocates for all of us. Like I said: Fire & Nice!

https://www.carissacasbon.com/priorities

The Wind Phone

THE WIND PHONE__Sergel_November 2021

One fact about the past can change everything about the present.
Preparing to sell their family home, adult sisters Jenny and Ellen, with their mother Patty, are unpacking and sorting out five decades of living. With a single sentence from her mother, Jenny’s understanding of who her father was is reinvented. War, PTSD, homophobia, and sexual assault take their toll not just on one person but also on the generations which follow. As Jennifer opens the Pandora’s Box of her father’s past, she finds that act of keeping memories in a box is just as damaging as the contents.

2 acts, single set, 3/W

World Premiere, Skokie Theater, November, 2021

The Air, The Water, and The Space In Between

Zoe and Alexander meet every year, on the exact same day, at the exact same lakefront spot, to celebrate each other’s survival. Their friendship began in a physical rehabilitation hospital as they recovered from traumatic injuries, and has endured as they returned to their lives. Upending the tradition, Zoe has moved this year’s meeting up one week. Alexander suspects that meeting will be different. 1W/1M or 2/W

Taking Turns

Taking Turns Final_M. Sergel

“Your turn, Dad.”

Taking Turns starts with a simple action, an adult son telling his elderly father that it’s his turn to speak at the city council meeting.  This leads to the unveiling of the story about three generations of the Parson family.  Moving back and forth between the present and the past, we see the moments that have defined each of these people as they attempt to find out who’s turn is it to be the caregiver or cared-for. Taking Turns is for any adult suddenly finding themselves parenting a parent…or suddenly finding themselves being parented by their child. 3M/3W, simple set.

“There are only four kinds of people in the world.
Those who have been caregivers.
Those who are currently caregivers.
Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”

― Rosalyn Carter

Produced at Three Brothers Theatre, April 2018

Conversations About an Empty Suit

Conversations Empty Suit 2020 PDF

When Abby, a fifty-year-old artistic director of a small professional theatre company in Chicago, discovers the Tony Award-winning department head of her alma mater has died, she is thrown into a tailspin. She seeks out Seth Kennedy, once just another student and now a highly successful Hollywood show runner. Conversations about an Empty Suit explores questions of what defines success, why paths aren’t taken, and how factors of advantage, race, age, and class influence choices made and opportunity available. 2W/2M 

“Conversations About an Empty Suit” received its mainstage world premiere production March 2020 at Three Brothers Theatre

SPIN

On doctor’s orders to get in better shape, Fancy joins a gym. At her first indoor cycling class, as she begins spinning her legs, her thoughts start spinning as well. Past and current interactions are played out as spin instructor Angel becomes her combative and distant mother Gwen, her sister, and, eventually even Fancy herself, while another student morphs into her son, her father, and Spencer, a student she counsels at her job at a therapeutic day school.  As her mind unspools these complex relationships, her body working harder and harder, Fancy confronts the biggest question of her life, “Can you love someone but not like them?” Making peace with her body sends her down the road of making peace with her past, and eventually, peace with herself. 2W/2M

SPIN has been selected as a finalist in First Run Theatre‘s Reading Festival, and will receive an on-line Zoom reading April 25th, 2021. SPIN also received a virtual reading as a part of Mad Cow Theatre’s Women’s Voices Mini-Festival September, 2020

The Before Times and The After Times: A Socially Distant Minor Comedic Odyssey

I want somehow to contribute to the survival of theatre companies during this pandemic. So, I am offering this one act free of charge to any existing theatre company to use as a fundraising, production, or educational program. The offer is good from today, August 10th, 2020, to September 1st, 2021.

I wrote this using the need for masks and social distancing protocols as a writing prompt. As it began taking shape, I realized it was a comedic one-act. (My first comedy. And it only took a global pandemic and democracy in flames to motivate me). It speaks to our current experience with a healthy dose of magic realism to make things fun. It requires simple costumes, few props, and has extremely flexible casting options.

My hope is that this will be both a vehicle for actors to practice their craft and a production/fundraising option for theatres, but one which will also check health and safety boxes for everyone involved.

I’m Right Here

Lenny has no sh*ts left to give. Casting off the cloak of invisibility Western culture shrouds women over sixty with, she begins saying what she thinks, when she thinks it.  Part stand-up comedy set, part stage play, I’m Right Here may offend you, it may not, but it certainly won’t bore you.
59-page one act. Simple set 3W/4M
Warning: I’m Right Here contains foul language, references to sexual assault, and explores topics of war, race, misogyny, and discrimination

Special Needs

Special Needs, Sergel 2018

An Atypical Play about an Atypical Kid

A brilliant, creative teenager with autism and his family are all in the special needs trenches as Pierce fights to balance his fascinating inner reality with getting over the hurdles of daily life. 4W/4M Set is a family living room and dining room

Produced at Clockwise Theatre and Magnetic Theatre

  • Finalist Christopher Brian Wolk Award
  • Semi-finalist in the Dorothy Silver Playwriting Competition

Throwing Rice

Set in an upscale country club, Throwing Rice takes place during the 12 hour period of the wedding day of the “1%.” Issues of class, wealth, entitlement, and race are explored amidst the donning of finery, toasts, dancing, and celebration. 6W/3M, single set with two additional flexible playing areas.

Reading, Chicago Dramatists, 2017

Artemisia 2018 Fall Festival finalist