Everything is Illuminated

By Simon Block, Adapted from the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer
Directed by Devon de Mayo
February 21 - April 14, 2013
With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man, Jonathan, sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war; an amorous dog named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.; and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely-butchered English; Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape into an unexpected past.

  • Overview
  • Artists
  • Press/Reviews

Everything is Illuminated will run approximately 2 hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

KFAR Jewish Arts Center
                   Media Sponsor

Wine Goddess  Hel's Kitchen Catering
                                                            Opening Night Sponsors


Sasha Gioppo   Sasha Gioppo (Brod) is a graduate of Northwestern University and the School at Steppenwolf and a founding member of PineBox Theater Company. Chicago credits include: Red Light Winter (Mary-Arrchie Theater; Jeff Award-Best Supporting Actress); Festen (Steep Theatre); Kill Me (Wildclaw Theatre); Six Degrees of Separation and Blue Surge (Eclipse Theatre); Need Hedges/3, The Most Liquid Currency in the World, and Life and Limb (PineBox); Breaks & Bikes (Pavement Group). She is also a burlesque dancer; as a soloist she has performed nationally and internationally and was awarded the Lily St. Cyr award for Most Sensuous Performer at the Montreal Burlesque Festival. She most recently appeared in Season Two of Boss. Film credits include Children Without Parents, Present Company, Miss Ohio, and One Small Hitch.


Alex Goodrich



Alex Goodrich* (Alex) is excited to be back at Next Theatre, where he was last seen as Dobchinski in The U.N. Inspector. Other Chicago credits include: Hero: The Musical (Jeff Award, Best Supporting Actor -Musical); For The Boys, How Can You run…(Marriott Theater); The Comedy of Errors (Court Theater); The Emperor’s New Clothes, Taming of the ShrewAladdinSS! A Midsummer Night's DreamSS! Taming of the Shrew, and How Can You Run..? (Chicago Shakespeare); Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon (Chicago Children’s Theater); Leaving Iowa (Fox Valley Rep); The Front Page (Timeline Theater); A Civil War Christmas, She Stoops to Conquer (Northlight); and several productions with Provision TheaterHe is a member of Barrel of Monkeys and loves his wife and their new baby coming in May!

(Feb 21 - Mar 17)



Dieterich Gray




Dieterich Gray* (Alex) a long-time Chicagoan, now resides in sunny Los Angeles.  Regional Theatre: Sara Ruhl’s Passion Play (Yale Repertory); Ghostwritten, The Seagull (Goodman), King Lear (Goodman, Shakespeare Theatre Co.); Mother Courage, The Royal Family, and I Just Stopped By to See the Man (Steppenwolf); Dracula (Indiana Rep & Geva Theatre); I Just Stopped By… (Alliance Theatre); Disney’s Aladdin (Marriot Lincolnshire); The Buddy Holly Story (Drury Lane); Great Expectations, Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice (Piven Theatre, Company Member); Crumble, Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake and Mr. Marmalade (Dog & Pony, Company Member).  Film Credits: Frida’s Smile, Dog Jack, and 8 of Diamonds.  A proud member of Actors’ Equity Association, Dieterich holds a BS in Theatre from Illinois State University and trained with The Second City and The School at Steppenwolf.

(Mar 21 - Apr 14)

 William J. Norris  


William J. Norris* (Grandfather) is a forty year veteran, a 2012 Joseph Jefferson nominee for Best Actor, and has extensive national and international credits.  Multiple Chicago credits at: the Goodman, Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Marriott Lincolnshire, and Meadowbrook.  Regional: Syracuse Stage, Indiana Repertory.  Europe: Schafspiel Haus (Hamburg), Mickery Theater (Amsterdam), English Theatre (Vienna). Dillinger, His Satanic Majesty, and Before I Wake premiered in Chicago and were later produced nationwide.  I was produced on the East Coast last fall, and his adaptation of A Christmas Carol was produced multiple times in England. Television and movie credits include Taste of Romance, The Babe, The Letter, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Last Affair. He has been honored as an actor, director, and writer with an Emmy, a Joseph Jefferson, five Artisan, and several LA Critics Circle Award.

Brad Smith


Brad Smith (Jonathan) was raised in Highland Park, Illinois and holds a BFA in Acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University.  Chicago theatre credits include: fml: how carson mccullers saved my life (Steppenwolf), CommComm and Reverb (Goodman), The Weir (Seanachai), David’s Mother (Apple Tree), and Miss Julie (Vintage Theatre Collective), among others.  He can (briefly) be seen in the films The Ice Harvest (Harold Ramis) and Let’s Go to Prison (Bob Odenkirk).  As a musician, he performs under the name Sad Brad Smith, and his song Help Yourself can be heard in the Oscar-nominated film Up in the Air, starring George Clooney.  He has tried, with some effort, to make himself seem accomplished here.  In the coming year, he hopes to feel that way.  Thanks and love to all and sundry, but especially Judy and Stu.


 H.B. Ward  


H.B. Ward (Yankel) is a proud member of Curious Theatre Branch.  With that company, he has appeared in nine productions, including Samuel Beckett’s Texts for Nothing and Waiting for Godot.  He has acted with many Chicago companies, including Prop Thtr, Collaboraction (including The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, Jon, and 1001), DOG – a Theater Company, The Magpies, Teatro Vista, WNEP, Theater Oobleck, Tympanic Theater, 16th Street Theater, Wildclaw Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Goodman Theatre, Trap Door Theatre and A Red Orchid Theatre, and in films, including Stephen Cone’s In Memoriam.  He is proud to be represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.

 Ann Whitney  


Ann Whitney* (Old Woman) first appeared onstage at Next in 1982 in A Different Moon.  She has been a fan of this theatre ever since and is pleased to return.  Since that time, she has been busy in Chicago theater. Favorite roles include Sister Lee in Do Black Patent Leather Shoes...? (Marriott Lincolnshire), Hecuba in Trojan Women (Goodman), Big Edie in Grey Gardens (Northlight), A in Three Tall Women (Apple Tree), Mrs. Watts in Trip to Bountiful (American Theatre Company), and Mrs. Frasier in Stepping Out (Steppenwolf).  She recently appeared in Freshly Fallen Snow (Chicago Dramatists).  She has several Jeff Award nominations and was honored as a Chicago Leading Lady by the Sarah Siddons Society for her work in Driving Miss Daisy.  Ann has worked with Wagon Wheel Theatre (Indiana), Sacramento Theater Company (California), and The Actors Theatre of Louisville. You may have seen her in commercials for Walgreens, Glade, McDonald's, and Beltone, and the films Sugar, Home Alone, The Fugitive, and While You Were Sleeping.   

 Devon de Mayo  


Devon de Mayo (Director)  is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Dog & Pony Theatre Co.  Directing & devising credits: The Whole World is Watching and As Told by the Vivian Girls (Dog & Pony), and The Twins Would Like to Say (Dog & Pony, Steppenwolf Garage Rep). Directing credits include: An Actor Prepares (TAPS, University of Chicago); Roadkill Confidential, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Clouds (Dog & Pony); Infiltrating Bounce (Luminaria Festival, San Antonio); Second Story (Serendipity Theatre Collective); 52 (Canal Café, London). Devon received Theater Communication Group’s 2011 “On The Road” grant to direct and develop Guerra: A Clown Play with collaborators in Mexico. It was seen in 2012 as part of Millennium Park’s “In The Works” series, and in New York and Albuquerque this year. Devon received her MFA in Theatre Directing from Middlesex University in London with further studies at the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow and the Indonesian Institute for the Arts in Bali.



Simon Block (Playwright) is a Jewish writer from London who has written for the stage and screen.  Currently, he is writing Witness and adapting the David Lodge novel Deaf Sentence, both for BBC. He has written extensively for television, including the award-winning The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall and parts of the Inspector Lynley series.  For radio, he has written the plays Breathe In Breathe Out and The Pool.  His other stage plays include Not a Game for Boys, Chimps, No Exp. Req'd, A Place at the Table (part of the National Theatre Chain Play), and Hand in Hand. He has been nominated for and awarded a number of British and international awards.

 Jonathan Safran Foer  


Jonathan Safran Foer (Novelist) is an author of several bestselling books. His debut novel, Everything is Illuminated, won Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times. Both it and his second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, have been made into feature-length films.  Mr. Foer is the winner of numerous awards, including the National Jewish Book Award.  He's been named one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire Magazine's "Best and Brightest." He is currently the Lillian Vernon Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University and is working on a TV pilot for HBO starring Ben Stiller.

Production Team:

Heather Gilbert (Lighting Design)

Baleigh Isaacs* (Stage Manager)

Nick Keenan (Sound Design)

Kristin Leahey (Dramaturg)

Adam Liston (Production Manager)

Eileen Rozicky (Properties Design)

Grant Sabin (Scenic Design)

Mieka van der Ploeg (Costume Design)