The Metal Children

By Adam Rapp
Directed by Joanie Schultz
Showtimes Have Ended
What responsibility do artists have for the impact of their work? Provocative New York playwright and Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp offers a powerful portrait of small-town censorship and the American divide over family values in his newest play fresh from a sold-out Off-Broadway run, The Metal Children. A gifted New York writer attempts to defend his young adult novel to the same small American town hell bent on banning his work, causing an explosive encounter from which no one in the small Midwestern town will recover.

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  • Press/Reviews

Metal Children NewsletterDownload the METAL CHILDREN newsletter>>
(694 KB PDF Download)
Lots of details about the play including many informative articles on the subject of book banning. Please note that you'll need the PDF Reader which you can get free here.

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Footlights ProgramDownload the METAL CHILDREN program>>
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The same program that is distributed at the theatre. Download and read it in advance to learn about the fantasti artists who have broght THE METAL CHILDREN to life. Please note that you'll need the PDF Reader which you can get free here.

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Special EventsVisit the Events page here on our website to learn more about special events to enhance your experience with Adam Rapp's THE METAL CHILDREN

The Metal Children Gallery

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Caitlin Collins 


Caitlin Collins (Tami, Kong, Nurse) is thrilled to make her Next Theatre debut.  Regional credits include Anna in Magnolia at the Goodman Theatre, the current production of Red Kite Round-Up with Chicago Children’s Theatre, and the original cast of The American Girl Revue at The American Girl Place. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Theatre and a certificate in Music Theatre where favorite roles include Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale, Kim MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie,Constanze in Amadeus, and The American Music Theatre Project’s Not Wanted On The Voyage.  Many thanks to Gray Talent, friends, family, and to Scott.


 Sean Cooper


Sean Cooper (Tobin) is making his Next Theatre debut. He just closed the world premiere production of Jackie and Me with Chicago Children’s Theatre. Other theatre credits include Honus and Me and Dandelion Wine (Chicago Children’s Theatre), The Crowd You’re in With (Goodman Theatre), These Shining Lives (Rivendell Theatre) Wedding Play (About Face Theatre), Cradle of Man (Victory Gardens), Red Herring (Northlight Theatre), Mojo (Mary-Arrchie) Eurydice, Melancholy Play, Mad Forest, Book of Days (Piven Theatre), A Lesson Before Dying (Steppenwolf Theatre), The Final Toast (International Mystery Writers Festival), Lysistrata (Running With Scissors), H2O and K. (The Neo-Futurists), and a slew of shows with The Shakespeare Project of Chicago. His film and television work includes Whirlybird, A Pirate’s Life, The Malcontents, and a guest starring role on The Beast.  


Paul Fagen 


Paul Fagen (Stacey) is honored to be making his Next Theatre debut with The Metal Children.  He is a proud member of Strawdog Theatre Company where he recently reprised his role as Father Toulon in Red Noses (Jeff Nomination- Best Ensemble), and also played Mister Shu Fu in The Good Soul of Szechuan.  Additional theatre credits include: Company (GriffinTheatre), bobrauschenbergamerica (Chicago Fusion Theatre), The Attempters (The House Theatre), Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Bright Room Called Day, The Crucible (Speaking Ring Theatre), and multiple performances with Quest Theatre Ensemble.  He is currently a student at the Black Box Studio in Chicago.


Laura Fisher 


Laura T. Fisher* (Lynne/Roberta Cupp) returns to the Next, having previously performed in Defiance, Frozen, Helen and Julius Caesar.  Other Chicago performances:  Relatively Close, Big Blue Nail and Half and Half at Victory Gardens, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow with Collaboraction, Trojan Woman, Finishing the Picture, The Shawl and Home at the Goodman, Kabuki Lady Macbeth and Cymbeline at Chicago Shakespeare, Cyrano with Court and Redmoon Theatres and The Secret Rapture (Jeff Nomination) at Remy Bumppo.  With Famous Door:  Cider House Rules, A Mislaid Heaven, The Living, Early and Often (Jeff Award, After Dark Award) Remembrance and Hushabye Mountain (Jeff Nominations).  Laura has created and performed works with Plasticene and Cardiff Giant and has performed with the CSO, The Lyric Opera, WBEZ’s Stories on Stage and Nextbook and teaches at The Conservatory at Act One Studios and Chiarts  Thanks to Shade, The Next, and Maryanne.


Marc Grapey 


Marc Grapey (Bruno) Next Theatre debut.  Most recently appeared at Victory Gardens as Jerry in AT HOME AT THE ZOO.  Other Chicago theatre credits include work at The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Writer's Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook and Famous Door. Broadway debut in 2005 opposite Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in the hit revival of THE ODD COUPLE.  Regional:  Actor's Theatre of Louisville; HBO Comedy and Arts Festival, Aspen. Films include CHICAGO OVERCOAT,THE COMPANY, ALI,  WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, WATCH IT!, THE DAYTRIPPERS, ADVENTURELAND AND SUPERBAD.  Television: THE WEST WING, TWO AND A HALF MEN,LAW AND ORDER S.V.U., ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and SEX IN THE CITY.

 Bradley Mott  

Bradley Mott (Otto) , who is making his debut at Next Theatre with The Metal Children, has been working in the Theatre, Television, and Film for over 30 years.  His work includes everything from Classics (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Henry IV, Part 1, Romeo & Juliet, The Moliere Comedies, A Flea in her Ear, You Can’t Take it With You, Born Yesterday, Miracle on 34th Street) to Musicals (My Fair Lady, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum, Crazy for You, Spamalot) to Contemporary plays (Marvin’s Room, Sylvia, Slavs, A Laughing Matter, The Sunshine Boys).  His film and television work includes: The Accidental Tourist, The Applegates, Stranger Than Fiction, “Roseanne”, “A Different World”, and “ER”. In addition to his acting, Bradley has taught for over 30 years at Columbia College Chicago, Northwestern University, Nyack, and CAP21.  He is happily married to The Reverend Susan Osborne-Mott and is the proud father of Andrew and Emily.

 Caroline Neff  

Caroline Neff (Vera) The Metal Children marks Caroline's debut with Next Theatre and her third collaboration with Joanie Schultz, with whom she has worked on A Brief History of Helen of Troy and In Arabia We'd All Be Kings at Steep Theatre.  As a proud ensemble member, her other Steep credits include Harper Regan, Coronado, and Of Mice and Men. Caroline was most recently seen in Griffin Theatre's Port, where she also performed in Stage Door, and Be More Chill. She has had the great fortune of working with Strawdog, St. Crispin's Day; Mary-Arrchie, Cherrywood, Saved; and Jackalope, Moonshiner. She is a graduate of Columbia College.  Many thanks for Jenny and Joanie.

Nicole Ripley  

Nicole Ripley (Cooper, Porky Pig Boy, Boy X) is delighted to be making her Next Theatre debut. Nicole has worked with Sojourn Theatre in Portland, OR, New Beast Theatre, The Building Stage, Redmoon Theater, Chicago Fusion Theatre, among others. She also serves in the Education Departments at Writers’ and Steppenwolf Theatre.  An alum of Northwestern University’s Theatre Department, Nicole has also studied at the St. Petersburg Arts Academy and Moscow Art Theatre in Russia and, under a Luce Scholars Fellowship, worked as an artist-in-residence for a year and a half with Gabfai Theatre in Thailand. Many thanks to Jenny and Joanie.

 Meg Thalken  

Meg Thalken (Edith Dundee) has been making her living as an actress here in Chicago for over 30 years.  Most recently in A Guide for the Perplexed at the Victory Gardens Theater where she also has appeared in Four Places, Symmetry, Hanging Fire, Cahoots (with Sharon Gless), Winter (with Julie Harris), Voice of Good Hope, A View of the Dome, Working Magic, Still Waters, The Long Awaited, and the Chicago Theatres on the Air production of Emma’s Child.  Elsewhere she has appeared in Don Juan In Hell for Northlight, The Heidi Chronicles at both National Jewish Theatre and the Halsed Theatre Center, Solomon’s Choice at NJT, My Fat Friend at Pheasant Run, Life With Father at the Playhouse, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Laundry & Bourbon at Travel Light, and Bagtime at Wisdom Bridge. TV credits: Detroit 187, ER, What About Joan, Turks, Chicago Hope, Early Edition, EZ Streets, The Untouchables, Chicago Story, Jack & Mike,
Justice: Greylord Style, The Richard Speck Case and Through Naked Eyes. Filmwork: Hannah Free, Check Please, The Company, U.S. Marshals, Poltergeist III, A Family Thing, The Babe and Class.  As with most actors in Chicago, a good deal of her day to day work is done in TV and radio commercials, both on-camera and as a voice-over.  Meg can be heard regularly in a variety of roles on The Twilight Zone on radio stations across the country.  She also teaches Acting and Scene Study at Columbia College Chicago. Meg is married to film and TV production designer Gary Baugh, and they have two daughters, Molly and Riley.  Proud member of Actors Equity since 1980.

 Joanie Schultz  

Joanie Schultz (Director) is very excited to direct on Mr. Rapp’s work once again. This is her fourth time collaborating with Rapp, having assistant directed his world premiere production of Red Light Winter at Steppenwolf Theatre, she subsequently directed Should’ve Never for the Collaboraction Sketchbook; the Chicago Premiere of Stone Cold Dead Serious at Circle Theatre; and the Midwest premiere of Faster at the side project. She also recently directed A Brief History of Helen of Troy and In Arabia We’d All Be Kings (Jeff Award for Best Ensemble) for Steep Theatre Company; The Ring Cycle for the Building Stage; Shining City for Redtwist Theatre Company; and Wreckage and Many Loves for Caffeine Theatre.  Ms. Schultz has directed Savitri and The Telephone for Chicago Opera Theater and National Opera Week; and Acis and Galatea, the Chicago Cultural Center summer opera, which was the first fully-staged opera at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. She recently directed new play workshops at The Goodman Theatre, Next Theatre, and Steppenwolf Theatre Company.  Ms. Schultz holds an MFA from Northwestern University; was a Drama League Fellow; The Goodman Theatre's Michael Maggio Directing Fellow; a participant in the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab; and currently teaches directing at Columbia College Chicago.

 Adam Rapp  

Adam Rapp (Playwright) is an Obie-award-winning playwright and director. He is the author of numerous plays, which include NOCTURNE (American Repertory Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop), FASTER (Rattlestick), ANIMALS & PLANTS (A.R.T.), FINER NOBLE GASES (26th Humana Festival, Rattlestick), STONE COLD DEAD SERIOUS (A.R.T., Edge Theatre), BLACKBIRD (The Bush, London; Edge Theatre), GOMPERS, (Pittsburgh City Theatre), ESSENTIAL SELF-DEFENSE (Playwrights Horizons/Edge Theatre), AMERICAN SLIGO (Rattlestick), BINGO WITH THE INDIANS (The Flea), KINDNESS (Playwrights Horizons), and RED LIGHT WINTER (Steppenwolf, Scott Rudin Productions at Barrow Street Theatre), which was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has published seven novels for young adults, including The Buffalo Tree (Front Street Books, 1997), which was struck from the curriculum at Muhlenberg High School in Reading, Pennsylvania in 2005, and Punkzilla (Candlewick Press, 2009), which was recently named a 2010 Michael J. Printz Honor Book. He is also the author of the adult novel, The Year Of Endless Sorrows (Farrar Strauss & Giroux, 2006), and the graphic novel, Ball-Peen Hammer (First Second Books, 2009). His playwriting honors include The Helen Merrill Award, The 2006 Princess Grace Statue, a Lucille Lortel Playwright’s Fellowship, and The Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

     Nancy Staiger (Production Stage Manager) is pleased to be returning for her second season at Next.  Previous productions with Next Theatre include Boom, End Days, Return to Haifa , War With The Newts and Madagascar. Before moving to the Chicago area, Nancy served as the Resident Production Stage Manager at Laguna Playhouse, a LORT theatre in Southern California. Of the nearly forty productions stage managed there, favorites include: The Romance of Magno Rubio, The Woman in Black, American Buffalo, Rounding Third, The Shape of Things, Shear Madness, Forever Plaid, Always Patsy Cline (with Sally Struthers) and the Playhouse produced national tours of Copenhagen, and The Belle of Amherst (with Julie Harris). Nancy moved to Chicago to be with family, enjoy the “great weather” and participate in exciting theatre. So far there are no regrets!

Further reading regarding the play and book banning:

THE METAL CHILDREN: An Interview with Adam Rapp
"Playwright and novelist Adam Rapp originally thought he'd grow to play pro basketball. Instead he discovered he had a unique gift for composing stories when he signed up for a poetry writing class at Clarke College, in Dubuque, Iowa." READ MORE>>


Adam Rapp's The Buffalo TreeTHE METAL CHILDREN: "A Town's Struggle in the Culture War" by Bruce Weber for the New York Times
MUHLENBERG, Pa. - In April, at an otherwise mundane meeting of the school board here, Brittany Hunsicker, a 16-year-old student at the local high school, stood up and addressed the assembled board members. READ MORE>>





Book Banning: "Is Harry Potter Evil" an article by Judy Blume
It's a good thing when children enjoy books, isn't it? Most of us think so. But like many children's books these days, the Harry Potter series has recently come under fire. READ MORE>>


New York TimesBook Banning: An editorial from the New York Times
Schools are supposed to introduce children to a variety of ideas and viewpoints, but the Miami-Dade School Board decided a few years ago to put one viewpoint off limits. It banned the children’s book “A Visit to Cuba” from its school libraries because it said the book offers too positive a portrait of life under the Castro regime. READ MORE>>


Book Banning: "Finding Censorship Where There is Non" by Mitchell Muncy for the Wall Street Journal

"'To you zealots and bigots and false patriots who live in fear of discourse. You screamers and banners and burners. . . ." These are the opening lines of the official Manifesto of Banned Books Week, which starts tomorrow." READ MORE>>


Reviews from the New York production at the Vineyard Theatre:

-John Lahr, The New Yorker


-Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post

that delves into our country’s passionate extremes.”

-Matt Windman, amNew York

-Dan Bacalzo, Theatermania

-Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News

Keeps audiences guessing and enthralled.
‘Metal Children’ is smart, literate and adult”

-Mark Peikert, New York Press

-Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

-David Sheward, Backstage

-Michael Criscuolo,