an ensemble play devised and written by Nikomeh Anderson, Sophia Castuera, Sarah Harburg-Petrich, E.L. Hohn, Laura Menzie, Fenny Novyane and Rani O'Brien, with additional material by Dana Stern and Elis Regina Chirino.

Directed by Rani O’Brien






Modern Chalk Circle story is an awesome dystopia. Set in a United States not far in the future, a woman just trying to get by in a racist nation finds herself stuck with a famous baby and a quest to answer the question: in dark times, are there good people?


As a fire starts at the nation’s capital, Mar-a-Lago, Grusha finds herself saddled with motherhood. She sets off on a journey to save herself - and the child - from the tyranny of the government and the coup that's over thrown it. From the last library in America to the border of the Real Chillpublic of CaliforniaNation, she has to bargain, lie, and outwit vlogging border guards, bureaucratic adoption agencies, apolitical truckers, and an underground secret society of nerds, all while caring for an infant she didn't sign up for. 


Does Grusha have the determination, the savoir faire, and enough tequila and diapers to navigate the whole of the new United States? Will she survive in this modern age of neo-liberal Amazon live/work fulfillment centers, young millennial speak, and reality TV dating shows? For that matter... will we? And who is that anti-capitalist new Judge that everyone's talking about?

Modern Chalk Circle; or a Michael Coulter Conway story features satire, audience participation, beheadings, and a satisfying justice who tells "The Law" to go suck eggs! Join us on our peculiar American odyssey, and, in our final moments, caucus to make the ultimate decision.



In January of 2019, Rani O’Brien invited a group of improvisors, actors, dramaturgs, writers, and designers to collaborate on a new devised play inspired by a Brecht classic. Employing methods of ensemble writing she used while directing at The Second City, Rani led the group to an open devising and pitch-to-improvisation process, creating a plethora of material. In March, the ensemble transformed into a writers' room and have since alternated between improvisation to script methods and collaborative writing techniques to generate the script. 

On September 29th, 2019 Modern Chalk Circle had its first work in process reading. In addition to hearing the current draft of the script, we were able to improvise our audience interactive scenes for the first time with a full and lively audience. On the walls of the hall, E.L. Hohn put up an image design board with colors of robins egg blue, green, and hints of burnt orange and red. Clowns, impressionistic paintings, and gender queer punk styles were pulled to illustrate the feeling of collaborative creation that we intend will be felt throughout the design.


With the feedback and information gained from the invited audience we are now able to assemble a direction for the writing of our next draft, and, for the first time, we've moved into writing lyrics. In pairing with a composer, we've decided to conduct interviews to gain the most world specific points of view for each song.

Our first open to the public work in process show will be in February of 2020! Follow us @modernchalkcircle on IG for updates about the process.


Core Writers

Additional Collaborators 

Special Thanks To

Austin Bowen, Mona Moriya, Christopher Reyes for their contribution to our early devising process.