About Dear Stone Theater Company

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Dear Stone Theater Company grew out of a collective of artists in Logan Square, Chicago who met to share various artistic work every other week. It started as project-based group of Wheaton College graduates, who wanted to put our common training and experience in ensemble driven theater-making into practice with a production. This first production, Much Ado About Nothing, was mounted in the July 2014. It was followed by a production of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’ in January 2015. As of March 2016, Dear Stone Theater Company is an officially incorporated non-profit theater in Chicago. We have continued to expand our work with local theater artists, specifically early-career artists, and to bring compelling and affordable theater to the Chicago community.

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Dear Stone Theater Company’s mission is twofold:

1. To provide employment and career-development opportunities for early-career theater artists.
2. And while so doing, to create theater that explores the inherent value and beauty of all people within the complex and often difficult reality of living together in spite of one another’s flaws.

In our productions, we strive to perform theater that offers audiences the opportunity to engage the implications of the characters’ relationships as well as our own. We desire that this engagement between the audience and theater-makers will catalyze new life in the way we relate to others once we step out of the theater and back into our everyday lives.

In our programming, we offer workshops, readings, networking events, new-play development, production roles, and teaching opportunities for theater and teaching artists whose early-career potential may not be nurtured by the “who you know” nature of Chicago’s theater community.

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When searching for a name for the company, we tried to find images that could capture the fragility, struggle, and reward of being in relationship with others. After much discussion, we turned to Shakespeare’s romances—his tales of human failings and reconciliation. At the end of The Winter’s Tale, we found this passage spoken by Leontes to the statue of his deceased wife whom he falsely accused of adultery:

“Chide me, dear stone, that I may say indeed

Thou art Hermione; or rather thou art she

In thy not chiding, for she was as tender

As infancy and grace.”

Hermione’s statue eventually comes to life, and all wrong if forgiven. The epithet Leontes uses for the statue captured for us both the tender and grating realities of being in relationship with one another: how something as rough and common as stone can be held dear. So to, in the relationships our theater hopes to explore on the stage.

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Shawn Rodriguez is the founding artistic director of Dear Stone Theater company. He works as a freelance theater artist and technician who is proud to be living and working in Chicago. He has directed Dear Stone Theater’s productions of ‘ART’ and Much Ado About Nothing, and was assistant director for Wheaton College’s 2014 production of Doubt: A Parable. Among other freelance work, he has served as master electrician for Porchlight Music Theatre, Haven Theatre, Side Show Theatre Company, and Rivendell Theater Ensemble. Shawn graduated from Wheaton College in 2013, where he studied writing and theater, and where he designed lighting and sound for several original and main stage productions. In his free time, Shawn enjoys pursuing his other interests in poetry, film, and current events.


Victoria Holmen is a born, bred, and based Chicago theater artist. During the day she works as an assistant at the Thomas More Society, or “stage manages” at that law firm, as she prefers to say. She is just getting her feet wet working in real stage management on the Chicago theater circuit. A 2015 graduate of Wheaton College in English Writing and the Arena Theater program, she was trained as an actor and stage manager, working on productions such as Doubt: A Parable, Who Am I This Time, and several years of Wheaton’s Shakespeare in the Park as an SM and Dancing at Lughnasa, The Liar, and The KJV Project: A Devised Work as an actor. She occasionally keeps her writer’s skills sharp blogging.


Jake Baker is a professional actor, artist, writer, singer/songwriter, and hobbyist. He spends most of his days memorizing scripts and writing down ideas for things he would like to write or make happen in the future. He portrayed Yvan in Dear Stone’s production of “Art”, and will be performing in a new work about the Holocaust this coming February 2016 called “Muse of Fire” going up at The Red Twist Theater. He has been many roles over the years, and hopes to continue stepping in and out of many characters for years to come. Outside of theatre he can be seen singing and playing guitar around Chicago as well as putting art in local ‘zines around the neighborhood. You can see his art here, as well as his music here, but you’ll have to see a show he’s in to see him act. Which, frankly, is the best thing he’s good at. Most of his time right now, however, is spent playing Fallout 4, and someone really should come get him out of this game-coma he’s been in for weeks now.


Tyler Phillips has been working as a freelance costume designer and technician since receiving his bachelor of arts from Ball State University in May of 2014. During his time at Ball State Tyler received a Certificate of Excellence for his co-design of 42nd Street from the Kennedy Center American Collegiate Theatre Festival. He has worked as first hand with Central Piedmont Summer Theatre in Charlotte, North Carolina. More recently Tyler has worked as costume coordinator of Andrean High School’s production of The 39 Steps, as designer for Light Opera Works Summer Kids Workshop production of South Pacific Jr., and as wardrobe crew for Light Opera Works production of South Pacific. Tyler is currently based out of Chicago, Illinois.

We are also delighted to work with our wonderful board of directors and staff.

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