Local theater group to premiere play on divorce


Source: Carolyn Calzavara

Cast members Gina Palmer, Bryan Jansyn, Bailey Lawrence and John Frank (Medill ’76) rehearse a scene from “Boys in the Basement.” The show, put on by the 2nd Act Players, opens on Nov. 6 at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

Jennifer Hepp, Reporter


John Frank (Medill ’76) wrote a play exploring divorce from the perspective of men after having his own experience with it.

A new Evanston theater group, 2nd Act Players, will premiere this play, “Boys in the Basement,” on Friday.

“I thought this was a story that needed to be told, and especially from how a man sees it, because there are a lot of movies and things about women going through divorce, but men never talk about their feelings,” said Frank, who plays the role of Lawyer. “I wanted to really tell it from a man’s point of view.”

“Boys in the Basement” follows a group of men who all live in the same apartment building. As the show goes on, they become friends as they swap stories about their individual experiences with divorce.

Mary Reynard, who has professionally directed theater productions in Chicago for 35 years, will direct “Boys in the Basement.” Reynard said she was impressed when she first read Frank’s play.

“He’s really an excellent writer and I had never really seen anything done on this topic,” she said. “It’s a very underserved topic — what men go through when they’re getting a divorce. Our sympathies are usually with the women.”

Frank and his wife Carolyn Calzavara (Kellogg ’87) are co-producers of the show.

The play also explores other issues such as whether true love exists, Frank said.

“Divorce is a terrible, painful thing,” he said. “After you’ve been through it, you kind of wonder if there’s really such a thing as love anymore in the world.”

2nd Act Players produced its first play in 2013, and has produced a show every year since.
The group is producing another play in January, making this the first time they will produce two shows in a season. The theater group was originally made up of actors that Frank and Calzavara met in a local acting class. The group has expanded to include actors from all over the Chicago area, ranging in age from 16 to 52 years old, Frank said.

The play will open at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, a theatre that seats about 70 people.

“It’s a very intimate story told in an intimate setting,” Calzavara said. “It also has a very minimalistic set, which I think is very powerful.”

The play is a very honest and unapologetic look at marriage, Reynard said.

“I’m hoping that the audience really evaluates the whole institution of marriage,” Reynard said. “Do people get married for the right reasons, how do you keep your marriage healthy and productive and loving, and what are the elements that break a marriage down?”

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