A B O U T  U S

Mission

We at New American Folk Theatre are dedicated to telling stories through the Americana lens. We strive to produce impactful theatre and other artistic projects that help us learn and grow as a society.

History

After working together on children’s musical theatre on the Chicago Southside, collaborators Anthony Whitaker and Jamal Howard decided it was time to bring their efforts to a wider audience. In the fall of 2011, they founded the New American Folk Theatre and began with a staged reading of an original adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Salome, called Salome Goes All the Way!  The following year, NAFT included Salome Goes All the Way! in addition to another original one act, Two from the Trailer Court: Dirty Girl as their first full production at The Den Theatre in Wicker Park. As the company continued to grow, more original productions were developed. The following list includes all productions up to the current season:

"Two From the Trailer Court: Dirty Girl and Salome Goes All the Way!" (*) Written by Anthony Whitaker

"The Marvelous Land of Oz" (*) Written by Anthony Whitaker

"Dark of the Moon" Written by Howard Richardson and William Berney

"Witches Among Us" (*) Music and Lyrics by Scott Free; Book by Rick Karlin

“The Summer of Daisy Fay” by Ed Howard

"Trash" Johnny Drago

"Deep In the Heart of Tuna" Written by Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams

"Hot Pink or Ready to Blow" Written by Johnny Drago

"Scraps" (*) Written by Anthony Whitaker

(*) denotes world premiere

Company Members:

Anthony Whitaker (Co-Artistic Diretor, Co-Founder) grew up in Greenville, SC, where, he began performing at age 10. Whitaker performed with the Greenville Little Theatre, The Warehouse Theatre, The Greenville Fine Arts Center, South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts, and the Singing Christmas Tree.

 

Since leaving South Carolina, he has performed in Atlanta (Center Stage Atlanta and Georgia State University), The Lost Colony in Manteo, NC, The Golden Apple Dinner Theatres in Sarasota and Venice, Florida and many venues in Chicago (The Royal George, Emerald City, Beverly Arts Center, Theatre on the Lake). In addition to performing, Anthony teaches elementary and junior high music in the public and Catholic School systems, and directs productions for various south side schools and the Beverly Arts Center.

Jamal Howard (Co-Artistic Director, Co-Founder) is originally from San Jose, Calif. Jamal grew up performing and training in musical theatre since the age of eight with Children's Musical Theatre San Jose (CMTSJ), Peninsula Youth Theatre, and Bellarmine College Preparatory. He taught jazz classes and workshops and choreographed for CMTSJ’s summer camp.



Jamal graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in Theatre and Advertising/Public Relations. There he made his directorial debut with Wonder of the World. He directs, choreographs, and teaches jazz/hip-hop dance classes in grade schools on Chicago’s Southside and at the Beverly Arts Center. Directing and Choreography credits include Once on This Island, Cats, Hairspray!, and Little Shop of Horrors. Jamal has recently performed with Quest Theatre Ensemble, Emerald City, and Endpoint Theatre Company.

Caitlin Jackson (Casting Director) did her first play when she was 5 and has kept on going, pretty much, ever since (except for a 5 year break from theatre after college, when she traded acting for singing karaoke in dive bars and living under the assumption that she was probably going to be a Rock Star). She grew up performing and training in Indiana where she worked with Young Actor's Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indianapolis Civic Theatre, Boone County Civic Theatre, Edyvean Repertory, Theatre on the Square and the American Cabaret Theatre, as well as other theatres in the Indianapolis area.

Caitlin moved to Chicago in 1997 to study acting at The Chicago Academy for the Performing Arts, and then majored in performance at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Since living in Chicago, Caitlin has performed with Dark Knight, Chase Park, HyperWorld, 20th Century Ensemble and Totally Adequate Scone’s entry for Rhinofest 2012 at The Prop Thtr., Ludicrous Theatre, Walkabout Theatre/Knife & Fork and has also performed in almost every New American Folk Theatre project since they began in 2011.

Associate Company Members

Grant Drager

Sarah Gise

Charlie Irving

​Kirk Jackson

Kelly Combs

© 2017 by New American Folk Theatre

Website Contribution by Joey Harbert & Michael DeChant