About Us
Past Productions   |   Mission


Who's Who at Polarity Ensemble Theatre

Board and Staff

Richard Engling Co-Founder and Artistic Director Richard Engling is an actor, director, playwright, novelist and musician. His books have been published by Penguin/Putnam and Polarity Ensemble Theatre Press. He played drums with a jazz quartet for ten years. With Polarity, he directed Absolute Macbeth and The Good Harvest and adapted and appeared in Antigone. He wrote and directed Ghost Watch and appeared in Hamlet, The Rivals, Peer Gynt and Tom Jones. He has degrees in Theatre and Creative Writing, works as a freelance writer, and has performed with Keyhole Theatre, ShakespeareInc, Chicago Actors Ensemble, the IO and others.

Mark Mathyer Chairman of the Board Mark Mathyer is the Director of Donor Services at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. He is involved in Database Management, Project Management, Software Support, Training, and Research. Mark has a B.A. in English from Texas Lutheran University, and an M.S. in Communication Systems from Northwestern University. Involvement in community theater during high school and college led Mark to understand that his theatrical contributions should be made in supporting roles, and not on stage.


Ann Keen Co-Founder and board member Ann Keen received her B.A. from Saint Mary's University and her M.F.A. in acting from Arizona State University. Her favorite roles include Clytemnestra in The Oresteia, Emilia in Othello, Lucetta in Two Gentleman of Verona and Lady Macbeth. She has directed Polarity's productions of Antigone, Hamlet and A Streetcar Named Desire. She is especially brilliant at working with playwrights on developing new scripts. She has also directed and acted in short films. She assists Polarity in administration and fundraising. She makes her living in the banking industry.

Irv Gorman
Co-Founder and Publisher Irv Gorman brought Polarity's first book into print. Irv is a published author and holds degrees in American Literature and Film from the University of Texas. He has acted on stage and in television and film and is a former artistic director of the inner city Los Angeles H.O.L.A. Youth Theatre Company. He was awarded a Mayor's Certificate of Commendation for his work with H.O.L.A.

Chuck Palia Board Member and Resident Technical Director Charles C. Palia brings a host of technical theatre and educational expertise to Polarity. He is a retired high school teacher who has designed and built dozens of shows. In retirement, he is designing professionally around town, as well as writing plays, and now serving on the board of Polarity. He also sings and plays guitar in the classic rock bank, Union Jack.


Hazel McCabe Managing Director Hazel Marie Flowers-McCabe proudly joined the ranks of the Chicago theatre community in 2002, and has been working as a Stage Manager since 2003. She stage managed Polarity's A Midsummer Night's Dream and joined the company shortly after. She has been a regular at City Lit Theater, stage managing more shows there than she can count. She has also had the pleasure of working with Raven, Commedia Beauregard, A Red Orchid Theatre, Hell in a Handbag, A Crew of Patches, Red Hen/Chicago Jewish Theater, ARFTCo, Arts/Lane, and Magic Chicago.


Elayne LeTraunik Grant Writer Elayne LeTraunik has been part of the Chicago theatre community since the 1960s and has worked extensively as an actress, producer, director and administrator. Currently the Associate Artistic Director of Genesis Theatrical Productions, she also does freelance PR and grant writing for small arts organizations including Polarity Ensemble Theatre, National Pastime Theatre, Pride Films and Plays, Writers in the Heartland and Wilmette Theatre. Elayne is a member of the Donors Forum, Chicago Women in Philanthropy and the League of Professional Theatre Women. She has pursued training in grant writing from the Foundation Center and the Fundraising Authority.


Janet Ro Assistant to the Artistic Director Janet C. Ro is a published poet as well as playwright and filmmaker. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a business degree and moved to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to study fine art. She works as a freelance writer and produced and wrote Iola Deflowered, a stage play and also wrote, produced and directed a short animated film called The Robber and the Knife.


Ensemble Members

Kim Boler Kim Boler joined Polarity after debuting with the company in its production of A Streetcar Named Desire as the Nurse and then wowed us in Ephemera and Tom Jones. Other Chicago credits include Decadence with Abraham Werewolf and Messiah on the Frigidaire with Hubris Productions. Some of her favorite roles include Rosalind in As You Like It, Julia in A Delicate Balance, and the Duck in Peter and the Wolf. She holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi, loves to read, save kites with bullwhips, and still found time to find her soul mate Kevin.  

David Chrzanowski David Chrzanowski (ensemble member on leave) played Captain Jack Absolute in The Rivals. He has worked with Chicago Shakespeare (Macbeth - Short Shakespeare), Victory Gardens (The Wrong War), The Court Theatre (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), The Goodman, Chicago Children's Theatre, Lifeline, Silk Road Theatre Project, and First Folio Shakespeare. Regional work includes stops at Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Kentucky Shakespeare, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and the Performance Network in his home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. David is the Lead Teaching Artist for Silk Road Theatre Project and is represented by Shirley Hamilton.

Charley Jordan Charley Jordan received his degree in theatre from St. Mary's University. He has played Oliver in As You Like It, Brick in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof, and Mark in The Benchmark. For Polarity he has played Ross in Absolute Macbeth, Lord Polonius in Hamlet, a certain monkey-man in Ephemera and Squire Western in Tom Jones.  Charley has been a member of Polarity since 2004. He has organized educational theatre for the St. Ignatius Higher Achievement Program and for the Marketing Research Association Chicago Chapter.


Associate Members

Darren Callahan Darren Callahan has written drama for the BBC, The Sci Fi Channel, National Public Radio, and Radio Pacifica New York. He is winner of NPR's Nation Radio Drama award. His play Horror Academy debuted in Chicago in 2007. Polarity produced his surrealist mystery, The White Airplane, in 2009 and published both plays the same year. Other works for stage include Water Pressure (published by Smith & Kraus), The Double Negative, Sources, Mass Grave, and Sub-Genre. He has released over fifty CDs of original music and several novels, available at darrencallahan.com.

Andrew Dallas Andrew Dallas provided sound design for Polarity's productions of Tom Jones, Kabulitis, Peer Gynt and Never the Bridesmaid. Andrew's other sound designs include The First and Last Musical on Mars, Macbeth, Swordswomen of San Gimignano, Predator: The Musical and Point Break Live! He is a graduate of the Audio Art & Acoustics department at Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Live Sound Reinforcement. When he is not working in the theatre, Andrew also freelances as a roadie and live sound engineer as well as a recording engineer.

Catherine Hermes Catherine Hermes made her Polarity Ensemble debut as Jenny/Mrs Waters in Tom Jones. As an actor in Chicago, she has worked with First Folio Shakespeare Festival, PRIDE Films and Plays, Chicago Mammals Theatre, A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company, the Women's Theatre Alliance of Chicago, Citadel Theatre, Clockwise Theatre, Azusa Productions and Idle Muse Theatre Company. Catherine has studied acting at Piven Theatre Workshop and Shakespeare folio technique with Jeffrey Carlson and Susan Hart. She is a member of the Women's Theatre Alliance and a teaching artist with Li'l Buds Theatre.

Nicole Smith Nicole Smith is an Artistic Associate with Polarity Ensemble Theatre and has stage managed many shows with the company, including The White Airplane (2008), The Good Harvest (2010), Long Day's Journey Into Night (2010), Ephemera (2011), Peer Gynt (at the DCA Storefront Theater downtown, 2011), and Macbeth (2014). Nicole graduated from Columbia College with a BA in technical theatre. Chicago/regional credits includes Court Theatre, Theatre Seven, Vitalist Theatre, and New Century Theatre (Northhampton, MA).

Maggie Speer Maggie Speer is a seasoned, battle-scarred, bloodied, but never daunted veteran of Chicagoland's theatre scene. She directed Absolution in the Dionysos Cup Festival, appeared in Polarity's Peer Gynt and directed Tom Jones and the world premiere of David Alex's Adrift. Maggie is the Artistic Director of Azusa Productions, where her directing credits include Michael Alessandro's adaptation of Pulp Fiction, Sam Shepard's Chicago and Icarus's Mother (co-director); Fool For Love; Killer's Head; La Turista; The Unseen Hand (co-director); A Lie Of The Mind and Reservoir Dogs (co-director); and Jesse & The Bandit Queen, (co-director). She was also Artistic Director of Waukegan's Bowen Park Theatre Company from 2000 to 2005.



Corporate Office
Polarity Ensemble Theatre
1537 W. Touhy Ave. #3
Chicago, 60626
Click here to email us.

Sign up for our newsletter! We'll keep you informed of upcoming productions and publications.
Sign up for audition news and opportunities for directors, playwrights, designers, etc.

The Polarity Ensemble Theatre is a registered Illinois Not-for-Profit Corporation and has Federal 501(c)(3) status as a public charity. Your donations are tax-deductible.


Home   |   Mission   |   Past Productions   |   Bookstore   |   Contact Us

Polarity Ensemble Theatre