Welcome to American Blues Theater’s Season 33 “Home Sweet Home”. We proudly present the Chicago premiere of Steven Dietz’s On Clover Road, directed by Halena Kays.

Thrillers are one of America’s most popular genres, expressed through many art forms such as books, films, tv shows, video games, podcasts, and theater.  Psychological and emotional stress are its engine. The revving you feel is your raised pulse and increased adrenaline. It’s the tingle of kinesthetic empathy while paradoxically knowing you are safe from harm. It’s like a roller coaster for your mind.

Psychology Today calls thrillers a kind of escapism, “Brains release neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin when we are intensely emotional (happy, as well as scared or horrified) to consolidate memories, and strengthen bonds between us and others sharing the same experience.”  Put another way – scary movies equal some great dates!

The genre has recognizable techniques including, but not limited to – plot twists, unreliable narrators, and a device to move along the plot that Alfred Hitchcock drolly called “the MacGuffin”.  Audience members anticipate these calling cards and respect the genre’s rules of engagement by suspending their disbelief.

Playwright Steven Dietz created incredible suspense by utilizing these techniques paired with an extreme emotional setting – a mother trying to reunify with her runaway, estranged daughter. Purposefully, Dietz uses a fictionalized group “The Farm” rather than name any active communes operating in the United States today. One need only do a cursory internet search to find numerous examples of utopian communes gone wrong.  Dietz states “the story is predicated on the promise of this group and not the judgment of it.”  During our rehearsals, director Halena Kays, with special visits from Dietz, cared for each moment of this ride.

Hitchcock said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”

– Gwendolyn Whiteside

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