Ilesa Duncan (Artistic Director)
Ilesa became Lifeline’s artistic director and joined the ensemble in January 2019, where she directed Neverwhere (Jeff Recommended 2018), and Blue Shadow (2010 KidSeries Premiere). A producer, director, writer, educator and theater-maker, ILesa is an avid collaborator on new work. Other directing credits include Eclipsed (Jeff Recommended), Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery (Jeff Nominated), Rutherford’s Travels (Jeff Nominated, co-adapter), The Green Book, For Her as a Piano, and Blacula: Young, Black & Undead at Pegasus Theatre; Broken Fences at 16th Street Theater; The Nativity (Congo Square; Jeff nominated); and the Jeff Award-winning Jar the Floor at ETA Creative Arts. ILesa has also worked with The Goodman, Writers Theatre, Victory Gardens, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Stage Left, and Chicago Dramatists, as well as Contemporary American Theatre Company (Ohio), The Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Arena Stage (Washington DC), and Lincoln Center Theater (New York). As an educator, ILesa has led youth development and arts education programs in Chicago for over thirteen years. She is a past awardee of an NEA/TCG Directing fellowship and a 3 Arts Ragdale’s Fellowship. She is member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab and the Chicago Director’s Lab, and is an associate artist with Chicago Dramatists (where she previously served as education and community engagement director).
Allison Cain (Managing Director )
Allison was the Executive Director of The Factory Theater from 2001-2008, and the Artistic Director of Studio 108 from 1991-1998. She received her training at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and Columbia College in Chicago and has worked almost exclusively on new work since 1990, in Los Angeles, Connecticut, Scotland and Chicago. Also an actor, Lifeline audiences will recognize Allison from her performances in The Man Who Was Thursday, Johnny Tremain, Crossing California, The Mark of Zorro, Mariette in Ecstasy, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, The One and Only Ivan, and Sparky. She has also been seen in numerous productions with The Factory Theater, Mary-Arrchie, the side project, Griffin, Live Wire, and other fine theaters throughout the Chicagoland area over the past 24 years.
Erika Rivard (Operations Manager/Accessibility Coordinator)
Erika comes to Lifeline from the Art Institute of Chicago, where she served as an administrative assistant working with the Sustaining Fellows. Erika has experience as a special events and customer service professional. She’s worked with Carol Fox and Associates to execute events across the city, managed special events for the Michigan Science Center in Detroit, and served students and teachers in the Group Center at the Museum of Science and Industry. Erika graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 with a B.A. in Theatre, balancing a course load in costume design and work as an usher at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts. She has designed costumes for (re)discover Theatre, Gorilla Tango Theatre, and the La Musica Lirica Program and been part of the wardrobe crew for Lookingglass Theatre and Northlight Theatre.
Andrés Enriquez (Casting Director )
Andrés is proud to have been on both the MainStage and the KidSeries stage for Lifeline, having understudied The Velveteen Rabbit and Soon I Will Be Invincible, then appearing in Sparky!, Northanger Abbey, and most recently, Sylvester. Other notable productions in the Chicagoland area include Forever Plaid (Fox Valley Repertory), The Life and Death Of Madame Barker (Red Tape Theatre), Love and Information (Remy Bumppo), The Adding Machine (The Hypocrites), and In The Heights(Porchlight Music Theater). He has also worked with such great Chicago companies as Underscore Theater Company, Strawdog Theatre, 16th Street Theater, and Theater at the Center in Munster, IN. Andrés received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Iowa in 2012. Andrés is also the Music Director of No Big Deal, a Chicago a cappella quartet, and a proud company member of Barrel of Monkeys.
Julie Ganey (Education Director )
Julie comes to the Education Director position after teaching in Lifeline’s residency program for 6 years. She served as Director of Education at 2nd Story from 2009–2015, and Outreach Director at Next Theatre from 2007–2011, and she continues to work with students of many ages through the GeNarrations program at the Goodman Theatre. Julie has spent two decades as an artistic associate at Wavelength, an award-winning comedy ensemble that provides professional development for educators nationwide. She has created and led workshops for teachers all over the country on communication skills, using improvisation in the classroom, and professional learning communities. Julie’s bullying prevention program, Stand Up on the Schoolyard, has been presented to students and educators within the Chicago Public School system and across the country. In addition, she has performed in numerous Chicago theatre productions, including her original solo shows, The Half-Life of Magic, Love Thy Neighbor… till it hurts, and Good Enough.
Anthony Kayer (Marketing Director )
Anthony first worked with Lifeline while he was pursuing his B.F.A. in Acting from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, starring as Mr. Bing in Arnie the Doughnut as part of Lifeline’s KidSeries. Before graduating, he was also fortunate to work with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival (The Three Musketeers, Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It), Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (Elizabeth Rex), and Steppenwolf Theatre (The March). Since graduating in 2012, he has acted in the Lifeline productions of The Emperor’s New Threads, Lyle Finds His Mother, and Jane Eyre (2014); he also joined Lifeline for Monstrous Regiment (understudy) and Soon I Will Be Invincible (understudy), and served as Assistant Director for Northanger Abbey (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Work-Musical). Other Chicago credits include work with Next Theatre (Iphigenia 2.0), Lookingglass/Chicago Children’s Choir (Sita Ram) – where he utilized his circus training as Circus Captain, Inappropriate Theatre Company (R&J: a techno ballet, (the)Forget_Me\Knot), and The House Theatre of Chicago (The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz, understudy). He also had the pleasure of Assistant Directing with Lookingglass/Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Adventures with Aladdin).
Jennifer McClendon (Production Manager)
Jennifer is a native Chicago theatre artist who received her BFA in Stage Management from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A former Steppenwolf Multicultural Fellow and Production Management Apprentice, Jennifer has worked as a freelance Production Manager and Stage Manager in Chicago since 2012. She has worked with companies such as Steppenwolf, Remy Bumppo, Theatre Seven, The Hypocrites, Mary Arrchie, and Definition Theatre. Recently, she served as the Managing Director of Prologue Theatre Company during their seventh and final season. She is both grateful and overjoyed to have found a new theatre home with Lifeline.
Sam Moryoussef (Asst. Production Manager/Master Electrician)
Sam is pleased to have the opportunity to be back at Lifeline Theatre as the Master Electrician/AV Supervisor. He recently moved back to Chicago from North Carolina where he was working as the Assistant Technical Director at Elon University. Sam has had, and continues to have the pleasure of working in production management, lighting, and carpentry, with several theatres throughout the city, including Lookingglass Theatre Company, The Ruffians, and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. He graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro with a BFA in Drama concentrating in Technical Production. Sam is thrilled to be back in Chicago and working with such a welcoming group of artists and craftsmen.
Harrison Ornelas (Technical Director)
Harrison was born and raised on the north side of Chicago. After graduating from Columbia College in 2015 Harrison has been Technical Directing for theater all over the city including Akvavit, Redtwist Theatre, Strawdog Theatre Co., Silkroad Rising, A Red Orchid, UrbanTheater, Red Tape Theater, Theater Wit, and Shattered Globe, just to name a few. He has also been the on staff TD for the past three seasons at Theater on the Lake. Harrison is thrilled to now be working with Lifeline and is excited for his inaugural show with the company, Whose Body?. Harrison is always looking for his next collaboration and creative challenge wherever his skills are needed.