GLEN ELLYN – Kate Sprouse has been involved in theater since she was a student at Glenbard West High School, but now she's getting a chance at the big time with the opening of a play she authored.
Sprouse wrote her first full-length play earlier this year. Titled "Half Price Cosmos," it looks at eight strangers in a bar reacting to a terrorist attack.
The play developed from an act she wrote for a festival in college. Its original intent was to convey the difference in perception people have when discussing the same topic.
After the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Sprouse was sitting in a coffee shop and overheard several conversations, which included elements of racism, regarding the day's events.
"I was really struck by how much we had changed by the bookends of 9/11 and this event," she said.
After 9/11, she said, the country came together as a community. But now, the attack seemed to give society the right to put people into categories. That gave her the inspiration for the play.
By January, she had a venue booked.
"It had wheels before the script was finished," she said.
Sprouse grew up in Glen Ellyn and graduated from Glenbard West, before attending the University of Virginia, where she studied English literature and comparative religious studies. She took part in theater at both schools, performing in high school and writing in college.
She later earned a masters degree in teaching and taught high school English in Brooklyn, N.Y. During her four years working there, she witnessed racism firsthand.
"There is so much latent racism out there I'd never felt before," she said.
She returned to Chicago three years ago to work as a copywriter. This gave her the opportunity to pursue side projects.
The biggest difficulty, Sprouse said, was getting over the fear of writing and worries about whether she would have time to devote to it and if the show would have any meaning. But it has worked out well for her.
"It's amazing we're getting to do this and putting this together," Sprouse said.
She did some crowd-sourcing for the project, and found people from high school she hadn't talked to in years who were donating to her.
"It was hard to ask for help at the beginning," she said.
In all, Sprouse said writing and staging the play has been a good experience in a field she enjoys.
"I think some people are lucky enough to know at a young age what they want to do and what they love," she said.
If you go
What" "Half Price Cosmos"
When: Opens today and runs to Aug. 24. Shows begin at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays.
Where: Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased by calling the theatre at 773-935-6875 or visiting www.athenaeumtheatre.org.