"The play reveals the dichotomy between the comfortable idealists who fantasize about 'making a difference' and the burnt-out, overwhelmed civil servants … who don't have the luxury of looking at their work in those terms."
CenterStage, Chicago, Rory Leahy,


Spare Change

Alana Arenas and Janelle Snow, photo courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago, IL

Victoria Caciopoli and Kevin Heckman; Stage Left Theatre, Chicago, IL; directed by Ann Filmer, photo by Johnny Knight

Photo 4 Kevin Heckman and Cat Dean; Stage Left Theatre, Chicago, IL; directed by Ann Filmer, photo by Johnny Knight

When Brad, an unhappy investment banker, gets stuck on the train with Michael- Ann, a manic, multi-racial young mother who is fleeing an abusive past and grappling with mental illness, Brad is forced to face his own inability to aid her. This brief, innocent encounter prompts Brad to confront his headstrong wife Claire with his desire for a different kind of life. He wants to do something "good." He wants to be a better person. He wants to jump off the agreed-upon trajectory and start anew. Claire, grappling with a secret pregnancy and fear of miscarriage, is not emotionally in a place to have Brad decimate his income and/ or alter her life plans.

A week or so later, Brad encounters a woman – a woman he believes to be Michael Ann – prostituting herself on the train. Desperate to act instead of avoid, Brad brings this woman home with him, hoping to help her, and this act of attempted charity splits the cracks in his marriage wide open and pushes the prostitute to the edge of her sanity.

Spare Change is an exploration of what it means to help one another, and how race, class, privilege and idealism complicate matters further.

Cast: 4 women, 1 man

Spare Change was commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre Company and was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work (2008)