Kaiser Ahmed

Co-Founding Artistic Director

     Kaiser co-directed The Last Exodus of American Men, Jackalope's inaugural production and has directed the current production of Slaughter City. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Kaiser received a B.A. in Theatre Directing where he directed successful productions of Curse of the Starving Class, No Exit, and Border. Kaiser is also an Artistic Associate at The Artistic Home Theatre Company. A member there for many years, directed House of Yes, Memories from Dreamland, and Last Days of Communisn. He performed in their Jeff-Recomended Modigliani, assistant directed the Jeff Recomended Sweet Bird of Youth, Skin of Our Teeth, Look Homeward Angel and Juno and the Paycock (Jeff Nominated for Best Production.) Other favorite acting work has been done at Silk Road Theatre and the lovely Rasaka Theatre Co.
     Born in Bangladesh and raised in Michigan, Kaiser has traveled a long way to arrive in Chicago. He is constantly amazed by this beautiful country and has spent the majority of his life grappling with the question of what it means to be a member of this land.

Gus Menary


      A native of the Bay Area, Gus Menary was trained at The American Conservatory Theatre, The New Conservatory Theatre and attended the San Francisco School of the Arts. He completed Columbia College's directing program and while there directed successful productions of Hidden in this Picture, Cops, and 1984. He directed NWAC's Triggered by Triangles 1.2 and UpDownLeftRight's Locomotive Shark at the Abbie Hoffman Festival. He co-directed Jackalope's inaugural production The Last Exodus of American Men and directed Jackalope's critically acclaimed second production, Moonshiner.  He has Assistant-Directed for many shows including Broken Compass' The Bloody Romantic and Mary Arrchie's Our Bad Magnet (Jeff Nominated for Best Ensemble).  In addidtion to being Associate Artistic Director for Jackalope he is Director of Development for the Inconvenience, a non-profit arts organization, and manages a band called The Dirty Diamonds.

AJ Ware

Co-Founding Associate Artistic Director

      AJ originally hails from Houston, Texas where she was a company member at Infernal Bridegroom Productions for six years. There, she acted in over twenty productions including The Hotel Play, Full Circle, and IBP’s original rock opera, Speeding Motorcycle based on the life and work of legendary cult singer/songwriter, Daniel Johnston. She received her BA in Directing from Columbia College Chicago where she also served as the department’s marketing assistant for two years. For Jackalope, AJ directed Andrew Swanson’s Sic Transit Mundi for Mary-Arrchie’s Abbie Hoffman one-act play festival, served as the Assistant Director for Moonshiner, and conceived and directs Under Construction in November 2010.

Andrew Burden Swanson

Resident Playwright

      Andrew Burden Swanson- Writing credits under the Jackalope Banner include; The Last Exodus of American Men, Sic Transit Mundi, The Death of Print and Moonshiner, Winner of the 2009 Albert P. Weisman Grant. Other writing credits include Super Shotgun Sweat Salvation (Columbia College), Longest Distance Relationship (Silent Theatre), An Eve at Mctavish's (Ep Theater) and Flat Penny Blues (The Artistic Home). As an actor, Andrew has been in three productions in his four semesters at Columbia College; 1984, Curse of the Starving Class & Playboy of the Western World & He Who gets Slapped. His educational career is currently on hiatus. Chicago Acting Credits include; The Death of Print, Effie with The Neapolitans and A Streetcar Named Desire with Writers' Theatre. Andrew was raised in upstate New York and Nashville, TN where he and the theatre finally found one another. He’d like to thank his cohorts and family for their immaculate support, and the sometimes necessary teasing. 

Melanie Berner

Resident Designer

Melanie was born and raised in the great state of Illinois and has been turned on by costuming for as long as she can remember. Her earliest projects were designing party dresses with her mom, who taught her how to sew back when she was in the single digits, and making paper outfits with her Girl Scout Troop. She started out as a fashion design student until she discovered the satisfaction and inquiry the world of Theater could provide for her and has been working primarily in, but not limited to, that medium since. Melanie prides herself on her continual exploration of all art forms, from illustration to installation, and what excites her most is fusing these disciplines together in her designs. She has designed costumes for Film and Theater to be worn both by regular sized humans and puppets. Her favorite projects include The Pirates of Penzance, Buried Child, Pippin, The Lion in Winter, and 1984.

Taree Chadwick

Managing Director

Taree Chadwick is in her final semester at Columbia College, finishing up her degree in Theatre. Some recent credits at Columbia include Spring 08 and Fall 09's 24 Hour Play Festival, Floyd Collins, Chicago, Buried Child, Lady From the Sea, and Pippin as Stage Manager. Happy End and Essential Self Defense as Director, The Wild Party as AD and Dramaturg. She is currently the marketing aide for the theatre department. Outside of Columbia she was most recently the Stage Manager for Moving Storie’s Production of The Professional directed by Steve Scott. Prior to that she stage managed Jackalope Theatre's productions of Moonshiner, The 2nd Annual Holiday Spectacular, and The Living Newspapers Festival, as well as Silent Theater's first and third 24 Hour Play Festival.

Jon Cohen

Literary Manager

Jon is the newest member to Jackalope Theatre!