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2nd Story

CABINALYSIS, or Build Your Own Damn Cabin!

Location + schedule

The Playwrights' Center
2301 E Franklin Ave.

DateTimeMy FringeAccess
Thursday 8/510:00 p.m.  
Saturday 8/77:00 p.m.  
Tuesday 8/1010:00 p.m.  
Thursday 8/125:30 p.m.  
Saturday 8/147:00 p.m.  
About the show

For ages 16+
Comedy, Drama, Family, Relationships

Written by Lawrence Kerns, M.D.
From Barrington, IL

Overall rating

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A child psychiatrist recounts the hilarious misadventures of building a replica of Thoreau's cabin with his teenage kids. A comedy about parenthood, creativity and the cost of living your unlived life.

CABINALYSIS from Lawrence Kerns on Vimeo.

"The cabin you think you're going to never the cabin you end up building."

This is a story about a middle-aged psychiatrist who wants to become a better parent, a better father -- to develop closer relationships with his four teenage children and to create something meaningful with them before they grow up and leave home.

Following a serendipitous visit to Walden Pond, he decides that the perfect way to bond with his children and teach them some important life lessons would be through the experience of building a replica of Thoreau's cabin their suburban backyard.

When the cabinbuilder embarks on his mission, he soon encounters resistance from his children, problems with the construction, and eventually his own internal confusion and Builder's Block.

After his kids go their own way - to live their own lives - the cabinbuilder vows to build his own cabin. His desperate search for answers takes him to Frank Lloyd Wright's school of architecture, the Log Doctor's clinic, and finally to a psychiatrist who treats psychiatrists.

When the half-built cabin floods and begins to sink into the mud, he learns his real lessons about family, creativity and the cost of living your unlived life.

PRESS INQUIRIES: 847-217-7434

Amanda Delheimer
Role: Director
Amanda feels extraordinarily blessed to work as a freelance director, choreographer, writer, and educator all over the fine city of Chicago. After completing her Master's in Theater and Spanish at the University of Chicago in 1999, Amanda worked for a couple of years in Los Angeles and Mexico before returning home to the Windy City. She has had the pleasure of working with the Steppenwolf, the Goodman, the Court, the Next, Pegasus Players, Red Moon, Collaboraction, Strawdog, Teatro Vista, and Adventure Stage Chicago, among others. She is the Artistic Director of 2nd Story and is also an Artistic Associate with Collaboraction Theater Company and Adventure Stage Chicago. When she's not running 2nd Story, Amanda spends her time working in the Chicago public schools as a teaching artist and running the Goodman’s summer program for teens.

Daria Jolan Davis
Role: Curator/Director
Daria is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University where she completed a BFA in Theater Studies and a minor in Digital Cinema. She is a member of the 2009 DirectorsLab Chicago and is also a graduate of the Apprenticeship program at Steppenwolf Theatre where she appenticed in the Literary Department, and as seems to be her custom, worked as a rogue dramaturg. Daria is a freelance director in Chicago where she has collaborated with¬ American Theatre Company,¬ Live Bait Theatre, and Speaking Ring Theatre. She has also assisted at ¬ TimeLine Theatre, American Theatre Company and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She is a proud company member of Chicago's one of a kind 2nd Story, and also the director of new play development at Red Tape Theatre. In the fall Daria will begin pursuing her MFA in directing at UT-Austin.

Cheri Pentimone
Role: Graphic Designer
Cheri is currently pursuing a BFA in design at The American Academy of Art. She has worked in Hyde Park as a teacher's assistant during summer creativity camps for children and has also done independent print and web design for the last three years. She contributed illustrations for a book called Chicago Tales as part of an adult literacy project. She is now a design intern with 2nd Story Chicago. In addition to design, she loves writing, illustration (both traditional and digital), and film making.¬

Jen Poulin
Role: Production Manager
Jen Poulin is thrilled to be collaborating¬ with 2nd Story on Cabinalysis for the Minnesota and Chicago Fringe Fests.¬ Currently working on Eclipse Theatre Company's critically acclaimed production of "After The Fall", she will next have the pleasure of¬ working once again with BackStage Theatre Company.¬ Chicago stage management credits include Theatre Mir, Mary Arrchie Theatre Company, Rasaka Theatre Company, WildClaw Theatre, and Silk Road Theatre Project. She holds a BFA in Theatre Studies from University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign. Love and thanks to family, friends, and The Boy.

Anna Preus
Role: Stage Manager
Anna Preus is a senior English major at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. Her studies focus on Renaissance drama and methods of teaching English. Her interest in theatre started at an early age which has led to her inolvement in productions that range from musicals, to the Vagina Monologues, to mime competitions and Shakespeare productions. After graduating she plans on pursuing a career in secondary education hopefully with an emphasis on high school theatre productions.

Lawrence Kerns
Role: The Cabinbuilder
Real-life psychiatrist and Moth StorySLAM winner, Lawrence Kerns, M.D., is a graduate of Yale College, the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and Northwestern University's Institute of Psychiatry. A practicing child psychiatrist, when he turned fifty he took up creative writing and performance.
Kerns studied Creative Writing and Solo Performance at Northwestern University, University of Chicago Graham School, the Actor's Centre, and Act One Studio. He is a member of 2nd STORY, This Much Is True storytellers, and a Network Playwright at Chicago Dramatists,
Selections from CABINALYSIS were featured at WORDSTOCK - The 2009 Portland Literary Festival and the 2nd Story Festival in Chicago. Dr. Kerns has also performed at Victory Gardens Theatre, the Chicago Cultural Center, Live Bait Theatre, Speak Easy, the Writer's Center, Hopleaf, and Webster's among other venues.

User reviews

Analysis Paralysis
by Careswen ferch Madoc Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I related a lot to Dr. Kerns' particular brand of anxiety, so the show rang true for me. He has an excellent voice and is an adequate stage performer, though I would have liked to have seen more use of physicality and less being tied to the podium. With gentle humor, he shows us that nobody is perfectly enlightened, no matter how much we want to be.

A new view of DIY
by Patricia Mack Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
We know some teenagers, some compulsive people, some folks who like to take on unrealistic projects---we felt right at home and had some great laughs and plenty of chuckles. I hope that play writing is less stressful than cabin building.

Great Storytelling
by Haley Golz Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Dr. Kerns reminds me of my favorite storytellers from various public radio podcasts. He does a great job of weaving his story. I am not old enough to have children and have never been particularly into Thoreau, but I found Dr. Kern's story to be truly touching.

He will analyze your drawing if you ask
by David Tullis Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Dr. Kern's had me sold when he handed out crayons and a blank piece of paper before the show. His endearing and cheeky storytelling relaxes and draws you in. The enthusiasm with which this lone actor's endearing and cheeky storytelling root you in your seat is admirable.

by FringeBob Squarepants Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Highly enjoyable. A good storyteller, with something interesting to say. It was a fun night with a different twist.

Fantastic Story
by Corby Preus Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Dr. Kerns tells an amusing and often profound story about dreams, creativity, and bonding with teenage children. He is a dynamic performer with a captivating story to tell.

Interesting story
by Tony Hanson Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
As a story teller he is pretty good but needs some practice on his audience contact.

The part about his relationship with his duaghters and sons was very solid and interesting. His interest in finding some inner light was a trifle overplayed.

This was worth going to.

Why am I drawing if you're not using it?
by Publius McGee Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
As I neither have children nor am I a Thoreau fetishist, I did not enjoy this show.

Emerald of Fringe(s)
by Igor Blokhintsev Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Was I unlucky before, or was lucky now, but it was the rare combinations of profound wisdom, love, gentle humor and excellency in performing. I could see the author's world with my eyes - I just saw all.
Igor Blokhintsev

come for the crayon, stay for the story
by Natalie Monaghan Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Larry's one-man show is great. It's intelligent and endearing, not to mention the perfect length. It's something you can probably relate to most if you have or have had teenage children, but I'm 20 and I still enjoyed it a lot.
One of the show's highlights is its program. There's space on it for you to draw your own cabin, and the attendants give you crayons. So if you come for no other reason, or if you get bored (which you won't), you can draw with crayons!

Kind of like Bacon
by J Emily Peabody Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
So far I know of three shows with psychological type themes (perhaps there are more) This one was the most compelling. If it fits your schedule, do not hesitate. Good stuff!

Fabulous Storytelling
by Julie Ganey Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I loved this production! Kerns' work is funny, smart and poignant. Definately worth a look.

Austere Production, Funny Story
by Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Dr. Kern's story is very funny and well written. His presentation is good and the sound effects add to the story. That being said (and acknowledging that I am a really tough critic) I think the story is probably better suited for the radio. I imagine catching it on the radio and balling over laughing. Storytelling and presence are really difficult. This story around a dining room table or with a tiny audience or, as I said on the radio, would be hilarious. It was still excellent, but when I go to the theater I want my eyes to be involved in the experience and though Dr. is a decent storyteller captivating the ears and eyes of more than 10 people is a difficult task. Certainly worth a look.

Obsession analysis
by Amelia Kritzer Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Interesting story of one man's story of how he finally understands and exorcises his obsession. Well executed reading of the sotyr, but not a real performance.

I Could Listen All Night
by Deanna Moffitt Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This is one of those shows that just leaves you satisfied. Dr. Kerns, or is it Mr. Kerns or Larry?--it definitely feels like I want to be on a first name basis with him after this show, is a consummate story teller in the same vein as Spaulding Gray.

This is one of those shows that as an audience member you can sit back, relax and enjoy. There's nothing in your face about it, nothing to try and figure out, I never asked myself, "what the hell is going on up there?"

It's one man, with a simple, yet complex story about dreams, fatherhood, expectations and letting go. It's a show you can take your family to or a date as it will definitely spark your own conversations.

I loved it, I bet you will too.

Fantastic monologue
by Paul Davis Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I had the privilege of watching a rehearsal reading of CABINALYSIS, and was struck by its honesty, sharp wit, and lyrical telling. Larry is a natural, and his hilarious yet emotionally direct story is sharp and infinitely engaging, from beginning to end. While it concerns the travails of a father as his children drift away into adulthood, he wrings well-earned pathos from the story that are broadly relatable. This is a story not only for the parents, but for their grown children as well.

by arlene malinowski Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I love this play!!! It's crazy funny, smart and beautifully written. GO! you are in for a treat.

by Scott Whitehair Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I saw this show in Chicago, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Larry is a natural storyteller, and his voice will instantly put you at ease while gradually pulling you to the edge of your seat. The story he tells here is epic, with frequent moments of outrageous humor, and quite a few that are heartbreaking as well. It is easy to become invested in Larry's struggles as he attempts to build his cabin and get his song out, and the poetic conclusion left the audience at the show I attended speechless. Also, if you are even the slightest devotee of Thoreau or Walden, there is another a whole other layer to the tale that will thrill you. Go see this show - it is phenomenal.

Equal parts family, Freud, and Thoreau
by Brian Bowen Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
When Thoreau went off into the New England woods to live in a cabin of his own making, he did it calmly, deliberately, and entirely alone. His account in "Walden" teaches us about self-reliance and can-do spirit, but what fun is the journey to self-discovery if you can't bring anyone else along?

In "Cabinalysis", Dr. Lawrence Kerns embarks on a Clark Griswoldian quest, but instead of taking the kids to Wally World for the summer, he asks them to build a replica of Thoreau's cabin in the front yard. He knows what he's doing is a little crazy--and he should because he's a psychiatrist--but soon, through hilarious antics that would have the Transcendentalist turning over in his grave, the cabin becomes more than just a dream. It just turns out that the reality of its construction is not quite what he expected.

This is a great family story well told; even if you haven't read a page of "Walden", you'll get a kick out of the character Kerns has created. And you just might wonder what kind of song is stuck inside you, waiting to be set free.