Leader

Nathan Allen leaves House Theatre of Chicago after nearly 20 years as leader

Nathan Allen, the founding artistic director of the House Theatre of Chicago and its principal public face and creative force for the last almost 20 years, is leaving his post.

“I am not going to stop making art,” Allen said, noting that money factored into his decision. “But I have two school-age kids and my wife is working a lot of overtime.”

As with many other theater companies, the pandemic has had an acute impact on House, a company founded by a group of college friends in 2000 and known for its innovative original theater, its interest in popular culture and its longstanding determination to attract millennials and Gen-Xers who do not typically attend theater. Allen, known for his exuberant curtain speeches (“let’s make some noise”) and his warm-centered personality, was a big part of that appeal, as was his work.

Unlike most non-profit theaters, House made an impressive 70% of its roughly $2.2 million annual budget at its own box office, and that box office has been closed since March.

“Our way has always been to sell a hell of a lot of tickets,” Allen, 42, said. “And our way doesn’t work anymore. We’ve settled into a sustainable position where we can hold on for a whole year. But what the House deserves is someone to really rebuild a company. I know what that is, but it’s not me. That was a commitment I had in my 20s, but I don’t have it now. I feel like I already helped build it, and I honestly would be too angry to have to do it all again.”

House has been forced to furlough or lay off most of its staffers in recent weeks. Its two remaining current employees, Allen and managing director Erik Schroeder, have been reduced to part time.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville won’t seek re-election for top GOP spot

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville announced Friday that he won’t seek to retain his House leadership post, months after news reports that he would be challenged for the seat and likely lose it.

“There’s been a lot of folks that have been, quite frankly, spending all their time trying to run against me instead of … helping Republicans win elections,” Neville said.

The Castle Rock Republican said he plans to instead focus on getting reelected to serve his district for the next two years. He also plans to complete the last year of his executive MBA at the University of Denver.

The divide has grown between supporters of Neville, who holds far-right views and associates with groups like the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, and Republicans who say the party needs to make changes to get elected in an increasingly blue state.

Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, had previously announced he would seek the minority leader’s spot, with backing from many in the Republican caucus.

Neville said he came to the decision a week ago and decided to announce it before the election in hopes that it will help Republicans focus on flipping Democratic seats. The House leadership vote takes place after the election.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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WATCH: House Minority Leader McCarthy slams Pelosi on COVID-19 relief

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy harshly criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her negotiating position on COVID relief, saying the Democrats’ plan “mentions cannabis more than it mentions jobs.”

Watch McCarthy’s remarks in the player above.

“There are so many problems with the Democratic bill, why it’s gone nowhere,” McCarthy said.

“Could she not see past politics for once?” he asked rhetorically.

The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill of $1.6 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday.

But pessimism is again seeping into the talks and the two sides switched back to attacking each other in public.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi were expected to talk by phone early Thursday afternoon, but the speaker was publicly dismissive of the latest White House plan.

Pelosi postponed debate Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure in hopes of getting an agreement.

A vote is likely on Thursday, spokesman Drew Hammill said, depending on how the Mnuchin-Pelosi exchanges go.

McCarthy also said he thought President Donald Trump won Tuesday night’s presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The first of three scheduled debates between Trump and Biden deteriorated into bitter taunts and chaos Tuesday night as the Republican president repeatedly interrupted his Democratic rival with angry jabs that overshadowed any substantive discussion of the crises threatening the nation.

McCarthy’s advice to Trump was to let Biden talk more.

“I think the more he talks, the more the American public would decide they don’t want Joe Biden,” he said.

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