Twenty-three members of the American Theater Company ensemble have announced that they have left the company to reconstitute ATC’s predecessor, American Blues Theatre. The reason for the split, according to ensemble member Carmen Roman, is “major administrative and artistic differences” with ATC artistic director P.J. Paparelli, who was hired to head the troupe a year and a half ago.

“We have been shut out of the artistic decision-making process by P.J.,” ensemble member Kate Buddeke told the Reader. “We are committed to maintaining the kind of fearless collaborative theater that Chicago is known for.” 

Besides Roman and Buddeke, those leaving ATC include actors William Payne, James Leaming, Suzanne Petri, Dennis Cockrum, Stef Tovar, Jim Ortlieb, and John Mohrlein, and playwright Rick Cleveland.

Established in 1985, ABT morphed into ATC in 1997. The American Blues group plans to present two productions next year to mark the 25th anniversary of the theater’s founding.