Raven Theatre announces 2010-2011 Season

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Raven Theatre announces

 

A Season With The Masters

Williams, Wilson, Chekhov

Producing Artistic Director Michael Menendian and Co-Artistic Director JoAnn Montemurro announce Raven Theatre’s 2010/2011 Season, which includes Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, Radio Golf by August Wilson and The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. Each story illuminates intimate, personal conflicts amidst massive cultural shifts, whether it is within the family unit, the local African American community or the entire nation.  (more info at the Raven Theatre website)

October 17 – December 19, 2010

   
   
  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
   
  Written by Tennessee Williams 
Directed by
Michael Menendian
   
  Big Daddy’s birthday brings out the true colors of the wealthy Pollitt family. At the heart of the story is Maggie, the beautiful daughter-in-law, who struggles with a lack of emotional honesty from her husband, Brick, and with the judgment of Brick’s brother and his wife. Lies, deception, false loyalty, and greed play characters as big as Big Daddy himself in one of Williams’ most loved dramas. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955 and was made into a major motion picture in 1958.

 

  February 27 – April 9, 2011

   
   
  Radio Golf
   
  Written by August Wilson
Directed by Aaron Todd Douglas
   
  Radio Golf, written in 2005, was August Wilson’s last play before his untimely death (August 2005). It is also the final chapter in The Pittsburgh Cycle. In this stirring drama an Ivy League educated entrepreneur, Harmond Wilks, and his banking executive friend plan to convert a blighted neighborhood into an expansive shopping mall. Their ultimate goal is to use Wilks’ success as a developer to leverage him into becoming Pittsburgh’s first African American mayor. It’s a dirty political business that includes back room deals and zoning loop holes. When they discover that a building cited for demolition has a history that affects their heritage, these two modern men are forced to get in touch with their past. Radio Golf won the 2007 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.

 

June 5 – July 23, 2011

   
   
  The Cherry Orchard
   
  Written by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Michael Menendian
   
  Chekhov’s last play tapped the history of his own family’s home and the fall of the aristocracy. In The Cherry Orchard, the Ranevsky family is facing financial ruin, largely due to the spendthrift ways of the family matriarch and her devotion to a parasitic lover. The family attempts to come up with a solution so that the estate won’t be sold, but none of the plans lead to action.
   

 

Character Dynamics

The dynamics that define the characters in these plays are similar to those that drive our own lives today. Williams’ masterpiece, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, centers on the legacy of Big Daddy’s enormous wealth, which was amassed by exploiting cheap labor to create one of the largest plantations in the South. Radio Golf, August Wilson’s final work in his ten-play cycle about the Black culture in Pittsburgh, delves into the ambitions of the rising middle class in pursuit of their American Dream. In the genteel comedy The Cherry Orchard, foreclosure of an estate threatens a family’s way of life that has remained unchanged for decades.

 salesmanchippies Photo from last seasons critically acclaimed Death of a Salesman (our review)

12 Angry Men - Raven Theatre Photo from last season’s critically-acclaimed Twelve Angry Men. (our review)

    
     

 

Biographies

 

Director Michael Menendian is a founding member and the Producing Artistic Director of Raven Theatre, where he has directed and designed sets for many productions, earning numerous Joseph Jefferson Awards and After Dark awards. He recently received a 2010 Jeff nomination for his direction of Raven’s Death of a Salesman (our review ★★★½). His other productions include The Odd Couple, Hedda Gabler, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, The Night of the Iguana, The Sea Gull, American Buffalo, Dancing at Lughnasa, Golden Boy, Marvin’s Room, A Streetcar Named Desire, A View from the Bridge, and Glengarry Glen Ross. (fyi: see our video interview with Michael Menendian here)

Director Aaron Todd Douglas is a founding member of Congo Square Theatre Ensemble and a 2010 Joseph Jefferson nominee for his direction of Raven’s Twelve Angry Men (our review ★★★). He also directed Talented Tenth for Congo Square Theatre, a production that was awarded Best Play by the Black Theatre Alliance. A part time faculty member at Loyola University, Mr. Douglas has worked with Court Theatre, Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens, Pegasus Players and others.

Tennessee Williams was an award winning playwright, whose accolades include one Tony Award, four New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards and two Pulitzer Prizes. Often using people and situations from his own life as inspiration for his characters and plot lines, Williams tackled many controversial and personal topics including homosexuality, depression and addiction to drugs and alcohol. Known as a master of American drama, Williams’ prolific nature led to the penning of many plays, novels, short stories and a screenplay.

August Wilson is regarded as one of America’s most respected playwrights. The Pittsburgh Cycle, a ten play cycle about the African-American experience throughout the 20th century, won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama and is considered his legacy. Each play focuses on a story in each decade of the 20th century, painting a picture of the struggles and new opportunities of African-Americans. In 2005, the Virginia Theatre was renamed the August Wilson Theatre, Broadway’s first theatre named for an African-American.

Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov, gained initial success as a writer of short stories, before transitioning into a successful playwright. A physician by trade, Chekhov injected equal doses of humor and pathos into all of his masterful plays. His plays emphasize mood and text that continues to challenge audiences and actors alike.

About Raven Theatre

Founded in 1983, Raven Theatre is dedicated to breathing new life into American classics and exploring other works that illuminate the American experience. In addition to its three play season, Raven produces a Workshop Series of new and experimental productions, as well as teaching partnerships with various Chicago Public Schools, summer youth classes and original children’s shows performed at Raven Theatre.

      
      

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