Review: Chicago One-Minute Play Festival (Victory Gardens)

  
  

OMPF - One Minute Play Festival - Victory Gardens - banner

 

New Festival Showcases Short Works by Local Artists, Sampler-style

 

by Dan Jakes and Oliver Sava

This May 15-16, Victory Gardens premiered Chicago’s first One-Minute Play Festival (OMPF), a benefit event that featured bite-sized works by an eclectic mix of prominent and upcoming local theater artists. Creator and “curator” Dominic D’Andrea originally debuted the series in New York in 2007, where it has since grown to San Francisco and Los Angeles . For its first ever stop in the Midwest, considering the event’s magnitude–50 playwrights, 10 directors, and nearly 60 actors–this year’s showcase demonstrated promising potential for an exciting annual Chicago theater institution.

That is, if it finds a stronger footing. Micro-plays are nothing new, especially in the Windy City, long-time home to the Neo-Futurists’ Too Much Light and Second City; one set the bar for two-minute plays, and the other made one-joke flash bits a sketch trademark. D’Andrea and producer Will Rogers’ OMPF also rides off the larger 10-minute play trend. Their efforts to boil down theater even further, though, prove to be fruitful–sometimes even enlightening. Below is a list of the night’s highlights.

Paper Airplane, Aaron Carter  

     
   The finest piece in the festival. A young boy expresses his anguish over his father’s looming death while tossing folded paper planes across the stage. His ability to speak is limited to the papers’ flight, leaving him choked and frustrated with each audible crash landing. In less than a minute, Carter encapsulates the panic of grief, and animates the cruel handicap children endure to express pain. Those planes approached visual poetry.

Two Vegans, Robert Tenges

     
   A couple engaged in love making–some of it hilariously acrobatic–get their kink on by dirty-talking their favorite (or to cool things off, least favorite: (“raw kale…raw kale!”) foods. At first, it’s funny nonsense. Then, after you uncomfortably internalize your own link between taste/sexual satisfaction, it’s hysterical.

A Play, Kristoffer Diaz

     
   You’re the hero in this monologue. The audience member to your right is the protagonist. Your left, the antagonist. Diaz’s simple, straight-forward instructions don’t feel like a gimmick. His inconclusive end ponders some sophisticated ideas about the broader implications of storytelling, ones that resonate long after the play’s 60 seconds are up.

The Last Walk, Lisa Dillman

     
   Sad pets are an easy go-to for emotional impact…but that doesn’t make using them any less effective. A dog reminisces about the good days with her very recently deceased owner. Confused, she brushes up against his dead body for affection…and if you don’t cry a little at the thought of that, then you’re a monster. Only a few high-pitched “aw’s” were heard in the house during an otherwise hushed fade-to-black.

Inequity, Jake Minton

     
   Penis envy comes early for two little boys (played by full-grown adults, of course) in a school bathroom: One stands proud, pants down and bare-butted at a urinal, while the other sits devastated, hiding his…well, you know. Minton makes a nice little joke about men’s biggest insecurity.

Haiku Fight, Caitlin Montanye Parrish

     
   A couple hashes out an argument by having a refereed 8 Mile-style slam, with Japanese poetry filling in for hip-hop. It’s a simple, wonderfully clever juxtaposition of the writing form’s serenity versus the needling aggravation of a relationship fight.

This Just In, Stephen Louis Grush

     
  Liberal sensibilities about prejudice get turned over on their heads when one easily dismissible stereotype gets paired with one that’s equally unfair, but–for many viewers–may hit a little closer to home. Those might sound like the makings for a didactic issues play. With the right amounts of humor and levity here, they aren’t.

Bag Thief, Laura Jacqmin

     
   A mix-up at an airport luggage carousel leads to suspicion and accusations. Jacqmin doesn’t quite know how to end her play–what she settles for lets the air out of its balloon and betrays her otherwise solid work. Up until the final seconds, though, it’s fun stuff watching two men calmly navigate each other’s logic and contemplate one another’s mind games.

Blackout, Chisa Hutchinson

      
   As the name suggests, Hutchinson’s play takes place with the house and stage lights off. Her monologue discusses nyctophobia (fear of darkness) in friendly, clinical terms. Once she starts in about the ghastly things you could be imagining, it’s hard not to nervously giggle and realize you’re an adult who’s once again–briefly–afraid of the dark.

In Not Our Finest Hour, Andrew Hinderaker

     
   You can spot a gag coming within the first few seconds of this context-free comedy. A line of actors take a swig from a water bottle and pass it on. Anticipation builds; titters slip. The fact that the punch line is exactly what you’d expect compounds the simple humor in this satisfying, straightforward piece.

Wisconsin, Andrew Hinderaker 

     
   Anyone who’s experienced the unique isolation of a rural Midwest winter can attest to the truth and melancholy spoken in this eloquent monologue. A young man describes a blackened hand rising out of the snow. Hinderaker’s vivid image is striking on conflicting levels–it’s unsettling, somber, and in its own way, serene.

Free, Zayd Dohrn

     
   A United States Marine quietly bemoans the chaos of modern war and rejects America’s authoritative façade. His speech is upsetting for all the obvious reasons, and for some less common: notably, the futility of humanitarian efforts and the false hope instilled by the military’s hierarchy.

A Short Story, Emily Schwartz 

     
   A narrator gives up on his own story, much to the protagonist’s chagrin. Schwartz’s non-story leaves the nameless hero waiting and frustrated as the nonchalant storyteller signs off on her would-be adventure. Smart, funny metatheater.

Love Play for Two Chairs, Seth Bockley 

     
   When you think about chairs having sex (though in any other context, why would you?) the word “whimsical” probably doesn’t come to mind. And yet, like an x-rated Fantasia, Bockley and director Jeffrey Stanton achieve just that. Annoyed by the noise of his enchanted furniture getting it on, an apartment owner sets out to end his two chairs’ tryst. His solution is delightfully absurd–the fact that it’s irresistibly adorable makes matters even stranger.

Unsolicited Advice for Next Year’s Fest

Now that the One-Minute Play Festival has taken its first entertaining, successful baby steps in Chicago, here’s what we at we’d would like to see from the show in its future incarnations…

A Greater Assortment of Styles:

Only a few plays in 2011 were noteworthy for really bucking traditional conventions. The message in Gloria Bond Clunie’s Falling about resilience in the face of natural disasters, for instance, wasn’t particularly moving or inspired, but her play stood out from its peers for its striking use of projections and puppetry. That left us with a question: How can the other works of 50 unique artists have looked so homogeneous? Talking animals, inner-monologues, contentless scenes and gripes about public transit bore the brunt of too many shows. No movement pieces? No one-minute musicals? Festival organizers take pride in the lack of dictated thematic guidelines for the playwrights (as they should). Still, there has to be a way to commission a more diverse body of work.

Super-titles:

Many of the short plays benefited from having the names of the shows known; some even took on new light. Dimmed houselights and tiny program font made seeing them impractical–unless you were really straining, you had to do without. An inexpensive or creative way to integrate the show names could further enrich the work.

Clear Intent Behind Curation:

Was there or was there not an intended arc to the evening? We couldn’t tell. Directors took on about 10 plays each, and their pieces were presented together in ten unique “clumps.” The order that clumps were presented in and the plays within them, though, did not have an obvious flow. Perhaps one wasn’t intended–regardless, having one might keep the night as a whole engaging.


The Chicago One-Minute Play Festival is produced as a benefit for Victory Gardens Fresh Squeezed, their alternative programming and audience engagement initiative. With a shared mission, both Fresh Squeezed and the festival aim to represent a wide and diverse range of playwrights, actors, and directors working in the great city of Chicago.

Reviewers: Dan Jakes and Oliver Sava

     
     

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REVIEW: Jade Heart (Chicago Dramatists)

‘Jade Heart’ needs more pulse


Jade Heart 3

 
Chicago Dramatists presents
 
Jade Heart
 
by Will Cooper
directed by
Russ Tutterow
at
Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago (map)
through May 30th tickets: $25-$30  | more info

by Barry Eitel

Will Cooper calls himself an “accidental” playwright. Apparently, he took a playwriting course after his wife paid for one but couldn’t go. In a rare case of fortune smiling upon someone, the folks at Chicago Dramatists liked his stuff and decided to give him a full production. That’s how Jade Heart was born. The play explores mother/daughter relationships of all shades, centering on a Chinese girl that was Jade Heart 1 adopted by an American woman. Unfortunately, the uneven show doesn’t really cover any new territory.

Jade Heart brings up all sorts of questions about identity, culture, nationality, and family. We flash forwards and backwards through the life of Jade (Christine Timbol Bunuan), as she struggles to connect her past with her present. Jade, you see, was abandoned at birth by her unknown Chinese family, probably a result of the one-child policy enacted in 1979. While she was an infant, she was adopted by American single mom Brenda (Ginger Lee McDermott). Most of the play involves Jade interacting with Brenda and her imaginary Chinese mother, along with the more basic challenges of growing up. Wheeler’s argument gets pretty repetitive; throughout the piece, others identify Jade as Chinese-American, and she constantly rebukes them and claims that she is only American. While this is a valid question and an interesting look at national and cultural identity, the subject gets popped into far too many conversations. If these were condensed down, the play would probably be 20 minutes shorter at least. Another repetitive debate dropped throughout the play is the status of Brenda and Jade’s relationship. How exactly is Brenda a mother? And how does she relate to Jade’s actual birth mother living out in rural China? Again, important questions, but they get dulled down by overuse in the script. Wheeler’s script revolves around a few points, and the production wears them all down by the end instead of throwing in new and exciting information. Although there are some interesting expressionistic touches, such as Jade’s discussions with her masked (imaginary) biological mother, as a whole the play comes off as stale and clichéd.

Not that there aren’t some touching performances in Chicago Dramatists’ production. Bunuan is cute and charismatic. She charms the audience into joining her on her journey. McDermott does a fine job, too, though she gets sort of cheated by the script. We get the vague idea that she is a good mother, but we never see much of the happy times. We witness plenty of sobs and racist/xenophobic tirades, but not a whole lot of a healthy mother-daughter relationship. McDermott commits fully to the role and finds the love where she can, but there just aren’t enough scenes showing us why we should care if Jade and Brenda can connect. These two women are given a fair amount of support by the other actors on-stage. Gordon Chow, for example, pulls double-duty as Jade’s love interest and masked Chinese tour guide, giving both characters life.

Russ Tutterow’s direction keeps the show moving. Nothing really lags here, even though Wheeler often writes in circles. The play does get a push towards the second act, and it finally feels like we are covering new territory. Some of the abstract choices make the world interesting as well; the dialogues between Jade and the mom in her mind are probably the most innovative part of the script and production. Unfortunately, even though the Jade Heart sets itself some very important narratives (identity, culture, assimilation) it doesn’t say anything new about any of them. Everyone involved attempts to drive the story forward, but there just isn’t a whole lot to hook onto.

  
  
Rating: ★★½
  
  

Jade Heart 2

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Review: Chicago Dramatists’ “Lucinda’s Bed”

Many Beds in Lucinda’s Life

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Chicago Dramatists present:

Lucinda’s Bed

By Mia McCullough
Directed by Jessi D. Hill
Thru November 8th (buy tickets)

reviewed by Timothy McGuire

The world premiere of Lucinda’s Bed by Mia McCullough is a dark tragic comedy that explores the anger in a girl who tries her whole life to be good, with no reward for her choices and no break from her relentless temptations. Confined by the expectations of others, Lucinda fights to identify herself and recognize her personal desires. She is constantly growing through her painful experiences and continuing to “sleep in the bed she made.” She questions the benefit of her choices and tiptoes on to the dirty lucindaportraitside of morality. As we travel through the different stages of Lucinda’s life we see the pain and conflicting emotions of a girl just trying to see if it is possible to do the right thing and be true to her self.

At nine years old, Lucinda (Elizabeth Laidlaw) is a pure child who has an innocent yet intimate friendship with a nice young boy Adam (Doug Mackechnie) who is kind, supportive and predictable. It is at this young age that the monster under Lucinda’s bed (Lucas Neff) introduces himself to her and her temptations begin. Throughout her life the monster visits Lucinda, challenging her automatic response to do the “right” thing and presents her with the possibility to follow her raw desires.

Mia McCullough tells an honest (even when exaggerated) portrayal of the horrifying hardships that a female may encounter while becoming a woman. Through the physical, emotional and mental conflicts that arise in Lucinda’s journey, McCullough tells a story about how much it takes out of a woman that constantly tries to love and please everyone. She shows the strength one gains from loving and caring for everyone around you, but also the toll that it takes on that person’s spirit.

Director Jessi D. Hill has smoothly strung together a long series of events covering a Lucinda’s lifetime. The quick transitions between scenes are creative, finding ways to enhance the sense of a time lapse. However, the overly consistent changes dragged on after a while even with the witty effects. Scenic designer Grant Sabin scatters outlandishly clever pieces through out the set, changing the room to exemplify the time in Lucinda’s life that each scene took place.

play3393 Lucinda lives through a painful sequence of events as she grows older, but the moments in between had me bent over laughing. Elizabeth Laidlaw connected with the audience, making Lucinda’s aging relatable. Laidlaw is sexually tantalizing on stage, as she spends a large portion of the show in her bra and panties.  But her ability to find the tragic depth in each moment she encounters, and cope with the hurdles in front of her with changing reactions due to her constantly evolving life experience, is what stands out in her performance.

Lucas Neff’s acting ability is put on display as he convincingly plays numerous characters. His charm effortlessly switches to immature goofiness, giving each character he plays a full range of personality. Meanwhile, Doug Mackechnie was at his best when playing an older Adam closer to his age. While over-embellishing his portrayal of Adam in his youth, he completely captured the innocence in his youthful character.

The Chicago Dramatists are hot right now – their world-premiere of Keith Huff’s A Steady Rain is currently running on Broadway, starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig -  and they continue to roll with Mia McCullough’s Lucinda’s Bed. This play provides deep insight into the weighty sorrow one feels after trying to live up expectations and move past its cruelty in the world before it sucks the life right out of us. Chicago Dramatists present what would be a dark drama with great humor and an overall entertaining experience. This tragedy is a comedic experience that will give you lots to talk about.

Rating: «««

 

Featuring: Associate Artist Doug MacKechnie, Elizabeth Laidlaw and Lucas Neff
Grant Sabin (Set Designer), Diane Fairchild (Lighting Designer) Nick Keenan (Sound Designer), Jenniffer Thusing (Props Designer and Stage Manager), and Kat Doebler (Costume Designer)

Review: Chicago Dramatists’ ‘Lucinda’s Bed”

Is “being good” all it’s cracked up to be?

 

Chicago Dramatists present:

Lucinda’s Bed

By Mia McCullough
Directed by Jessi D. Hill
Thru November 8th (buy tickets)

reviewed by Keith Ecker

Chicago Dramatist’s Lucinda’s Bed is a thorough character study of a woman striving to be good and her unrealized desires personified as the childhood monster that sleeps under her bed. The world premier play serves as a psychoanalytic narrative that dissects the self, forcing the title character to struggle between fulfilling the expectations of others and acting upon the very real wants that she secretly harbors within.

The story follows Lucinda (Elizabeth Laidlaw), beginning as a 9-year-old. It is at this early stage that she encounters the monster (Lucas Neff), a nonchalant, smooth-talking seducer who creeps out from under her bed in a pool of red light. It is here that the monster reveals he will be with Lucinda always and that he will never go away, foreshadowing the struggles to come.

Time passes and we see Lucinda go through various life milestones, from meeting her high school sweetheart to college to marriage to motherhood. Throughout these scenes, the monster makes regular appearances, shrouding himself as other characters, each representative of Lucinda’s suppressed desires. Meanwhile, her husband Adam (Doug MacKechnie), a man she herself pigeonholes as a “nice guy,” becomes increasingly frustrated with Lucinda’s erratic behavior, creating havoc within the marriage. Lucinda continues to unravel at the seams as she is perpetually torn between doing what she perceives to be good and what she truly desires. Added to her character’s complexity is the continued realization that being good isn’t very rewarding, while being true to one’s character—regardless of praise or condemnation—might actually be the best way to live one’s life.

Mia McCullough’s script could easily have fallen into the trap of parable, but thanks to her skillful writing, she has done a brilliant job creating real, multi-faceted characters that rise above any sort of archetypical cliché. In addition, she artfully interweaves laugh-out-loud comedic moments throughout, avoiding any feeling of melodrama that might arise from the series of unfortunate incidents that become Lucinda’s life (a scene where a pregnant, bed-ridden Lucinda screams for a popsicle had the audience howling).

Laidlaw brings the complex Lucinda to life, imbuing the character with a rich spectrum of emotions. Slowly and genuinely transforming a naïve little girl into a hardened ice queen is no easy feat. But Laidlaw pulls it off flawlessly, tying together all of Lucinda’s experiences and personality ticks convincingly.

Meanwhile, MacKechnie is believable as Lucinda’s modest and loving husband, but definitely excels most when portraying the character later in life. At times, his interpretation of a love-struck high schooler verges on cartoonish, detracting from the reality of the scenes. Neff has his work cut out for him portraying the various incarnations of the monster, including a chauvinistic college student, a perplexed plumber and a rather forward store clerk. As well executed as these manifestations are, there seems to be a spark lacking from his portrayal as the monster. You would think that passion personified would have more passion, but alas, Neff seems rather bored.

Director Jessi D. Hill artfully uses the simple staging, which entirely takes place within a bedroom, to create vivid and dramatic slice-of-life scenes. Sound effects, such as a ticking clock, are well placed to give a sense of time passing. Meanwhile her use of shifting wall art serves as insightful demarcations of time, both in the physical sense and in the sense of where the characters are in their lives.

Closing October 9th, there’s little time left to see this thought-provoking production.  Perhaps the play will be picked up and moved out East, as two other Chicago Dramatists plays have done: A Steady Rain is currently running on Broadway, while a 2002 production called The Liquid Moon was just optioned by the same producers.

Frightening and fatalistic, the thematic ideas within Lucinda’s Bed speak to all of us who strive to figure out what is good, what is right and whether the two aren’t always overlapping. Actors execute the play with realism while incorporating the fanciful in a compellingly written tale where monsters cry too. Do not miss this play.

Review: Steppenwolf’s 5th-Annual First Look Repertory of New Works

You Have Never Seen These Before

For the past five years, Steppenwolf’s First Look Repertory of New Work has given Chicago audiences the unique opportunity to view works in progress for the very first time in the intimate setting of Steppenwolf’s Garage Theater. All three plays in this year’s First Look series are still in development, and are likely to undergo changes before being produced again.

09 First Look PlaywrightsFirst Look Playwrights: (left to right) Ensemble member Eric Simonson with Laura Jacqmin and Laura EasonPhoto by Elizabeth Fraiberg. 


Honest

Written and Directed by Eric Simonson
Thru August 9 (buy tickets)
Reviewed by Oliver Sava

Honest, written and directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Eric Simonson, is the tragic story of best-selling memoirist Guy (Erik Hellman), a man whose past is much stranger than his novel’s fiction. When the factuality of his memoir is challenged by a reporter (Martin McClendon), a Mametian game of deception and blackmail unfolds, with both men’s futures hanging in the balance. Meanwhile, Guy’s past is revealed in a series of flashbacks chronicling the events that shaped the pathological liar seen at the start of the show.

The actors are faced with the unenviable task of bringing to life Simonson’s very dark world, and they due so magnificently. Hellman specifically must play the same character in four different time periods with four extremely different circumstances, and he manages to capture the fear and pain of a tormented soul with the charisma of a man who has been lying and getting away with it for years. Kelly O’Sullivan is heartbreaking as Guy’s cousin Casey, and when the two actors share the stage together the production truly shines.

Where the play falters a bit is in the opening and closing scenes between Guy and Martin, the reporter. Martin seems overly eager to share personal information with a complete stranger, and while it can be justified as forward movement for the plot, it simply did not ring true to the general conduct between an interviewer and his subject. Beyond that quibble, Honest is an engrossing examination of one man’s attempt to hide from his past, and the cruel truth that no matter where he goes, it always finds him.

Rating: «««

 



Sex with Strangers

Written by Laura Eason
Directed by Jessica Thebus
Thru August 9 (buy tickets)
Reviewed by Oliver Sava

Thirty-something struggling writer Olivia’s (Amy J. Carle) world is turned upside down when she finds herself romantically involved with self-proclaimed asshole blogger Ethan Strange (Stephen Louis Grush) in Sex With Strangers, the standout production of this year’s First Look series. Laura Eason’s script seamlessly balances romantic comedy with conflict as Olivia and Ethan’s honeymoon affair begins to feel the pressure of his very public sexual past, and director Jessica Thebus, along with an extremely gifted cast and creative team, has created a production that could easily be transferred to any theater as is.

From the first kiss to the last betrayal, Carle and Grush have the kind of chemistry that makes stage magic. Carle has proven herself an actress of immense depth and talent in the past, but her portrayal of Olivia is one of the most fully realized characters to grace the Chicago stage this season. Her relationship to Ethan is completely believable, in large part due to her male costar’s wonderfully charming characterization.

The two actors handle the rapid-fire banter of Laura Eason’s script with ease, further cementing the realism of the play, and it is real. Sex With Strangers is one of the most honest portraits of love in a world where privacy barely exists and sex is just another bodily function, and it is a must see for Chicago audiences.

Rating: ««««

 



Ski Dubai

Written by Laura Jacqmin
Directed by Lisa Portes
Thru August 9 (buy tickets)
Reviewed by Oliver Sava

Rachel (Hillary Clemons) is an Environmental Friendliness Consultant relocated to Dubai with the daunting task of helping her company’s man-made island achieve "green" certification in Ski Dubai by Laura Jacqmin. Still reeling from a construction accident that left her New York City apartment on the sidewalk 15 stories below, Rachel must juggle living with randy roommate/colleague Perrin (Cliff Chamberlain), his insane wife Amanda (Sadieh Rifai), and a slew of other quirky characters while trying to establish a home for herself in a foreign world.

Clemons does an admirable job balancing Rachel’s naïveté with her growing apathy for not only the project to which she was assigned, but the modern ideology of "new is better than authentic," but the trauma of losing her New York home never seems as bad as she makes it out to be. The supporting actors seem to have been directed to take their characters so over the top that they lose dimension, and the actors get lost in showing the audience how wild they are without finding the motivation behind the action. Rifai stands out as Amanda, infusing her character with genuine anger at a world that never stops letting her down, and Jennifer Coombs is absolutely hilarious as the tactless Doctor that hates Dubai and everyone in it.

Jacqmin’s script struggles to find a balance between cartoonish hijinx and political commentary, and the end result is two-dimensional characters that never seem to have a voice of their own. Of the three plays, Ski Dubai is the one that could use the most retooling before being produced again, but when it is funny, like when Coombs traverses the space wearing invisible skis, it is hilarious.

Rating: ««

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McCullough on Women Playwrights

Mia McCullough, a playwright for Chicago Dramatists, has written a provocative piece on the website for Chicago Artists Resource, entitled “On Women in Playwriting” about sexism in theatre, and how this shapes the works and output of women playwrights.  It’s really worth a read.

Personally, I believe that this theatre sexism is a reflection misogynist  American culture in general, rather than just theater (to be fair, McCullough is only focusing about the theater world in this article).  My sister, Lisa, who is a lieutenant-colonel in the Army, actually teaches a course for military women on how to assert themselves and be noticed.  She mentioned to me that women are “trained” early to be much more reserved.  Even those women that are leaders in the community unconsciously possess traces of subserviency.  Examples she has given me: when men sit in a chair they spread themselves out, taking over the arm rests, while women sit with their hands inside the armrest, keeping their stature much more restrained and small; in meetings men tend, when speaking, to lean forward and confidently express their opinions, while women keep themselves sitting back in the chair, and can seem apologetic when offering their input, as if they’re interrupting the meeting.  Lisa also repeats McCullough’s observation that women also tend to apologize for silly things that men would never apologize for.

Here’s an excerpt from Mia McCollough’s article:

…. we are, still, programmed to be polite. We apologize for things, and censor ourselves far more than men do; and unfortunately this transfers to our art, and it shouldn’t. Art is not and should never be about politeness. Raw or refined, it should be a true expression of feeling. This will lead to another problem, I expect. When women stop being polite and really delve into the experience of being a woman, a whole lot of unpleasantness tends to rise to the surface.

 

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Goodman Theatre’s 6th Annual New Stages Series

Via Kenneth Jones at Playbill Online

Goodman’s New Stages Series – September 12th to 21st

goodmantheatre

The free series of script-in-hand staged readings of six emerging American playwrights takes place in the Goodman’s Owen Theatre, and is open to the public. Tickets are free, but reservations are required at (312) 443-3800.

Now in its sixth year, the Goodman’s New Stages Series has provided the first look at nearly 30 new plays, many of which have gone on to receive world-premiere productions at the Goodman.

 

 

2008 New Stages Series

Pa’s Hat: A Liberian Legacy by Cori Thomas, directed by Chuck Smith, Sept. 12 at 7 PM “Civil unrest, national heritage and family responsibility converge in this one-act drama that follows an elderly former ambassador and his daughter as they are abducted by a child soldier in war-torn Liberia.”

Safe House by Keith Josef Adkins, directed by Hallie Gordon, Sept. 13 at 7 PM. “A family of color, free since their great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, cannot resist the temptation to help a young woman escape from slavery along the Underground Railroad. In the great American tradition of historical romance, two brothers compete for their birthright of freedom.”

Household Spirits by Mia McCullough, directed by Meghan Beals McCarthy, Sept. 14 at 7 PM. “It’s Christmas Eve in Westchester County and Philip, an entertainment lawyer, and Evelyn, his new wife and agent to the stars, are preparing for a party. Unfortunately, Philip has recently revealed that he’s an alcoholic, and the couple’s teenage children are conspiring to complicate Evelyn’s perfect soirée. In this bitingly funny and unexpectedly thoughtful new play, Chicago playwright Mia McCullough grapples with the complicated nature of family and inheritance.”

Without by Sean Graney, Sept. 19 at 7 PM. “In the back room of a space-themed bar, Rocketman and White White meet for the first time in 15 years. White White has something she needs Rocketman to do – but does he have what it takes to do it? Chicago writer/director Sean Graney (The Hypocrites) pens a devastating look at responsibility and regret.”

Marie Antoinette by David Adjmi, directed by Jackson Gay, Sept. 20 at 7 PM. “How’s a queen to keep her head in the middle of a revolution? A satirical, irreverent portrait of the famous queen and her downfall, this vividly rendered study of celebrity, power and privilege is painted in sad, funny and surrealistic strokes.”

The Long Red Road by Brett C. Leonard, Sept. 21 at 7 PM.

“A devastating new play about the impact of addiction, The Long Red Road introduces Sammy, who has fled his past and landed in South Dakota where he is slowly drinking himself to death. When his young daughter arrives desperate to reunite with her father, Sammy must decide between the self-hatred that consumes him and the responsibilities he has tried to leave behind.”

The free series of script-in-hand staged readings takes place in the Goodman’s Owen Theatre and is open to the public. Tickets are free, but reservations are required at (312) 443-3800. For more information visit the Goodman Theatre website.  

For the entire article, visit (and subscribe to) Playbill Online, at www.playbill.com