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When a terrifying sea monster is spotted off the coast, renowned scientist Professor Aronnax and fellow explorers set out to investigate. They soon find themselves kidnapped and held under the command, and spell, of the mysterious Captain Nemo. As they circle the globe aboard the most advanced submarine the world has never seen, they confront giant squids, bizarre sea creatures, and the monsters that lurk below…and within.
Adapted from Jules Verne's epic adventure exploring the murky perils of the seas, ensemble member David Kersnar invites you to board the Nautilus and "dive! dive! dive!" into this Lookingglass world premiere.
As a family gathers for an overdue dinner, a mysterious envelope arrives with astonishing news. They soon find themselves scrambling to welcome a visitor of cosmic proportion. Absurdity reigns as ancient fissures open wide and long-held certainties crumble. Will this nuclear family explode? Lookingglass Theatre ensemble member Kareem Bandealy unleashes the existential dark comedy Act(s) of God, directed by artistic director Heidi Stillman (Cascabel, Hard Times).
When a cheerleading squad is called upon to save the parallel universe of Lej, they must summon their collective team spirit to destroy the evil spirit stick, save the citizens of Lametown, and be back in time for the state championship. Jill Oliver's debut play asks the question, "Ummm…there's an evil stick in this play?"
Forty years before the Civil War, a little know war took place in Manhattan, NY. This war was battled not on a field, but on a stage by a group of Black actors performing the words of a dead White poet.
When the sun rises, these actors put on masks, playing the parts of maids and waiters that society has cast them in. But when the sun goes down, this groups of artists finds their voice along with their feelings as they discover themselves in Shakespeare's poetry. And they are not alone, their production of RICHARD III performs with such artistry and passion it attracts white and black audiences alike, is critically acclaimed, and has the theatre filled to overflowing six days a week. That is, until a prominent white company rents the theatre next door to open their own production of Richard – and is determined to shut down the African company's show at any cost. It is a behind the scenes story like no other – funny, uncompromising and uniquely American.
George Bernard Shaw makes his City Lit debut, staged by the director of this past season's hit J.B. Captain Bluntschli, a mercenary soldier who is fonder of chocolates than of bullets, hides in the bedroom of heiress Raina Petkoff while escaping from battle — a development that disturbs her fiancé, Major Sergius Saranoff, a swaggering cavalry officer from the other side. Raina calls Bluntschli "my chocolate cream soldier." Shaw calls Arms and the Man "an anti-romantic comedy." We call it the funniest play ever written about the Serbo-Bulgarian War.
When a redacted and ominous letter arrives from her brother on the oil fields, 13-year-old Cozbi sets off for Anwar, Alaska, to find him. Armed with a book on corporate communication strategy and a sharp axe, Cozbi battles her way through an Arctic wilderness in pursuit of her missing brother. But she'll have to face more than a multi-tentacled HR rep to learn the truth. Part mythic journey, part workplace satire, Borealis is a dark and funny adventure about family obligation, career aspiration, and what we leave behind to make our way to the top.
In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked, and four or five weary travelers are going to have to hole up until morning. Cherie, a nightclub chanteuse in a sparkling gown and a seedy fur-trimmed jacket, has been pursued and finally kidnapped by a twenty-one-year-old cowboy with a ranch of his own and the romantic methods of an unusually headstrong bull. Meanwhile the proprietor of the cafe and the bus driver at last find time to develop a friendship of their own; a middle-aged scholar comes to terms with himself; and a young girl who works in the cafe also gets her first taste of romance. Steve Scott directs Bus Stop by William Inge.
On a summer evening in an isolated seaside cottage in the East of England, a pair of retired nuclear scientists are startled by a visit from a former colleague. As some crackers and wine are trotted out, so are various old jealousies, leading to the true reason for Rose's sudden reappearance: the revelation of a chilling and dangerous plan.
Following sold out runs in London and New York, the brave, humane, and beautifully written play The Children makes its way to Steppenwolf and confronts the responsibility each generation must face for the way it leaves the world.
This funny and sexy play introduces two gay couples and their circle of friends, who have ventured into the world of modern day parenting. As friendships deepen and vulnerabilities get exposed, the foundation of family and commitment are shaken. With same-sex marriage the law of the land, what happens next? Peter Parnell's Dada Woof Papa Hot, directed by About Face Theatre's artistic associate Keira Fromm, is a fast-paced exploration of 21st-century parenthood.
As a door slams in 1879 Norway, a young wife and mother leaves behind her family, freeing herself from the shackles of traditional societal constraints. Now, 15 years later, that same door opens to reveal Nora, a changed woman with an incredibly awkward favor to ask the people who she abandoned.
In A Doll's House, Part 2, Lucas Hnath's bitingly funny sequel to Ibsen's revolutionary masterpiece, the story unfolds in a series of bristling stand-offs that reveal in Nora's world, much like our own, behind every opinion there is a person, and a slamming door isn't just an end, but also the chance for a new beginning.
In downstate Illinois, four sex offenders share a group home where they must negotiate their place in a world that doesn't want them. A man shows up to confront his childhood abuser — but does he want closure or retribution? This provocative new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Bruce Norris pushes moral boundaries as it questions what happens when society deems anyone unworthy of forgiveness.
Downstate is a co-commission and coproduction with the National Theatre of Great Britain. Under the direction of Tony Award winner Pam MacKinnon, Downstate will feature an American and British cast and creative team.
It's winter in Minnesota and a Zimbabwean-American family is preparing for the wedding of their eldest daughter. When an unexpected guest arrives and the bride surprises the family by insisting on a traditional African ceremony, pre-wedding stress explodes into a full-on family feud. Fiercely funny, fast-paced, and filled with love, Danai Gurira's Familiar is a brilliant portrayal of a tight-knit family searching to preserve their past while building a new future.
Within every man there is a monster; within every monster, a man. But which is which? An eerie evening of ghost stories crackles to life as Mary Shelley unspools her tale of Victor Frankenstein and his unholy experiment. This Gothic tale of love, horror, and the power to create life — and destroy it — awakens in this visceral, original retelling of Frankenstein.
Fresh from the brain of ensemble member David Catlin, creator of Moby Dick and Lookingglass Alice, comes a galvanic adaptation of this undying story.
After an unexpected death shatters her family, Victoria retreats into the darkest recesses of her psyche in search of a way forward. To find meaning in an impossible loss, she brings a terrible creation to life — one whose existence threatens all hopes for the future. Haunted and hunted at every turn, Victoria must endure a nightmare journey of the soul in a quest for survival. Grapple with the demons of grief and denial in this world premiere adaptation of the 1818 thriller by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.
By Lopé de Vega
Adapted and directed by Terry McCabe
The greatest play by the greatest playwright of Spain's golden age of drama. Ripped from the 15th century's headlines and set against the backdrop of war for the Spanish throne on the eve of its discovering the New World, the play is the true story of a young woman in the Spanish village, Fuente Ovejuna, who inspires and leads a rebellion against their military governor's sexual exploitation of local women. Laurencia refuses to be a victim when she is attacked and rallies the town to do something, finally, about the oppression that has gone on too long. City Lit's new adaptation premieres in the 400th anniversary of the play's first publication in Spanish.
In the New Mexico desert, a down-on-her-luck folk singer takes a job at a giant retailer's shipping center. Her young manager struggles to connect with his newly relocated girlfriend. A drifter living at a local campground dangerously links them all. Four lonely lives come together in the search for fulfillment in the raw, surprising, and funny Chicago premiere of Fulfillment Center.
Chicago's E. Faye Butler adopts the mantle of Broadway's legendary "stage mother" in this thrilling and heart-wrenching story of a woman who raises her daughters to assume the heights in the world of show business, whether they want to or not. Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoir of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, entitled Gypsy: Memoirs of America's Most Celebrated Stripper. The musical features songs that have become standards of the musical theater canon, including "Some People," "Let Me Entertain You," "Together, Wherever We Go," and the showstopping "Everything's Coming Up Roses."
In the basement of a small evangelical church in southeastern Idaho, a group of young missionaries is preparing to go to the Middle East. When one of the missionaries — a young man — has a crisis of faith on his spiritual journey, it reminds us that faith doesn't come easily, no matter where you look for it.
The Harvest, written by Samuel Hunter and directed by Jonathan Berry, makes its Chicago premiere with the Griffrin Theatre Company.
The only way to find your voice is to use it. Four artists and intellectuals in San Francisco struggle to nurture creative impulse and establish legacy — in both their professional and personal lives. When one discovers the works of a black queer feminist writer from a bygone era, their lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways. In the bold and imaginative world-premiere play How to Catch Creation, playwright Christina Anderson dissects the universal act of creation — creation of life, of family, and of art — to inspire the dreamers and idealists in us all.
A town is beset by plague and the bodies are piling up along with moral accusations, political implications, and medical speculations. We peer into households and down many streets as people search for any logic to the ceaseless barrage of death. One of Ionesco's last plays, The Killing Game is a piercing and frighteningly funny look at how the function of language and the panic surrounding social crisis sends a community into a chaotic state of paranoia, hypocrisy, and opportunism.
To the US-owned factories in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, La Ruta is just a bus. But to the hundreds of women who live, work, and often disappear along the route, it's so much more than that. Inspired by real testimonies, and using live music to evoke factory work and protest marches, La Ruta is a visceral unearthing of secrets buried in the desert and a celebration of the Mexican women who stand resiliently in the wake of loss.
Linda Wilde is a titan — an award-winning executive at Swan Beauty Corporation with another brilliant new ad campaign up her sleeve. In the wake of her success, Linda's husband, daughter, and a new generation of emerging leaders are following their dreams, but her immaculately curated work-life balance hasn't prepared her for the battle for visibility in a world focused on everlasting youth. Olivier Award nominee Penelope Skinner's Linda is a searingly funny portrait of a woman on the front lines of the fight for relevance.
Ike Holter (Exit Strategy) assembles the vibrant characters from his acclaimed works for a raucous theatrical bash in Lottery Day. Mallory, the matriarch of a quickly gentrifying neighborhood, invites the lonely residents, hardcore activists, and starving artists of her block to what she hopes will go down as a legendary barbecue — thanks to a special surprise. Her mysterious plan to revitalize her community, however, may just be the very thing that tears it apart. In the world premiere of Lottery Day, directed by Lili-Anne Brown, not everyone will go home a winner.
Before The Twilight Zone, there was British expatriate John Collier writing humorous stories about the bizarre and fantastical for The New Yorker and sardonic screenplays in Hollywood throughout the first half of the 20th century. In this world premiere adaptation of Nightmares and Nightcaps, an ominous host (Kevin Webb) weaves together Collier's comic tales of love, loss and the mysterious for the audience's delight.
Golden Globe Award winner Stacy Keach stars as Ernest Hemingway, one of the most celebrated novelists and short story writers of the 20th century in this explosive tour-de-force drama, set during the author's haunted years following his Pulitzer and Nobel Prize honors.
In Pamplona, after the prize comes the pressure. Basking in the glory of career-defining awards — the 1953 Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 — legendary writer Ernest Hemingway insists his best work is yet to come. Five years later, holed up in a Spanish hotel with a looming deadline, he struggles to knock out a story about the rivalrous matadors of Pamplona. But his real battles lie outside the bullfighting arena; in declining health, consumed by his troubled fourth marriage, and tormented by the specter of past glories, he must now conquer the deepening despair that threatens to engulf him.
After a swastika is spray-painted at school, a diverse group of students wrestles with how to bring to the stage a memoir about a reformed white-power skinhead. As the provocative material ignites questions of race, representation, and redemption, the students' collaboration explodes their own biases and notions about whose stories get to be told in America. Inspired by Christian Picciolini's book White American Youth, Radical is written by Matthew Lee-Erlbach and directed by Hallie Gordon.
An ensemble led by Nick Hart will take over the Neo-Futurist Theater, refuse to leave, and obstruct all production in the theater until the audience, actors, and management work to recreate the Battle of the Alamo in its entirety, leading to its sad bloody conclusion. This second lab performance will continue to explore modes of reenacting one of the country's most peculiar, elusive, and aggrandized moments in military history. This presentation will feature performances from Nick Hart, Ida Cuttler, and Steve Mosqueda.
Sharon is Midwestern nice. But to Robyn, her new roommate from the Bronx, that just means nosy and very, very talkative. A comical mismatch leads to a surprising and touching friendship in The Roommate, a new comedy about how early-life choices lead to midlife challenges and the unexpected rewards of bridging the divide.
By Kristine Thatcher
Directed by Terry McCabe
Kristine and Terry have worked together since he directed the Victory Gardens production of Emma's Child, a script you can find in Women Playwrights: The Best Plays of 1994. Kristine has won local, national, and international playwriting awards, including the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. This play is her second commission for City Lit, and was two years in the writing. A woman returns to her grandmother's house for a visit. Suddenly, she must look differently at the safest place she's ever known.
In this first installment of a new series based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Idle Muse takes audiences back to the glory days of radio with A Scandal in Bohemia, Part One. Presented live as a radio play at the Edge Theatre in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, the performance will feature a cast of Idle Muse ensemble members, period costumes, and a foley artist. Written originally as a short story by Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia is the tale that introduced Irene Adler to Holmes's audiences. In this radio play, audiences will travel to London to meet Irene herself, Sherlock Holmes, his assistant Dr. Watson, and a cast of characters proving once again why the Bloodhound of Baker Street has remained popular for more than 100 years. The sequel, A Scandal in Bohemia, Part Two, will be presented this coming winter at a follow-up performance.
Set in the Ukrainian Holodomor, Abbey Fenbert's Sickle explores Joseph Stalin's Soviet genocide through a man-made famine that killed millions of people. Five female characters struggle against a tyrannical oppressor. Winner of a Jeff Award foe best adaptation and the 2013 Mark Twain Prize for comic playwriting, the powerfully written Sickle is an important reminder of the 1930s genocide.
Six urbanites take their troubles to the woods and attempt to work them out at a secluded spiritual retreat. Attendees may not speak for the entire week, clothing is optional at the lake, and beware of bears. The isolating silence collides with the human ache to connect. How do we address life's biggest questions when words fail us? Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl is a Chicago premiere that is at once strange and compassionate, awkward and graceful, silly and profound.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Steadfast Tin Soldier, ensemble member Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses) fashions an extravagant and exhilarating spectacle. The unlikely adventure of a little tin soldier, brimming with love and unblinking bravery, is infused with Zimmerman's dazzling blend of storytelling through image and movement, accompanied by live musicians. In The Steadfast Tin Soldier: A Christmas Pantomime, unsuspecting travelers make unexpected discoveries in this luminous tale, destined to enchant any and all of us not made of tin.
Strong as steel, fragile as magnolias. The six Southern women of Chinquapin, Louisiana, show more steel than delicacy as they face life's ups and downs together. A home beauty parlor is their gathering place, where they gossip, needle, and jab each other with good-humored zingers. But when push comes to shove, these friends are there for one another, especially in the darkest of times. Robert Harling's hilarious and heartwarming Steel Magnolias inspired the 1989 film which starred Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis and Dolly Parton.
Support Group for Men is a hilarious exploration of what happens when society's new normal doesn't seem so normal to everyone. Thursday night in Wrigleyville is "Guys' Night" for a group of longtime pals. Instead of letting off steam over baseball, they've formed a support group — with its "no ladies" policy strictly enforced — in which they can vent about dashed romances, stalled careers, and other middle-age maladies. But when an unexpected visitor crashes their party, the guys' traditional notions of masculinity are exploded. This topical, Chicago-flavored comedy gleefully dissects the ever-changing role of gender in today's culture — and proves that understanding is sometimes found in the least likely of places.
Direct from Broadway comes a Pulitzer Prize-winning collision of race, class and friendship at a pivotal moment in America. A group of friends in a rust belt town has spent their lives sharing secrets and laughs on the factory floor. But when layoffs begin to chip away at their trust, they're pitted against each other in a heart-wrenching fight. The explosive drama Sweat, written by Lynn Nottage and directed by Ron OJ Parson, is a relevant piece of contemporary drama that makes its Chicago premiere.
In this poetic romance, deep love is challenged by divisive political realities. Jesse, an introspective black playwright, finds his choices called into question when his boyfriend, Neil, a white Black Lives Matter activist, calls him out for his political apathy. As passions and priorities collide, this couple is forced to reckon with issues of race, class, and the bravery it takes to love out loud. Directed by Mikael Burke, This Bitter Earth is written by Harrison David Rivers.
In 1982, Steppenwolf exploded onto the American Theatre scene with its now legendary production of Sam Shepard's True West. This American classic traces the sometimes violent and always volatile relationship of Austin and Lee, estranged brothers who find themselves trapped together in their mother's empty house with not much more than a typewriter and a set of golf clubs. In its first Steppenwolf revival, the team re-imagines Shepard's masterpiece through the eyes of the new generation of Steppenwolf artists, with a little help from those who came before.
Four young women, one small town, and many different lanes make up the world-premiere drama Twilight Bowl by Rebecca Gilman (Luna Gale). After graduating from a small Wisconsin high school, Sam heads to college on scholarship — but her cousin Jaycee's future isn't looking as bright. As the young women and their friends face adulthood, their local bowling alley becomes a place to celebrate triumphs, confront challenges, and perhaps even forge new identities. With her signature grace, wit, and compassion, Gilman questions the blueprint for a successful life and embraces the unknown on the road ahead.
When Eric falls for the handsome Wilson on the subway, he doesn't know what he's in for. Because Wilson is also Nina, a rising drag star in The House of Light, and when a competing house calls a ball for midnight, Eric is drawn into battle. Part turf war, part pageant, all conquest, Wig Out! is a mesmerizing trip into the heart of African-American drag ball culture by way of Ovid, Jay-Z, and Destiny's Child. From the acclaimed author of The Brother/Sister Trilogy and Choir Boy comes a dazzling spectacle about the timeless desires to be desired, find your home, and dominate anyone who throws you shade.
Jealousy can drive one wild in William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Following his celebrated productions of King Lear and Measure for Measure, director Robert Falls reimagines one of Shakespeare's most wildly theatrical tales. A paranoid king accuses his queen of infidelity, setting off a calamitous series of events spanning 16 years. But what begins as tragedy unexpectedly evolves into romantic comedy, filled with song and dance, magic and metamorphosis — and an appearance from Shakespeare's most iconic furry beast.