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Long Dresses And Tall Hats: Fall Theater Roundup 2019

Howard EndPrepare to see an abundance of floor-length skirts and lintel-brushing headgear this autumn. No, theaters haven't adopted a formal dress code for their patrons, nor has Chicago been declared a "Game of Thrones" re-enactment site. A cursory overview of the theater offerings in the months between the major cool-weather holidays reveals a predominance of period plays, some depicting the experiences of firsthand witnesses, and some viewed from the hindsight perspective of our own turbulent times, but all striving to determine how we got here and what to do next by looking at where we've been.


Oedipus Rex, Court Theatre, 5535 South Ellis Avenue. Runs Nov. 7-Dec. 8. Back in 429 BC, there was no plea bargaining when the Greek Gods decided that you were going to grow up to be a criminal, making this story of a willful child who tried in vain to escape his destiny a sure-fire hit for Sophocles. Ticket information:

Mother of the Maid, Northlight Theatre at the North Shore Center for the Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie. Runs through Oct. 20. Your teenage daughter claims that the holy saints have ordered her to save her country from foreign invaders—what's a mother to do? Jane Anderson looks at the Joan of Arc celebrity story from a parenting perspective. Ticket information:


Howards End, Remy Bumppo Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 West Belmont Avenue. Runs through Oct 5. Chicago playwright Douglas Post's adaptation of E.M. Forster's microcosmic portrait of class warfare in pre-WWI England provides the Remy Bumppo company precisely the kind of material it does better than anybody in our city. Ticket information:

A Doll's House, Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe. Runs Oct. 2-Dec. 15. Sandra Delgado and Michael Halberstam adapted it, Lavina Jadhwani directs it and Gaby Labotka designed the fights and intimacies—no, this is not your classroom white middle-class Victorian Ibsen. Ticket information:

Bernhardt/Hamlet, Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn Street. Runs Sept. 23-Oct. 20. Long before Glenda Jackson was permitted to play Lear, English superstar Sarah Bernhardt decided that since the men of Shakespeare's time practiced cross-gender casting, why shouldn't she do the same? Ticket information:

Rutherford and Son, Timeline Theatre Company at Baird Hall, 615 West Wellington Avenue. Runs Nov. 6-Jan. 12. Githa Sowerby's critique of social conventions in industrial England may have been eclipsed by her male contemporaries when it premiered in 1912, but Timeline Theater restores her place in the documentation of restless generations undergoing change. Ticket information:

Blue Stockings, Promethean Theatre Ensemble at the Den, 1331 North Milwaukee Avenue. Runs Sept. 16-Oct. 13. Did you know that Cambridge University (founded in 1209) refused to grant full graduation honors to its recently-enrolled female scholars until the mid-20th century? Jessica Swayle, author of Nell Gwynne, recounts the protests of the class of 1896 at this injustice. Ticket information:


Invisible, Her Story Theatre at Stage 773, 1225 West Belmont Avenue. Runs Oct. 10-Nov. 3. Racist terrorism in America's southern regions wasn't limited to marauding packs of redneck thugs—the Ku Klux Klan of 1925 also had a women's auxiliary, and crusading feminist author Mary Bonnett wants to be sure we hear all about it. Who says femininity can't be toxic, too? Ticket information:

The Great LeapThe Great Leap, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 North Halsted Street. Runs Sept. 15-Oct. 20. Even when you're an American basketball players from San Francisco's Chinatown, simmering agendas make 1989 a risky year to represent your country in an exhibition match on the Maoist mainland, but Lauren Yee tells us why without ever stooping to propagandistic stereotype. Ticket information:

The King's Speech, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 East Grand Avenue at Navy Pier. James Frain (recently seen as the archvillain of TV's Elementary) turns good guy in David Seidler's docudrama of the vocal coach who gave King George VI the tools to rally his fellow Brits and lead them into battle against Hitler in 1936. Ticket information:


Twice, Thrice, Frice, Silk Road Rising, in connection with the International Voices Project, at Chicago Temple, 77 West Washington Street. Runs Oct. 13-Nov. 10. When a husband invokes the ancient Muslim custom of polygamy to marry a second wife, the women of his family decide they've had enough—oh, and by the way, it's a comedy. Ticket information:

X, Sideshow Theatre Company at the Biograph, 2433 North Lincoln Avenue. Runs Sept. 22-Oct. 27. A lone traveler broadcasts from a space station on the planet formerly known as Pluto, but is anybody listening? And since this is an Alistair McDowell play, will they get the message? Ticket information:

Mary Shen Barnidge
Contributing Writer

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