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Theatre News Wire

Writers Theatre Announces Expanded 2020/21 Season
Oct 20, 2020


Writers TheatreWriters Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma announce changes to the company's 2020/21 Season, to include additional digital programming and updates to previously announced productions.

I n addition to the previously announced world premiere adaptation of E. M. Forster's Maurice by Scott Parkinson, directed by David Cromer, and The Last Match by Anna Ziegler, directed by Keira Fromm, Writers will produce a new original Blues revue entitled Pearl's Rollin' With the Blues, created by Kimberly Dixon-Mays, Felicia P. Fields and Ron OJ Parson (in place of the previously announced production of Low Down Dirty Blues). The world premiere of Love & Contracts by Julia Doolittle will move to the 2021/22 Season.

Writers has also added a new digital production, specifically designed and directed for remote viewing: a co-production with Black Lives Black Words International Project of Ride Share by Reginald Edmund.

The newly added remote programs include an exclusive online interview series The Green Room, Something Wicked: Storytelling for Halloween, and two unique, paired interpretations of A Christmas Carol.

Of the changes to the season's programming, Halberstam said, "Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and this pivotal moment in our history is no exception. The realities of producing a season of theatre during a pandemic present unprecedented challenges, but our artists are demonstrating incredible ingenuity and resourcefulness. We are so excited to share our plans to deliver a hybrid season of digital productions, plus in-person plays once it is safe, to showcase our artistic community and bring our audiences an entertaining and provocative slate of programming. With our streaming productions, we know that we can't and indeed shouldn't try to compete with film or television; our digital productions instead will aim to retain the essence of the live experience but allow you to enjoy the art from the comfort of your own homes. It is our hope that we will be back at the theatre together by the end of the season, and we can only do so with your support. We hope you join us on this journey!"

The updated 2020-21 season includes:

The Green Room
Live and online on select Wednesdays at 7pm
Now available on-demand: Lydia R Diamond, David Cromer and Sandra Delgado
The Green Room features a roster of WT artists in candid, captivating interviews by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam, Director of New Work & Dramaturgy Bobby Kennedy, Associate Artistic Director Geoff Button and Director of Education Kelsey Chigas. The Green Room launched earlier this season with playwright Lydia R. Diamond (Smart People, Stick Fly), director David Cromer (Next to Normal and Picnic at WT, Broadway's The Band's Visit) and playwright and actor Sandra Delgado joined The Green Room. More are to be announced. These in-depth sessions are streamed live and, later, on-demand for season ticket holders.

Something Wicked: Storytelling for Halloween
Late October 2020
As the days get shorter and the wind brings a haunting chill, Writers Theatre dares you to dim the lights and listen to Something Wicked: Stories for Halloween. Curated by Associate Artistic Director Geoff Button, and told by an all-star lineup of Chicago actors including Chaon Cross, Allen Gilmore, Emma Ladji and Larry Yando, these eerie tales will immerse you in the world of the supernatural, spooky and suspenseful! The Sound Designer is Joseph V. Calarco. This family-friendly series is recommended for trick-or-treaters ages 10 and up.

Two Scrooges: A Christmas Carol, Two Ways

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by and featuring Michael Halberstam, directed by Stanton Long
Manual Cinema's A Christmas Carol, adapted by Manual Cinema from the original by Charles Dickens
Christmas season 2020
Artistic Director Michael Halberstam's acclaimed one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens' holiday ghost story, directed by Stanton Long and featuring Halberstam in his tour-de-force solo performance, will be paired with the world premiere of Manual Cinema's A Christmas Carol by renowned Chicago performance group Manual Cinema, reinventing Scrooge's tale for today's world with their trademark shadow puppetry, expert storytelling and music.

These two unique, complementary interpretations of A Christmas Carol epitomize WT's mission of highlighting the word and the artist. With one highly text-based, recognizing WT tradition, and the other boldly visual by some of this generation's most innovative artists, Two Scrooges is the perfect holiday entertainment event for the whole family to enjoy from the comfort of your own home. For the One-Man Christmas Carol, the Scenic Designer is Adam Veness, and the Lighting Designer is Adam Friedland.

This newly announced remote programming will be made available free and first for 2020/21 Classic Subscribers and will be available for Members, with selections available to purchase by all audiences after a priority access period for season package holders.

Writers Theatre and Black Lives Black Words International Project present
Ride Share
Written by Reginald Edmund
Online in 2021
The driver listens. The night darkens. The mystery deepens.
Marcus has a new wife, a comfortable job and everything seems to be falling into place - until his honeymoon is interrupted by an email from work, laying him off. To make ends meet, he becomes a ride share driver, shuttling passengers from all walks of life to and from parties, brunches and meetings. The passengers range from silly, to seductive - to downright scary. But as long as Marcus keeps his radio on and his wits about him, there's nothing he can't handle...right?

Written by Black Lives Black Words co-founder Reginald Edmund, Ride Share steps on the gas and takes you along for the dangerous, thrilling ride. Hop in.

Pearl's Rollin' With the Blues

Created by Kimberly Dixon-Mays, Felicia P. Fields and Ron OJ Parson
Songs from the soul. Rhythm from the heart. Come feel the Blues like never before.
In this world premiere musical revue created by Kimberly Dixon-Mays, Felicia P. Fields and Ron OJ Parson, we honor great Blues artists of the past and celebrate how they paved the way for generations of musicians to come.

Maurice
Based on the novel by E. M. Forster
Adapted by Scott Parkinson
Directed by David Cromer
A renowned novelist. A private life. An unexpected ending.
After completing the literary masterpiece Howards End, E. M. Forster began writing his most personal and controversial novel: Maurice. Completed in 1914 and published posthumously in 1970, Forster's opus on queer love in Edwardian England centers around young Maurice Hall, as he seeks answers to questions of identity from schoolmates, a hypnotherapist-and an enigmatic gamekeeper named Alec Scudder. A milestone in the history of gay love stories, Maurice twists and turns and ultimately shows us that in the end, we all deserve our place in this world.

This world premiere adaptation by Scott Parkinson (Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and more), presented for the 50th anniversary of the novel's publication, captures the spirit of a young man struggling to find himself in an intolerant society. Maurice, directed by Tony Award-winner David Cromer (Broadway's The Band's Visit, WT's Next to Normal, A Streetcar Named Desire), takes you inside the memories, dreams and desires of a remarkable mind.

The Last Match
Written by Anna Ziegler
Directed by Keira Fromm
More than a Game. Each Set on victory. The Match of their lives.
When a young Russian tennis phenom and an American superstar in his prime meet at center court, it's a tough call whether the greatest drama is playing out off the court or on! As the swift action volleys between primetime tennis matches and the most pivotal moments in the personal lives of the competitors and their equally driven romantic partners, sharp and insightful playwright Anna Ziegler (Photograph 51) draws you inside the minds of all four as they face challenges in sport, life and love. What results is a fast-paced and moving montage exploring family, the sacrifices we make for success and the legacy we leave behind.

Chicago director Keira Fromm brings her finely-tuned vision to this gripping drama, staged in the intimate Gillian Theatre. You won't want to miss this engrossing, rapid-fire take on what it means to finally achieve greatness, only to be left wanting more. In The Last Match, there is much more than just a championship on the line!


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