Court Theatre presents Fen by Caryl Churchill

Jan 6, 2023
Fen at Court Theatre in Chicago

Court Theatre will present the third production in its 2022/23 season: Fen by Caryl Churchill; directed by Vanessa Stalling. Fen runs February 10 - March 5, 2023 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.

"Caryl Churchill is a uniquely talented wordsmith," says Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell. "The stories she tells are modern classics, yet she isn't produced with the same frequency or consistency as some of her male counterparts. We, at Court, are excited for this production of Fen and excited to return to her work - and the work of other under-produced female playwrights - the way we do the works of August Wilson, Shakespeare, and Sophocles. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Vanessa, and I'm certain that, with her at the helm, Fen will be nothing short of breathtaking."

Director Vanessa Stalling shares her inspiration: "When I think about the engine that's propelling Fen, it's the tension that lies in possibility. When we see characters striving in the face of absolutely impossible circumstances, we see that change is possible, and that's what lies at the heart of this play. To me, that's what makes Fen so incredibly hopeful, and beautiful, and brilliant."

On the marshy fens of eastern England in the 1980s, ghosts of the past haunt the women who labor as tenant farmers in the potato fields and who lead lives essentially unchanged from their 19th-century forebears. When Val seizes on a new relationship as a path to escape the crushing bonds of work, poverty, and family, she is confronted with the explosive repercussions of her decision. Employing astonishing theatrical imagery, Churchill's Fen shows with grace and sly humor how the intricate pressures of gender and class both shape and distort the characters of women. Jeff Award-winning director Vanessa Stalling (Photograph 51) returns to Court Theatre to bring her striking clarity and fresh perspective to the path-breaking text that won Churchill the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and cemented her reputation as one of our greatest living playwrights.

The cast of Fen includes Lizzie Bourne (Becky/Mrs. Hassett/Alice/Ivy), Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel (Val/Ghost), Alex Goodrich (Frank/Wilson/Mr. Tewson/Geoffrey/Businessman), Elizabeth Laidlaw (Nell/May/Mavis), Morgan Lavenstein (Angela/Deb/Mrs. Finch/Boy), and Genevieve VenJohnson (Shirley/Shona/Miss Cade/Margaret).

The creative team includes Collette Pollard (scenic and projection design), Izumi Inaba (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design), Jeffrey Levin (sound design), Eva Breneman (dialect design), Greg Geffrard (intimacy and violence director), Derek Matson (production dramaturg), Becca McCracken (casting), Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi (stilt consultant), Erin Albrecht (stage manager), and Kate Ocker (assistant stage manager).