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Theatre News Wire

Eclipse Theatre Company Announces Their 2013 Season
Sep 17, 2012


Eclipse Theatre CompanyChicago's Eclipse Theatre Company, the only theatre company in the Midwest to focus on a single playwright each season, will feature the works of legendary and prolific British playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn in the 2013 season. Eclipse will explore the full range of Ayckbourn's canon with three fully-staged productions, readings, and public events about the playwright.

"We are thrilled to begin Eclipse Theatre Company's third decade with an ambitious and exciting journey through the works of one of the most creative and important voices in contemporary theatre," Eclipse Theatre Company Artistic Director Nathaniel Swift said. "Sir Alan Ayckbourn's plays, spanning several decades, playfully challenge theatrical conventions and comedic structure while illuminating complex human emotions. In addition to being a brilliant and well known comic writer, he has also demonstrated the capacity to vividly capture the fragility and complexity of human relationships on stage, particularly that of the British middle class,"

"We plan to show all the facets of Sir Alan Ayckborun's writing - from the hysterical misunderstandings of his comedies to the whimsical yet darker underpinnings of his dramas. In a time when the middle class is such a prominent part of our national and international conversation, this is the ideal time to explore Ayckbourn's world, perhaps shedding some light on our own society and the human condition overall. The 2013 Alan Ayckbourn Season will be an exciting, illuminating and fun theatrical experience for artists and audiences alike," Swift added.

The 2013 Alan Ayckborn Season will encompass works from throughout his vast canon:

Woman in Mind
Directed by Ensemble Member Steve Scott
at the Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport Ave. Chicago IL 60657
April 11 - May 19, 2013 (Opening Nights April 14 at 7:00 pm, April 16 at 7:00 pm)
Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm

Eclipse Theatre opens the 2013 Alan Ayckbourn season with his black comedy, Woman in Mind. The comic poet of middle class life, always so very funny, goes deeper and darker in this triumphant play about a housewife named Susan who is married to a boring cleric named George. After getting knocked out by stepping on the tines of a garden rake, Susan experiences hilarious hallucinations in which her oppressive and boring everyday life is replaced by a fantasy in which she is an ideal wife and mother with an ideal family.
While her real family treats her with condescension and apathy, her fantasy family dresses in lovely white, always drinks champagne, lives in a stately home, and tells her that she is wonderful. Eventually, the fantasy family becomes nightmarish and Susan begins to realize that she is going mad. Eclipse Ensemble Member and Goodman Theatre Associate Producer Steve Scott directs.

Bedroom Farce
Directed by guest artist Nick Sandys
at the Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport Ave. Chicago IL 60657
July 25 - September 1, 2013 (Opening Nights July 28 at 7:00 pm, July 30 at 7:00 pm)
Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm

The Ayckbourn season continues with his hilarious classic comedy, Bedroom Farce. Trevor and Susannah's marriage is on the rocks. They inflict their miseries on their nearest and dearest: three couples whose own relationships are tenuous at best. Taking place in the three beleaguered couples' bedrooms during one endless Saturday night of co-dependence and dysfunction--beds, tempers, and domestic order are ruffled, leading all the players to a hilariously touching epiphany. Remy Bumppo Theatre's new Artistic Director and Jeff Award Winning actor Nick Sandys makes his Eclipse Theatre directorial debut.

Haunting Julia
Directed by guest artist Kevin Hagan
at the Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport Ave. Chicago IL 60657
October 31 - December 8, 2013 (Opening Nights November 3 at 7:00 pm, November 5 at 7:00 pm)
Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm

The Ayckbourn season concludes with the Chicago premiere of Haunting Julia. Julia Lukin was a musical prodigy who committed suicide 12 years earlier. Her father Joe has never come to terms with her death, and in the Julia Lukin Centre For Performing Studies, he hopes to discover what happened by meeting with a psychic, Ken, and Julia's boyfriend, Andy, who was the last person to see her alive. The men meet in Julia's preserved bedroom and Joe reveals that he believes Julia is trying to contact him, haunting him in order to explain what happened. Between the three men, the story of Julia's life and death is gradually revealed. As each of the men's feelings and recollections come to light, Ken believes Julia is poised to appear. Former Shattered Globe Artistic Director and Jeff Award Winning artist Kevin Hagan returns to Eclipse to direct the thrilling conclusion to the Alan Ayckbourn season.

In addition to the three main productions, Eclipse will also explore additional works of Sir Alan Ayckbourn through a year-long free series of intimate readings and discussions, The Playwright Scholar Series. Plans are also underway to have Sir Alan Ayckbourn visit the Chicago area for a symposium and discussion sometime in 2013. Details are still being planned for all of these special events

Details on the 2013 Alan Ayckbourn season, including cast and crew for the productions, are still being finalized.
As one of Britain's most performed playwrights, Alan Ayckbourn has, to date, written 75 plays. Almost all received their first performance at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Yorkshire, with more than 35 of his works being subsequently staged in the West End, at the National Theatre or by the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has held the record for the most plays being produced simultaneously in the West End. Major successes include Relatively Speaking, How the Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval, A Small Family Business, Henceforward..., Comic Potential, Things We Do For Love and House & Garden.

In 2009, Matthew Warchus' hit in-the-round production of The Norman Conquests, first seen at the Old Vic, transferred to Broadway, earning a Tony for Best Revival of a Play. Christmas 2010 saw the National Theatre's staging of his 1980 play Season's Greetings to great acclaim and a revival of Absent Friends began at the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre. Although he stepped down as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 2009 (a post he held for 37 years), he continues to guest direct there; with recent productions of Dear Uncle (his adaptation of Uncle Vanya) and Neighbourhood Watch.

Ayckbourn has also written plays for children, which include Mr. A's Amazing Maze Plays, Invisible Friends and The Boy Who Fell Into A Book. As an accomplished director, he also directed productions of A View From The Bridge, starring Michael Gambon, and the US premiere of his and Andrew Lloyd Weber's musical, By Jeeves.

His plays have been translated into 35 languages, won numerous awards nationally and internationally, and have been performed worldwide on stage and television. In recent years, he has been inducted into American Theatre's Hall of Fame, received the 2010 Critics' Circle Award for Services to the Arts and became the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards. He was knighted in 1997 for services to the theatre.

The Guardian Theatre Critic Michael Billington once said of Ayckbourn that he "has the limitless capacity for surprise...instead of repeating old formulas, he is consistently taking off in new directions."

Of his own work, Ayckbourn once said "In a lot of my writing, people are watching things which have happened to them, happened to other people. A lot of the time they are laughing with relief at the recognition of themselves. And often with my plays they are able to say: 'Well at least we're not as bad as that.'"

Eclipse Theatre Company has received wide critical acclaim, awards, and nominations for its productions since its inception in 1992, including most recently the 2011 Jeff Nominations for Best Supporting Actor, J.P.Pierson for One Flea Spare and Best Lighting Design, Lee Keenan for The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, the 2009 Jeff Awards for Best Supporting Actor, Nathaniel Swift for Blue Surge; Best Actress Laura Coover for Blue Surge; the 2007 Jeff Award for Outstanding Production, Blues for an Alabama Sky; and the 2007 Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Actress, Taylar for Blues for an Alabama Sky.

The current Eclipse ensemble is Cecil Averett, Cheri Chenoweth, Chris Corwin, Stephen Dale, Julie Daley, Sally Eames, Nora Fiffer, Susanne Hufnagel, Anish Jethmalani, Joe McCauley, Sarah Moeller, Nina O'Keefe, J.P. Pierson, Rebecca Prescott, Steve Scott, TayLar, and Katie Vandehey. The Artistic Director is Nathaniel Swift and the Managing Director is Kevin Scott.

Eclipse Theatre Company presents the work of one playwright each season. We offer the audience an opportunity, unique in the midwest, to journey with us through the playwright's works. Join us in exploring the breadth and depth of a playwright's artistic worlds.

One playwright, one season, one illuminating journey. Playwrights whose work have been featured with full seasons at Eclipse include Jean Cocteau (1998); Tennessee Williams (1999); Lillian Hellman (2000); Romulus Linney (2001); John Guare (2002); Neil Simon (2003); Keith Reddin (2004); Lanford Wilson (2005); Rebecca Gilman (2006); Pearl Cleage (2007); Arthur Miller (2010), Naomi Wallace (2011), and currently
Eugene O'Neill (2012).


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