The statistics tell part of the story about the Goodman Theatre's newly announced 2013-2014 season for its Albert and Owen stages. There will be four productions authored by women, and five shows directed by women. There will be three world premieres (two coming directly from the theater's New Stages new play development series, including Goodman commissions). And there will be two major productions with music.
The complete lineup is as follows:
In the Albert Theatre:
± "Pullman Porter Blues" (Sept. 14-Oct. 20), Cheryl L. West's story about the hidden lives of the Pullman porters who worked on the luxurious trains so essential on the American landscape for decades. Infused with many original and classic blues songs performed by a live, onstage band, the show, in its Chicago premiere under the direction of Chuck Smith (celebrating his 20th anniversary with the theater), takes place on the Panama Limited Pullman Train as it travels from Chicago to New Orleans on the night in 1937, just as Joe Louis and James Braddock were vying for the world heavyweight championship. Three generations of African-American train porters wrestle with ghosts of the past and dreams for the future as they eagerly await word of the Brown Bomber's victory.
± "Luna Gale" (Jan. 18-Feb. 23, 2014), a world premiere by Chicago playwright Rebecca Gilman, directed by Robert Falls, about a veteran social worker who thinks she has a typical case on her hands when she meets Peter and Karlie, two teenage drug addicts accused of neglecting their baby. But when she places their infant daughter in the care of Karlie's mother, Caroline sparks a family conflict that exposes a shadowy, secretive past, forcing her to make a risky decision with potentially disastrous consequences.
± "Venus in Fur" (March 8-April 13, 2014), David Ives' Broadway hit, in its Chicago premiere directed by Joanie Schultz, is about a young actress who upends her audition for a play based on a 19th century novella by Sacher-Masoch (of masochism renown) by making the audition a game of dominance between actress and director.
± "The White Snake" (May 3-June 8, 2014), the Chicago premiere of a work written and directed by Mary Zimmerman. Based on a Chinese fable, it spins the story of a gentle serpent spirit who lived for centuries coiled on a mountaintop but one day transforms herself into a beautiful young woman and, with her feisty companion Green Snake, travels down to the world of humans. There, she unexpectedly finds love, happiness and family until a vengeful monk vows to destroy the life she has built.
± "Brigadoon" (June 27-Aug. 3, 2014), a revival of the classic Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe musical, directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell ("Annie," "Ragtime"). This modern fairy tale spins the story of American tourists Tommy and Jeff who get lost on vacation in Scotland and stumble into Brigadoon, a mythical 18th century village that appears for only one day every 100 years. Love and mortality are at stake.
Note: The Goodman's 36th annual production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (Nov. 16-Dec. 29) will be directed here for the first time by Henry Wishcamper, the Goodman's newest artistic associate, who recently directed "Other Desert Cities."
In the Owen Theatre:
± "Smokefall" (Oct. 5-Nov. 3), a play by Noah Haidle ("Vigils"), directed by Anne Kauffman. This world premiere Goodman commission, co-produced with South Coast Repertory, is about a woman preparing to bring twin sons into the world while inside her womb the boys contemplate their future. Meanwhile, the pregnant woman's husband is secretly planning to leave her, her father is slipping into senility, and her daughter has taken a vow of silence.
± "Buzzer" (Feb. 8-March 9, 2014), a Chicago premiere by Tracey Scott Wilson ("The Good Negro"), directed by Jessica Thebus, about Jackson, a young, successful African American attorney determined to build a life in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of his youth. When he returns "home" with his girlfriend and troubled best friend, both white, the trio are soon forced to confront the simmering racial and sexual tensions that exist both inside their home and beyond.
± "Ask Aunt Susan" (May 24-June 22, 2014), a world premiere Goodman commission by Seth Bockley, directed by Henry Wishcamper, gives us "Aunt Susan", a twentysomething man who moonlights as an online advice guru. When "Ask Aunt Susan" becomes the web's hottest spot for self-help, Aunt Susan's boss rakes in the profits from women's everyday woes, and as Aunt Susan's online reputation mushrooms, so does the web of deceit.
Note: The Goodman's New Stages series, slated for December in the Owen, will focus on new Latino plays.
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