Make-Believe Association, led by Executive Producer Jeremy McCarter, will launch its career as an independent Chicago-based production company by inaugurating a new holiday tradition: a starry free reading of Thornton Wilder’s one-act masterpiece, The Long Christmas Dinner.
The reading will take place on Monday, December 11, 2017, at 7pm at Chicago Public Library in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium of Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State St.). The event is presented in association with Chicago Public Library.
"Chicago's world-class arts and culture scene is a part of what makes the city so unique,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I am proud to welcome Make-Believe Association to the stage, and look forward to the production company joining the list of world-famous Chicago theater groups that enhance our cultural fabric.”
Under the direction of Henry Wishcamper, the cast of The Long Christmas Dinner includes Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Miguel Cervantes, Gaby Godinez, Henry Godinez, Daniel Kyri, Lily Mojekwu, Avi Roque, Peter Sagal, Kristina Valada-Viars, and Tappan Wilder.
“The Long Christmas Dinner is the perfect way for Make-Believe Association to say hello to the world,” said Executive Producer Jeremy McCarter. “It’s an American masterpiece about experiences that all of us share—family and life and death and love. I can’t wait for the people of Chicago to hear this amazing and beautifully diverse cast perform it in the heart of the holiday season.”
Wilder’s great one-act play, written in 1931, when he was a visiting lecturer at the University of Chicago, traces 90 years in the life of an American family. As each generation succeeds the one preceding it, the audience sees what the people onstage cannot: how traditions persist, how time flies, how love endures.
Because Wilder said that he wrote his play about one family but that it is really about all families, the evening will feature a preshow slideshow of actual Chicago families, a citywide photo album. Chicagoans are encouraged to share a family photo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Chicago Public Library serves as an artery for artistic, cultural and educational performances, and we align with Make-Believe Association in making art and performance free and accessible,” said CPL Commissioner Brian Bannon. “OnDecember 11, the people of Chicago will have the unique opportunity to witness the company’s inaugural performance, The Long Christmas Dinner.”
Admission is free, and seating will be available on a first-come first-serve basis in the Pritzker Auditorium on the night of the reading.
Make-Believe Association, founded by Executive Producer Jeremy McCarter—a veteran of the Public Theater in New York and the co-author of Hamilton: The Revolution—explores the intersection of stories and our society. Based in Chicago, the nonprofit production company offers readings, concerts, and conversations that shed light on our times and ourselves. The stories it produces both classics and newly commissioned plays reflect the breadth of Chicago’s cultural heritage; its artists reflect the diversity of the city’s population. The company’s first playwriting commission is a new work from the poet Nate Marshall. Tickets to the company’s productions are free, one of many ways it strives to be democratic in its practice as well as in its ideals.
For more information, visit mbelieve.org.