Was Dr. Martin Luther King correct in saying the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice? Even if we do learn from the past, are we still doomed to repeat some of it? Promethean Theatre Ensemble Artistic Director Brian Pastor says, “Friedrich Nietzsche once noted that ‘when we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.’ As Promethean begins its 13th season, we are reminded of one of our founding tenets: that we tell stories of the past to illuminate our present. The themes that we explore this season challenge us to craft a better tomorrow by taking our cues from the boldest voices of yesteryear.”
In that spirit, the company will open the 2018-19 season – its 13th – with Tom Stoppard’s ARCADIA – a play that alternates between action in the early 19th Century and the present, as its modern characters explore the past to improve their understanding of the present. One of the play’s many themes is that good ideas, though they may become lost for a time, will eventually resurface.
ARCADIA explores the nature of truth and time, the difference between classical and romantic temperaments, and the disruptive influence of sex on our life orbits– the one law of attraction that Isaac Newton forgot. ARCADIA will be directed by Ted Hoerl, the longtime Chicago actor and director who recently directed Terrence McNally’s LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART for Eclipse Theatre Company. It will open on November 19, 2018 at the Greenhouse Theater Center.
Next the company will remount their 2016 production of Moisés Kaufman’s historical drama GROSS INDECENCY: THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE. Kaufman’s play examines the persecution and prosecution of Wilde in late 19th Century Britain for his homosexuality. While LGBTQ rights have been expanded in many places not only since Wilde’s day but even more since the play premiered in 1997, equality for LGBTQ people appears to again be threatened.
GROSS INDECENCY, which Pastor will again direct, will be performed with cross-gender casting in some roles, as it was in the company’s earlier production, which enjoyed a two-week run in December 2016. Promethean Ensemble Member Jamie Bragg will reprise her leading role as Oscar Wilde. Additional casting will be announced later. GROSS INDECENCY will be performed at the Strawdog Theatre Company at 1809 W. Berenice. Press opening will be February 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm.
Promethean’s season will close with the Midwest Premiere of MAD BEAT HIP & GONE, by Steven Dietz, author of LAST OF THE BOYS and PRIVATE EYES among a canon of over thirty plays that have been produced by regional theatres across the country, internationally and off-Broadway in New York. MAD BEAT HIP & GONE follows two young Nebraska men of the 1950s who meet beat generation writer Jack Kerouac. Rejecting the established order of mid-fifties America, they follow Kerouac’s example and hit the open road in search of truth. Do they find it? And what can we learn from their travels?
The Midwest Premiere of MAD BEAT HIP & GONE will be directed by Jess Hutchinson, Artistic Director of Chicago’s late New Leaf Theatre, where her directorial credits included ARCADIA, THE DINING ROOM, and world premieres of BURYING MISS AMERICA, LIGHTHOUSEKEEPING, and THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY. MAD BEAT HIP & GONE will open on Saturday May 4, 2019. It will be one of the first productions to be staged in The Edge Theater Off Broadway, 1133 W Catalpa Avenue, a new performance space in The Edge Theater building.
The company will host its annual Season Kickoff Party on Sunday October 7, 2018 at 7 pm in the upstairs lobby of the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Tickets will be $15 and will include hors d-oeuvres, one drink ticket, one raffle ticket, and scenes from each play in the season. Tickets for the Kickoff Party will be available soon at www.prometheantheatre.org.
TOM STOPPARD (ARCADIA) Tom Stoppard is a Czech-born British playwright whose work is marked by verbal brilliance, ingenious action, and structural dexterity. His first play, A WALK ON THE WATER (1960), was televised in 1963. He achieved international recognition with his play ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD (1964–65). Among his most-notable stage plays are THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND (1968), JUMPERS (1972), TRAVESTIES (1974), EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES FAVOUR (1978), NIGHT AND DAY (1978), UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1980, adapted from a play by Arthur Schnitzler), and ON THE RAZZLE (1981, adapted from a play by Johann Nestroy). THE REAL THING (1982), Stoppard’s first romantic comedy, deals with art and reality and features a playwright as a protagonist. ARCADIA, which juxtaposes 19th-century Romanticism and 20th-century chaos theory and is set in a Derbyshire country house, premiered in 1993, and THE INVENTION OF LOVE, about A.E. Housman, was first staged in 1997. The trilogy THE COAST OF UTOPIA (VOYAGE, SHIPWRECK, and SALVAGE), first performed in 2002, explores the lives and debates of a circle of 19th-century Russian émigré intellectuals. ROCK ’N’ ROLL (2006) jumps between England and Czechoslovakia during the period 1968–90. His screenplays include THE ROMANTIC ENGLISHWOMAN (1975), DESPAIR (1978), and BRAZIL (1985), as well as for a film version (1990) of ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD that he also directed. In 1999 the screenplay for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998), cowritten by Stoppard and Marc Norman, won an Academy Award. He was knighted in 1997.
Moisés Kaufman (GROSS INDECENCY: THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE). Co-founder in 1991 of Tectonic Theater Project. Kaufman’s writing debut, GROSS INDECENCY: THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE (won an Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding Off-Broadway play. Kaufman and his troupe then began work on THE LARAMIE PROJECT (a work that examined the reactions of residents of the small Wyoming city in which gay college student Matthew Shepard had been brutally murdered.
In 2003 Kaufman directed Doug Wright’s I AM MY OWN WIFE, the story of a gay transvestite who survived life in Nazi Germany and Soviet East Berlin. It was critically acclaimed and resulted in a Tony Award nomination for Kaufman. He also directed his own play 33 VARIATIONS (first performed 2007), starring Jane Fonda as a musicologist obsessed with Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, and received another Tony nomination.
Steven Dietz (MAD BEAT HIP & GONE) Steven Dietz's thirty-plus plays and adaptations have been seen at over one hundred regional theatres in the United States, as well as Off-Broadway and in twenty countries internationally. His work has been translated into ten languages.
Mr. Dietz premiered three plays in the 2015-16 season: ON CLOVER ROAD (NNPN rolling world premiere); BLOOMSDAY (Steinberg New Play Award Citation); and THIS RANDOM WORLD (Humana Festival of New American Plays). Mr. Dietz is a two-time winner of the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, for FICTION (produced Off-Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company) and STILL LIFE WITH IRIS (the first play for Young Audiences to receive this award). He received the PEN USA West Award in Drama for LONELY PLANET; the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play for SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE FINAL ADVENTURE; and the Edgerton New Play Award for RANCHO MIRAGE (NNPN rolling world premiere). His plays LAST OF THE BOYS and BECKY'S NEW CAR were both finalists for the American Theatre Critic's Steinberg New Play Award.
Other widely produced plays include YANKEE TAVERN (NNPN rolling world premiere), SHOOTING STAR, JACKIE & ME (from Dan Gutman), GOD'S COUNTRY, DRACULA (from Bram Stoker), PRIVATE EYES, INVENTING VAN GOGH and THE NINA VARIATIONS.
Ted Hoerl (ARCADIA) Ted’s previous directing credits include: AND MISS REARDON DRINKS A LITTLE (New American Theatre); SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK AND ROLL (Vine Productions); Michael Frayn’s CHINAMEN (Prairie Dell’Arte Theatre); TWILIGHT SERENADE (Red Hen Theatre); CHARLIE’S OASIS, MUSEUM AND BAR (New Tuners); FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIRE DE LUNE (Gorilla Tango); KING OF HEARTS Shoestring Theatre at the University of Chicago); ALARMS AND EXCURSIONS (Cobalt Theatre; Jeff Nomination, Best Ensemble); THE FLU SEASON and STAGE DOOR (North Central College); LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART (Eclipse Theatre); and seven productions at the Theatre Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Brian Pastor (GROSS INDECENCY: THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE). Brian Pastor is the Artistic Director of Promethean Theatre Ensemble, where he directed THE LION IN WINTER, THE WINTER’S TALE, and GROSS INDECENCY: THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE (all Broadway World Award Nominated- Best Director), as well as HENRY V, and THE DARK SIDE OF THE BARD. He will direct ARMS AND THE MAN this fall for City Lit Theater, where he directed last fall’s acclaimed production of Archibald MacLeish’s J.B. His acting credits include HAUPTMANN for City Lit, FUTURE ECHOES for WildClaw, and THE LARK and A STUDY IN SCARLET for Promethean. Brian was the Executive Director at Raven Theatre for three seasons after serving 10 and a half years on staff at City Lit Theater, including nine as Managing Director. He is also a former board and company member of The Mime Company and a founding company member of Chicago dell’Arte.
Jess Hutchinson (MAD BEAT HIP & GONE) is a dramaturg, director, educator, and producer. As Artistic Director of Chicago’s New Leaf Theatre, her favorite projects included ARCADIA, THE DINING ROOM, and world premieres of BURYING MISS AMERICA, LIGHTHOUSEKEEPING, and THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY. After earning her MFA from UT Austin, she was proud to be the 2015-16 NNPN Producer in Residence at Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, Texas. Since returning home to Chicago she has been delighted to collaborate on productions, readings, and new play development with 20% Theatre, Rivendell, Route 66, Chicago Dramatists, Remy Bumppo, TimeLine, Governors State, and North Park University.
By Tom Stoppard
Directed by Ted Hoerl
November 16, 2018- December 16, 2018
Greenhouse Theater Center (Upstairs Studio/Theater 4), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Previews: November 16 - 18, 2018 at 8 pm
Press Opening: Monday, November 19, 2018 at 8 pm
Regular Run: Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm. Industry performance Monday, December 3 at 8 pm.
Hailed as “the perfect marriage of ideas and high comedy” (The Times), the plot of ARCADIA swings between the early 19th century and the present day to explore the relationship between order and chaos. Delightful, richly drawn characters from both time periods enter and exit the same room, and current trappings end up mixing with accouterments of the past. Mathematical theory, natural history, and Lord Byron all contribute to humanity’s eternally amusing dance of love. Sparkling dialogue and clever plot twists remind us of our desire to find order in life’s never-ending parade of seemingly random events.
GROSS INDECENCY: THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE
By Moisés Kaufman
Directed by Brian Pastor, PTE Artistic Director
Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago
February 15 – March 24, 2019
Previews: February 15, 2019 – February 22, 2019
Press Opening: Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Regular Run: Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Industry performance Monday, March 4 at 7:30 pm
A remount of Promethean’s wildly successful production, GROSS INDECENCY: THE THREE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE takes a modern look at the life of the 19th century literary figure who was both glorified and shunned during his lifetime, eventually imprisoned and convicted of the crime of homosexuality. The play uses documents of the past to uncover the story and bring Wilde and his contemporaries to life. Audiences who didn’t have a chance to see the “fast-moving and compelling” 2016 production (THIRD COAST REVIEW) will have another opportunity to witness Jamie Bragg’s “witty, charming and fierce” performance (EDGE MEDIA NETWORK) as Oscar Wilde. “See it – for the wit, the quotes, the poetry and beauty… see it.” (THE HAWK CHICAGO).
MAD BEAT HIP & GONE
By Steven Dietz
Directed by Jess Hutchinson
The Edge Theater Off Broadway, 1133 W Catalpa Ave. Chicago
April 26 – June 1, 2019
Previews: April 26 – May 3, 2019
Press Opening: Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Regular Run: Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. Industry Performance Monday, May 13, 2019 at 7:30 pm
This Midwest premiere of a new Steven Dietz play considers 1950s America, when magnificent poets roamed open highways, accompanied by jukebox jazz. The nation’s youth hit the road, high on full tanks of gas and brimming with unattainable dreams. Two magnificently average young men from Nebraska encounter Jack Kerouac and his friends in a bar. They respond by heading west themselves, trailing the Beat poets all the way to the golden land of California. Youthful exuberance is balanced by the untethered floundering of the older generation and their bittersweet knowledge that all dreams are fleeting. MAD BEAT HIP & GONE marries the realism and sharp dialogue for which Dietz is famous, with the achingly brilliant poetry of the Beat Generation. It’s a road trip you won’t want to miss.
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