Chicago – Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell and Executive Director Angel Ysaguirre, announces its 66th season. The company’s 2020/21 season will feature the sixth play in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle, Two Trains Running, directed by Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson; the Americana musical Violet, with book and lyrics by Brian Crawley and music by Jeanine Tesori, directed by Charles Newell; the culmination of Court’s Oedipus Trilogy with the Sophocles classic Antigone, directed by Seret Scott; Caryl Churchill’s Fen, directed by Vanessa Stalling; and a new production of Shakespeare’s Othello, starring Kelvin Roston, Jr. and Timothy Edward Kane, adapted and directed by Charles Newell.
As part of its 66th season, Court Theatre is thrilled to announce the continuation of its commitment to staging each play in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle; a musical based on a short story by Doris Betts; and the culmination of Court’s ambitious Oedipus Trilogy. Court’s 66th season also features the return of director Vanessa Stalling and an intimate new take on one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies.
“As Court Theatre enters a new decade of producing plays which redefine the notion of classic theatre, I am thrilled to present a season that showcases a cadre of prolific playwrights,” says Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director. “It’s my belief that our 2020/21 season and the passionate artists collaborating on these plays will breathe new life into the rigorous questions each playwright poses about our world, underscoring why the classics have a powerful role to play in contemporary society.”
“Our 2020/21 season features an exciting array of classic titles and playwrights,” says Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director of Court Theatre. “These plays are classics because our communities continue to imbue them with meaning and relevance and I’m eager to see how our artists and audiences shape meaning out of these plays.”
The 2020/21 Court Theatre Season up close:
Two Trains Running
Directed by Ron OJ Parson
Performance Dates: September 3 – October 4, 2020
Press Opening: September 12, 2020
Amidst the Civil Rights Movement, Memphis Lee’s restaurant is slated for demolition. While Memphis fights to sell his diner for a fair price, the rest of the restaurant’s regulars search for work, love, and justice as their neighborhood continues to change in unpredictable ways. Two Trains Running explores Black identity in the 1960s with passion, humor, and prescience, demonstrating why Wilson is one of America’s most essential voices. With his singular point of view, Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson directs the penultimate play in Court’s ongoing commitment to staging all of Wilson’s American Century Cycle.
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Book and Lyrics by Brian Crawley
Based on The Ugliest Pilgrim by Doris Betts
Directed by Charles Newell
Music Direction by Tom Vendafreddo
Performance Dates: November 5 – December 6, 2020
Press Opening: November 14, 2020
In 1964, a young Southern woman travels to Oklahoma, hoping that a televangelist will perform a miracle to heal the physical scars that have destroyed her confidence. On her pilgrimage, she meets a soldier who holds the promise of a different path to happiness. Based on Doris Betts’ short story, Violet is brought to life with a complex score of folk, gospel, and blues anthems from Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change). Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, helms this musical about faith and the true nature of beauty.
Directed by Seret Scott
Performance Dates: January 21 – February 21, 2021
Press Opening: January 30, 2021
In the aftermath of a civil war, Creon shames the rebel Polynices by leaving him unburied on the battlefield. In defiance of the Theban ruler, Antigone plans to bury her brother’s body, risking her life in the process. With intellect and unstinting vision, director Seret Scott stages Sophocles’ exploration of notions of justice. Antigone concludes Court’s Oedipus Trilogy, which ambitiously linked three ancient Greek dramas to bridge cultures, cities, and communities.
by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Vanessa Stalling
Performance Dates: March 18 – April 18, 2021
Press Opening: March 27, 2021
On the foggy fens of England, the ghosts of the past haunt the women laboring in the fields. Seizing on a new relationship as a potential path to escape, Val leaves the stultifying constraints of work and family behind, only to be confronted with the repercussions of her decision. Employing astonishing theatrical imagery, Caryl Churchill’s Fen interrogates issues of gender, class, and exploitation with grace, humor, and anger. Jeff Award-winning director Vanessa Stalling (Photograph 51) returns to Court Theatre to bring her striking clarity and fresh perspective to the play that won Churchill the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
by William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Charles Newell
Performance Dates: May 13 – June 13, 2021
Press Opening: May 22, 2021
Othello, the great Venetian general, unknowingly seals his fate when he fails to select his standard-bearer, Iago, for a military promotion. Implicating Othello’s wife, Desdemona, in an affair, Iago sets forth a series of irreversible events that spell catastrophe for Othello and his country. Kelvin Roston, Jr. and Timothy Edward Kane who sparred in Oedipus Rex return to Court to star in this intimate new take on Shakespeare’s tragedy about jealousy, ego, and betrayal. Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell combines Shakespeare’s words with exhilarating movement and elements of the 16th-century story by Cinthio that inspired Othello, crafting a production that physicalizes the poetry of the original text with raw immediacy.
Three, four and five-play subscriptions to Court’s 2020/21 season range from $96 to $300 and are on sale now. To purchase a subscription or to receive more information, call the Court Theatre Box Office at (773) 753-4472, or visit Court’s website at CourtTheatre.org. Individual tickets for all shows will be available in Summer 2020.
Court Theatre is the professional theatre of the University of Chicago, dedicated to innovation, inquiry, intellectual engagement, and community service. Functioning as the University’s Center for Classic Theatre, Court and its artists mount theatrical productions and audience enrichment programs in collaboration with faculty. These collaborations enable a re-examination of classic texts that pose the enduring and provocative questions that define the human experience. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to classic American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. The theatre revives lost masterpieces; illuminates familiar texts; explores the African American theatrical canon; and discovers fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.