Raven Theatre Announces Its 2016-2017 Lineup in Edgewater Glen

Raven Theatre

If you are interested in catching some shows in the neighborhood this year, the Raven Theatre just announced their season lineup.

For its 2016-17 season, the 33-year-old Raven Theatre Company will again bring new plays and playwrights to Chicago audiences along with revivals of classic and lesser-known works by masters of modern drama. Michael Menendian, producing artistic director, today announced a lineup that includes the early Tennessee Williams play Not About Nightingales and Pinter’s Betrayal as well as the Midwest premieres of Richard Greenberg’s recent Broadway hit The Assembled Parties and Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti, one of the U.K.’s most acclaimed new playwrights, and the world premiere of Sycamore – a drama of contemporary family life set in the Midwest by New York-based playwright Sarah Sander.

In announcing the season, Menendian said “We’re very excited to be presenting such a range of work. Not About Nightingales, like our previous selections of Williams’ Vieux Carré and William Inge’s A Loss of Roses, is another fine but little-known play by an American master. Pinter’sBetrayal is a modern classic we’ve been wanting to do for years. We’re also thrilled to be the first to bring Richard Greenberg’s Tony-Award nominated The Assembled Parties to Chicago, just as we did last year with Dividing the Estate. Red Velvet – which was a huge hit in London and very well received in New York – will be an entertaining and moving story of backstage life and racial intolerance in the London theatre world of the early 19th Century. We’re also proud to continue to support new work, and we know Sycamore, with its very contemporary view of modern family life, will be a joy for our audiences to discover.”

The season will be preceded by a special return engagement of Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys, the play with music by Mark Stein and Harley White Jr. that earned raves and wowed sold out houses when it opened Raven’s 2015-16 season last September. The entire cast of last fall’s production will return for this remounting of Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys, which will play on Raven’s East Stage from July 21 to August 21, 2016. It is not included in the 2016-17 subscription season. Single tickets for this show are currently on sale.

Plays in the 2016-17 Season

Red Velvet

By Lolita Chakrabarti

MIDWEST PREMIERE

Directed by Michael Menendian.

East Stage

Previews: September 21 through September 26, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. and Monday, September 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm.

Opening Night: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Performances continue through Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. beginning Friday, September 30 (no show Thursday, September 29 or Thursday, November 24, 2016)

The 2015-16 season will open in September with the Midwest premiere of Red Velvet by British playwright Lolita Chakrabarti. The play, which premiered in London in 2012 to critical acclaim, tells the backstage story of African-American actor Ira Aldridge and how in 1833 he became the first black actor to perform on a London stage. The action is set at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden after Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage while playing Othello. Aldridge has been asked to take over the role, but as the public riots in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will the cast, critics and audience react to the revolution taking place in the theatre?

The London production of Red Velvet transferred to New York in April 2014, where The New York Times’s Ben Brantley said of it, “you can experience firsthand what it must have felt like to be part of one seriously rattled London theater audience in 1833.” Michael Menendian, Producing Artistic Director of the company, will direct.

Betrayal

By Harold Pinter

Directed by Lauren Shouse

West Stage

Previews: October 26-29, 2016 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, October 30, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Opening Nights: Monday, October 31 and Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Performances continue through December 17, 2016

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. beginning Friday, November 4, 2016 (no show Thursday, November 3)

Opening on Raven’s intimate West Stage in October will be another British play, the modern classic Betrayal, by Harold Pinter. The drama concerns the nine-year affair between a London writer and the wife of his publisher and best friend. A thoughtful, rich play about a common theme of human existence – the difficulty in maintaining honest relationships with those close to us –Betrayal is known for its unique structure, it tells the story backwards in time, with the play beginning at the end of the affair and ending as the affair is about to begin. Betrayal has been produced three times on Broadway. Its most recent revival was in 2013-14 and was the last Broadway play directed by Mike Nichols.  A 1983 film version starred Jeremy Irons, Ben Kingsley and Patricia Hodge.

Lauren Shouse will direct, making her Raven Theatre debut.

The Assembled Parties

By Richard Greenberg

MIDWEST PREMIERE

Directed by Cody Estle

East Stage

Previews: January 25 through 28, 2017 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. and Monday, January 30, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Opening Night: Tuesday, January 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Performances continue through March 25, 2017

Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. beginning Friday, February 3, 2017 (no show Thursday, February 2, 2016)

The Assembled Parties, which was produced on Broadway in 2013 by the Manhattan Theatre Club and earned a Tony® Award nomination for Best Play as well as winning the Tony for leading actress Judith Light, welcomes us to the world of a New York Upper West Side Jewish family in 1980. In a sprawling Central Park West apartment, former movie star Julie Bascov and her sister-in-law Faye bring their families together for their traditional holiday dinner. But tonight, things are not usual. A houseguest has joined the festivities for the first time and he unwittingly—or perhaps by design—insinuates himself into the family drama. Twenty years later, as 2001 approaches, the Bascovs’ seemingly picture-perfect life may be about to crumble. A stunning play infused with humor, The Assembled Parties is an incisive portrait of a family grasping for stability at the dawn of a new millennium.

Raven Associate Artistic Director Cody Estle will direct.

Sycamore

By Sarah Sander

WORLD PREMIERE

Directed by Devon de Mayo

West Stage

Previews: March 8 – 11, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 3:30 p.m.

Opening Nights: Monday, March 13 and Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Performances continue through April 29, 2017

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. beginning Friday, March 17 (no show Thursday, March 16, 2017)

Devon de Mayo will make her Raven Theatre debut as director of Sycamore.

Not About Nightingales

By Tennessee Williams

Directed by Michael Menendian

East Stage

Previews: April 19-22, 2017 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, April 23 at 3:00 p.m., and Monday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Opening Night: Tuesday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Performances continue through June 17, 2017

Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. beginning Friday, April 28, 2017 (no show Thursday, April 27)

Inspired by real events at a Philadelphia prison in 1937, convicts protesting the physically abusive and even murderous tactics of a martinet warden wage a hunger strike. This 1938 play, written six years before Williams’s success with The Glass Menagerie, was for decades lost until the actress Vanessa Redgrave learned of it and was able to locate a manuscript. She brought it to Trevor Nunn, then Artistic Director of Britain’s Royal National Theatre. Nunn and the RNT later staged the play’s World Premiere as a three-way co-production with Redgrave’s Moving Theatre and Houston’s Alley Theatre. Their production transferred to Broadway in January 1999 and was nominated for six Tony awards.

The New York Times called Not About Nightingales “Enthralling…A feverish, full strength compassion for people in cages makes Nightingales fly toward a realm of pain and beauty that is the province of greatness…The emotions, both savage and painfully delicate, that saturate this work are arguably more rich and varied in tone than those of any American dramatist…The voices of Williams’s entrapped nightingales…refuse to fade when the play is plunged into its concluding darkness.” The New York Daily News said it was “The best American play so far this season…It adds to the reputation of one of America’s greatest playwrights.”

Raven Producing Artistic Director Michael Menendian will helm the company’s production of this little-known classic by Williams.

Casting for the productions has not yet been set.

Subscriptions for the full five-play season or the subscriber’s choice of any four of the five plays are now on sale. Four-show “Preview Plus” subscriptions good for previews and the first weekend of regular performances are $72.00 and “Anytime” packages good at any performance are $112.00. Subscriptions to all five plays are $85.00 for “Preview Plus” packages and $125.00 for “Anytime” packages. Current subscribers receive a 10% discount for renewals purchased byMay 31, 2016.  Subscriptions may be purchased online at http://www.raventheatre.com or by telephone at 773-338-2177.

Single tickets for the season productions will go on sale at a later date.

NOT INCLUDED IN SEASON SUBSCRIPTIONS – SINGLE TICKETS NOW ON SALE

Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys

(An Evening of Vaudeville and Sorrow)

By Mark Stein, Music and Lyrics by Harley White Jr.

Directed by Michael Menendian

Music Direction by Frederick Harris, Choreography by Kathleen Dennis

Previews Wednesday, July 21 and Thursday, July 22 at 7:30 pm.
Opening night Friday, July 23 at 7:30 pm.
Regular run Friday, July 23 – Sunday, August 21, 2016.

Fridays – Saturdays at 7:30 pm. Sundays at 3 pm.

General admission $42.00, seniors $37.00 ($3.00 discount if ordered online in advance), students, teachers and military $18.00 ($1.00 discount if ordered online in advance)

PLAYWRIGHT BIOS

Lolita Chakrabarti is a British actress and writer. Her play Red Velvet earned her the Charles Wintour Evening Standard Award and the London Critics Circle Award in 2012 for Most Promising Playwright after it opened at London’s Tricycle Theatre.  It was revived in 2014 and transferred to New York, where it earned further rave reviews. She is married to the British actor Adrian Lester, who originated the role of Ira Aldridge in the original London production of Red Velvet.

Harold Pinter was a Nobel Prize-winning English playwright, screenwriter, director and actor. One of the most influential modern British dramatists, his writing career spanned more than 50 years. His best-known plays include The Birthday Party (1957), The Homecoming (1964), andBetrayal (1978), each of which he adapted for the screen. His screenplay adaptations of others’ works include The Servant (1963), The Go-Between (1971), The French Lieutenant’s Woman(1981), The Trial (1993), and Sleuth (2007). He also directed or acted in radio, stage, television, and film productions of his own and others’ works. Pinter received over 50 awards, prizes, and other honors, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005 and the French Légion d’honneur in 2007. He died from liver cancer on 24 December 2008.

Richard Greenberg is one of the most prolific playwrights currently working in American theatre. He has had more than 25 plays premiere on and off-Broadway in New York and is perhaps best known for his 2003 Tony Award winning play, Take Me Out, about the conflicts that arise after a Major League Baseball player nonchalantly announces to the media that he is gay.

Greenberg’s plays include The Dazzle, The American Plan, Life Under Water, and The Author’s Voice. His adaptation of August Strindberg’s Dance of Death ran on Broadway in 2002, starring Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren and David Strathairn; and a 2006 Broadway revival of his play Three Days of Rain starred Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd. In 2013, Greenberg worked on three shows on Broadway: an adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Assembled Partiesand the book for the musical Far from Heaven. His play Our Mother’s Brief Affair, starring Linda Lavin, was produced on Broadway by Manhattan Theatre Club earlier this year.

Sarah Sander has seen her work developed/produced by Columbia University, |the claque|, DC Arts Center, Florida Studio Theatre, Inkwell Theatre, Kennedy Center, Lark, NYSF, Page 73 Productions, Public Theater, Project Y and Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival. She’s a member of the Public Theater’s 2015 Emerging Writers Group, New Georges Affiliated Artist, alumni of the Dramatist Guild Fellowship and P73’s Interstate 73. Residencies: MacDowell, Millay and SPACE at Ryder Farm. Finalist: ATL’s Heideman Award, Clubbed Thumb’s Biennial Commission, Playwrights Center’s Jerome Fellowship, Juilliard’s Lila Acheson Fellowship, Leah Ryan FEWW Prize, P73’s Playwriting Fellowship, Playwrights Realm Fellowship, Trustus Theatre Festival, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and Source Theater Festival. Nominations: Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, NTC’s Stavis Award and Williamstown’s Weissberger Award. For the 2009-2010 season she served as a National New Play Network Playwright-in-Residence (Florida Studio Theatre). MFA: University of Iowa.

Tennessee Williams was an award winning playwright, whose accolades include one Tony Award, four New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards and two Pulitzer Prizes. Often using people and situations from his own life as inspiration for his characters and plot lines, Williams tackled many controversial and personal topics including homosexuality, depression and addiction to drugs and alcohol. Known as a master of American drama, Williams’ prolific nature led to the penning of many plays, novels, short stories and a screenplay. His best known works are The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

DIRECTOR BIOS

Producing Artistic Director Michael Menendian is a co-founding member of Raven Theatre, where he has directed and designed many productions.  His previous directing credits include:Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys, The Old Friends, All My Sons, The Playboy of the Western World, A Soldier’s Play, Glengarry Glen Ross, Golden Boy, A Streetcar Named Desire, A View from the Bridge, Dancing at Lughnasa, Jesus Hopped The ’A’ Train, Death of a Salesmanand Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  He has earned multiple Joseph Jefferson and After Dark awards for direction and design.

Lauren Shouse is a Chicago-based director and the Literary Manager at Northlight Theatre. Her directing credits include: Rapture, Blister, Burn; Superior Donuts; and A Christmas Story at Nashville Repertory Theatre, the world premiere of Long Way Down with 3Ps productions (nominated for American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award 2011); the world premiere of Religion and Rubber Ducks with Ovvio Arte; Parallel Lives, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Last Five Years and Chess in Concert with Street Theatre Company; the world premiere of Rear Window at Chaffin’s Barn Theatre, In The Next Room or the Vibrator Play and Eurydice at Wirtz Center for Performing Arts, and a Down Stage Left playwriting residency with Stage Left Theatre. She has had the pleasure of assistant directing at Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, and Northlight Theatre.  Lauren holds an MFA in theatre directing from Northwestern University.

Cody Estle is Associate Artistic Director at Raven Theatre, where he has directed A Loss of Roses, Dividing the Estate, Vieux Carré, Good Boys and True, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Boy Gets Girl and the world premiere of Dating Walter Dante. His other Chicago direction credits include The Seagull, Watch on the Rhine at The Artistic Home; Don’t Go Gentle at Haven Theatre; Uncle Bob at Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company and Hospitality Suite at Citadel Theatre Company. He’s had the pleasure of assistant directing at Steppenwolf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Goodspeed Musicals, Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, Next Theatre and Strawdog Theatre. Estle is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

Devon de Mayo most recently directed Animals Out of Paper for Shattered Glove theatre andYou Can’t Take It With You for Northlight Theatre. Last year, Devon worked as the Resident Director under Stephen Daldry on the Broadway production of The Audience. Other directing credits: Lost in Yonkers (Northlight), Jet Black Chevrolet (the side project), Compulsion and Everything is Illuminated (Next), An Actor Prepares (Logan Center), Roadkill Confidential, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Clouds (Dog & Pony), Infiltrating Bounce (Luminaria, San Antonio), and 52 (Canal Cafe, London). Directing and devising credits: Guerra: A Clown Play (performances in Chicago, New York, Albuquerque, Madrid, Bogota and Mexico City); The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls (Dog & Pony) and The Twins Would Like to Say(Dog & Pony, Steppenwolf Garage Rep). She is the co-artistic director of Dog & Pony Theatre and received her MFA from Middlesex University in London.
Raven Theatre

Raven Theatre is committed to presenting the range of modern drama from Ibsen to the most current playwrights on the rise.  Through a vigorous program of full productions and new play development [Working Title], as well as a first class theatre education series, Take Flight, Raven creates a powerful and welcoming environment in which artists hone their skills, young students gain valuable insights into theatre arts, and patrons experience high quality programming that is easily accessible to all.

Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by Alphawood Foundation, Dramatists Guild Fund, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, Polk Bros. Foundation, Yates Feldman Foundation, S&C Electric, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Dadourian Foundation, Kinder Morgan Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Free parking is provided in a lot adjacent to the theatre – additional street parking is available.

Raven Theatre is handicapped accessible.

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