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Pictured: Lavina Jadhwani
Writers Theatre has announced its 2018/19 six-show season, opening with Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone,” with original music by Shane Rettig, directed by Lavina Jadhwani. The season will continue with William Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” directed by Ron OJ Parson. Closing the season in the Nichols Theatre will be the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Next to Normal,” with music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, directed by David Cromer and music directed by Andra Velis Simon. The World Premiere of Jen Silverman’s “Witch,” inspired by The Witch of Edmonton by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford and directed by Marti Lyons will open the season in the Gillian Theatre, followed by Caryl Churchill’s suspenseful “A Number,” directed by Robin Witt.
The Writers Theatre 2018/19 Season includes (from the press release):
Written by Qui Nguyen
Original Music by Shane Rettig
Directed by Lavina Jadhwani
August 15 – September 23, 2018
It’s 1975 and two young survivors (who may or may not be the playwright’s parents) meet in a Vietnamese refugee camp in mid-America shortly after the fall of Saigon. Will this strange new land of cowboys, hippies and bikers allow them to fall in love? Playwright Qui Nguyen’s wildly creative, irreverent style flips stereotypes on their head, remixing history and culture into a sexy, funny and energetic fantasia as he imagines how two soul mates might have found each other in a turbulent time.
Equal parts road-trip adventure, buddy film, romantic comedy and Hamilton-esque rap musical, this epic new play repurposes pop culture from the last forty years to tell its “probably-mostly-true” story. Directed by Lavina Jadhwani, Vietgone takes a no-holds-barred approach, transporting you through time and across the globe to put an innovative spin on a critical moment in our history.
Written by Jen Silverman
Inspired by The Witch of Edmonton by Rowley, Dekker & Ford
Directed by Marti Lyons
September 26 – December 16, 2018
Mischief is afoot in the sleepy village of Edmonton and the fate of the world is at stake in this smart modern fable. When the emotionally conflicted son of the local lord and an ambitious newcomer come into conflict, help presents itself to both of them in the same guise—as the Devil himself. But while these two young men take advantage of the Devil’s bargain to accomplish their own questionable ends, someone else in town stands her ground—Elizabeth, an outcast whom everyone believes to be a witch.
Rising playwright Jen Silverman boldly transforms this classic play by Jacobean playwrights William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford, using a contemporary lens to make the machinations of the distant past strikingly relevant to today. Directed by Marti Lyons (The Mystery of Love & Sex) in the intimate Gillian Theatre, this wickedly funny, slyly subversive play will captivate you with the question: would you know what to ask for if the Devil came knocking on your door?
Or What You Will
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam
November 7 – December 16, 2018
Shakespeare’s romantic, boisterous and poignant comedy has never felt more relevant—or more hilarious! When young Viola is shipwrecked on an unfamiliar shore, presuming her twin brother drowned in the same wreck, she must disguise herself as a man to secure a job with the local Duke Orsino. But when asked to further Orsino’s romantic interests with the powerful Olivia, she finds herself tangled in an increasingly confused love triangle. Crossed wires, cross purposes and crossed garters abound, leading to a final scene of revelations that allows almost everyone to live happily ever after…
One of Western literature’s greatest comedies, Twelfth Night imagines a world where up is down, hot is cold and love is not always what it seems! Directed by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam, Twelfth Night will draw you into its world of lovers and louts, some of them so consumed by their lust for the wrong person they’re unable to see the truth that’s right in front of them.
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Written by August Wilson
Directed by Ron OJ Parson
February 6 – March 17, 2019
This visceral American classic serves as the 1920s chapter of August Wilson’s epic The American Century Cycle. What begins as a routine recording session becomes more strained as tensions rise between the members of a blues band and the owners of the recording studio. The white producers mean to exploit the talents of the band—especially the gifted and impulsive Levee—but when Ma insists on having things her way, tensions are enflamed and the play builds to an unexpected and searing climax.
Inspired by the real-life Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, this groundbreaking work is the only play by American icon August Wilson to be set in Chicago. Directed by WT Resident Director Ron OJ Parson (East Texas Hot Links, The Caretaker, The Old Settler), Ma Rainey will envelop you in a vision of the Roaring Twenties defined by Wilson’s remarkably beautiful language and an extraordinary dramatic conflict between ambition, desperation and love for The Blues.
Written by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Robin Witt
March 20 – June 9, 2019
Powerful, unpredictable and devastating, Caryl Churchill’s suspenseful A Number sees a father meeting his “estranged” son over several visits. As they reconnect, multiplying lies are uncovered, revealing a horrifying truth about their shared past that leads directly to the provocative questions: how much do we pass on to our children and is it really possible to atone for our mistakes?
Set in a strikingly familiar future, this ingenious and illuminating twist on a family drama examines the idea of individuality and the very nature of identity. Staged in WT’s Gillian Theatre by Chicago director Robin Witt, the WT production will reveal the emotional core of this gripping play, drawing audiences into its fascinating dystopia as it asks heady questions about the morality of actions that might just be taking place tomorrow…
NEXT TO NORMAL
Music by Tom Kitt
Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Music Direction by Andra Velis Simon
Directed by David Cromer
May 8 – June 16, 2019
On the outside, The Goodmans seem like the average American family: house in the suburbs, white picket fence and two sharp-witted kids. But inside, their lives are anything but normal, with long-buried secrets that threaten to tear them apart. Featuring powerful lyrics and an electrifying score, this explosive musical uses wry humor and brutal honesty to explore how family trauma can fracture the American Dream, while ultimately leading to a chance at new beginnings.
This deeply moving and captivating American musical took Broadway by storm in 2009, winning three Tony awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Now, Chicago and Broadway director David Cromer returns to WT, where he has directed A Streetcar Named Desire and Picnic, to bring his singularly personal touch to this modern musical where the lines between reality and delusion are never quite clear.