City Lit Announces 40th Season Lineup

City Lit Theater has announced the four shows that will make up the company’s 40th season.

Examining key moments in American history and the personalities (real and fictional) that have shaped the country, the season will open in September with the Chicago premiere of ROMANCE LANGUAGE by Peter Parnell, directed by Artistic Director Terry McCabe, followed in January by Kristine Thatcher’s VOICE OF GOOD HOPE, also directed by McCabe. The season continues with the world premiere of THIRTEEN DAYS written and directed by Brian Pastor, based on Robert F. Kennedy’s book detailing the events of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The season concludes with the world premiere of Owen Lister’s novel THE VIRGINIAN: A HORSEMAN OF THE PLAINS, directed by McCabe and adapted for the stage by L.C. Bernadine and Spencer Huffman.

CITY LIT THEATER’S 2019/20 SEASON (from the press release):

by Peter Parnell
Directed by Terry McCabe
September 27 – November 10, 2019

A mock-epic comic fantasia of America in 1876, its centennial year. Huck Finn enlists Walt Whitman in a cross-country search for Tom Sawyer. On their journey they encounter Louisa May Alcott, who is carrying on an affair with the ghost of Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond. Walt and Huck next ride a raft on the Concord River, which despite its actual geography carries them west across the whole country. On their trip west they meet a parade of 19th-Century literary figures, including Emily Dickinson, who is living among the Sioux in Montana. They finally they find Tom, who has signed up with Custer’s army and is headed for Little Big Horn.

by resident playwright Kristine Thatcher
Directed by Terry McCabe
January 3 – February 16, 2020

A dramatic portrait of Barbara Jordan, the first African American congresswoman to be elected from the Deep South. The play follows Jordan from her childhood in Houston’s Fifth Ward through her receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton, and deals with her pivotal role on the House Judiciary Committee during its hearings concerning the possible impeachment of President Richard Nixon, her complex political relationship with Texas power broker Robert Strauss, her struggle with muscular dystrophy, and her twenty-year relationship with Nancy Earl, her companion and occasional speechwriter, and ultimately her caregiver. The play premiered at Victory Gardens Theater in 2000 and has been produced from New York to San Francisco in the years since then.

World premiere adaptation of the book by Robert F. Kennedy
Adapted and directed by Brian Pastor
February 28 – April 12, 2020

A world premiere adaptation of THIRTEEN DAYS by Robert F. Kennedy, his memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis. On October 16, 1962, long-range Soviet missiles carrying nuclear warheads aimed at the United States were discovered in Cuba. For the next thirteen days, President John Kennedy maneuvered his way through conflicting counsel from his advisors, some of whom urged a military response likely to bring on World War III, ambiguous and sometimes deceitful information from the Soviet Union’s representatives, and ever-shifting facts on the ground. City Lit has received permission from the Kennedy family to insert as dialogue into our script excerpts from recently-made-public transcripts of JFK’s strategy sessions during the climax of the Cold War, the thirteen days the world came its closest to nuclear war. As with City Lit’s acclaimed production last season of Archibald MacLeish’s J.B., the roles in THIRTEEN DAYS will be played by a diverse ensemble of women. All the characters in the book are white males; none of the actors onstage will be.

by Owen Wister
World premiere adaptation by L.C. Bernadine and Spencer Huffman
Directed by Terry McCabe
June 5 – July 19, 2020

A world premiere adaptation of the novel that originated the archetype of the American cowboy. Never named, rough-hewn but soft-spoken, living on the frontier between nature and civilization, the Virginian pursues his own singular code of honor. On a ranch near Sunk Creek, Wyoming, the cowpuncher from Virginia struggles to uphold this code in conflict with his deadly enemy, a former ranch hand turned rustler, as well as in his courting of the fiercely independent schoolmarm, whose own personal code is as strong as his. City Lit’s adaptation will feature giant puppets as the horses in the story, a few of whom are important minor characters, to be designed by Von Orthal Puppets, creator of the puppets that represented the gods in City Lit’s world premiere translation of Aeschylus’s PROMETHEUS BOUND two seasons ago.

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