Court Theatre Announces 65th Season

by Jason Epperson

Hyde Park’s venerable Court Theatre has announced its 2019–2020 season. The company’s 65th offering will feature the ninth play in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle, “King Hedley II,” directed by Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson; Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex,” directed by Artistic Director Charles Newell; Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” directed by Sean Graney; Henrik Ibsen’s “The Lady from the Sea,” directed by Shana Cooper; and “The Gospel at Colonus,” a gospel reimagining of the “Oedipus” tale that played Broadway in 1998. Newell directs.

“King Hedley II” is a continuation of Court’s commitment to staging each play of the Wilson Century Cycle. “Oedipus Rex” and “The Gospel at Colonus” are the first 2/3 of what Court calls their “most ambitious project to date,” the Oedipus Trilogy, culminating with “Antigone” in the following season. Court was built upon interpretations of classic drama, and will use the late Nicholas Rudall’s translation of “Oedipus Rex.” Rudall was Court’s founding artistic director, serving for 23 years. He passed last summer at age 78 to complications from colon and liver cancer.

Court Theatre’s 65th season directors, clockwise from top left: Charles Newell, Ron OJ Parson, Taron Patton, Sean Graney, and Shana Cooper

“As I enter my twenty-fifth year at the helm of Court Theatre, I am thrilled to present a season that parallels Court’s own artistic genesis,” says Newell. “The plays in our 2019/20 season are as quintessentially classic as they are thematically resonant. Each of these rich productions will be gloriously brought to life by artists with diverse viewpoints, serving to showcase why classic plays are the enduring bedrock of theatrical tradition.”

“In addition to the array of playwrights and perspectives you will see on our stage, we will also connect with longtime patrons and our neighbors in innovative ways, shepherding in a new era of engagement, education, and impact in Court’s dynamic history,” added Angel Ysaguirre, Court’s executive director.

The 2019/20 Court Theatre Season (descriptions from the press release):

King Hedley II
by August Wilson
Directed by Ron OJ Parson
September 12 – October 13, 2019

Placing his hopes and dreams on the line, a man pieces together his life in Pittsburgh after seven years in prison. Family ties are tested and crime and retribution collide in August Wilson’s ninth play in the American Century Cycle—Court’s eighth production in our ongoing commitment to producing all ten plays of the cycle. Nationally acclaimed for his direction of August Wilson’s plays, Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson brings a depth of humanity to Wilson’s interrogation of African American life in the 1980s.

Oedipus Rex
by Sophocles
Translated by Nicholas Rudall
Directed by Charles Newell
November 7 – December 8, 2019

Oedipus seeks to cure his city of a mysterious plague by discovering the murderer of the former king. Captivating and cathartic, Sophocles’ seminal Greek tragedy brings to light enduring questions of identity, fate, and free will that reverberate in startling ways in the 21st century. Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell helms this production which begins Court’s Oedipus Trilogy, honoring the foundations of drama and Founding Artistic Director Nicholas Rudall’s vision for the way Court Theatre would invigorate the classic canon.

The Mousetrap
by Agatha Christie
Directed by Sean Graney
January 16 – February 16, 2020

The Ralstons’ house becomes lethal when four guests are snowed in amidst reports of a woman’s murder. Agatha Christie’s craft for building skillful twists and shocking turns is on full display in this famed mystery which reinforces the genre as a pillar of classic drama. “The Mousetrap” is revived in an exuberant staging by Sean Graney that eschews cliché and begs for a repeat viewing as the traps characters lay are sprung in surprising ways.

The Lady from the Sea
by Henrik Ibsen
Translated by Rolf Fjelde
Directed by Shana Cooper
March 12 – April 12, 2020

When a sailor returns to fulfill his promise, a lighthouse keeper’s daughter must choose between her landlocked marriage and the mesmerizing allure of the sea. Hailed as a watershed moment in Ibsen’s writing, “The Lady from the Sea” dissects issues of duty, marriage, and agency with raw emotion and disarming resonance. Director Shana Cooper injects the text with a visceral physicality that thrillingly reflects and refracts Ibsen’s structure and characterization.

The Gospel at Colonus
Conceived and Adapted by Lee Breuer, Music Composed by Bob Telson
Original Lyrics by Lee Breuer, Adapted Lyrics by Bob Telson and Lee Breuer
Directed by Charles Newell
With Associate Director TaRon Patton
May 7 – June 7, 2020

Soulful and stirring, “The Gospel at Colonus” reimagines the story of Oedipus as the centerpiece of an African American Pentecostal church service. A redemptive celebration, this one-of-a-kind theatrical event breathes new life into a classic myth with a score of powerful gospel music. A bold collaboration from an extraordinary team of artists led by Charles Newell and TaRon Patton, “The Gospel at Colonus” builds upon the strengths and experiences of its directors to bring this nationally-touring Broadway smash hit to life with new clarity on Chicago’s South Side.

Subscriptions are on sale now at (773) 753-4472, or Individual tickets will be available this summer.

About author

Jason Epperson

Jason is a producer, manager, and designer with 17 years of experience in Chicago, New York, and in the touring market. In 2015, he founded Lotus Theatricals - the publisher of Performink, and an independent commercial producing company - with Abigail Trabue.