Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Art, Lies and Kings: Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in 2012-13

Chicago Shakespeare Theater has announced their plans for their 2012-12 subscription season as well as a couple of extras to keep you entertained all the way through to June 16, 2013.

Chicago Shakes offers 4-play and 3-play subscription packages, with the Sondheim/Lapine musical "Sunday in the Park with George," directed by Gary Griffin, scheduled for September 26 to November 4; "The School for Lies," the David Ives adaptation of Moliere's Misanthrope, directed by Chicago Shakes Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, from December 4 to January 20; Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," directed by Jonathan Munby, from February 5 to March 24, thereby including the Ides of March; and the seldom-produced "Henry VIII," also directed by Barbara Gaines, from April 30 to June 16.

"Sunday in the Park" is Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Pulitzer-Prize-winning look at French Post-Impressionist painter George Seurat and his pointillist painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," which hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. It also looks at his fictional mistress and great-grandson and some of the character represented in the painting, as it ponders questions of art, creativity and how community and connections affect them. Griffin directed an earlier (and much-lauded) production of the show in the smaller theater upstairs, but this one will be in the main Courtyard Theatre.

"The School for Lies" appeared Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company in 2011, still set in France, still using period costumes, but with a guy named Frank instead of Moliere's original misanthrope and snappy swipes at people who say LOL or wear flip flops. Ives goes big and bawdy with his rhyming couplets, taking aim at the follies of mankind just as Moliere did.

You still have a few chances to see "Julius Caesar" at Illinois State University if you want to contrast and compare with the Chicago Shakes production next winter. Shakespeare's story of political ambition, loyalty, power and conspiracies never goes out of style.

Shakespeare's "Henry VIII" is usually a dryer affair, but let's give credit to Chicago Shakes for taking on some of the lesser-known plays in the canon. (See "Timon of Athens," coming up in April.) "Henry VIII" is all about Henry's marital problems and the religious and political storms that creates, as he tosses out Katherine of Aragon, takes up with Anne Boleyn, and battles the double-dealing Cardinal Wolsey over matters of finance and power. With Barbara Gaines at the helm, this "Henry" may turn out as brash and bold as the old king himself.

The first of the scheduled extras comes from the National Theatre of Scotland, who'll be bringing "The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart," created by David Greig and directed by Wils Wilson, to the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare. "Prudence," which involves a prim academic on a voyage of self-discovery, is described as "a Faustian tale" as well as a "music-filled romp of rhyming couplets and wild karaoke."

The National Theatre of Scotland is also behind "Black Watch," which will be presented off-site at the Chicago Park District's Broadway Armory. This is a return visit for "Black Watch," which combines Scottish folk music and military anthems (and lots of bagpipes) to tell its story of a Scotsmen fighting in Iraq. Playwright Gregory Burke conducted interviews with soldiers back from Iraq to get the real story of what it means to fight and whether it's ever possible to come back home. If you click here, you can see an interview with Burke, director John Tiffany, and associate directors Steven Hoggett, who was in charge of movement, and Davey Anderson, who handled the music. "Black Watch" will be presented in a limited engagement October 10 to 21, 2012.

For information on all of those shows, subscriptions, or tickets to Simon Callow's "Being Shakespeare," "Timon of Athens," or "The History of Everything," still to be performed this season, you can visit the Chicago Shakes site here.

No comments:

Post a Comment