Illinois Theatre, the producing arm of the University of Illinois Department of Theatre, has announced the schedule for its 50th anniversary season. Under the theme "Resistance • Revolution • Resurgence," Illinois Theatre will offer Robert Penn Warren's political cautionary tale All the King's Men; followed by Tom Stoppard's Travesties, a "cryptic-crossword of a modern classic" comedy; Sarah Ruhl's funny, sexy and quite moving play In the Next Room, or the vibrator play;the Sondheim/Weidman dark and dangerous musical Assassins, which never seems to go out of style; Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare's finest; and a provocative new play by Robert O'Hara called Barbecue.
The line-up of topical plays and the inclusion of some exciting new directors makes for a very intriguing season for Illinois Theatre.
This is what their press release has to say about the whys and the wherefores:
"Celebrating 50 years of creating excellence in performance, design, technology, management, and scholarship, Illinois Theatre invites you to join us as we examine themes timely and timeless. Theatre’s powerful exploration of human experience stands as a reminder that great difficulties have been overcome with inquiry, analysis, critique, and persistence—always persistence. Our productions will delve into issues of gender and political corruption; we consider the role of art during the Russian Revolution; we see dawning female sexual consciousness in the Victorian era; we gawk at the twisted dreams festering in a collection of presidential assassins; laugh at the confusions of love, lust and identity in a classic Shakespearean comedy; and experience the cultural difference between two families: one black, one white. This season of plays plumb the depths (and heights) of diverse human experience, and we invite you to join us for a season of laughter, love, pain, and triumph."And here's more info on the individual plays, including directors and dates:
All the King’s Men
By Robert Penn Warren
Tom Mitchell, director
Illinois Theatre presents the quintessential American political saga of Willie Stark, a charismatic populist who rockets to the Louisiana statehouse and sets his sights on Washington. With an all-female cast, this production depicts the hyper-masculine 1930s backrooms where “good old boys” jockey for power. Robert Penn Warren adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel for the stage and for two film versions.
September 28 to 30 and October 4 to 8, 2017
By Tom Stoppard
Robert G. Anderson, director
Vladimir I. Lenin, James Joyce, and artist Tristan Tzara walk into a library—and the world is transformed. Tom Stoppard’s supremely literate comedy—with a wink and a nod to Oscar Wilde—imagines lively encounters between three revolutionaries who changed the world of politics, literature, and art. Presented by Illinois Theatre in association with the "1917/2017: Ten Days That Shook the World/Ten Days That Shake the Campus" initiative.
October 19 to 21 and 26 to 29, 2017
In the Next Room, or the vibrator play
By Sarah Ruhl
Lisa Gaye Dixon, director
In the waning years of the 19th century, the age of electricity enlivens the possibilities for human satisfaction. A path-breaking physician treats the “hysteric” needs of his female patients while overlooking domestic discontent in his own home. Illinois Theatre examines love and marriage, artistic inspiration, and burgeoning female sexuality. Viewed through a blushing comic lens of sexual awakening and desire, audiences will surely find moments of identification, sympathy, and laugh-out-loud acknowledgement. This production is for adult audiences only.
Contains adult content
Oct 26 to 28 and November 1 to 5, 2017
Stephen Sondheim, composer and lyricist
John Weidman, librettist
J.W. Morrissette, director
"Murder is a tawdry little crime; it’s born of greed, or lust, or liquor. Adulterers and shopkeepers get murdered. But when a president gets killed, when Julius Caesar got killed...he was assassinated." —John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald in Assassins.
Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Stephen Sondheim and librettist John Weidman take aim at American ideals of prosperity and fortune. Illinois Theatre presents this powerful musical examination of the blood-curdling (and banal) impulses of would-be assassins who pursue their own versions of the American dream.
February 1 to 3 and 7 to 11, 2018
Twelfth Night, or What You Will
By William Shakespeare
Brenda DeVita, guest director
Featuring a shipwreck, lost siblings, false identities, gender confusion, and star-crossed love, this production from Illinois Theatre is sure to excite every aficionado of Shakespeare. Guest director Brenda DeVita, artistic director of the American Players Theatre, has her Krannert Center debut at the helm of this lively, timeless comedy.
March 1 to 3 and 8 to 11, 2018 1-3
By Robert O’Hara
Chuck Smith, guest director
The O’Mallery family gathers in a local park to confront a sibling about her substance abuse. Is it a made-for-reality-television event? Not quite. As the narrative unspools, members of the family attack and retreat. Familiar tropes from domestic dramas give way to startling new revelations as a family’s identity shape-shifts across an evolving landscape of race, class, and consciousness. Illinois Theatre welcomes playwright Robert O’Hara to our community as we produce his exciting new comedy, directed by the Goodman Theatre's Chuck Smith.
Contains adult content
Mar 29 to 31 and April 4 to 8, 2018
For more information, take a look at the Illinois Theatre website or check out their Facebook page.