<a href=”http://voices.suntimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/TheSeafarer-1.jpg”> class=”size-full wp-image-210887″ alt=”Seanachai Theatre has renamed itself Irish Theatre of Chicago. Its production of "The Seafarer" has been nominated for five Jeff Equity awards.” src=”http://voices.suntimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/TheSeafarer-1.jpg”; width=”500″ height=”500″ /></a> Seanachai Theatre (seen here in its Jeff nominated production of “The Seafarer”) has renamed itself Irish Theatre of Chicago.
What’s in a name? Clarity, identity, and perhaps a box office boost based on ease of pronunciation. Whatever the reason, just as it is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary season, Chicago’s much-admired and award-winning Seanachai Theatre Company (“seanachai” is the Gaelic word for storyteller) has announced that it has officially changed its name to the more straightforward Irish Theatre of Chicago.
“Changing the name has been under serious consideration for the last several years, and after meetings with our ensemble members and our board of directors, the new name was selected, and the decision was made to make it official at the start of the 2014-15 season,” said he company’s co-artistic directors, Michael Grant and Ira Amyx, in a prepared statement. “While our name is changing, our mission remains the same, and Seanachai is still at the heart of what we do. It is our hope that our new name and logo will support our future plans, and make it easier for our current and future patrons to find and follow us in an increasingly diverse and complex digital age.”
To celebrate its 20th season it will produce the following plays:
“SHINING CITY,” by Conor McPherson, directed by ensemble member Jeff Christian (Nov. 26, 2014 – Jan. 4, 2015): Two Dublin men wrestle the living and the dead in this contemporary ghost story by Conor McPherson, author of the company’s hit show of last season, “The Seafarer.” Here, Ian, a priest-turned-therapist takes on his first patient, John, a man who claims to have seen the ghost of his recently deceased wife. What follows is a haunting and suspenseful tale of what it means to lose faith — in God, in relationships and in oneself. It will feature ensemble members Brad Armacost, Coburn Goss, Shane Kenyon and Carolyn Kruse.
McPherson is one of Ireland’s most important and widely produced contemporary playwrights, whose plays include “The Veil,” “The Weir,” “Port Authority,” “St. Nicholas,” “Dublin Carol,” and “The Night Alive.” “The Seafarer” earned Seanachai five 2013-14 Equity Joseph Jeff Award nominations including Best Play, Best Ensemble, Best Director (Matt Miller), Best Actor (ensemble member Brad Armacost) and Best Supporting Actor (ensemble member Ira Amyx).
“THE WHITE ROAD,” a world premiere by founding ensemble member Karen Tarjan, directed by ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric (April 30 – June 15, 2015): This play tells the story of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated attempt to cross Antarctica from sea to sea via the South Pole. The crew is forced to abandon its ship, The Endurance, after it is crushed by pack ice. They have one path ahead, The White Road, and it leads them on an incredible story of survival, under near impossible conditions, and a display of the strength of the human spirit when all hope appears lost.
Tarjan has performed in many Seanachai productions including “And Neither Have I Wings to Fly” “The Clearing” “Chekhov in Yalta,” “Translations,” “Marked Tree,” “The Pagans,” and “Dylan.” Her adaptations of “The Overcoat,” “The Two Towers” (with James Sie), “The Return of the King,” and “The Killer Angels” were all produced at Lifeline Theatre. This is her first original script.
Irish Theater of Chicago’s 2014-15 season will be presented at its artistic home, The Den Theatre,1333 N. Milwaukee. Subscriptions are available; call (773) 878-2727 or visit http://www.seanachai.org. Single tickets will go on sale Sept. 15.