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American Blues gets a jump on 2016-17 season

American Blues Theater, the company whose recent memorable productions have included “Side Man,” “Hank Williams: Lonesome Highway” and “The Rainmaker,” has announced its 2016-2017 season. And Gwendolyn Whiteside, the company’s producing artistic director, has turned to a quote from poet Robert Frost to suggest the nature of the characters in the plays to be produced: “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”

Here’s the lineup:

+ An Evening of One-Acts (Aug. 26 – Sept. 25), featuring “Dutchman,” Amiri Baraka’s provocative look at race, directed by Chuck Smith, and the world premiere of “TRANSit,” by artistic affiliate Darren Canady, directed by Lisa Portes. Canady’s play, a riff on Baraka’s play, also is set on a New York subway. On a hot summer night, as Veronica finds herself drawn to a sensitive, unpredictable street performer aboard a train, the rhythms of their encounter reveal more than either had planned, and soon an explosive mix of identity, sex, and betrayal is unleashed.

+ The company’s 15th anniversary production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!” (Nov. 18-Dec. 31), the show adapted as a “live radio broadcast” from Frank Capra’s film, and directed by Whiteside.

+ “The Columnist” (Feb. 17-April 19, 2017), a Chicago premiere by the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Proof,” to be directed by Keira Fromm. A tale of power, the press, sex and betrayal, it is set at the height of the Cold War, and homes in on Joe Alsop, the nation’s most influential journalist – beloved, feared and courted by the Washington world. But as the 1960s dawn, and America undergoes dizzying change, the intense political dramas Alsop is embroiled in become deeply personal as well.

+ “Beauty’s Daughter” (June 2-Jul 2, 2017), the Chicago premiere of a play by Dael Orlandersmith, directed by Ron OJ Parson, who staged TimeLine Theatre’s stunning current production, Dominique Morisseau’s “Sunset Baby.” The Obie Award-winning Orlandersmith depicts one woman’s journey through life’s obstacles in an East Harlem neighborhood. Artistic affiliate Wandachristine plays six different characters during the course of this solo work.

All main stage performances will take place at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln. FlexPasses for the 2016-2017 season are available now at http://www.AmericanBluesTheater.com or by calling (312) 725.4228.