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Court Theatre’s 2016-17 season an eclectic mix

Sandra Marquez (from left), Kamal Angelo- Bolden (on floor), Chaon Cross and Timothy Edward Kane are among the actors appearing in Court Theatre productions during the 2016-17 season. (Photo: Joe Mazza/Brave Lux Inc.)

Something brand new. Something ancient Greek. Something African American. Something British. And an old chestnut just for fun. That’s the mix for Court Theatre’s 2016-17 season.

Here’s a closer look at the lineup:

“Man in the Ring,” a world premiere by Michael Cristofer, directed by Charles Newell (Sept. 15-Oct. 16): Based on the true story of six-time world champion boxer Emile Griffith, the play charts Emile’s humble beginnings in the U.S. Virgin Islands to his infamous match against his arch-rival Benny “Kid” Paret. When Benny challenges Emile’s sexual identity, Griffith responds in the ring and leaves a mark that lingers long after their legendary encounter. (Cristofer received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play for “The Shadow Box” in 1977). The show will feature Kamal Angelo Bolden.

+ “Electra,” Nicholas Rudall’s translation of Sophocles, directed by Seret Scott (Nov. 10-Dec. 11): Proclaiming justice, Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus have murdered her husband, Agamemnon, after his triumphant return from the Trojan War. Now, many long, quiet years have passed and she cannot anticipate the judgments that will soon arrive in Argos. Her vengeful daughter Electra, and her son Orestes, reunite and scheme to confront their mother. And upholding the House of Atreus’ eternal mission to balance the scales, they seek to reclaim their father’s throne. “Electra” is the third and final chapter of Court’s Greek Cycle. Diretor Seret Scott stage the theater’s production of “Native Son” in 2014. Returning actors Sandra Marquez (Clytemnestra) and Michael Pogue (Aegisthus) will be joined by Kate Fry (Electra) to conclude the epic family story of vengeance and justice.

+ “Blues for an Alabama Sky,” by Pearl Cleage, directed by Ron OJ Parson (Jan. 12-Feb. 12, 2017): In the midst of the Great Depression, the creative spirit of New York’s Harlem Renaissance struggles with harsher realities. Angel and Guy, emerging artists with grand dreams, live next door to the more serious and political Delia, a social worker with the goal to open a community family planning clinic. Each must face their own hardships head on, but always with hope for a better life close at hand. They search for a way to keep their dreams of love, career, and service alive in times of economic despair, and they learn that the Great Depression can’t destroy the source of their creative spirit. Court’s resident artist and director Ron OJ Parson will stage this production, which is to serve as the centerpiece for a Chicago celebration of the music, art, language, and impact of the Harlem Renaissance.

+”The Hard Problem,” the Chicago premiere of a play by Tom Stoppard, directed by Charles Newell (March 9-April 9, 2017): This new work by Stoppard introduces Hilary, a young psychologist working at the prestigious Krohl Institute for Brain Science. She struggles to bear the burden of her regrets as she works through a troubling issue in her research. Where does our biology end and our person-hood begin? If there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness? Will the computer someday answer all questions psychology can ask? This “hard problem” sets Hilary at odds with her colleagues, but she prays for a miracle to lead her to the solutions. Chaon Cross will star as Hilary.

+ “Harvey,” by Mary Chase, directed by Devon de Mayo (May 11-June 11, 2017): In this classic comedy, Elwood P. Dowd is a pleasant man with a unique friend, Harvey—who happens to be an invisible, six-foot, three-inch tall rabbit. Elwood embraces Harvey in his life and introduces him to everyone he meets, thoroughly embarrassing his social-climbing sister, Veta. Questioning his sanity, she decides to have him committed to a sanitarium, but nothing goes quite according to plan as the search is on for the mild-mannered Elwood and his unseen companion. Starring Tim Kane (seen at Court in the extraordinary one-man show, “An Iliad”).

Subscriptions (for three, four or five shows) to Court’s 2016-17 season range from $90 to $280 and are on sale now. Call (773) 753-4472 or visit http://www.CourtTheatre.org. Individual tickets for all shows will be available on Aug. 1.