A dozen performers will be flying solo at the Greenhouse Theater Center between June 2016 and February 2017.
It’s all part of “Solo Celebration!” the new Greenhouse initiative that will bring one-person plays by Chicago writers as well as work already seen Off Broadway and in London — to its facility at 2257 N. Lincoln, with creative teams that include both Jeff and Tony Award winners.
In a prepared statement, Jacob Harvey, artistic director of the Greenhouse noted: ““I was surprised at the breadth of submissions we received, not only in genre and sheer volume, but also in the exciting ways in which playwrights are experimenting with the form of the one-person play. Each of the works that we have selected for full production possesses something special that we think contributes to the national conversation about solo-plays, as well as creating a diverse and robust series — one that encapsulates everything from comedy to tragedy, and features new works by both local and national playwrights that have crafted compelling and challenging new roles for each show’s solo-actor.”
Chicago-based playwrights include Isaac Gomez, Brett Neveu, Douglas Post, Susan Padveen and Philip Dawkins (who will also be performing his solo work). Joining these local artists are award-winning authors Staceyann Chin (who will also star in her autobiographical piece), Laurence Leamer, John Walch, Sarah Myers and Matty Selman. Among the directors connected to solo series are Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winner Cynthia Nixon, Goodman Theatre producer and Artistic Collective member Steve Scott, Writer’s Theatre resident director Kimberly Senior, Directors Lab Chicago artistic director Elizabeth Margolius, and Remy Bumppo artistic associate Linda Gillum. Some of the performers confirmed to star in solo works include Jeff Award-winner Kate Buddeke, acclaimed British actor Simon Slater, Karen Rodriguez and Carin Silkaitis. Most productions will be produced in their entirety by Greenhouse, while other plays will be stated with co-producers including Sideshow Theatre Company, The Other Theatre Company and Rosie O’Donnell.
Shows scheduled include:
“MotherStruck!” (June 10-July 17): The Chicago premiere of the Off-Broadway hit written and performed by Staceyann Chin and originally directed by Cynthia Nixon. The show explores Chin’s journey to motherhood as a single woman, lesbian and activist who does not have health insurance or a “serious, stable financial set up.”
“The Way She Spoke: A Docu-mythologia” (June 10-July 10), a world premiere written by Isaac Gomez, directed by Laura Baker and starring Karen Rodriguez. When an actress enters an empty warehouse to read a new play about the missing and murdered women of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, she embarks on an expedition through the broken roads of a city offering far more questions than answers.The work pulls from hundreds of interviews collected down a rabbit hole of drug cartels, ex-convicts, unsavory reporters and others.
“The Portrait” (July 15-Aug. 14): Written and directed by Susan Padveen, this world premiere is about Gustav Klimt, the famous Viennese painter of “The Kiss,”who crafted a multitude of beloved and enigmatic works while struggling to support his family in a world that did not yet recognize his genius.
“Bloodshot” (Aug. 5-Sept. 11): The U.S. premiere of the London hit written by Douglas Post, directed by Patrick Sandford and starring Simon Slater. A taut and suspenseful one-man murder mystery following photographer Derek Eveleigh, as he is hired by an anonymous benefactor to pursue a showgirl through the streets of 1957 London. After witnessing the young woman’s murder by an unknown assailant, he embarks on an investigation to find her killer, meeting hustlers, musicians and magicians along the way, and also finding himself falling in love with a dead woman he’s never met.
“Rose” (Aug. 19-Sept. 25): The Chicago premiere of the Off-Broadway hit by best-selling author Laurence Leamer, directed by Steve Scott. In this intimate portrait of the queen-mother of the early 1960s “the American ‘Camelot'”, we meet a stalwart 79-year-old Rose Kennedy who attempts to retrace the rise and fall of the Kennedy family and implores audiences to think about the costs of creating a political dynasty.
“I Do Today” (Sept. 2-Oct. 9): A world premiere, written by Sarah Myers, directed by Jacob Harvey and starring Carin Silkaitis. Failed relationships, former lovers and half eaten wedding cake clutter the mind of one Jewish woman determined to track the trajectory of love and loss in her life.
“The Happiest Place on Earth” (Sept, 17-Oct. 23): A world premiere (and co-production with Sideshow Theatre Company), written and performed by Philip Dawkins and directed by Jonathan L. Green. Once upon a time in an Anaheim, Calif., orange grove, a magical kingdom was built and dedicated to America’s history, dreams and wildest hopes. Eight years later, one family’s American prince died on live television while delivering the Albuquerque sports scores, leaving his four daughters and their mother behind. Reeling from the loss of their patriarch, the family underwent a quest to reach the magical kingdom and seek solace and recovery. Now, more than 50 years later, Dawkins retraces and illustrates the true story of the women in his family.
“Uncle Philip’s Coat” (Nov. 27-Dec. 31): A Chicago premiere, written by Matty Selman and directed by Elizabeth Margolius. When Matty, an unemployed actor, inherits an old, decrepit coat from his recently deceased great-uncle Philip, he is unsure whether he has been given an heirloom or a heap of rags. Through his attempts to find the answer he travels across time, territories and tragedies in an effort to uncover the history of an unfaltering dreamer.
“Miss America” (Jan. 6-Feb. 12, 2017): A world premiere written by Brett Neveu, directed by Linda Gillum and starring Kate Buddeke. Somewhere in the Midwest we find “Miss America” in a cold and cluttered basement in this play written specifically for Buddeke. It’s a stark sketch of an ordinary woman who uncovers the artifacts of her youth, and comes to terms with the forces that have made her who she is today.
“Circumference of a Squirrel” (Jan. 13-Feb. 12, 2017): A Chicago premiere written by John Walch and directed by Jacob Harvey. An inner-tube, a bagel, a donut, a lifesaver, a holiday wreath, a tire-swing, a cycle of abuse: circles. And at the center of them all sits an enigmatic squirrel. Orbiting that squirrel is Chester, a self-described “rodentophobe” who spins the outlandish, funny, and bruising tale of growing up with a father who developed a rabid hatred for squirrels that eventually infected every aspect of his life.
“Squeeze My Cans” (Jul 14-July 24): A Chicago premiere, written and performed by Cathy Schenkelberg and directed by Shirley Anderson. Have you ever wondered if Bozo was a suppressive person? Have you ever considered what it might be like to audition to be Tom Cruise’s girlfriend? What do you do if the “carrot of spiritual freedom” is dangled in front of you, waiting to be seized? Schenkelberg decided to chase it and what she found was Scientology, but after studying and searching to become “more herself” she found herself blowing alien life forms off her body and moving farther away than ever from the person she had hoped to be.
“Mother (and me)” (Aug. 4-14): The Chicago premiere of a FringeNYC Award-winner, written and performed by Melinda Buckley, as originally directed by Kimberly Senior. A larger-than-life Hungarian “Mama Rose” is slowing slipping into dementia as her Broadway baby, Melinda, slips into “de’middle age.”
NOTE: Flex passes, $160 (admission to five plays), are on sale now. Flex pass-holders can purchase tickets for additional plays for $32 apiece, and tickets for limited engagement productions for $20. For complete info and tickets, call (773) 404-7336 or visit www.greenhousetheater.org. Additional info, including performance schedules, will be announced at a later date.