clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

American Theater Company’s first season under new leader

Will Davis, artistic director of American Theater Company. (Photo courtesy of ATC)

Chicago’s American Theater Company is a survivor.

It has had some rough moments during the past season after losing its esteemed leader, PJ Paparelli, who died in a car accident in Scotland last May. But the production of two dreadful plays was followed by an absolutely brilliant rendering of “Kill Floor” this past winter. And now, the company’s recently appointed new artistic director, Will Davis – who, like Paparelli, is committed to developing new works – has announced his choices for the 2016-2017 season.

The lineup includes two world premieres (“T.” by Dan Aibel and “We’re Gonna Be Okay,” by Basil Kreimendahl), the regional premiere of “Men On Boats,” by Jaclyn Backhaus, and a reimagined take on the William Inge classic, “Picnic.” In addition, the company is committed to a new season-long partnership with the Chicago Inclusion Project.

Playwright Dan Aibel. (Photo courtesy of American Theater Company)
Playwright Dan Aibel. (Photo courtesy of American Theater Company)

ATC will glide into the season with the world premiere of “T.,” (Sept. 23-Oct. 30), an exploration of the competitive ice skating saga between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, directed by Margot Bordelon. Then, in the New Year, it will present Backhaus’ “Men on Boats” (Jan. 6-Feb. 12, 2017), under Will Davis’ direction (after he remounts his acclaimed Off Broadway production at Playwrights Horizons this summer). Backhaus tells the story of 10 explorers who set out on four boats to map the raging rapids of the Green and Colorado Rivers on the government’s first sanctioned expedition in the American West.

Playwright Jaclyn Backhaus. (Photo courtesy of American Theater Company)
Playwright Jaclyn Backhaus. (Photo courtesy of American Theater Company)

Next spring brings a second world premiere – Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” (March 17-April 23, 2017), directed by Bonnie Metzgar. Set at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it homes in on four people who are “thinking about doing something big…as two families wrestle with macrame, female empowerment and a shared property line.” The final production of the season will be a reimagined classic – Inge’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, “Picnic” (May 19-June 25, 2017), also under Davis’ direction.

In a prepared statement, Davis said: “With Season 32, ATC is opening up a dialogue with theatricality and style. I want ATC to become a home for wild new plays and old plays done in new ways that experiment with form. We’re deepening our commitment to the mission question ‘What does it mean to be an American?’ by using it as a spring board to ask identity questions not just about the plays we curate and produce, but also how those works get made and who brings them to life. As one of the first trans identified artists to run a professional theater, I feel both responsible and honored to make ATC an organization dedicated to access and inclusion, and to move our company towards a place of openness and curiosity about how we champion and celebrate truly new work for the American theater.”

Playwright Basil Kreimendahl. (Photo courtesy of American Theater Company)
Playwright Basil Kreimendahl. (Photo courtesy of American Theater Company)

ATC also has announced a new season-long partnership with the Chicago Inclusion Project, whose work creates inclusive theater experiences that bring together Chicago artists and audiences normally separated by physical ability, gender identity and/or ethnic background. The two companies will partner around casting for ATC’s Season 32, giving diverse theater artists access to roles they might traditionally have been excluded from.

Meanwhile, ATC can bask in the success of several of its recent world premiere productions: Stephen Karam’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award-nominated “The Humans,” and Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Disgraced,” both of which enjoyed acclaimed Broadway runs.

All productions will be staged at ATC’s home at 1909 W. Byron. Season subscriptions, including a variety of new membership plans, are now available, ranging in price from $60 to $150, with special pricing available before July 31. For details call (773) 409-4125 or visit http://www.atcweb.org.