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News from the Goodman, Steppenwolf and L.A.’s Center Theatre

Alan Wilder (from left), Madison Dirks, Ryan Hallahan and Brian Slaten in the Steppenwolf Theatre production of Young Jean Lee's play "Straight White Men." (Photo: Michael Brosilow)

Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, along with two major British theaters (the National Theatre and Royal Court Theatre), have entered into a partnership with the Center Theatre Group as part of that Los Angeles-based company’s 50th anniversary celebration. Center Theatre also will expand its collaborations with three prominent theater people dubbed “associate artists” – British choreographer Matthew Bourne, playwright Danai Gurira and Steppenwolf artistic director Anna D. Shapiro.

A $1 million grant from the Edgerton Foundation will support Center Theatre Group’s portion of co-commissions from playwrights such as Jon Robin Baitz, Will Eno, Danai Gurira, Lisa Kron, Young Jean Lee, Lynn Nottage, Qui Nguyen, Al Smith and Paula Vogel.. Titled the Edgerton Foundation Playwrights Initiative, the grant is intended to allow Center Theatre Group to commission at least two shows annually with each of the four theaters.

Meanwhile, New York’s Second Stage Theatre announced that as part of its first season on Broadway (at the Helen Hayes Theatre) it will include a production of Young Jean Lee’s play, “Straight White Men,” seen earlier this season at Steppenwolf. The July 2018 production will mark Young’s Broadway debut, and will make her the first female Asian-American playwright ever produced on Broadway. The play, which follows three adult sons as they visit their father for the Christmas holiday and grapple with their relative successes and failures, will be directed, as it was in Chicago, by Steppenwolf’s artistic director, Anna D. Shapiro. No word yet about the cast.