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A Red Orchid to celebrate 25th season with help from Michael Shannon

Actor Michael Shannon will direct a show during A Red Orchid Theatre's 2017-18 season. | Robin Marchant/Getty Images

To help celebrate A Red Orchid Theatre’s 25th anniversary season as one of this city’s most adventurous storefront companies, ensemble member Michael Shannon — who never forgets his roots — will return to Chicago to direct the world premiere of “Traitor,” Brett Neveu’s adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen classic, “Enemy of the People,” set to run Jan. 11 – Feb. 25, 2018. Featuring Dado, Larry Grimm, Danny McCarthy, Guy Van Swearingen and Natalie West, this contemporary version of Ibsen’s play is set in a small North Chicago suburb where the safety of a new charter school’s grounds come into question.

In addition, during the summer of 2018, in what is being dubbed “a bonus presentation,” Shannon, along with ensemble member Van Swearingen, will appear in a production of Eugene Ionesco’s “Victims of Duty,” to be directed by Shira Piven. Much of the original 1995 creative team will be returning for this remount of Ionesco’s absurdist tale of “an archetypal bourgeois everyman, his wife, and the detective who arrives at their home to enlist their help in finding the previous tenant,” according to today’s announcement.

The company (which this season presented such productions as “The Nether,” a haunting tale of life beyond cyberspace, and “3C,” a crazy contemporary reworking of “Three’s Company”), also will present two additional shows.

Wallace Shawn’s “Evening at the Talk House” (Oct. 5 – Nov. 19)directed by Shade Murray, and featuring Lance Baker, Kirsten Fitzgerald and West, is described as “an ultra-dark comedy that invites us to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the opening night of a writer’s under-appreciated masterpiece…and a remembrance of gentler times, when culture had value and terror wasn’t the every day.”

Grant Varjas’ “33 to Nothing” (April 12 – May 27, 2018), will feature Steve Haggard, and takes place during a real-time band practice, as musicians on the brink of adulthood begin to question their role in the ensemble, wondering whether they should break up or build a stronger band.

In addition to the company’s Chicago productions, A Red Orchid’s 2013 production of Sam Shepard’s “Simpatico” will open the season at the prestigious McCarter Center in Princeton, New Jersey. It will feature the terrific original cast and creative team, including director Dado and actors Shannon, Van Swearingen, Kristin Ellis, Jennifer Engstrom, Mierka Girten, and Doug Vickers.

Also, by the end of 2017, A Red Orchid’s Incubator program will host The Roustabouts’ inaugural production/pop-up. Founded by Ike Holter and Tony Santiago, The Roustabouts will present a new play by Holter with cast, production team and plot information still under wraps.

A Red Orchid Theatre is located at 1531 N. Wells. For more information and multi-show Flashpass tickets, visit www.aredorchidtheatre.org. Individual tickets will go on sale at a later date.