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An eclectic mix for Raven Theatre’s 2016-2017 season

Raven Theatre. (Photo: Courtesy of Raven Theatre).

Plays by two 20th century masters – Tennessee Williams and Harold Pinter. The Midwest premieres of a recent Broadway work by Richard Greenburg, and a recent London hit by Lolita Chakrabarti. And a world premiere of a family drama set in the Midwest.

That’s the news from Raven Theatre, which has just announced its 2016-2017 season under the artistic directorship of Michael Menedian.

Also, as previously announced, the season will be preceded by a special return engagement of “Direct from Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys,” its stunning production of the play with music by Mark Stein and Harley White Jr. that earned raves last season. The entire cast of last fall’s production will return for this remount (July 21 to Aug. 21). The show is not included in the 2016-17 subscription season, but single tickets for it are currently on sale.

Here is a closer look at Raven’s 2016-2017 season, to be performed on its two different stages:

+ “Red Velvet,” (Sept. 21 – Nov. 27), the Midwest premiere of Lolita Chakrabarti’s play (directed by Michael Menendian), which tells the backstage story of African-American actor Ira Aldridge, and how, in 1833 he became the first black actor to perform on a London stage. As the public riots in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will the cast, critics and audience react to the revolution taking place in the theater?

+ “Betrayal,” (Oct. 26-Dec. 17), Harold Pinter’s modern classic (directed by Lauren Shouse), about the nine-year affair between a London writer and the wife of his publisher and best friend. The play, which tells its story backwards in time, has been produced three times on Broadway and was made into a film in 1983.

+ “The Assembled Parties” (Jan. 25-March 25, 2017), the Midwest premiere of Richard Greenberg’s play (directed by Cody Estle), seen in New York in 2013. It homes in on the world of an Upper West Side Jewish family in 1980s New York where former movie star Julie Bascov, and her sister-in-law Faye, bring their families together for their traditional holiday dinner. But a house guest has joined the festivities for the first time and he unwittingly—or perhaps by design—insinuates himself into the family drama. Twenty years later, as 2001 approaches, the Bascovs’ seemingly picture-perfect life may be about to crumble.

+ “Sycamore” (March 8 – April 29,, 2017),  the world premiere of Brooklyn-based Sarah Sander’s comedy-drama (directed by Devon de Mayo), is about Celia and Henry, teenaged siblings living in an unnamed Midwestern suburb. Celia, 18, a high school senior, is involved in cheerleading and the drama club; Henry, 16, is active in mathematics. Both become romantically interested in their new next-door neighbor, John, who recently moved to their town from Los Angeles with his single mom. Meanwhile, Celia and Henry’s parents face stress in their marriage.

+ “Not About Nightingales” (April 19-June 17, 2017), Tennessee Williams’s play (directed by Michael Menendian), inspired by real events at a Philadelphia prison in 1937 during which convicts, protesting the physically abusive and even murderous tactics of a martinet warden, stage a hunger strike. Written in 1928, six years before Williams’ success with “The Glass Menagerie,” the play was lost for decades until it was “discovered” by Vanessa Redgrave and staged in London, Houston and, in 1999, on Broadway.

For tickets call (773) 338-2177 or visit www,raventheatre.com.