More often than not a hugely successful production of a play begins in Chicago (consider artistic director Robert Falls’ revivals of “Death of a Salesman” and “The Iceman Cometh,” or Steppenwolf’s productions of “August: Osage County” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”), and then makes the move to Broadway.
But for the Goodman’s just announced 2017-2018 season, the pattern will be reversed as Belgian director Ivo van Hove’s much heralded, “radically re-imagined” revival of Arthur Miller’s 1955 classic, “A View from the Bridge,” is set to open in the Albert Theatre, running Sept. 9 – Oct. 15, with van Hove reprising his direction, and a whole new cast. The play tells the tale of a Brooklyn longshoreman who welcomes his two Italian immigrant cousins to America until one of the men falls for the young niece for whom he harbors incestuous feelings, and is uncannily timely look at the whole issue of immigration in this country. Initially a production of The Young Vic in London, van Hove’s production was subsequently seen in a sold-out run on Broadway (where he received the 2016 Tony Award for best direction of a revival of a play), and beyond.
In a prepared statement, Falls observed that the plays selected for both the 856-seat Albert Theatre and 350-seat flexible Owen stage “feel particularly relevant at this moment, as we face a darkly divided country and society. As a cultural institution devoted for four decades to the ideals of diversity and community, we must give voice to all ideas, all communities on our stages. The power of theater to unite, engage and inspire us is needed now more than ever.” And he noted that “Heroic and hopeful, challenging and illuminating,” the Goodman’s upcoming season “is a collection of plays that reflects the times in which we live — powerful works that hold up a mirror to who we are and what has brought us here, and that question where we will go in the future.”
Here is a complete schedule for the season:
“A View from the Bridge” (Sept. 9 – Oct. 15 in the Albert Theatre): The Arthur Miller classic, with director Ivo van Hove reprising his acclaimed London and Broadway production.
“Yasmina’s Necklace” (Oct. 20 – Nov. 19 in the Owen Theatre): Rohina Malik’s play, directed by Ann Filmer, is a tale of the refugee experience and about the power of love and renewal in the face of past devastation. Challenged by his Iraqi roots, Abdul Samee has obscured his Muslim identity in favor of assimilation, changing his name to Sam, and even telling his co-workers that he’s Italian. But his attitudes change when he meets Yasmina, a refugee from his father’s homeland.
“Blind Date” (Jan. 20 – Feb. 25, 2018 in the Albert): This world premiere play by Rogelio Martinez, directed by Robert Falls, takes a backstage glimpse at the intricacies of statesmanship as one of the 20th century’s landmark historical events unfolds. Seeking to thaw the seemingly intractable relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev meet and eschew conventional protocols to discuss pop culture and old movies, “while their wives mirror their husbands’ negotiations in a passive-aggressive tango over tea and fashion choices.”
“The Wolves” (Feb. 9 – March 11, 2018 in the Owen): The Chicago premiere of Sarah DeLappes’ play, directed by Vanessa Stalling (“United Flight 232”), the play is an unconventional exploration of the pitfalls of friendship and coming maturity, as seen through the struggles of a girls’ indoor soccer team. Nine teenage girls stretch, train, and argue about everything from the meaningful to the mundane as they try to make sense of the world from the relative safety of their suburban patch of AstroTurf.
“An Enemy of the People” (March 10 – April 15, 2018 in the Albert): This Henrik Ibsen classic, to be directed by Robert Falls, looks at what happens when a resort town’s water supply is found to be contaminates and triggers a battle involving the town’s respected mayor, Peter Stockmann, and his brother Thomas, a respected doctor. As the brothers become locked in a combative struggle between political wisdom and personal ethics, the economic fate of the community—and the unity of the town’s residents—hangs in the balance. A Scandinavian forerunner of events in Flint, Michigan?
“Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” (May 5 – June 10, 2018 in the Albert): Emily Mann’s much-loved play (adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany, with Amy Hill Hearth), will be directed by Chuck Smith. It celebrates “the story of a century” as lived by sisters Sadie and Bessie Delaney, who remain best friends and roommates even as they pass their centennial birthdays. As they prepare a meal in honor of their late father, a former slave, they reminisce about the joys and challenges of their lives: coming to maturity in the Jim Crow South, experiencing the Harlem Renaissance and rising to unimagined professional prominence.
“Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)” (May 25 – June 24, 2018 in the Owen Theatre): The Chicago premiere of Suzan-Lori Parks’ music-infused Civil War epic, directed by Niegel Smith, which homes in on Hero, a Texas slave, who faces a simple yet monumental choice: Should he join his master in the Confederate army to win his freedom—or remain enslaved at the plantation? As he debates leaving his lover for what may be another empty promise, Hero must take charge of his life, even when much remains beyond his control.
“Support Group for Men” (June 23 – July 29 in the Owen): The world premiere of Ellen Fairey’s play, directed by Kimberly Senior, a comic exploration of what happens when society’s new normal doesn’t seem so normal to everyone. Thursday night in Wrigleyville is “Guys’ Night” for a group of longtime pals, but instead of letting off steam over baseball they’ve formed a support group–with its “No Ladies” policy strictly enforced–in which they can vent about dashed romances, stalled careers and other middle-age maladies. When an unexpected visitor crashes their party, the guys’ traditional notions of masculinity are exploded.
Note: New this season will be a variety of “Membership” ticketing options, with five-play packages for the Albert productions starting at $100. Call (312) 443-3800 or visit www.GoodmanTheatre.org/Power. Individual tickets will go on sale in early August.
In addition, the New Stages Festival will run Sept. 20 – Oct. 8 in the Owen and showcase six new plays. A limited engagement Chicago premiere of Dael Orlandersmith’s work, directed by Neel Keller, about the 2014 fatal police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown that brought international attention to the town of Ferguson, Missouri, “Until the Flood” will run April 27 – May 13, 2018 in the Owen. “A Christmas Carol” returns for its 40th year (Nov. 18 – Dec. 32, 2017 in the Albert) and will mark the return of acclaimed Chicago actor Larry Yando for his 10th season as Ebenezer Scrooge.