Ten playwrights, ten seasons

The Infernal Machine - Jean CocteauI spent most of my time in two places in the summer of 1998 – the standing room only section at Wrigley Field, where I watched my new neighbors chase the Wild Card and Sammy Sosa chase history; and a little black box theater in Bucktown, where I designed the lights for Eclipse Theatre Company‘s production of The Infernal Machine, the last show in the Jean Cocteau season.

Two things happened to me that summer – I became a die-hard Cubs fan, and I fell in love with Eclipse’s playwright-driven approach to telling stories.

I’m still hoping the Cubs fan thing works out.

I became a company member with Eclipse during the 1999 Tennessee Williams season, and since then I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of yearly explorations of some of the best playwrights in theater. Ten of them, to be precise.

A Woman Without a Name - Romulus LinneyNow that we’ve hit this milestone – Pearl Cleage is the tenth playwright we’ve featured since adopting this mission statement – we thought it would be fun to take some time to celebrate the journeys we’ve taken as artists and audiences over the last ten seasons.

Throughout 2008 and 2009, we’ll be revisiting all ten playwrights with mainstage productions, staged readings, discussions, films and events that build on the experience of past seasons and dig even deeper into the worlds each playwright has created. I’m starting to go through the pictures, dramaturgical research and design notes that we’ve saved from past productions, and we’ll be sharing that (don’t worry, we’ll leave the boring stuff in storage) as we go along.

The celebration kicks off in March with Candles to the Sun, the first play written by a 25-year old college senior named Thomas Lanier Williams in 1937. We know him by a different name now, but we recognize the poetic style, technical skill and brilliantly drawn characters that will define Tennessee Williams‘s plays throughout his career.

Through the rest of 2008 we’re planning productions of Neil Simon‘s Plaza Suite and Lillian Hellman‘s The Autumn Garden, a Jean Cocteau film festival, and readings and discussions of Lanford Wilson‘s full length and one act plays.

In 2009, we’ll be celebrating John Guare, Romulus Linney, Keith Reddin, Rebecca Gilman and Pearl Cleage.

It’s going to be a fun ride, and we’re all excited to have the chance to come back to some of the stories that we didn’t get to do the first time around, and explore them with the advantage of having already spent a full year with the storyteller.

It’s definitely going to be more fun than revisiting the last ten Cubs seasons.

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One Response

  1. Looking forward to taking the journey with you!

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