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Contemporary takes on legendary playwright William Inge coming to Eclipse Theatre
From a press release
2018-01-22

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Chicago's Eclipse Theatre Company, the only theatre company in the Midwest to focus on a single playwright each season, has announced that they will feature the works of legendary American playwright William Inge for the 26th Anniversary, 2018 Season. Eclipse plans to explore the range of Inge's canon with three full productions, readings, and public events focused on the playwright and his works.

"After 25 seasons of celebrating classic and contemporary playwrights, the Eclipse Ensemble is excited to present the works of one of the most important voices in American theatre, with a diverse, inclusive approach to casting and storytelling that will allow artists and audiences to re-discover the universal humanity of theatre," said Eclipse Theatre Company Artistic Director Nathaniel Swift. "William Inge's plays are personal and political, grounded in family and community relationships, and his stories resonate with a powerful artistic vision of America and what it means to be American. We plan to show a wide range of William Inge's writing, including award-winning dramas and rarely produced plays."

All productions will be presented at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. in Chicago, with $15-$33 tickets. In addition to the three main productions, Eclipse will also explore additional works by Inge through The Playwright Scholar Series, a yearlong free series of intimate readings and discussions. Details including cast and crew will be announced when confirmed. The 2018 William Inge Season:

Natural Affection, directed by Rachel Lambert

April 12 - May 20, 2018

Opening Nights on April 15 at 3 pm, April 17 at 7:30 pm

Runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2 pm

As she awaits the impending Christmas visit of her teenage son Donnie, Sue Barker is torn between the love she feels as a mother and the fear that his presence will disrupt the life that she has built in his absence. Having been deserted by the boy's father before his birth, Sue was forced to support herself, leaving Donnie to a childhood of orphan homes and ultimately a term at the penal farm. Working her way up to a position of head lingerie buyer for a Chicago department store, Sue has acquired a small but fashionable apartment and a lover, Bernie Slovenk. When Donnie announces that he will not have to go back to the farm if she will give him a home, the crisis is broached. The inescapable showdown comes on Christmas Eve when the couple from next door joins the others for a party. Rachel Lambert makes her Eclipse directorial debut.

Bus Stop, directed by Ensemble Member Steve Scott

July 12 - August 19, 2018

Opening Nights on July 15 at 3 pm, July 17 at 7:30 pm

Runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2 pm

In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked, and four or five weary travelers are going to have to hole up until morning. Cherie, a nightclub chanteuse in a sparkling gown and a seedy fur-trimmed jacket, has been pursued and finally kidnapped by a twenty-one-year-old cowboy with a ranch of his own and the romantic methods of an unusually headstrong bull. Meanwhile the proprietor of the cafe and the bus driver at last find time to develop a friendship of their own; a middle-age scholar comes to terms with himself; and a young girl who works in the cafe also gets her first taste of romance.

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, director TBD

November 15 - December 16, 2018

Opening Nights on November 18 at 3pm, and November 20 at 7:30 pm

Runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm ( NOTE that this production will offer matinees on both weekend days )

No performance on Thanksgiving, November 22

The setting is a small Oklahoma town in the early 1920s and the home of the Flood family. Here we find Rubin, a traveling salesman for a harness firm; Cora, his sensitive and lovely wife; Sonny, their little boy; and Reenie, their teenage daughter. A series of short stories unfolds, including the fight between a husband and wife; the fear of an overly shy young girl on going to a dance; the problems of an introverted little boy who feels that the whole world is against him; the corroding marriage of Cora's rowdy sister; and the tragedy of a military school cadet who suffers from the stigma of being a Jew in an alien community. There is dark at the top of everyone's stairs, but it can be dissipated by understanding, tolerance and compassion.

The current Eclipse Theatre Company Ensemble is Zachery Alexander, Zach Bloomfield, Ashley Bowman, Anthony Conway, Celeste M. Cooper, Stephen Dale, Kathleen Dickinson, Kevin Hagan, Michael Allen Harris, Ashley Hicks, Phil Higgins, Anish Jethmalani, Joe McCauley, Sarah Moeller, J.P. Pierson, Rebecca Prescott, Rebecca Ross, Steve Scott, BrittneyLove Smith, TayLar, Matt Thinnes, Vanessa Thomas, and Katie Vandehey. Nathaniel Swift is Artistic Director and Kevin Scott is Managing Director.

Eclipse has featured the following playwrights: Jean Cocteau ( 1998 ), Tennessee Williams ( 1999 ), Lillian Hellman ( 2000 ), Romulus Linney ( 2001 ), John Guare ( 2002 ), Neil Simon ( 2003 ), Keith Reddin ( 2004 ), Lanford Wilson ( 2005 ), Rebecca Gilman ( 2006 ), Pearl Cleage ( 2007 ), Arthur Miller ( 2010 ), Naomi Wallace ( 2011 ), Eugene O'Neill ( 2012 ), Sir Alan Ayckbourn ( 2013 ), Lynn Nottage ( 2014 ), Terrence McNally ( 2015 ), Stephen Adly Guirgis ( 2016 ), Kia Corthron ( 2017 ), and William Inge ( 2018 ).

Eclipse Theatre Company presents the work of one playwright each season, offering audiences an opportunity, unique in the Midwest, to journey through a playwright's works. Join us in exploring the breadth and depth of a playwright's artistic worlds. One playwright, one season, one illuminating journey.


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