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FALL THEATER PREVIEW A cornucopia of world premieres
by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times

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World premieres abound in Chicago theater—sometimes totaling nearly half of all productions in any given month. Here are a dozen upcoming new plays and musicals which offer a richly diverse universe of styles and stories. Start dates listed are from the first preview.

—Howard's End, Remy Bumppo @ Theater Wit, running now through Oct. 5: Versatile Chicago playwright Douglas Post fashions a new adaptation of the esteemed novel by closeted gay author E. M. Forster, concerning the intertwined lives of three Edwardian Era English families. Artistic director Nick Sandys directs for Remy Bumppo, a literate theater troupe that should do justice to the work. The costumes alone could be awesome. Details: .

—His Shadow, 16th Street Theater, Sept. 5-Oct. 12: When your older brother is a hero, how can you step out of his shadow? 16th Street playwright in residence Loy Webb wrestles with that question in this new parable ( as Webb calls it ) about a college freshman with a chip on his shoulder who must reconcile ambition with activism. Wardell Julius Clark directs. Details: .

—Vanya on the Plains, The Artistic Home Theatre Company, Sept. 11-Oct. 20: Your family are not actors and never have seen a play, so how will directing them in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya promote togetherness? That's the highly original premise of Jason Hedrick's new work, set in a dystopian, totalitarian and high tech future. Kayla Adams directs a 10 person cast divided between Artistic Home ensemble members and guest artists. Details: .

—Dana H., Goodman Theatre, Sept. 6-Oct. 6: Writers should write about what they know, and Lucas Hnath cuts close to the bone in this one, writing about his mother, a psych ward chaplain held captive for five months by an ex-con seeking redemption. It's her story, dramatized by her son and directed by Les Waters. Barely 40, Hnath has emerged as one of America's most versatile and intelligent playwrights. A co-world premiere with Center Theatre Group and the Vineyard Theatre. Details: .

—The Delicate Tears of the Waning Moon, Water People Theatre @ Steppenwolf, Sept. 18-Oct. 13: Although created in New York and Venezuela, Water People Theatre has been Chicago-based since 2015 doing work which personalizes large social ideas with geo-political implications. Rebecca Aleman's new play concerns a Latina human rights journalist recovering from a coma, and seeking to unveil the truth and achieve justice. Directed by Iraida Tapias, this play opens Destinos, the 3rd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival. Details: or .

—The Facts of Life, Hell in a Handbag Productions @ Mary's Attic, Sept. 29-Nov. 2: Those Hellish Handbag folks again have discovered "lost" episodes of a beloved TV sitcom, this time turning tales of the Eastland School into a musical ( with live band ). The subtitle, Satan's School of Girls, suggest the students may not be virgins for nine years this time! Just think: actors such as Molly Ringwald, George Clooney and Cloris Leachman were in the original series. Details: .

—Twice, Thrice, Frice, Silk Road Rising, Oct. 1-Nov. 10: Under Islamic traditional law a man can have multiple wives ( Mohammed had 11 ) and a woman can't. That is, a woman can't have multiple husbands. Or wives. This comedy by Fouad Teymour focuses on three Muslim women who must confront adultery and polygamy ( and, perhaps, the inherent sexism of orthodox Islam ), leading them to question faith, fidelity and friendship. A co-production with International Voices, directed by Patrizia Acerra. Details: .

—Invisible, Her Story Theater @ Stage 77, Oct. 3-Nov. 3: Mary Bonnett's new work covers a virtually-unknown piece of American history: the Women's Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. The Her Story website promotes the play with "Just in time to see history repeat itself" and "When Klan went mainstream in America," thereby clearly tying our tawdry past to our tawdry present. Distinguished veteran Cecilie Keenan is the director. Details: .

—Back in the Day: An 80s House Music Dancesical, Urban Theatre Company, Oct. 10-Nov. 11: The title seems to say everything about this juke box show, which is part of the Destinos festival. But Miranda Gonzalez's adaptation of the book The Real Dance Fever by Jose "Gringo" Echeverria is more complex. Mixing adult humor, gunshots and house music, it follows three North Side Chicago dance crews pushing the limits of gender norms within a 1980s Latino community not ready for change. Directed by Gonzalez and Raquel Torres. Details: .

—Proxy, Underscore Theatre Company, Oct. 18-Nov. 24: This musical is fashioned from a solemn story about a journalist exploiting her own life, working undercover to confront her estranged family and a nearly lethal childhood trauma. At issue: who controls our individual narratives in the viral age? Written by Austin Regan ( book ), Alexander Sage Oyen ( music/lyrics ) and Rachel Franco ( additional lyrics/book ), and directed by Stephanie Rohr in Underscore's intimate Uptown storefront. Details: .

—Laura and the Sea, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Oct. 25-Dec. 8: Kate Tarker's world premiere is billed as "an unhappy comedy about depression, or a treatise on travel agents who don't travel." Whatever, it concerns suicide and its aftermath and how well we do, or do not, know our closest associates. The director is the very busy and highly-regarded Devon de Mayo. Details: .

—Peg, The New Colony & Broken Nose Theatre @ The Den, Nov. 13-Dec. 14: The mail order strap on has arrived and tonight's the night married couple Peg and Steve flip … or is it? Playwright Liam Fitzgerald goes where angels fear to tread in this maybe-comedy, in which Peg and Steve find that gender politics follow them even into their own bedroom. Elise Marie Davis directs this co-production, offering pay what you can performances. Details: .

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