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Raven Theatre Announces 2020-21 Season
2020-02-06

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CHICAGO ( February 5, 2020 ) — Raven Theatre is pleased to announce its 2020-21 Season, kicking off this fall with a revival of Jerome Lawrence andRobert E. Lee's drama Inherit the Wind, directed by Ian Frank. This timeless American epic takes a microscope to the way societies and individuals alike define and defend their versions of truth.

Also this fall, Artistic Director Cody Estle helms the Chicago premiere ofMelissa Ross's The Luckiest, which takes a heartfelt and honest look at the journey of life.

The season continues next winter with Jonathan Harvey's sweet and simple coming-of-age play Beautiful Thing. Mikael Burke directs this touching story of two boys living in London who are discovering how they fit into the world around them.

Raven's 2020-21 Season concludes next summer with the world premiere ofJoshua Allen's The Last Pair of Earlies, directed by Tyla Abercrumbie.This new drama follows the hardships and hopes of Wayland and Della Rose Early as they chase a sweet Southern dream on the South side of Chicago.

Raven Theatre is located at 6157 N. Clark St. ( at Granville ) in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. A variety of 2020-21 Season subscription packages are currently on sale at www.raventheatre.com or by calling ( 773 ) 338-2177.

Comments Raven Theatre Artistic Director Cody Estle, "As we continue telling stories that connect us to our cultural landscape, we launch this season in a small country town where the trial of the century is brewing. We will follow a strong woman living fiercely, discover the budding love of two young men, and come home to Chicago's south side to watch a couple reconcile their past with their present. We continue striving for even greater heights by combining the best Chicago has to offer with artists from across the country. Together they will bring Raven audiences a world premiere, a regional premiere and two beloved revivals newly reinvigorated."

Raven Theatre's 2020-21 Season:

September 24 — November 8, 2020

Inherit the Wind

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

Directed by Ian Frank

Press opening: Monday, September 28, 2020 at 7:30 pm

The national spotlight turns to the small town of Hillsboro after local teacher Bert Cates is arrested for discussing evolution with his students. As prayer and protest collide, two big-league defenders turn up the heat and launch the trial of the century.

Matthew Brady and Henry Drummond go head to head as they argue the core of right vs. wrong and good vs. evil, examining the marvel and flaw of free will. As the trial ensues, beliefs are saddled against opinion, and the town of Hillsboro is put to trial alongside Cates. Soon, one man's fate becomes inextricably linked to the battle over a nation's soul.

October 22 — December 6, 2020

The Luckiest — Chicago Premiere!

By Melissa Ross

Directed by Artistic Director Cody Estle

Press openings: Sunday, November 1, 2020 at 3 pm and Monday, November 2, 2020 at 7:30 pm

Lissette and Peter are best friends living their best lives. But when an out of nowhere diagnosis shatters Lissette's world, Peter is left trying to pick up the pieces.

Suddenly finding herself at odds with both her best friend and her mom — who each come bearing strong opinions wrapped in good intentions — Lissette is forced to navigate between the two while unflinchingly forging her own path for her future. This tender, funny, and keenly-observed play explores the uncertain and sometimes heartbreaking territory of how we choose to take ownership of our lives.

February 11 — March 28, 2021

Beautiful Thing

By Jonathan Harvey

Directed by Mikael Burke

Press opening: Monday, February 15, 2021 at 7:30 pm

Jamie and Ste are two boys living in working-class flats in southeast London. They attend school, talk gossip and sit outside to bask in the sun.

Jamie is a bit rebellious, has patchy attendance at school, and has inherited the same sharp tongue as his mother, Sandra. Ste, often avoiding his erratic brother and father, devotes himself to sports and academics in hopes for a better future. They find solace with one another from their mundane, yet overwhelming lives. When Ste starts seeking nightly refuge at Jamie's, their midnight chats evolve into something different, something transformative and something beautiful. The boys seek understanding in themselves, rather than the world that doesn't understand them.

May 6 — June 20, 2021

The Last Pair of Earlies — World Premiere!

By Joshua Allen

Directed by Tyla Abercrumbie

Press opening: Monday, May 10, 2021 at 7:30 pm

Ever since he was a teenager in Mississippi, Wayland Early could count on two things — his talent for making handmade shoes, and Della Rose's love.

But danger forces them to flee north to Chicago. Before they know it, nearly two decades have passed, and both Wayland and Della find themselves increasingly unable to count on anything, including their marriage. As they each contend with the weight of their spent youth and unrealized dreams, a life-altering question comes to the surface: are they still enough for each other?

About the Artists

Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee ( Playwrights, Inherit the Wind ) whose collaboration spanned more than 50 years, were among the most prolific playwriting teams in the American theatre. In addition to the Pulitzer-nominated Inherit the Wind, their major stage works include Auntie Mame, the books for the musicals Mame and Dear World, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, The Gang's All Here and First Monday in October. They won two Peabody Awards for Distinguished Achievement in Broadcasting and the American Theatre Association Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1990, they became members of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center and were inducted into the National Theatre Hall of Fame. The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute was established at Ohio State University in 1986. Dedicated teachers of playwrighting, they communicated to their students a passionate belief that the theatre must be a forum for ideas and issues of social significances.

Ian Frank ( Director, Inherit the Wind ) is an award-winning stage director, adapter, composer and the Associate Artistic Director of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, where he directed Frankenstein ( Jeff Awards — Best Production, Best Director ). Other Chicago credits include Incident at Vichy, Another Bone and Shipwrecked! ( Redtwist ) and Bob: A Life in Five Acts( LiveWire ). Regionally, Ian has directed many times at Actors Theatre of Louisville including Remix 38 as part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays. He holds an MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University and directed Amadeus at the University of South Carolina and his own adaptation of Moby Dick at Centre College. He has assistant directed across the country at theatres including The Kennedy Center, Milwaukee Rep and Chicago Shakespeare Theater ( Sunday in the Park with George and Cyrano ).

Melissa Ross ( Playwright, The Luckiest ) Melissa's plays include Thinner Than Water ( LAByrinth Theater Company ), A Life Extra Ordinary ( The Gift Theatre ), Nice Girl ( LAByrinth Theater Company ), An Entomologist's Love Story ( San Francisco Playhouse ), Of Good Stock ( South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theater Club ) and The Luckiest ( La Jolla Playhouse ). Her work has been developed and produced around the country at theaters including: Dorset Theater Festival, Iama Theatre Company, Kitchen Dog Theater, Montana Rep, New York Stage and Film, The New Group, Raven Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Summer Shorts, and TheatreWorks Palo Alto. She is twice commissioned by both South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theater Club and is currently commissioned by Atlantic Theater Company, Raven Theatre and San Francisco Playhouse. Melissa is a graduate of Bennington College and the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Program at The Juilliard School, and is a proud member of LAByrinth Theater Company.

Cody Estle ( Director, The Luckiest ) became the Artistic Director at Raven Theatre in November 2017, where he had previously served as the Associate Artistic Director. His directing credits include Sundown, Yellow Moon, How I Learned To Drive ( named by Windy City Times as the best of Chicago theatre in 2019 ), The Gentleman Caller ( 2019 Jeff Award-winning new play by Philip Dawkins ), The Assembled Parties, A Loss of Roses ( named by Chicago Tribune honorable mention as one of the year's best in 2016 ), Dividing the Estate, Vieux Carré ( named by Chicago Tribune as one of the year's best in 2014 ), Good Boys and True, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Boy Gets Girl and Dating Walter Dante at Raven Theatre; Damascus at Strawdog Theatre; Five Mile Lake at Shattered Globe Theatre; By the Water ( named by Chicago Sun-Times honorable mention as one of the top theatre productions of 2017 ) at Northlight Theatre; American Hero at First Floor Theater; Scarcity at Redtwist Theatre; The Seagull and Watch on the Rhine at The Artistic Home; Don't Go Gentle at Haven Theatre; Uncle Bob at Mary-Arrchie Theatre and Hospitality Suite at Citadel Theatre. He is a member of SDC, serves on the board of directors of the League of Chicago Theatres, and is an alumnus of Columbia College Chicago.

Jonathan Harvey ( Playwright, Beautiful Thing ) Jonathan Harvey comes from Liverpool and is the multi award winning writer of the play and film 'Beautiful Thing', the Bafta nominated sitcom 'Gimme Gimme Gimme' and 'Beautiful People' ( Best Comedy: Banff TV Festival ).He has written 20 stage plays including 'Corrie!', 'Canary', 'Hushabye Mountain', 'Babies', 'Boom Bang A Bang' and 'Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club'. He also wrote the 2001 stage musical 'Closer to Heaven' with the Pet Shop Boys. His theatre work has won him an Evening Standard Award, two Manchester Evening News Awards, the George Devine Award and the John Whiting Award.

Mikael Burke ( Director, Beautiful Thing ) is a Chicago-based director, deviser and educator. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre and Jeff Award-nominated director, Mikael's most recently worked with Victory Gardens Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Jackelope Theatre Company, Windy City Playhouse, About Face Theatre, First Floor Theater, American Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists and The Story Theatre in Chicago, and regionally with Indiana Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center and Phoenix Theatre. He serves as Head of the Directing Concentration of the Summer High School Training Program of the Theatre School at DePaul University, is an adjunct faculty member of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and a faculty member in the Theatre division of the National High School Institute ( Cherubs ) at Northwestern University. Recent directing credits include The Agitators by Mat Smart; Sugar in Our Wounds by Donja R. Love; At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen by Terry Guest; This Bitter Earth by Harrison David Rivers;Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm. The Theatre School at DePaul University ( MFA ) | mklburke.com

Joshua Allen ( Playwright, The Last Pair of Earlies ) has a collection of plays that include The Last Pair of Earlies, The October Storm, Chrysalis andAbout Monday Morning. His work has been produced and developed at Hudson Stage, the Cape Cod Theater Project, Primary Stages, the Lark's Playwrights' Week and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. An alumnus of New Dramatists, he has also been a member of the Ars Nova Play Group and the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers' Group at Primary Stages. Joshua is a proud graduate of the University of Southern California and the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School. His television credits include Hostages, Empire, Almost Family and the upcoming From Scratch on Netflix.

Tyla Abercrumbie ( Director, The Last Pair of Earlies ), a freelance director, writer and actor is honored to return to Raven Theatre with this production. She recently directed the stage reading of The Mountaintop by Katori Hall. She has directed for various theatre companies and academic institutions. Credits include, A Raisin in the Sun ( South East Missouri State University ), Moon Man Walk ( Definition Theatre ), Repairing A Nation ( TimeLine Timepiece reading series ) Asylum aka Life ( MPAACT ) Mirror Images ( Studio Theatre ), River Nigers ( Court Theatre's Spotlight Reading Series ) As an actor, she has appeared in a vast number of theatrical , television and film roles. Theatre: Goodman, Northlight, Timeline Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Milwaukee Rep and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Television credits include THE Chi ( recurring role ), Utopia Proven Innocent, Chicago PD, Chicago MED, Empire, Easy, Shrink, Crisis, Mob Doctor, Detroit 187, Chicago Code, and Shameless. Film Credits; The Animator, Unexpected, Time Served. Graduate with BA from Columbia College, Company Member with TimeLine Theatre. Recipient of the Writers Collective fellowship with Timeline Theatre Company.

About Raven Theatre

Raven Theatre tells stories of today and the past that connect us to our cultural landscape. Through its plays as well as its educational programming, Raven is committed to serving our communities' needs through the arts.

Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by the The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, Polk Bros Foundation, S&C Electric Company Fund, Paul M. Angell Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.


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