Continuing our support of productions that embrace inclusion for artists and audiences, below are shows open or opening soon in Chicago that we feel are moving our community forward. As a staff, we have not necessarily seen all of these shows but are really glad they are happening.
We are excited to list shows that offer some or all of the following:
- Non-traditional casting
- Accessible storytelling
- Variety of perspectives on the design and production teams
- Playwrights/Directors from underrepresented communities
- Diversity in season programming
Buy tickets to shows that celebrate inclusion. Then write to producers and tell them you want more of it. Decision makers are led by numbers and this is one way you can make a difference.
Sideshow Theatre presents
The Ridiculous Darkness
Written by Wolfram Lotz
Directed by Ian Damont Martin
through April 29
at Victory Gardens Theatre
Sergeant Oliver Pellner has clear orders: to travel into the savage wilderness, to find a colonel who has gone rogue, and to kill him. The man’s gone native, as they say: has killed his comrades and disappeared into darkness. Pellner and his pilot embark with confidence, but soon nothing makes sense anymore, as the river turns to mountains turns to jungle turns to black. Civilization dissolves in Wolfram Lotz’ stunning and disturbing comedy: a fractured spin on Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now and our shared history of barbaric colonialism.
The cast, artistic and production team include: Meagan Dilworth, Nichole Green, Kenya Ann Hall, RjW Mays, Lisa Troi Thomas, Jasmine Traylor, Brittani Yawn, Lauren Nigri, Noël Huntzinger, Simean "Sim" Carpenter, Michael Huey, Jonathan Berg-Einhorn, Tuesdai B. Perry, Liz Larsen, Ellen WIllett, Dani Wieder and Chad Hain.
Tickets are $20-30 and can be purchased here.
Victory Gardens Theatre presents
Cambodian Rock Band
Written by Lauren Yee
Directed by Marti Lyons
Through May 12
at Victory Gardens Theatre
This epic play/rock concert thrusts us into the life of a young woman trying to piece together her family history thirty years after her father fled Cambodia. Featuring actor/musicians who perform a mix of contemporary Dengue Fever hits and classic Cambodian oldies live, playwright Lauren Yee brings to vivid life the Cambodian rock scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s, a movement cut short by the Khmer Rouge’s brutal attempt to erase the music (and musicians) once and for all. Directed by Marti Lyons (Native Gardens) this story is about survivors, the resilient bond of family and the enduring power of music.
The cast, artistic and production team include Rammel Chan, Eileen Doan, Peter Sipla, Greg Watanabe, Aja Wiltshire, Hannah Todd, Matt MacNelly, Yu Shibagaki, Izumi Inaba, Keith Parham, Megan Turnquist, Mikhail Fiksel, Nova Grayson Casillo, Skyler Gray, Denise Yvette Serna, Kanomé Jones, Dana Nestrick, Erica Sandvig, Eleanor Kahn, Ellie Terrell, Collin Helou and Kirstin Johnson
Tickets are $40-60 are can be purchased here
Steep Theatre presents
First Love is the Revolution
Written by Rita Kalnejais
Directed by Devon De Mayo
Through May 25
at Steep Theatre
Basti is having a rough go of it without his mom, and Rdeca is struggling just to make her first kill. When this 14 year-old boy and this young fox connect, the world just seems to make a whole lot more sense. Rita Kalnejais' First Love is the Revolution is a wild take on the timeless tale of star-crossed lovers - from different sides of the animal kingdom.
Cast and production team include: Isa Arciniegas, Jordan Arredondo, Lucy Carapetyan, Curtis Edward Jackson, Alex Gillmor, Destini Huston, Jose Nateres, Jin Park, Lauren Lassus, Arnel Sancianco, Heather Sparling, Jeffrey Levin, Mieka van der Ploeg, Emma Cullimore, Sarah Slight, Sasha Smith, Rachel Flesher, Zach Payne and Catherine Allen
Tickets are $15-38 can be purchased here.
The Jedlicka Performing Arts Center presents
Written by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Lexi Saunders
through May 3
at The Jedlicka Performing Arts Center
Sarah Ruhl (who was born and raised in the Chicagoland area) reimagines the classic myth of Orpheus & Eurydice through the eyes of its heroine. It is funny, sad, dramatic, and surprising. All the elements of great theatre wrapped up in one play! Dying too young on her wedding day, Eurydice must journey to the underworld, where she reunites with her father and struggles to remember her lost love. With contemporary characters, ingenious plot twists, and breathtaking visual effects, the play is a fresh look at a timeless love story.
The cast features Jordan Marie Ford, Brandon Boler, Dominick Alesia, Gunner Bradley, Matthew Schufreider, Carolyn Waldee and Jimbo Pestano, and production team includes Rachel Rauscher, Simean Carpenter, Jeffrey Levin, Elle Erickson, Kyle Mayes, Nicholas Schwartz, Lauren Davis and Joel Garcia.
Tickets are $15-20 and can be purchased here.
Piven Theatre presents
Written by Kate Tempest
Directed by Abby Pierce
through May 5
at Piven Theatre
Hopelessly Devoted tells the powerful story of Chess, a woman in prison facing a lengthy sentence, the pain of separation from her daughter, the loss of her cell mate, Serena, when she is given parole, and the feeling of total isolation. When prison authorities suggest she work with Silver, a music producer, Chess begins to find her voice, her strength, and her ability to face the most difficult thing of all – her past. Featuring award-winning poet and musician Kate Tempest’s trademark lyrical fireworks and live music, Hopelessly Devoted is a story of love and redemption.
The cast features Nicole Michelle Haskins, Christine Vrem-Ydstie, Kate Staiger, Genevieve VenJohnson and Alexis Ward
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.
The House Theatre of Chicago presents
Adapted for the stage by Joseph Steakley and Ben Lobpries
Directed by Chris Mathews
through May 19
at The Chopin Theatre
The House brings to life the classic fairy tale of a wooden boy who wishes to become real. Carved from an enchanted stump from a charred Forest, toy-shop owner Geppetto's puppet child flourishes. The growing Pinocchio devours books and the complex worlds they reveal. He relishes musicals and the emotional ride they offer. And he longs to sink his adolescent teeth into real relationships and conversations beyond the walls of his storefront home. There must be more out there! But his protective father keeps Pinocchio's wild branches trimmed back, and forbids venturing out. A method sure to inspire rebellion in this precocious, curious not-quite-real young man.
The cast and production team include Molly Brennan, Karissa Murrell Myers, Sean Garratt, Tina
Muñoz Pandya, Kevin Stangler, Carley Cornelius, Christine Mayland Perkins, Omer Abba SAlem, Mike Mzzocca, Brandon Rivera, Joe Schermoly, Matthew Muñiz, Marika Mashburn, Alexander Ridgers, Tom Lee and Chicago Puppet Studio, Brian DesGranges, Anna Wooden, Kasey Foster, Kevin O'Donnell, Jamie Karas.
Tickets are $15-20 and can be purchased here.
Goodman Theatre presents
Written by Ike Holter
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
through April 28
at The Goodman Theatre
Ike Holter concludes his acclaimed seven-play “Rightlynd Saga” by assembling his vibrant characters for a raucous theatrical bash. Long the matriarch of a quickly gentrifying neighborhood, Mallory invites the lonely residents, hardcore activists and starving artists of her block to what she hopes will go down as a legendary barbeque—thanks to a special surprise. But her mysterious plan to revitalize the community may be the very thing that tears it apart.
The cast, artistic and production team include Aurora Adachi-Winter, J. Nicole Brooks, Sydney Charles, McKenzie Chinn, Robert Cornelius, James Vincent Meredith, Tommy Rivera-Vega, Tony Santiago, Michele Vazquez, Pat Whalen, Arnel Sancianco , Samantha C. Jones, Jason Lynch and Andre Pluess and Nikki Blue.
Tickets are $20-60 and can be purchased here.