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LOOKING FORWARD: The Top Ten Shows We're Excited to See in 2017

Abhi Shrestha is a Theatre Directing student at Columbia College Chicago, is currently the Literary Associate at Haven Theatre, and served as the Literary Assistant at Strawdog. He is currently assisting directing Marti Lyons for Wit with The Hypocrites and looks forward to working with director Will Davis in American Theater Company's upcoming production of Picnic.

AHHHHH. So many things. So many GREAT things are happening. Such beautiful movement forward, and such an exciting year for Chicago theatre.

Okay. my list: (in no particular order)

Men On Boats - ATC

Jaclyn Blachaus is ferociously staking her claim as one of the voices that is defining the immediate future of this art form — The new canon that we desperately need. Her words combined with Will Davis’s visionary artistic mind and a brilliant gender fluid and inclusive cast with a roaring talent for story telling — oof. This is sure to be one for the ages.

Pass Over - Steppenwolf

“I was hurting, and I needed to know why” — During Victory Gardens most recent Ignition Festival, Antoinette Nwandu shared these words when asked why she wrote her play “BREACH” that received a reading there — these words forever moved me and I’ve been excited for her next project ever since. Her work is emotionally vulnerable, and has a super saturated sense of immediacy that we need right now.

Queen - Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens current season is littered with brilliant artists, and an array of vibrant diverse voices that continue to push the envelope for new work! I’m a huge fan of Madhuri Shekars work, and Joanie Schultz is coming back to Chicago to continue changing the effin’ game.

Bootycandy - Windy City Playhouse

Y’all. I read this play inside a cramped fitting room that I had reconfigured as my “office”, for whatever reason, in the costume shop of the community college I was attending a few years ago and I was DYING. If you are unfamiliar with Robert O’Haras work. 1) WHAT? WHY? WHO ARE YOU? 2) GO SEE THIS SHOW. His work is bold, unsettling, ridiculously funny, and ultimately important as we are re-structuring the architecture of American Theatre. This play brilliantly addresses important conversations about intersectional identities and representation. I missed its production in DC, but will not miss this Chicago production.

Hookman - Steep

Lauren. Yee. Is. A. Monster. Her plays run the gamut of emotions and have a sharp, nuanced, sense of magical realism that draws you in and refuses to satiate your inherent sense of curiosity until the very end. Vanessa Stalling taught my Theatre History and Inquiry Class for like three days and I became obsessed with her and her work. Steep has an amazing season and I am really excited to

The Wolf at The End of The Block - Teatro Vista

I have never seen an Ike Holter play. I know. I know. I messed up. I have been in Chicago for about a year and a half and missed every opportunity to his work. I will not miss this one! No one can refuse that Ike Holter is distinguishing himself as one of Chicago’s most important writers — reading his plays take you on a wild ride of brilliant storytelling, intricate and vulnerable characters, and hilarious/ fearless writing. That cast is crazy talented and I can’t wait for this one.

The Wiz - Kokandy

THAT CAST IS CRAZY. HAVE YOU SEEN THE CAST LIST BECAUSE YOU SHOULD! One of my favorite musicals, told by brilliant artists of color, led by THE Lilli-Anne Brown, at a time when it feels more necessary than ever.

Snack Break - The Yard & VG

Again — Nothing makes me happier than theatre for young folx, by young folx. The Yard is a professional youth theatre company that is "committed to producing theatre that is relevant to young people and performed by young people.” They’ve been partnering with theatre companies and churning out wonderful, thoughtful, vital work. "Snack Break" is an evening of short plays by a slew of RIDICULOUSLY brilliant playwrights that are changing the landscape of American Theatre. AHH!

Monster - Steppenwolf for Young Adults

Nothing makes me happier than theatre for young folx, by young folx. SO important. I am excited about the work that Steppenwolf is doing to create space for these young artistically curious minds and giving voice to the future of our art form. “Monster” tells the story of Steve Harmon, a 16-year-old boy in juvenile detention and an aspiring film-maker. His life has been turned upside down by his alleged participation in a robbery gone awry and now he might spend the rest of his life behind bars.” Tell me that story doesn't feel important as hell right now.

The Freshness Initiative - Sideshow Theatre

3 brilliant playwrights, 3 hot directors, and Sideshows wonderful artistic team developing work throughout the year — Come ON, what more can you ask for ! I was able to catch a few readings from last years Freshness Initiative, and have been excited for this years as soon as I saw that list of artists!

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