LOOKING FORWARD: Shows We're Excited to See in 2017
Richard Costes is the executive director of Chicago D(ART), or Deaf ART, a new arts organization focused on bridging the Deaf and hearing communities, creating works in a wide variety of mediums that reflect the underserved d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities in Chicago. He is also an actor who can be seen in Rasaka's VANYA (or That's Life) and will direct David Rush’s POLICE DEAF NEAR FAR for Chicago D(ART).
Top 8 Shows I'm Looking Forward To
As a deaf theatre artist, I have taken care to include only shows that are currently listed as open captioned or ASL interpreted for accessibility. While my hearing loss does not preclude me from being able to see a show, I gain much more out of the experience if it is accessible. Although not all theatres are able to afford more expensive accessibility measures, such as interpreters, there are steps any theatre can take toward added access. For instance, I often ask theatres to provide me with a script to read before the show. While the Chicago theatre community has been absolutely wonderful in accommodating this request, reading a script before the show cannot fully replace access such as open captioning and ASL interpreters. If you are a company looking for advice on how to make your shows accessible, feel free to shoot us an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with us on Facebook and we'll be happy to assist as best as we can or put you in touch with people like the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium who can!
To find out what shows are accessible, I generally follow the "Chicago Accessible Theater for Deaf and Hard of Hearing" group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/397117753676007/) or refer to the League of Chicago Theatre's Access Calendar. You can find that calendar here: http://www.chicagoplays.com/access.html.
So while there are a lot of shows I am looking forward to, here are my top 8 shows that are currently listed as accessible for the d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing. I'm sure more will be added as we move forward through 2017.
In no particular order:
Night Runner at the Theatre School at DePaul University: A new Ike Holter play? I'm there! I'm dying to see what Holter can do within the constraints of children's theatre - a style of theatre that is largely ignored by most theatregoers but is just as vital, if not more so, in furthering awareness of social issues in the minds of those who have the power to effect the most change in the coming years. Holter's work has always been socially conscious and Night Runner will undoubtedly be no exception.
A Disappearing Number at TimeLine Theatre: I'm fascinated by the use of math and other sciences to tell stories about things that cannot be constrained with the use of numbers. Converging multiple narratives, cultures, and a wealth of new ideas together in a piece originally devised by Théâtre de Complicité, this promises to be one of the more fascinating shows of 2017.
A Wonder in My Soul at Victory Gardens Theater: Marcus Garvey wrote one of my favorite plays of 2015, The Gospel of Lovingkindness, and I am dying to see how director Chay Yew tackles a piece that is "told though music, poetry, and dance". Gentrification of Chicago's diverse neighborhoods is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, as so many neighborhoods have their own cultural flair to them that is being lost.
Straight White Men at Steppenwolf Theatre: Using the familiar narrative of a father/son play as the backbone of the piece, the play promises to examine white male privilege in new and interesting ways. This is probably the play I know the least about; however, my familiarity with the previous work of the playwright, Young Jean Lee, makes me especially curious about what it may turn out to be.
The Scene at Writer's Theatre: I lived in New York for a grand total of four months. By month two, I knew it wasn't the right place for me: I still have lots of friends there, and they all enjoy it, but the culture there isn't my thing. Chicago's culture is a better fit for my personality, but I still hold a place in my heart for the experiences I had there in the few short months I resided in Manhattan and the personalities that come into conflict in this play. I'm a sucker for pieces with a small ensemble going at each other, alternatively building each other up and tearing each other down.
King of the Yees at Goodman Theatre: One of my resolutions for 2017 was to make a conscious choice to see theatre about and for cultures I have little experience with. Lauren Yee's play explores the patriarchal Chinese-American community in San Francisco's Chinatown across the divide of a generation gap. This play originally premiered as part of the Goodman's New Stages program a few years ago; I missed it then, but am not planning on missing it now.
Her Majesty's Will at Lifeline Theatre: I'm a huge Shakespeare nerd. This is the other "biographical" play about Shakespeare happening in 2017: while Chicago Shakespeare's Shakespeare in Love will undoubtedly get more attention, that is a story I've seen before. What I haven't seen is this fictional take on Shakespeare being a superspy with Christopher Marlowe on a quest to save the Queen. This whole concept sounds so ridiculously fun that I just wanna buy a big box of popcorn and sit and have a good time.
Cymbeline at Strawdog Theatre: Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare's weirdest works. At times it reads like Will just threw in all of his favorite plot points from his previous plays, mixed it up in a blender, and ended up with Cymbeline - a hodge-podge of ideas that at times throws out some of the most beautiful language I've
read (that funeral song, for what it's worth, is what I'd like recited at my funeral when I've shuffled off this mortal coil). I have a particular fondness for watching directors tackle some of Shakespeare's lesser known works because that always seems to expose textual nuances and innovative approaches to Shakespeare that I haven't seen before.