House Theatre tries some outside eyes for 2010–11 season
There's something to be said about the upcoming season at the once-insular House Theatre of Chicago that might have come as a shock as recently as a few years back. Though the company made its name on original works and pop-culture-y adaptations by members of the group, not a single new show in its 2010–11 season is written or directed by a House company member. Instead, the company plans a varied slate of three new plays with established storefront talents attached: Damon Kiely adapts the Edward Anderson novel Thieves Like Us, to be directed by Kimberly Senior; Dexter Bullard helms Odradek, a new play by Brett Neveu with music by Josh Schmidt; and Sean Graney will direct Star Witness, a mystery by Joe Meno (whose The Boy Detective Fails was staged by the House in 2006, with Shawn Pfautch, pictured). The House will also remount its 2007 version of The Nutcracker, with Tommy Rapley again directing. The season package, which includes Thieves, Odradek and Star Witness, goes on sale this Saturday for $75. All four shows will be presented at the Chopin Theatre. Read on for the House's descriptions of these new works. Thieves Like Us Written by: Damon Kiely Based on the novel by: Edward Anderson Directed by: Kimberly Senior Developed in partnership with DePaul University September–October 2010 (exact dates TBA) Set in the Depression-era dustbowl, Thieves Like Us follows one man’s quest to make his own morality. Bowie Bowers busts out of Alky prison and goes on a spree of bank robberies with hardened criminals T-Dub and Chicamaw. His newfound gal Keechie wants him to give up the life and settle down. Bowie figures he’s no more a thief than the politicians and bankers who steal with their brains instead of a gun. When the law busts up the gang Bowie is forced to make a decision: does he lam it for Mexico with Keechie by himself or does he break Chicamaw out of jail to be their guide? Kimberly Senior (founder and company member emeritus of Collaboraction Theatre Company) directs the third House show developed in partnership with a university. Odradek Written by: Brett Neveu Directed by: Dexter Bullard Music by: Josh Schmidt Inspired by “Odradek" by photographer and artist Jeff Wall January–February 2011 (exact dates TBA) Odradek tells the story of a single father from a small Iowa town who becomes troubled over his son’s declining mental heath. After a visit with a new doctor, the boy returns home and develops an odd friendship with a creature named “Odradek,” a dark, shifting form made of twine and rags that lives under the stairs outside his bedroom. When the boy’s health continues to deteriorate, the father returns to the doctor for further advice and the two enter into a romantic relationship. As his illness progresses, the boy begins to perceive the romance between his father and doctor as an echo of twisted words and hallucinated deeds. Cryptic fantasies become the boy’s stark reality as his life twists towards the shadows of Odradek’s existence, creating a world where the most sinister fairy tale may hold the key to the boy’s only means of mental and physical salvation. Star Witness Written by: Joe Meno Directed by: Sean Graney March–April 2011 (exact dates TBA) A small town mystery. A girl gone missing. A police scanner with no answers. Star Witness is the story of Shelley, a nineteen-year-old waitress in the tiny town of Somerset, IL, hoping for something, anything to surprise her. When a local child disappears, Shelley and her foster grandmother Hazel steel themselves beside the police scanner, hoping for good news. But as tragedy begins to cloud the town, Shelley desperately searches the unfamiliar night for a glimpse of something that has kept its wonder. Sean Graney (Artistic Director and Founder of The Hypocrites) directs this latest collaboration with Chicago novelist Joe Meno (The Boy Detective Fails). The Nutcracker Adapted by: Phillip C. Klapperich and Jake Minton Directed by: Tommy Rapley Music by: Kevin O’Donnell November–December 2010 (exact dates TBA) The House’s completely re-imagined version of The Nutcracker first premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in 2007 under the Visiting Company Initiative. This innovative look at the classic Christmas tale weaves together riveting dialogue, astonishing puppetry, beautiful song and spellbinding spectacle to tell a darkly moving story of magic and mystery that you never knew existed.