Though he's directing and starring in Cardenio, the last show of the season, and will stage The Invisible Man / The War of the Worlds, the first show of next season, Steve Pickering is stepping down after four years as artistic director of IL's Next Theatre to do more work outside the Chicago area.
He officially leaves after Cardenio ends, May 2, to be replaced by Next resident director Kate Buckley. A founding member of Shakespeare Rep, at Next Buckley has co-staged Henry V with Pickering and received a Jeff Nomination for directing Macbeth.
While paying off two-thirds of the theatre's debt, Pickering staged 11 world premieres during his four-year tenure. His play choices included Son of Celluloid, The Ice-Fishing Play, The History of the Devil and the recent Burning Chrome.
As for Cardenio, which, some scholars have claimed, was co-written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher (or maybe Thomas Middleton) in 1611, the comedy drama begins previews Apr. 3 for an opening Apr. 6. The story concerns a deposed king protecting his fiance from the evil tyrant (Pickering) who usurped his throne. Also in the cast are Kevin Theis, Michele Graff, Karen Raymore, Jeffrey Bunn, Robert Chaviano, Chris Kipiniak, Meredith Mapel, William Sidney Parker, Ron Rains, Robert Schleifer, Benjamin Shields, Ed Smaron, Nathan Vogt and Joseph Wycoff. Designing Cardenio are Joseph P. Tilford (set), Charles Jolls (lighting), Kristine Knanishu (costumes) and Barry Funderburg (sound).
For tickets ($18-$22) and information on Cardenio, or The Second Maiden's Tragedy at Next Theatre, 927 Noyes St., Evanston call (847) 475-1875. -- By David Lefkowitz
and Lawrence Bommer