Bruce Norris Work Fills Out Steppenwolf's Coming Season of New Plays

News   Bruce Norris Work Fills Out Steppenwolf's Coming Season of New Plays Bruce Norris' The Unmentionables, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, will be the fifth world premiere in the 30th anniversary season for Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company. John Mahoney, Laurie Metcalf and Amy Morton will star.

The show fits in with the existing 2005-06 line-up. In a striking break with its past record, Steppenwolf has decided to fill its 30th year entirely with new works, including plays by Steven Dietz, Frank Galati, Richard Greenberg and John Kolvenback.

Bruce Norris is a favorite with Steppenwolf, which has produced more of his plays than any other theatre in the country. He is the author of The Infidel, Purple Heart, We All Went Down to Amsterdam and The Pain and the Itch. The new work is set "in a posh home in a small town in Africa, [where] a wealthy American entrepreneur, flamboyant government representative, young Christian missionary and his famous Hollywood girlfriend meet by accident. When one of them goes missing, they are forced to confront their benevolent notions of themselves and the realities of the world they think they control."

The season will open with Last of the Boys, running Sept. 15-Nov. 13. Rick Snyder will direct Jeff Perry and Rondi Reed in the Steven Dietz play "set in the California trailer home of a Vietnam vet, where the past makes a return visit."

Next up, running Oct. 20-Feb. 19 in the Upstairs theatre, is After the Quake, director Frank Galati's stage adaptation of a book of interconnected short stories by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, followed by The Well-Appointed Room, a new work by Richard Greenberg "of three couples in three different eras whose lives play out in the same New York apartment." The Jan. 12-March 12, 2006, engagement sees Terry Kinney direct Tracy Letts, Amy Morton and Molly Regan.

Finally, Love Song, running March 30-June 4, 2006, is a romantic comedy by John Kolvenback, directed by Austin Pendleton and featuring Tim Hopper and Laurie Metcalf. The all-new-plays roster may prove a welcome breath of fresh air at the venerable nonprofit. In recent seasons, Steppenwolf's once hot reputation has cooled a bit due to seasonal line-ups filled with the Chicago premieres of plays already proven hits in New York, and revivals of old American plays of debated worth. The 2003-04 season, for instance, included Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog, which had previously been seen on Broadway, winning a Pulitzer Prize, a revival of Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny, a play which had been revived on Broadway the previous seasson; the Chicago debut of the Off-Broadway critical success Stephen Adly Guirgis' drama Our Lady of 121st Street and Robert Anderson's chestnut I Never Sang for My Father.

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