Wendy C. Goldberg, a frequent Gilman collaborator, directs the production (to June 21) at Goodman's Owen Bruner Theatre.
According to Goodman notes, "In the backyard of a Chicago two-flat on the 4th of July, three intelligent and liberal couples engage in what begins as friendly conversation, but soon evolves into a heated debate about the pros and cons of starting a family. Jasper (Coburn Goss) and Melinda (Janelle Snow) are considering having a baby, Dan (Kiff Vanden Heuvel) and Windsong (Stephanie Childers) are enthusiastically expectant and Tom (Rob Riley) and Karen (Linda Gehringer) have opted not to have children. As the innocuous barbeque turns into an ideological confrontation, each couple must ask themselves how much the crowd they're in with determines the course of their lives."
Goldberg is artistic director of the National Playwrights Conference at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Gilman's plays include Dollhouse, Spinning Into Butter, Boy Gets Girl, Blue Surge, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Glory of Living.
While in rehearsals, Goldberg told Playbill.com, "Rebecca sent me an early draft of The Crowd You're in With in the spring of 2007, while we were working together on a production of her play The Sweetest Swing in Baseball at The Denver Center. The play resonated for me, as her plays often do, because of her innate ability to weave topical socio-political issues into her work with subtly, grace and a great deal of humor.
"The Crowd You're in With looks at people at defining moments in their lives, struggling with big decisions and questioning their ultimate control over their life path. I knew it would be wonderful to have the opportunity to work with Rebecca to help structure the arguments, to further develop character and shape this new play — so that summer, we spent two weeks at the O'Neill with a great team of actors, designers and dramaturgs. "Now, two years later, it has been wonderful to work on the play in a fully realized production at the Goodman. The play takes place in Chicago, and the Goodman has been a wonderful artistic home for Rebecca. I always felt the play needed to be seen in this community."
Gilman and Goldberg will work again on Gilman's play Dollhouse in the coming year at the Guthrie and are in discussion about a number of new projects.
"I had been considering a couple of ideas for a new play when [Goodman artistic director] Bob Falls suggested I write something more personal," said Chicago playwright Gilman, who named The Crowd You're in With after a line in Bob Dylan's song "Positively 4th Street," about the alliances in friendship. "I thought about the time of transition my husband and I were going through, and how sometimes, what may seem like benign choices actually leave you in the minority — when you didn't expect to be in the minority. I am honored and excited to present this work here in my hometown."
Gilman was named a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for her play The Glory of Living. She is an assistant professor of playwriting and screenwriting in the MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage program at Northwestern University.
The creative team includes set designer Kevin Depinet, costume designer Rachel Healy, lighting designer Josh Epstein and sound designers Ray Nardelli and Joshua Horvath.
For more information visit GoodmanTheatre.org.