New works by Rebecca Gilman and Mary Zimmerman, and a radical reworking of Chekhov's Seagull are included in the 2000-2001 season at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. The upcoming season will be the Goodman's first in its newly built home in the North-Loop area. The new structure houses both the 840-seat Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre and the Owen Bruner Goodman Theatre, a flexible courtyard space that can seat between 200 and 400 people.
As previously reported, the season will get underway with August Wilson's latest, King Hedley II, a sequel of sorts to Seven Guitars, which will fill the Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre, Nov. 30-Jan. 6, 2001.
Rebecca Gilman's latest, The Great Baseball Strike of 1994, will have its premiere in spring of 2001. Each of the last three Goodman seasons have featured a Gilman play, most recently Spinning Into Butter. The new work, directed by Michael Maggio, will play May 11 June 16, 2001.
Gilman is currently the playwright of the moment. Her controversial play about political correctness at a small Vermont college, Spinning Into Butter, opens this week at Lincoln Center Theater, marking her New York debut. Another play, Boy Gets Girl, is due to play at Manhattan Theatre Club this coming season.
As with many of her other, typically socially minded play, Gilman's Baseball Strike takes its subject from contemporary new events. In 1994, the baseball players union went on strike, forcing the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in that event's history. Gilman explores the behind-the-scenes negotiated behind a sport that has become a big business. The mainstage's second slot, running Jan. 19-Feb. 24, 2001, will be filled by a classic American play yet to be announced. Goodman artistic director Robert Falls will be at the helm.
James Baldwin's The Amen Corner will come next, March 16-April 21, 2001. Chuck Smith directs the 1954 work about Sister Margaret Alexander, who risks losing her Harlem church and her son when her vagabond, jazz musician husband returns home.
A fifth production will be decided upon at a later date.
Meanwhile, the smaller Owen Bruner Goodman Theatre will be christened with a new work by theatrical auteur and Goodman associate Mary Zimmerman, the artist behind The Notebooks of Leonardo de Vinci and The Odyssey. The unnamed play will run Feb. 9-March 11, 2001.
Chekhov won't know what hit him when Regina Taylor's new adaptation of The Seagull premieres at the Bruner April 27-May 27, 2001. Actress-playwright Taylor has relocated the drama to the historic Gullah Islands off the coast of modern-day South Carolina. The family is now African-American and Konstantin is a performance artist. No director has been named.
Chicago will be saturated by Chekhov this coming winter and spring. The Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2001 Studio season feature two Chekhov pieces, including an Uncle Vanya starring Jeff Perry.
The Goodman Theatre of Chicago will celebrate the birth of its new North Loop home with two weeks of festivities, beginning Nov. 4 and leading up to a round-the-clock party on Nov. 18. The complex, the theatre's first new facility since 1925, is located on Dearborn Street between Randolph and Lake, the historic site of the Garrick and Woods theatres and the landmark Harris and Selwyn theatres.
The Albert Ivar Goodman Theatre will be a tradition proscenium stage, slightly largely than the current mainstage, and equipped with a full fly tower and improved acoustics. The Owen Butler Goodman Theatre, meanwhile, has a timber-frame construction (with exposed fir beams) and can take any number of forms, including end stage, thrust, arena and runway.
Both theatres will be fully soundproofed, to shield performances from the noise of the rumbling elevated trains of the Loop area.
The November festivities will run as follows:
• Builder's Day, Nov. 4: The Goodman will open its doors to builders, trade people and their families.
• Press Preview, Nov. 8.
• Official Dedication, Nov. 9, featuring dedication luncheon for major contributors.
• Inaugural Gala, Nov. 11: A black-tie event complete with food and entertainment.
• Subscriber Days, Nov. 12-15: Subscribers may look at the theatre and preview their new comfortable seats.
• Theatre Community Party, Nov. 13: Members of the League of Chicago Theatre are invited to the theatre.
• City of Chicago Day, Nov. 16: The Goodman expresses its thanks to Windy City officials.
• 26-Hour Celebration, Nov. 17-18: More than a day of activities, free and open to the public.
The new Goodman Theatre will have its first production on Nov. 30 with August Wilson's latest work, King Hedley II. The play will officially open on Dec. 11.
--By Robert Simonson