Not only is author/director Tina Landau flying high with Space at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, she's just landed a spot in the company's Ensemble. Said artistic director Martha Lavey (Jan. 14), "This is an enormous resource to Steppenwolf; a gifted director and writer, [Landau] has worked with a wide range of texts, both dramatic and musical...Tina is an artist of vision with a developed and deftly-executed aesthetic, and yet she is highly collaborative." Landau joins a group of 30 other writers, directors and adapters.
Landau scripted and directed the Off-Broadway musical Floyd Collins and staged Charles Mee's Time To Burn last season at Steppenwolf. Other credits include Stonewall for En Garde Arts and directing Jose Rivera's Marisol at NY's Playwrights Horizons.
In Space, an intellectual and successful psychiatrist must confront his entire inner structure and belief system, when many patients come to him with similar and inexplicable symptoms, claiming to be victims of alien abductions. Space began previews Nov. 28, opened Dec. 7 and runs to Jan. 24.
"For me," said Landau, "the piece is less about UFOs than...about space itself -- both its outer and inner manifestations. It's about our desire to cross the distances of space and make contact...I would describe the play as a kind of conversion story, a journey to the interior world through an experience of the exterior one."
Floating in Space are Steppenwolf ensemble members Tom Irwin, Amy Morton, Robert Breuler and Mariann Mayberry, alongside Dan Smith, Craig Zimmerman, Morocco Omari and Alexandra Billings. Designing the show are James Schuette (set), Scott Zielinski (lighting), Mara Blumenfeld (costumes), Michael Bodeen & Rob Milburn (music & sound) and John Boesche (projections). Michele Volansky serves as dramaturg. Space came about thanks to a grant from the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation underwriting a "New Plays Initiative."
Upcoming in the Steppenwolf season:
Burrows will direct The Man Who Came To Dinner, George S. Kaufman & Moss Hart's 1939 classic about a dinner guest who can't leave. (Frank Galati had been previously announced as director.) Long time Steppenwolf member and current "Frasier" star John Mahoney will star as Sheridan Whiteside in this comedy about a sardonic, wheelchair bound radio star who wreaks havoc in a suburban household. The show runs Apr. 17-June 14, 1998 with an opening set for April 26, 1998.
Recently announced is the third play of the Steppenwolf season, The Memory Of Water, the American premiere of Shelagh Stephenson's London hit. Three sisters meet at their mother's funeral and cement bonds that were weakened over the years. Artistic director Martha Lavey directs, Feb. 6-March 29, 1998, with an opening Feb. 15, 1998.
The Steppenwolf season will close July 3-Aug. 23, 1998 with J.M. Synge's The Playboy Of the Western World starring Jim True. In a small Irish village, a young man on his way to love and manhood bashes his bully of a father, earning the hearts of the young ladies and the awe of the villagers. Douglas Hughes, artistic director of CT's Long Wharf Theatre, will stage the comedy.
Steppenwolf's studio season has also been announced and features such notables as director Mary Zimmerman and "Roseanne" actress Laurie Metcalf.
A revival of 1991's The Arabian Nights begins the season, Dec. 2 Jan. 4, 1998. Adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman for her Lookingglass Theatre Company, the acrobatic, musical piece collects Indian, Persian and Arabic stor by the bride Scheherezade as a means of saving her own life.
Goodbye Stranger, a new comedy/drama by Carrie Luft, developed in the New Plays Lab, runs Jan. 21-Feb. 15, 1998. The show tells of a broke but happy young man who wanders in and out of people's lives. Polly Noonan directs.
Up next will be a co-production with City Lit Theatre of The Horn, adapted by Mark Richards from the John Clellon Holmes novel about saxophonist Edgar Pool changing the face of American music. (April 1-May 3, 1998)
Finishing the studio season (June 24-July 26, 1998) will be a new, as yet untitled comedy by Jules Tanner, to star Laurie Metcalf, Tom Irwin and Zoe Perry. Irwin and Metcalf co-starred in My Thing Of Love, both at Steppenwolf and on Broadway.
Also on the Steppenwolf bill this season will be the TeenStreet Theatre piece, Body House - a jazz tricycle, performed by an ensemble of Chicago teen actors and directed by Free Street Programs' artistic director, Ron Bieganski. The troupe's last work was 1996's Mad Joy.
For tickets or more information, call (773) 335-1650, or refer to the Steppenwolf Theatre regional listings on Playbill On-Line.