A good samaritan, an abortionist, an African-American couple and a rapist are the main characters of four new plays chosen for Steppenwolf Theatre's New Play Lab reading series. The Lab is meant to create a supportive, controlled environment for developing these plays, one of which will either receive a Steppenwolf production or be released for staging elsewhere.
First up in this second Lab season is Goodbye Stranger (Jan. 27), by Carrie Luft. Polly Noonan directs this surreal tale of a young, broke person trying to be good as he wanders in and out of people's lives.
Kira Obolensky's The Abortionist arrives Feb. 17, directed by Daniel Fish. First a butcher's maid in England, then a widow in America, and finally New York's most notorious abortionist Madame Restell was dubbed by the press of her time, "the wickedest woman in New York." She was also a millionnaire.
March 24, Donald Douglas directs Dominic Taylor's Personal History, which captures an African-American couple at three moments in American history: 1903, 1953 and the present day.
Completing the season will be Harumscarum, David VanMatre's drama directed by Wilson Milam, June 2. A young man institutionalized for rape returns home, only to be hounded by an (unseen) tribunal called "The Committee On Mental Defectiveness." Appearing in the four readings will be Paul Adelstein, Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Daniel J. Bryant, Marsha Estell, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Pat Healy, Jill Kraft, David Alan Novak, Denise Odom, David Shapiro, Pete Zahradnik and Meredith Zinner. Sets are by Mark Netherland, costumes by Stacy Caballero.
For reservations to these free events at Steppenwolf on North Halsted St., call (312) 335-1888.
In other Steppenwolf New Plays Lab news, the theatre recently received a $40,000 grant from the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation to fund a New Plays Initiative, enabling the organization to commission works and establish artistic residencies via workshops and readings. This season, two new works by mid-career playwrights (as yet unchosen) will be commissioned. In 1997-98, one major playwright will be chosen.
--By David Lefkowitz