The new Chicago staging, distinct from the acclaimed production that played McCarter Theatre and The Public Theater in recent months, includes In the Red and Brown Water, The Brothers Size and Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet. Chicago previews began Jan. 21.
In the Red and Brown Water is seen in one evening, with the two shorter plays, The Brothers Size and Marcus, on the other (with marathon performances on the weekends). The plays can be experienced in any order, although chronologically In the Red and Brown Water comes first, followed by The Brothers Size and then Marcus, according to Steppenwolf.
(In the East Coast runs of the plays, Landau directed In the Red and Brown Water and Robert O'Hara directed the other two.)
The Brother/Sister Plays play Steppenwolf's Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Here's how Steppenwolf bills the plays: "On the banks of the bayou, a small community springs to life with stories of love, sexuality and coming-of-age. Influenced by lively Afro-Caribbean folklore, The Brother/Sister Plays explore the struggles that arise when the quest for self-identity is at odds with community values."
In the Red and Brown Water: "Fast, spirited Oya is a promising young athlete who is offered a scholarship that could jump-start her future. Forced to choose between her dying mother and her own dreams, she makes a life-changing decision. Oya's subsequent path to womanhood leads her to a crossroads where she finds herself torn between settling down…and just settling."
The Brothers Size: "When Oshooshi Size is released from jail, he goes to work in his brother's car repair shop. When his best friend from prison also shows up, a tense tug of war results. The Brothers Size is a fierce and honest look at the complex bonds of brotherhood."
Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet: "Marcus is 16. He is also coming to terms with his sexuality while uncovering the mysterious secrets of his family's past. An entrancing coming-of-age story, Marcus is about the difficult quest for identity in an outspoken and strong-willed community."
The Brother/Sister Plays feature ensemble members Alana Arenas, K. Todd Freeman and Ora Jones with Phillip James Brannon, Rodrick Covington, Glenn Davis (Jan. 21-March 21), Jeff Parker, Tamberla Perry and Jacqueline Williams.
McCraney and Landau have collaborated on five productions, including In the Red and Brown Water at The Public Theater, New Jersey’s McCarter Theatre Center and Atlanta's Alliance Theatre. McCraney's play Wig Out! premiered at New York’s Vineyard Theater (directed by Landau) and was later presented at London's Royal Court Theatre.
Landau's directing credits include Superior Donuts by ensemble member Tracy Letts, The Tempest, The Diary of Anne Frank, Cherry Orchard, The Time of Your Life, The Berlin Circle and her own play, Space.
The design team for The Brother/Sister Plays includes: James Schuette (sets and costumes), Scott Zielinski (lights), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound) and Zane Mark (musical supervisor). Deb Styer is the stage manager and Rose Marie Packer is the assistant stage manager.
For tickets and information, call (312) 335-1650 or visit www.steppenwolf.org.