Steppenwolf Takes a Page Out of Carson McCullers' Lonely Hunter for Two Works in Young Adults Season

News   Steppenwolf Takes a Page Out of Carson McCullers' Lonely Hunter for Two Works in Young Adults Season
Two plays — an adaptation and a world premiere — related to the American novelist Carson McCullers will be presented as part of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults series in Chicago in 2011-12.

Rebecca Gilman's adaptation The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, based on the 1940 novel by McCullers, will play Oct. 11-Nov. 4 in the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre. Hallie Gordon directs.

In February 2012, Sarah Gubbins' fml: how Carson McCullers saved my life will get its world premiere in the Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, according to Steppenwolf, "follows John Singer, a deaf mute man who resides in a local boarding house, and four other vivid but desperately lonesome residents in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Mick Kelly, a 14-year-old tomboy who dreams of becoming a concert pianist; Benedict Copeland, the town's only black doctor; Jake Blout, a drunken political activist; and Biff Brannon, a recent widower and owner of the town's diner and bar. As each finds solace in Singer's ability to listen, they all unintentionally overlook their confidant's profound isolation in this timeless tale woven from the lives of ordinary people."

Gilman's plays include A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Boy Gets Girl, Spinning Into Butter, Blue Surge, Dollhouse, The Glory of Living, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball and The Crowd You're in With.

Joanie Schultz will direct fml, to run Feb. 28-March 18, 2012, which is billed this way: "Jo's junior year of high school in suburban LaGrange, IL started off just fine — not that it's ever easy being a lesbian at 16. Thankfully, a new English teacher assigns Carson McCullers' famed novel 'The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,' and Jo discovers an unshakable kinship to McCullers' central character John Singer. Like Singer, Jo is forever the listener, definitively the outsider, perpetually misunderstood and filled with unrequited love. Yet when she is a victim of a gay-bashing incident, her world is turned upside down and she must decide whether to seek revenge or redemption. A story about isolation, fitting in and finding oneself, fml: how Carson McCullers saved my life is a play about surviving high school and how literature still has the power to transform how we see the world." The play was commissioned for Steppenwolf for Young Adults. For the uninitiated, "fml" is an abbreviation for "f**k my life." Gubbins is a Chicago playwright whose full-length plays include Fair Use, In Loco Parentis, The Water Play and The Kid Thing.

Casting and creative teams will be announced.

McCullers (1917-1967) wrote "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter" at the age of 23. Her other best-known titles are "The Member of the Wedding" (a novel that she adapted for the stage) and the short story collection "The Ballad of the Sad Café."

Tickets go on sale for both high school groups and public performances on May 13.

Tickets for public performances, priced at $20, are available by contacting Audience Services at (312) 335-1650, online at and in person at 1650 N. Halsted St.

Tickets for high school groups are available by contacting the Steppenwolf for Young Adults Education Coordinator at (312) 654-5639.

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