Synopsis: Goliath is the dominant older brother who, once in their childhood, was outshone by his clever, heroic little brother David. Ever since, Goliath has had to live with the myth, the shame and their mother’s favouring of David. Time has come for revenge.
Date/Time: Tuesday May 7 at 6:30 pm
Playwright: Maria Tryti Vennerød’s
Translator: May-Brit Akerholt
Director: Breahan Pautsch
Collaborator: Akvavit Theatre
Alfred Farag is one of Egyptian theater’s leading contemporary playwrights and has had a profound influence on shaping Arabic drama and Egyptian cultural politics. The two one-act plays presented (along with a third one which is not presented, The Visitor) were written in the Seventies. The 1970’s ushered a crisis for Egyptian theater resulting from censorship and political pressures, but it also marked Farag’s transition towards bold experimentation and successful embrace of modernist, absurdist, and postmodern styles.
These plays form a series that portrays female subjects interacting with male aggressors who threaten their lives as well as their dwellings. All three plays depict women who are trying to find their way out of a world of male danger. The plays suggest neither social change nor moral reform. Instead, they portray individual angst, deprivation, solitude and alienation. The principle that governs their dramatic action is that, when attacked, one has no option but to defend oneself in the most effective way possible. These one-act plays seem to be telling the story of the same woman, one who feels that she has something to defend and fight against the predator man.
Date/Time: Thursday May 9 at 6:30 pm
Title: The Stranger and The Peephole
Playwright: Alfred Farag
Translator: Dina Amin
Director: Anna Bahow
In collaboration with The Egyptian American Society
Synopsis: A Notebook for Winter is a two-actor-piece which is in three acts and tells the story of an introvert professor of literature who finds a burglar on his way back home. The knife-wielding burglar wants something unexpected from him: it is a question of life or death. During the entire night the two characters talk, exchange ideas, feelings, ask painful questions out of hope and desperation, in a completely new and unexpected atmosphere. They will meet again years later, both affected by that night. Although their personal memory of that night is different, it may have triggered a change in both of them, by offering a further comprehension and awareness of each other. The key idea is based on the power of writing as a way to directly impact reality: the wonder and resilience of poetry is not seen as a literary exercise, but rather as a vibrant force which affects life.
Events Horizon: Olga is stuck in a studio apartment, which has a wall with many doors and cupboards, a front door which doesn’t open and no windows: she cannot figure out what has happened, she only knows that she cannot escape. When she tries to open one of the doors on the wall, she immediately comes back from another one and continues to stay there. At some point, however, she realizes that time is messed up and that every time she leaves, she enters a different time of her life.
It turns out that the doors are a black and white hole device, which draws her own personal story into the room, including events and people she loves, as if she had been kept captured in a maze of memories.
Marco is her boyfriend but sometimes he isn’t, her father is alive but later dead, her mother left when she was a little girl but she is suddenly back. Olga struggles to understand and does not know what reality is and what she can do to change what happened and what didn’t happen. She cannot surrender to the real time, to past events, to those journeys into a grief which is too true to be science fiction.
She learnt from her father that the edge of the black holes is the horizon of the events, because it simply moves away as we get closer, which is how future works, too. You cannot fight against future by giving up on the present, you cannot deny present by locking yourself inside the past. So, when reality materializes and Olga realizes that her father is dead, that Marco has decided to leave his country and when her mother tries to ask forgiveness, she understands that the only way to overcome grief is to feel it.
Date/Time: Tuesday May 14 at 6:30 pm
Title: A Notebook for Winter and Events Horizon
Playwrights: Armando Pirozzi and Elisa Casseri
Translator: Adriana Rossetto * The translation of Events Horizon would not have been possible without the involvement and support of Premio Riccione
Directors: John Green and Matt Masino
In collaboration with Italian & American Playwright Project and Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago
Join us for a 6 PM pre-show conversation with Italian Playwrights Project Curator Valeria Orani and translator Adriana Rossetto.
Synopsis: Spun is the story of best friends, Safa and Aisha, both from working-class British Pakistani families in Newham, London. We meet them as they finish university and, for the first time, are forging different paths. Safa is going off to work at a large organization in central London and Aisha is staying in Newham to become a teacher, but both with the promise that they will meet every Thursday. However, when London is attacked one day in July, Safa and Aisha feel the whole world spinning. As extremes from all sides take hold of the city, they each find themselves on the receiving end of questions. Aisha is asked by her Muslim students why they are all blamed for the actions of a few, and Safa is on the receiving end of microaggressions from her colleagues about where she stands as a British Muslim. As Safa tries to distance herself from her working-class Muslim roots, Aisha embraces her identity in order to defend her own. Safa starts to drink and Aisha starts to wear a headscarf and, when police shoot someone in Forest Gate, Aisha takes to the streets to march for an apology but Safa doesn't join her. As they each redefine who they are, cracks in their friendship start to appear and the debates happening in the outside world seep into their day-to-day conversations. When their priorities shift against the backdrop of politics and social change, their friendship ends in a dramatic way.
Date/Time: Thursday May 16 at 6:30 pm
Country: United Kingdom
Playwright: Rabiah Hussain
Director: Kamal Hans
In collaboration with Rasaka Theatre
Synopsis: Gardenia, by Elzbieta Chowaniec, is a story about four generations of women from one Polish family who are fighting with their belief systems, personal experiences, and heritage. They all exist at the same age simultaneously: great grandmother, grandmother, mother and daughter are all 33 years old, a pivotal age for a woman, but they are able to easily reach across space and time to encounter one another. Gardenia allows each woman’s personal drama to unfold, while viewing those issues in the context of WWII, Communism, and contemporary Polish culture.
Date/Time: Tuesday May 21 at 6:30 pm
Playwright: Elzbieta Chowaniec
Translator: Aleksandra Kneifel
Director: Monica Payne
In collaboration with Trap Door Theatre
Synopsis: George Kaplan the character is the fictional spy in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, and George Kaplan the play is at once an anarchic comedy, a spy thriller, and a dizzying exploration into the relationship between reality and fiction. A hall-of-mirrors journey through conspiracy theories, the quality of coffee, and the nature of identity itself, the play forces an uneasy reckoning with the ways in which media narratives drive our politics and shape our understanding of the world. George Kaplan was first produced in Copenhagen in 2013 and since then has become an international phenomenon translated into a dozen languages, receiving countless readings and fifteen full productions throughout Europe as well as North and Latin America.
Date/Time: Thursday May 23 at 6:30 pm
Title: George Kaplan
Playwright: Frédéric Sonntag
Translator: Samuel Buggeln
Director: Warner Crocker
Synopsis: The Balkan Spry is Serbian playwright Dušan Kovačević’s classic comedy about the dark side of communism under Tito and its effects on the daily lives of people in Yugoslavia. One of Kovačević’s most popular plays, both hilarious and disturbing, The Balkan Spy is a cogent exploration of the persistence of violence and the damage it does to the human psyche.
Date/Time: Tuesday May 28 at 6:30 pm
Title: The Balkan Spy
Playwright: Dusan Kovacevic
Translator: Dennis Barnett
Director: Liz Carlin-Metz
In collaboration with Vitalist Theatre
Synopsis: A nearly-fossilized village in a desert suddenly goes into turmoil when Yeon-Ahm, a “four-legged beast,” starts talking about the world outside. When an inspector from the Emperor arrives, her talking makes her the scapegoat to save the village from being “erased.”
Date/Time: Thursday June 4 at 6:30 pm
Country: South Korea
Title: Inching Towards Yeolha
Playwright: Sam-Shik Pai
Director: David Rhee
Translator: Walter Byongsok Chon
In collaboration with Token Theatre
Playwright: Marius von Mayenburg
Translator: Maja Zade
Director: Warner Crocker
Synopsis: “Bang" is a play about "political emotions. About the irrational desire for explosions and sensations in the political sphere", a biting satire of the "longing for macho men, leaders who provide simple solutions for complex problems". (Marius von Mayenburg)
In a world where everything happens at once – the school parents’ evening, the occupation of the Crimea, the question of whether filter coffee is better than espresso after all, the massacre of civilians in South Sudan, the search for a light-flooded period flat with stucco and the ultimate destruction of our planet by greenhouse gasses – into this world a child is born, a waterbirth, totally natural, a nameless child in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district who sets out to change all our lives once and for all. A young boy, highly-gifted of course, who already in the womb throttles his twin sister to make it crystal clear from the start that nothing, but absolutely nothing will impede his progress to the top. Inexorable, unswerving – neither his father nor mother, neither a teacher nor USA drone warfare will stop him when it comes to putting his mark on a world, our world, which is majorly out of joint. The harder he falls onto the crash mat, the higher he rebounds. And so we witness his swift ascent against the opposition of his besotted parents, against the school and every educational institute unable to cope with his extreme talent, against everything which was there before him and fails to give him unconditional love, against everything that is not on his side and refuses to grant him unlimited power, against the rest of a world which is majorly out of ... but we’ve had that already. We witness his rise but not his fall. Because nothing will stop him. Not even he himself.
Title: “A Muslim in The Midst”
Playwright: Anand Rao
Director: Emily Antoff
Partner: Rasaka Theatre
Synopsis: September 14, 2001: Three days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American soil, on the other side of the world in the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore, a poor Muslim family is stranded. Desperate to reach a relative’s home in a distant suburb, the new immigrants to the city are struggling to find a ride late in the night. Watching them closely from inside a car is an American-Indian Hindu couple, executives of American companies. The westernized and affluent couple offers to take the traditional and rural Muslim couple along. In the car, their conversation quickly takes an unexpected turn. Fueled by a pro and anti-Islamic rhetoric and warnings about potential terror threats playing on the radio, the characters fight with their prejudices and fears even as they attempt to look beyond the obvious differences and worldview to unravel a common fellowship based on humanity.
Country: French Canadian
Playwright: Mishka Lavigne
Translator: Neil Blackadder
Director: Anna Bahow
Partner: The Québec Government Office in Chicago
Synopsis: Haven is the story of Elsie, who's just lost her mother, and of Matt, who's searching for his past. They're brought together by the hole that opened up in the asphalt and the contents of the car lying at the bottom.
Title: “Internalized Theory of Love”
Playwright: Vera Kiiskinen
Translator: Merja Talvela and Leslie Hyde
Director: Breahan Pautsch
Partner: Akvavit Theatre
Synopsis: Ida and Leo are expecting their second child when, in a flash, their idyllic marriage collapses. The frenzied search for the guilty party is on. The crisis forces them to think about the purpose of their marriage. Who are they, and why do they even live together? They turn to Couples Therapy to find the reasons why they live together. The quest for answers turns to discussions with earlier generations of the family, both living and dead - Ida’s mother from the era of free love, Ida’s jazz loving father drowned in his own drink, the toothless Aunt Ingeborg, a ‘spinster’ from the fifties. Do they have to separate in order to survive family life?
Playwright: Riad Ismet
Director: Riad Ismet
Partner: Columbia College Chicago
Synopsis: A gripping play that sheds light on the Syrian tragedy: Near the areas occupied by ISIS in northern Syria, a widow struggles to to keep her three sons together, who represent three conflicting points of view, while an international proxy war spreads sectarianism, extremism and hatred in a country that was once a harmonic grinder of all religious ethnicities, like a Mihbaj which prepares coffee beans for hospitality.
Title: “Made In Poland”
Playwright: Przemysław Wojcieszek
Translator: Alissa Valless
Director: Emily Lotspeich
Partner: Trap Door Theatre
Synopsis: Made in Poland, is about a rebellious young man from the outer-city housing projects. In the new post-communist Poland, Bogus, challenges everyone he interacts with. Questioning his mother, his teacher, his priest, and even local gangsters this play explores themes of tolerance, personal identity and being Polish.
Title: “Hypnotized By Love”
Playwright: Dušan Kovačević
Translator: Dennis Barnett
Director: Elizabeth Carlin-Metz
Partner: Vitalist Theatre, Consulate General of Serbia
Synopsis: On a mysterious eve, a young woman looks to the stars with an unshakable faith in a love that will descend and transform her, as her injured parents bicker and try to hold her on a planet as damaged by strife as they are themselves. This lyrical and slightly absurd comedy reflects the fragile return to Serbia of hope, faith, and healing following decades of repression and war.
Playwright: Juan Carlos Rubio
Translator: Laureano Corces
Director: Jacob Janssen
Partner: The Blue Parrot Chicago
Synopsis: George and Margaret are defending the Southern Border of the United States. But when Margaret starts asking too many logical questions their absurdist plot spirals out of control.
[almost equal to]
Country - Sweden
Playwright - Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Translator - Rachel Willson-Broyles
Director - Anna C. Bahow
Synopsis - How much do you earn? Who do you serve? In Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s recent play ≈ [Almost Equal To] we encounter a number of people who are colliding with the economy surrounding them.
Martina dreams about growing her way out of the contemporary economic system; Mani wants to crush it. Andrei is looking for a job; Freja is seeking revenge. They all invest money in postage and pine nuts, fake bubbles and perfumes, strollers and utopias. Everyone seems invaded by numbers. How are we, our eyes, our words, our bodies affected by the economic system that surrounds us?
≈ [Almost Equal To] is a funny and brutal play that tries (and fails?) to give the audience a maximized entertainment value for every dollar invested. Premiered October 23, 2014 at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, and was performed until spring 2016.
The 9 Fridas
Country - Wales
Playwright - Kait O'Reilly
Director - John Green
Collaborator - Columbia College Chicago
Synopsis - Kaite O'Reilly's The 9 Fridas was commissioned by Sherman Cymru Theatre (Wales, UK), and is exclusively licensed to Taipei Arts Festival to conduct the premiere outside the UK. Directed by internationally known director/actor-trainer, Phillip Zarrilli, co-produced by Mobius Strip Theatre and Hong Kong Repertory Theater, The 9 Fridas challenges conventional ways of looking at the world famous female Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo--an everywoman whose life has great resonance for today. The 9 Fridas explores disability, love, creativity, and politics. It is a salute to the artist as well as to the tenacity and passion in life.
Country - Australia
Playwright - Michele Lee
Director - Bec Willett
Synopsis - Rice by Michele Lee explores the role of two Australian women of Asian heritage and their roles in the business of global food production. Nisha, a late 20s second generation Australian Indian is the Executive Officer of Golden Fields, Australia’s biggest rice company. Yvette, an older Chinese woman and cleaner at the same office is trying to connect with her daughter whose experience growing up in Australia is far removed from her own. The relationship that forms between these women is one that reveals the complexity of the Australian identity.
A Fine Balance
Country - India
Author - Rohinton Mistry
Adaptors - Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith
Director - Kamal Hans
Collaborators - Rasaka Theatre
Synopsis - With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recalls the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India.
The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.
As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.
Country - Germany
Playwright - Franz Xaver Kroetz
Translator - Conor McPherson
Director - Andy Hager
Collaborators - TUTA Theatre
Synopsis - Parents-to-be Kurt and Martha just want the best for their baby. They're not afraid of hard work - the latest buggy doesn't come cheap. But when Kurt's boss offers him a chance to make some easy money with a mysterious side job, his rashness catches up with him. A fable about the moral and environmental cost of our materialistic nesting instincts, Conor McPherson's powerful new version of Franz Xaver Kroetz's Das Nest premiered at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, in 2016.
Country - Serbia
Playwright - Dušan Kovačević
Translator - Dennis Barnett
Director - Liz Carlin-Metz
Collaborator - Vitalist Theatre, Consulate General of The Republic of Serbia in Chicago
Synopsis - Kumovi is a domestic comedy that takes place on Milan and Ana's twenty-fifth anniversary. Milan has recently lost his job and his best friend, Boban, has disappeared, leaving Milan depressed and anxious. But Milan has made a new friend, a stray dog, who comes to his rescue when he is mugged in the park, and one of the policemen investigating the mugging happens to be a dog "specialist." Through the combined efforts of Milan, the policeman and the dog, both the mystery of the missing man and Milan's anxiety find a happy resolution.
Country - Romania
Playwright - Matei Visniec
Translator - Nick Awde
Director - Kate Hendrickson
Collaborators - Trap Door Theatre
Synopsis - They're from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Syria, Irak, Lybia, Mali, Algeria, Morocco, Haiti and many other places where life is no longer compatible with the idea of a future. There are millions of them. How many million? No one knows. They're called "migrants" and they have only one thing on their minds: the desire to reach Europe.
In the space of just five months, Europe panicked. Political authorities and public opinion understood that there are about 80 million people on the planet living in war-torn regions and they have the right, in principle, to ask for international protection and thus political asylum in Europe. Borders began to close; the symbol of barbed wire rose up from the nightmarish depths of history. Europe didn't know what was happening to it, didn't know what to do, and the temptation to repudiate its values was great (freedom of movement, human rights, an open society, etc.) and to stop the millions of candidates for exile on the way.
Mammoth (formally Jessika's Cub)
Country - Finland
Playwright - Leea Klemola
Director - Brehan Pautsch
Translator - Penny Black
Collaborator - Akvavit Theatre
Synopsis - Mammoth (formally Jessika’s Cub) is a comedy about Jessika’s family, her role as a wife and a mother, and her panic attack-inducing longing for nature and need to get away from the technological world of today.
Jessika, her mother, her husband, and her mental health therapy dog stage a play to help Jessika confront her demons. The idea is to show Jessika’s now adult, absent son what she wishes his upbringing had been like via a video feed of the play. Instead of staying home in front of the computer, in Jessika’s scenario the whole family goes into the woods to get lost.
Right from the get-go, everything goes awry. Despite their best efforts, Jessika’s mother and husband don’t seem able to create a world without technology that would satisfy her. Through personal and marital crises they are, however, able to understand that Jessika doesn’t belong in the modern era but with mammoths and other wild beasts, and start again from there. Mammoth is about animal instincts and being untamed.
The Virgin Father
Country - Ireland
Playwright - Jimmy McAleavey
Director - Warner Crocker
Synopsis - “Surely you don’t think you failed him?’ Who, me? God’s chosen one? The holy stepfather? Of course I failed him. He’s dead, isn’t he?” Mary has disappeared. And now Joe is being hunted down. He urgently needs to understand what has happened to his family if he is to save himself….
Joe married the quiet girl in the village even though she was carrying someone else’s child. He failed to deal with her delusions about the pregnancy, and to keep the boy from joining a cult. But what could he have done in a land occupied by foreign forces who were targeting their son? Jimmy McAleavey’s superb monologue is a love story about the temptation to believe…
Country - Spain
Playwright - Guillem Clua
Translator - Marion Peter Holt
Director - Emelio Williams
Synopsis - “Promised Land” is a farce on the subject of climate change and the inefficiency of international organizations to stop its terrible consequences. The play is set in the future at the United Nations headquarters in New York City and tells the story of the president and the diplomatic delegation of a fictitious country, Malvati, that is about to sink under the sea. Comedy, melodrama, political intrigue and mythology intertwine to make Promised Land one of Guillem Clua’s more reality-aware plays but also one of his funniest. Although an array of characters appear in the play, the script requires only four actors. Clua has given the roles of the mythological Malvati, one self-satisfied UN official, and some twenty-five delegates from different countries to a single actor. It can only be called an actor’s tour-de-force.
Country - Lebanon
Playwright - Issam Mahfouz
Translator - Robert Myers and Nada Saab
Director - Warner Crocker
Absurdist political play by Lebanon’s most renowned playwright Issam Mahfouz. Takes place during an offstage, and perhaps imaginary, coup directed by a general and his faithful assistant, Saadoun.
Country - Pakistan
Author - Iftikar N. Hassan
Adapter - Judy Veramendi
Collaborators - Pakistani Colsul General, Rasaka Theatre
Director - Puja Mohindra
Shazia, a lovely young Punjabi girl with a determined vision of how her life must unfold, moves through light and shadow before coming into her glory. Experience her story, and her world, through songs, dances, and celebrations of love and marriage, interwoven with the Voiceless Melodies of her ancestors.
Woman in Berlin
Country - Germany
Author - Unknown
Adapter - Eva Barr
Collaborators - Lookingglass Theatre
Director - Tracy Walsh
The memoir, A Woman in Berlin, by Anonymous, is one woman's account of her experiences during the first eight weeks of the Russian invasion of Berlin in April, 1945. This adaptation visits the material as if it is in the process of being staged as a play with a three-person acting company and a director some twenty years after the events described, and six years after its original publication, and subsequent suppression, in Germany in 1959. The memoir was first published in the United States in 1954.
Country - Norway
Playwright - Fredrik Brattberg
Translator - Henning Hegland
Collaborators - Akvavit Theatre
Director - Breahan Pautsch
In The Returning we meet a mother and a father grieving the loss of their son, Gustav, whom they assume to be dead. The funeral is breath-taking, where they have filled the coffin with tings reminding them of Gustav. After a while daily life returns. The parents manage to go on with their life. One day there is a knock on the door….
the unmarried woman
Country - Austria