BY: Lukas Barfuss
TRANSLATOR: Neil Blackadder
COLLABORATORS: Swiss Benevolent Society, Consulate General of Switzerland in Chicago
DIRECTOR: John Green
All it takes is one hair or a drop of saliva, and a person’s whole world can be turned upside down. A DNA test reveals to Peter Korach that he’s not in fact the father of his adored wife’s beloved child. In The Test (Good Simon Korach), Lukas Bärfuss explores the consequences of that discovery, for Peter and for the rest of his family—his father Simon, who cares more than anything about finally winning an election against his arch-rival; his mother Helle who prefers life on an ashram in India; and of course Agnes, who remains the mother of the child. The stakes are high, yet Bärfuss develops his premise in an often comic mode, thanks in part to the key figure of Franzeck, an advisor to Simon who longs to be more like Peter. The Test depicts a society that has invented a means to establish paternity but not yet the means to cope with the psychological and moral implications.
BY: Jonas Hassen Khemiri
TRANSLATOR: Frank Perry
COLLABORATORS: Swedish American Museum, Consulate General of Sweden Chicago
DIRECTOR: Anna Bahow
Invasion is a tornado of words, images and ideas, all centered around a magical name: Abulkasem. The play assaults our deepest prejudices about identity, race and language. At once hilarious, disturbing and poignant, this deeply subversive play deconstructs a threatening identity – the Arabic male – and forces us to confront our own cultural identity.
BY: Marius von Mayenburg
TRANSLATOR: Maja Zade
COLLABORATORS: Goethe-Institut Chicago, German Consulate General Chicago
DIRECTOR: Kevin Broockmann
Benjamin refuses to take part in school swimming lessons. His mother suspects drugs, but the real reason
is something else: Benjamin has religious feelings. He begins to study the Bible and to terrorise his fellow
pupils and teacher.
BY: Evelyne de la Cheneliere and Daniel Briere
TRANSLATOR: Neil Blackadder
COLLABORATORS: Consulate General of Canada in Chicago, Vitalist Theatre
DIRECTOR: Liz Carlin-Metz
The parents have both succeeded professionally through working with images: the father travels the world photographing war zones, the mother edits a journal devoted to contemporary art. But their son and daughter react with cold detachment to such humanism. Instead, they devote themselves to each other and to animal rights activism, eventually becoming bigger media stars than their parents. In a series of fast-paced scenes and with sharp satire, American Shot depicts an unlikely yet emblematic North American family.
BY: Anna Yoblonskaya
TRANSLATOR: Rory Mullarkey
COLLABORATORS: Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Consulate General of Ukraine
DIRECTOR: Adam Webster
Oleg’s mother, Natalya, has come back from a long-term mysterious absence to live, unannounced, with he and his wife, Marina. When their daughter, Kristina, returns, soaking wet and exiled from school, Natalya immediately starts in on a crusade to establish “a life of repentance and prayer.” But their neighbor, Bosun, a struggling alcoholic handyman, lends insight into what is and isn’t a demon.
As Bosun says: “The only thing that happens overnight is people find God! Everything else takes a bloody long time!” Pagans is a searing examination of love, faith, family, guilt, responsibility and the true nature of repentance.
BY: Fabrice Melquiot
TRANSLATOR: Miriam Heard
COLLABORATORS: Alliance Francaise de Chicago, Cultural Services at the Consulate General of France in Chicago, Trap Door
DIRECTOR: Nicole Wiesner
In a nondescript bedroom in an undisclosed location, a Man and a Woman put their marriage on the line by inviting a stranger into their lives. Part houseguest, part pining lover, and part director-storyteller, the Other Man is a welcomed break from their dull but peaceful existence, but his vengeful moods and voyeuristic tendencies threaten to bring their intimacy to a violent end. Tense and and sensationalist, Fabrice Melquiot’s Candle turns that tables on its audience, asking us to consider whether its final “coup de theatre” is worth the price.
Comedy of Sorrows
BY: Ibrahim El-Husseini
TRANSLATOR: Mohammed Albakry and Rebekah Maggor
COLLABORATORS: Egyptian American Society
DIRECTOR: James McDermott
Ibrahim El-Husseini’s Comedy of Sorrows (Commedia Al-Ahzaan) is one of the first theatrical responses to the Egyptian revolution of January 25th. The play follows a young university-educated Egyptian woman who, through a series of encounters with different members of society, comes to realize that she had been oblivious to the poverty and misery into which her people sank. The play presents a collective and unsentimental account of a nation’s awakening. Through a unique combination of vivid poetry and colloquial dialogue, it celebrates the uprising of a people, while at the same time anticipating the tumult of a nation transitioning into democracy. First performed in July, 2011 at Cairo’s Al-Ghad Theatre, Comedy of Sorrows won accolades from some of Egypt’s most influential critics and scholars. In her review for Al-Ahram newspaper, professor and critic Nehad Seleiha called the play an “emotionally poignant and aesthetically cathartic theatrical experience.” Poet and critic Girgus Shukry wrote in the Journal of Radio and Television that while “we may agree or disagree with [El-Husseini’s] method of treatment, no one will dispute the fact that we are witnessing a major creative work… in which the author chooses to ask questions rather than offer ready-made answers.”
BY: Claudio Tocalchir
TRANSLATOR: Jean Graham-Jones
COLLABORATORS: Instituto Cervantes, Consulate General of Argentina
DIRECTOR: Emilio Williams
The Argentinian award-winning play “Third Wing (the story of an absurd attempt)” by Claudio Tocalchir is a poignant and often hilarious dramedy by one of the most successful international theater artists working today. Five very different characters are united by loneliness, incomprehension and the need to love and be loved. A ramshackle office, a couple’s apartment, a bar and a medical consulting room are the different stages where these human beings try to, one day at a time, survive and move forward with their incomplete lives.