Live at the Goodman offers three perspectives on loss and reinvention | Theater overview

Between a robust national vaccination effort and Broadway recently announcing its reopening in September, the return of the live-action Chicago theater seems imminent. But from May 13, the Goodman Theater’s Live The series hopes to give its customers the best thing to do. From May 13 to July 18, this series will feature three plays that will be performed for the first time on the Goodman Stage, filmed by a professional film crew and broadcast live to audiences at home.

Robert falls, artistic director of The Goodman since 1986, says he was inspired to organize the series after seeing various European theaters adapt to performances that aired live last summer. “I fell in love with a few viewing experiences that I had as a member of the public, in particular a theater in London called old Vic“Said Falls.” I thought the experience was very close to being in the theater. “

The three pieces that will be performed in the Live series are I hate it here through Ike holter, Murders in the State of Ohio through Adrienne kennedy, and The sound inside through Adam rapp. The three directors each emphasize how the intimate and contained nature of each piece lends itself well to this medium.

“Everything can be so much more detailed”, says Tiffany Nichole Greene, Director of Murders in the State of Ohio. “I don’t have to be behind the audience to make sure I’m taking care of everyone in my audience. I can be three meters from someone.”

“I wanted to do something non-linear because I felt like it would take a lot of advantage of the medium we’re playing in, which is a three-camera situation on a soundstage,” says Lili-Anne Brown, Director of I hate it here. “We could really be crazy and get really weird, and doing something nonlinear gives me the most options to do something out of the box.”

Collectively, these three works touch deeply on themes such as illness, despair and racial trauma – all of which can resonate deeply with audiences after a year of immeasurable loss and despair.

The first play, scheduled to premiere on May 13, is The sound inside by Rapp and directed by Falls. Rapp’s work premiered on Broadway in October 2019 (directed by former Chicagoan David Cromer) and received six 2020 Tony nominations. This psychological thriller takes place in an academic setting as it details a special friendship that develops between a teacher and his student.

“These are two characters and I think it’s a very beautiful play. . . a meditation on loss, ”says Falls. “It has a very suspenseful mystery quality. You don’t quite know what’s going on, so I think you’re really going to be drawn to the screen.”

Murders in the state of Ohio, the second play in the series will run from June 17 to 20. Similar to The sound inside, this play takes place in academia as the main character, Suzanne, an accomplished writer known for her use of violent imagery, recalls a chilling series of tragedies she endured as a young black woman in Ohio State.

“I’m just struck by the fact that she [Suzanne] was able to take that trauma and use it in his art, “says Greene.” The demand for access to someone’s trauma, I think is very relevant to us today. We all face some level of trauma uniquely related to this pandemic. “

Falls, who chose Murders in the State of Ohio as one of the featured pieces, notes that Kennedy’s work has often been overlooked. “Adrienne Kennedy is a writer I’ve always wanted to see produced at The Goodman. She’s one of America’s greatest playwrights,” says Falls. “I am very, very excited about this piece, which is rarely produced.”

The final piece, scheduled to premiere July 15-18, is I hate it here by Chicago playwright Holter. Originally released as an audio production last December by Studio Theater in Washington, DC, Holter’s Play features a series of non-linear vignettes that reflect the year 2020. Brown, who has worked with Holter before and describes him as a “hometown hero,” says that when she was Listening for the first time to the audio of Holter’s work, she could already visualize how the script would translate on stage.

“I had a great time listening I hate it here, so when Bob said, “What are you thinking?” it was already right in my head, “says Brown.” I always like to say that Ike writes the way I think he does and that’s the best way to describe our relationship.

The filming and production of this series is directed by Christiana Tye, an experienced television producer who shot Conor McPherson’s solo show, Saint Nicolas, featuring Brendan Coyle for the Goodman in 2019. While nature broadcast live Live is designed to enhance the viewing experience, Tye points out that this format is also unpredictable.

“There’s no redesign,” Tye says. “It’s a really intense first play and we have to be very quiet. A cameraman might trip. A light might fall. I could take the wrong angle of view. There are so many things that can go wrong and it is. is what’s so cool about live theater. “

While Chicago artists and audiences alike are excited about the prospect of finally returning to theater, the pandemic has clearly spurred the arts community to make better use of technological resources that were previously neglected, Greene says.

“I love the theater, but we had to shake it up. Before the pandemic, a lot of people were holding onto old things, because they were like, ‘We know it works and we don’t have the time or the money to risk find out if it works,’ ” Greene said. “Now we need to find out if this is working. It’s the only way through.”

For Falls, he saw firsthand the positive impact of virtual productions, as it enabled the Goodmans to make their work more accessible to audiences around the world.

“We have received responses from people as far away as New Zealand, who are like, ‘Oh. I’m so thrilled to have seen this production, ”says Falls. “It’s never going to recreate that theater-life experience that an audience has with the performers, but until then it’s a way to keep in touch, and I think that’s a really good thing.” v

About Ethel Nester

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