A world premiere stage adaptation of the book that filmmaker John Waters called "the first dirty book the baby-boom generation ever read; the shocker they never got over" will highlight City Lit Theater's 2012-2013 season, artistic director Terry McCabe announced today, along with the Chicago premiere of an acclaimed adaptation of the pre-eminent classic horror novel, a world premiere adaptation of a Charles Dickens Christmas novella not featuring Ebenezer Scrooge, and a world premiere drama by a Chicago playwright continuing City Lit's five-part Civil War Sesquicentennial Project.
City Lit's thirty-third season consists of Frankenstein by Bo List, adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley; The Cricket in the Hearth adapted from Dickens by Edward Kuffert; Peyton Place by Grace Metalious, adapted and directed by Paul Edwards; and Comrades Mine: Emma Edmonds of the Union Army by Maureen Gallagher.
Frankenstein opens the season. Bo List's adaptation premiered at Kentucky Conservatory Theatre's SummerFest, where it was acclaimed as "wildly atmospheric, emotionally haunting." In it, Victor Frankensteinhaggard, emaciated and nearly frozen to deathhas been rescued from the Arctic Sea by a British ship that is now trapped in ice. He tells the captain of his pursuit of the creature he created and by whom his life is now ruled.
Mary Shelley's book was not the first horror novel, but its few predecessors do not survive in the popular imagination. She started writing it in 1816, when she was eighteen years old, and published it anonymously in 1818. It has been in print ever since, and has been adapted for performance countless times, beginning with Richard Brinsley Peake's London stage version in 1823. City Lit's production of Frankenstein, directed by McCabe, begins previews on Friday, September 28, 2012, and runs through Sunday, November 4. Press opening is Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at 7:00 pm.
The Cricket in the Hearth will play a short run of eleven performances during the holidays. The third of Dickens's five Christmas books, it is subtitled "A Fairy Tale of Home" for its warm celebration of the magic of domesticity.
Upon publication in 1845, it outsold 1843's entry, A Christmas Carol, and its numerous stage adaptations were for many years more popular onstage than those of that book as well. Perhaps the highest compliment paid to The Cricket on the Hearth, albeit an unintended one, came in 1922 when Vladimir Lenin publicly walked out of the Moscow Art Theatre's production, calling it too sentimental for his tastes. City Lit's world premiere adaptation of The Cricket on the Hearth begins previews on Friday, December 21, 2012, and runs through Sunday, January 6, 2013. Press opening is Sunday, December 23, 2012, at 3:00 pm.
Peyton Place, set in a small and seemingly respectable New England town, entwines the stories of three women coming to terms with their sexual identities in an environment of repression: the beautiful and emotionally distant Constance MacKenzie, her sensitive daughter Allison, and Allison's best friend Selena Cross, a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks.
Named by the New York Public Library in 1995 as one of "The Books of the Century," Peyton Place was widely banned upon its publicationand not only in places where that might be expected, like Boston and Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was the first novel ever banned from the entire state of Rhode Island, and Canada banned its importation into that country under a tariff provision that forbade importing books "of an indecent or immoral character."
Each banning, of course, only helped sales; Peyton Place sold 60,000 copies in its first ten days in print and went on to sell 12 million copies, one for every four and a half households that were in America at the end of the 1950s.
Paul Edwards is a two-time Jeff Award-winning adaptor. At City Lit, he directed his world premiere adaptations of Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers and Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. His world premiere adaptation of Peyton Place begins previews on Friday, February 22, 2013, and runs through Sunday, March 31. Press opening is Tuesday, February 26, 2013, at 7:00 pm.
The 2012-2013 season concludes with Comrades Mine: Emma Edmonds of the Union Army, a world premiere drama based on the true story of Emma Edmonds, who served with the Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry for the first two years of the Civil War disguised as a man. Emma Edmonds was born in New Brunswick, Canada. At age fifteen she ran away from home to escape a tyrannical father and an unwanted arranged marriage. To better her chances of survival, she decided to pursue her fortune disguised as a man. Her travels as a book salesman brought her to Flint, Michigan in 1861 at the start of the Civil War.
After the fall of Fort Sumter, she volunteered for the Union cause and, in disguise, she soldiered using the alias Franklin Thompson. She served as a field nurse, spy, soldier and courier. After the war, she wrote her memoirs in a book entitled Nurse and Spy in the Union Army, published in 1865. In 1882 she applied to the War Department for a pension for her service and disability incurred during the war.
Every April through 2015, through its Civil War Sesquicentennial Project, City Lit Theater is commemorating the Civil War with a series of productionsmost of them world premieresthat explore the legacy of the war. Comrades Mine is the third production in the series, following 2011's The Copperhead and 2012's Opus 1861, both Jeff-recommended.
Maureen Gallagher is the playwright of Martin Furey's Shot, produced at TimeLine Theatre in 2005, for which she won an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship Award for outstanding work, and of More Ruthless and More Tender, about the writer Eudora Welty. Anna Bahow, who directed Martin Furey's Shot at TimeLine, will make her City Lit debut directing Comrades Mine.
Comrades Mine begins previews on Friday, April 12, 2013, and runs through Sunday, May 19. Press opening is Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at 7:00 pm.
City Lit Theater is located in the historic Edgewater Presbyterian Church building at 1020 West Bryn Mawr Avenue, one block west of Sheridan Road and a block and a half east of the Bryn Mawr Red Line L stop. The 84 Peterson bus, the 147 Lake Shore Express bus, and the 151 Sheridan bus all stop near City Lit. Valet parking and discounted self-parking are available for theatre customers.
City Lit receives funding from the Alphawood Foundation, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the Saints, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs CityArts program, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Its outreach program is sponsored in part by A.R.T. League.
City Lit specializes in literate theatre, including stage adaptations of literary material. Subscriptions to City Lit Theater cost $85, for tickets during the regular run, and $65 for tickets during previews. They can be purchased online at www.citylit.org or by phone at 773-293-3682
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1020 W Bryn Mawr Ave
Chicago, IL 60660
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