ALL MY SONS, DIVIDING THE ESTATE & More Set for Raven Theatre's 2014-15 Season

ALL MY SONS, DIVIDING THE ESTATE & More Set for Raven Theatre's 2014-15 Season

Raven Theatre's 32nd Season, under the theme "Family Business," will include four plays exploring the nature of family ties, according to Producing Artistic Director Michael Menendian and Co-Artistic Director JoAnn Montemurro.

The season will open in September with Arthur Miller's All My Sons, to be directed by Michael Menendian. Horton Foote's Dividing the Estate will receive its Chicago premiere in January 2015, in a production to be directed by Raven ensemble member Cody Estle. In March 2015, The Birdfeeder Doesn't Know, a comedy-drama by Chicago playwright Todd Bauer, will receive its World Premiere production on Raven's intimate West Stage, under the direction of Loyola University's Jonathan Wilson. The final production of the season will be Beast on the Moon, Richard Kalinoski's drama of Armenian immigrant experience in America in the decades following the Armenian genocide of 1915. It will be directed by Michael Menendian.

Together, the four plays will explore the ways families are formed and fall apart - a thematic tie that Co-Artistic Director Michael Menendian says owes as much to serendipity as planning. "We knew we wanted to revisit All My Sons, which we first produced in 1990, now that we identify with the older generation in the play. Todd Bauer's The Birdfeeder Doesn't Know came out of our new play development program and earned a spot in our regular season. As an Armenian-American, I very much wanted to produce Beast on the Moon in 2015 as part of the observances of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian genocide. And then, we secured rights to Dividing the Estate - getting the opportunity to be the first company to share this play by the great American playwright Horton Foote with Chicago audiences."

"It was only after the four plays fell into place that we noticed the thematic connections between them," Menendian continues. "What are the obligations of family ties and the boundaries of those bonds? Do bloodlines trump loyalty to spouses and their families? What are the obligations of children to parents, or siblings to each other? Do bloodlines even matter in the formation of a family? We're going to enjoy looking at these questions with our "families" of Raven subscribers, Chicago theater-goers, and our ensemble."

All My Sons
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Michael Menendian

All performances on Raven's East Stage
Previews: September 16 - 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 21 at 3:00 p.m.
"Raise the Curtain" Saturday, September 20.
Opening Night: Monday, September 22, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Performances continue Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
"Out at Raven" performance: Friday, September 26, 2014
Performances continue through November 15, 2013

The season's opening production will continue Raven's long history with the plays of Arthur Miller by presenting a revival of All My Sons. Arthur Miller's second play to be produced on Broadway, it won Miller his first Tony Award for Best Play in 1947 and established him as a major new voice in American theater. Miller's play masterfully combines a postwar setting with themes that date back to Greek tragedies into a drama that remains timeless. Joe Keller is a 60-year-old businessman who, knowingly or unknowingly, sold faulty parts for fighter jets to the U.S. Air Force, resulting in 21 crashes and the deaths of dozens of airmen during the war. The son of Joe's former business partner, who was convicted of negligence for those actions while Joe was exonerated, accuses Joe of falsely shifting blame to his partner. The accusation creates a rift between Joe and his son Chris, who is engaged to the partner's daughter.

This will be Raven's eighth production of an Arthur Miller play and its second mounting of All My Sons. This revival will also bring together several Raven ensemble members. Chuck Spencer will play patriarch Joe Keller and Raven Co-Artistic Director JoAnn Montemurro will play Joe's wife, Kate. Fiancée Ann Deever - the role played by Ms. Montemurro in Raven's 1990 production - will be taken by Jen Short, and Greg Caldwell will play George Deever, the role that Chuck Spencer played in Raven's original mounting. Additional casting will be announced shortly.

Arthur Miller is widely considered to be one of the leading 20th Century American playwrights, whose plays, All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and A View from the Bridge are among the acknowledged classics of American literature. Death of a Salesman received the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for Best Play - an honor also earned by All My Sons and The Crucible. Thirteen of Miller's 36 stage plays have been produced on Broadway, with many of them receiving multiple revivals. Miller's last play, Finishing the Picture, premiered at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 2004.

Producing Artistic Director Michael Menendian is a co-founding member of Raven Theatre, where he has directed and designed many productions. His previous directing credits include: The Playboy Of The Western World, A Soldier's Play, Glengarry Glen Ross, Golden Boy, A Streetcar Named Desire, A View from the Bridge, Dancing at Lughnasa, Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train, Death Of A Salesman and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. He has earned multiple Joseph Jefferson and After Dark awards for direction and design.

Dividing the Estate
By Horton Foote
CHICAGO PREMIERE
Directed by Cody Estle

All performances on Raven's East Stage
Previews: January 27 - 31, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 1 at 3:00 p.m.
Opening Night: Monday, February 2, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Performances continue Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
"Out at Raven" performance: Friday, February 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Performances continue through March 28, 2015

Foote's comedy-drama, his last new play to be produced on Broadway, focuses on the members of the Gordon family - a wealthy Texas clan whose fortunes have declined and who are debating whether or not to divide the remainder of the family's estate while their octogenarian matriarch Stella is still alive. The New York Times' Ben Brantley called the play "deeply funny" and said "Mr. Foote's authorial gaze is focused with satiric sharpness while retaining its elegiac sense of life's transience." David Rooney of Variety said "The Chekhovian intrusion of past upon present, the melancholy acknowledgement of a world in decline, the gentle but tart humor, the clear-eyed compassion tinged with despair - these qualities remind us why the 91-year-old playwright remains such a distinctively expressive voice in contemporary American drama."

The darkly funny Dividing the Estate was presented off-Broadway in 2007 by the Lincoln Center Theatre Company and Primary Stages Theater and transferred to Broadway for a limited engagement from October 2008 through January 2009. Raven's production will be the first Chicago-area mounting of the play. The Gordon Estate and a cast of 13 will fill Raven's expansive East stage for this Chicago premiere. Cody Estle, who had such a good time bringing the quirky Jerome family to life in Raven's Brighton Beach Memoirs, will direct a cast to be announced.

Horton Foote was a Pulitzer Prize, Writers Guild of America Screen Award, and double Academy Award winning playwright and author, known for his screenplays for To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies, his notable live television dramas during the "Golden Age of Television," and his eight plays produced on Broadway. His work often told stories of ordinary people handling the harsh realities of life and the strength of the human spirit. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1995 for his play The Young Man from Atlanta. His play The Trip to Bountiful, which Raven Theatre produced in 2013, originated as a live TV drama in 1953. It has also been produced twice on Broadway, as a 1985 feature film and most recently as a Lifetime TV movie starring Cicely Tyson.

Director Cody Estle is an ensemble member at Raven, where he has directed Good Boys and True. Brighton Beach Memoirs, Boy Gets Girl and Dating Walter Dante. He'll direct Vieux Carré at Raven this spring. Other directing credits: Uncle Bob at Mary-Arrchie, Hospitality Suite at Citadel, The Tooth of Crime at City Wind, and The Teacher and The Phantom Corvette at the Neapolitans. He's had the pleasure of assistant directing at Northlight Theatre, Goodspeed Musicals, Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, Next Theatre, Caffeine Theatre and Strawdog Theatre. He's Artistic Director of Haven Theatre, serves on the faculty of Cherubs at Northwestern University and is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

The Birdfeeder Doesn't Know
By Todd Bauer
Directed by Jonathan Wilson

All performances on Raven's West Stage
Previews: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - Friday, April 3 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 4 at 3:30 and 8:00 pm.
Opening Nights: Sunday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Monday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Performances continue Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:30 p.m.
"Out at Raven" performance: Friday, April 10 at 8:00 p.m.
Performances continue through May 16, 2015

Ingrid and Herman are retirees living independently in their longtime family home somewhere in the heart of America. Like any parents with adult children, they long for more visits from their son, the physically disabled Everett, who lives in the big city several hours away. But with Herman's physical abilities declining as a normal part of aging, Everett's help at home is needed now more than ever. As Everett's career is finally taking off in the city, is it fair to ask him to compromise his own opportunities to care for his aging parents, or will he convince them that it's time to place Herman in an assisted living facility? Where do the obligations to family end?
The Birdfeeder Doesn't Know was developed last spring in Raven's [Working Title] series, dedicated to the development of new works/new voices,. This world premiere production of Todd Bauer's beautiful comic and dramatic play, will be directed by Jonathan Wilson with a cast to be announced.

Todd Bauer, blind since the age of eight, is a playwright, director, and lecturer. His work has been performed in Chicago, New York, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He was awarded an NEA Challenge America Grant while a visiting artist with Visible Theatre in New York and received a fellowship from the Ragdale foundation in 2008, and was nominated for a 3Arts Artist Award in 2011. Todd has taught British and American drama at the Newberry Library in Chicago for eleven years and has directed work examining issues of disability at Victory Gardens Theater, and the University of Notre Dame. He earned a B.A. in accounting from Miami University and an M.A. in liberal studies from Northwestern University.

Jonathan Wilson, a Professor of Theatre and Drama in Loyola University's Department of Fine and Performing Arts has directed for many leading professional theatre companies in Chicago and around the country. In Chicago, his recent work includes TimeLine's Master Harold . . . and the Boys. For Pegasus Players, he has directed Jitney, Pantomime, Two Trains Running and Fraternity and at Steppenwolf he directed Playland and A Raisin in the Sun. He has also directed at Court Theater, Northlight Theater and the Goodman.

Outside of Chicago, Wilson directed August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Seven Guitars for the Seattle Repertory Theatre and a touring production of Fences for Connecticut's Hartford Stage, The Dallas Theatre Center, and the Portland Center Stage in Oregon. His production of From the Mississippi Delta (Jeff Award for Best Ensemble) was performed at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Hartford Stage and ran seven months Off-Broadway in 1991 at New York's Circle in the Square Theatre. From the Mississippi Delta was voted by Time Magazine as one of its top-ten productions in the United States in the 1991-92 theatre season. Wilson is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

Beast on the Moon
By Richard Kalinoski
Directed by Michael Menendian

All performances on Raven's East Stage
Previews: Tuesday, April 21 - Saturday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 26 at 3:00 p.m.
Opening Night: Monday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Performances continue Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
"Out at Raven" performance: Friday, May 1, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Performances continue through June 6, 2015

Aram Tomasian is an Armenian immigrant living in 1920's Milwaukee who has escaped the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 by the Turks in his homeland in Eastern Turkey. He wants to make a fresh start and build a new family in the new world to replace the family he lost to the genocide. He selects a mail-order bride and into his life comes an Armenian teen-ager, Seta, who has also escaped the vicious grip of the Ottoman warlords. He learns that building a marriage and a family is more difficult than he anticipated, but he ultimately succeeds in unexpected and heart-warming ways.

Richard Kalinoski's touching and often humorous drama, Beast on the Moon, directed by Michael Menendian, will round out Raven's season. Beast on the Moon has been produced in 17 countries and 12 languages, enjoying a four-month New York run in 2005. Opening at Raven in late April 2015, Beast on the Moon will play a vital part in the nation-wide commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Cast to be announced.

Richard Kalinoski is an internationally acclaimed writer, whose influence drives from an eclectic pool of resources and experiences. Known best for Beast on the Moon, Kalinoski has created groundbreaking drama accessible for all types of audiences, including Between Men and Cattle, A Crooked Man, My Soldiers, and The Thousand Pound Marriage. He has taught in the Theatre Department at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, since 1999.

Subscription packages are: Preview package for $56
Flexible package for $88 (valid anytime)
Additional benefits of subscribing include free ticket exchanges, priority seating, free concessions, special friends' discounts and an exclusive invitation to a closed rehearsal of each production

Free parking is provided in a lot adjacent to the theatre; additional street parking is available

Raven Theatre is handicapped accessible
Tickets/information: www.raventheatre.com or 773-338-2177

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