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Court Theatre Announces Lineup for 2019-2020 Season of Free Spotlight Reading Series

Court Theatre Announces Lineup for 2019-2020 Season of Free Spotlight Reading Series

Court Theatre has announced the five plays that will be performed as part of its Spotlight Reading Series. Court's Spotlight Series endeavors to redefine-and ultimately expand-the canon of classic theatre by presenting readings of rarely produced plays by writers of color.

The series aims to introduce more Chicagoans to the authors and their work, and to expand Court's artistic values into more communities in the city, with a focus on the south side.

The plays include Charlie L. Russell's Five on the Black Hand Side, Bill Gunn's Black Picture Show, Phillip Hayes Dean's The Sty of the Blind Pig, Judi Ann Mason's Livin' Fat, and OyamO's Famous Orpheus. The readings will be performed in various neighborhoods throughout Chicagoland, including South Shore, Washington Park, Bronzeville/Grand Boulevard, and Woodlawn.

Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson, who curates the reading series, reflects, "The Spotlight Reading Series continues to be a favorite amongst subscribers, regular attendees, and those new to Court's work. We are redefining how audiences think about classic theatre by programming plays that speak to our surrounding communities through a diverse lens."

Charles Newell, Court's Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, comments, "As we enter the fifth installment of our Spotlight Reading Series, I'm excited to continue to showcase rarely-produced plays by writers of color. As the series continues to grow in popularity, it serves as an example of how theatres can engage with their communities in Chicago and beyond."

More information about the plays, dates, and performance locations can be found below.

Five on the Black Hand Side
by Charlie L. Russell
directed by Runako Jahi
Monday, September 23, 2019 at 6:30pm
Venue: South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive

Mrs. Brooks has had enough. Her iron-fisted husband makes her keep a daily time schedule, detests her daughter's fiance, and has caused one of her sons to take to living on the roof in rebellion. Taking matters into her own hands, Mrs. Brooks starts to embrace non-conformity and sets in motion an epic battle of wits. Charlie L. Russell's 1969 playtackles politics, race, and women's liberation with sharp wit and biting humor.

Black Picture Show
by Bill Gunn
directed by Ernest Perry, Jr.
Monday, November 11, 2019 at 6:30pm
Venue: Green Line Performing Arts Center, 329 E. Garfield Blvd.

A black writer's mind is deteriorating as he nears death. His son, a filmmaker, wants to share the story of his last day on earth. Praised as "brilliant" by the New York Times when it ran in 1975, Black Picture Show tackles issues of artistic genius, corruption, and race with a provocative mixture of fact and fantasy.

The Sty of the Blind Pig
by Phillip Hayes Dean
directed by Mignon McPherson Stewart
Monday, February 24, 2020 at 6:30pm
Venue: Monumental Baptist Church, 729 E. Oakwood Blvd.

Alberta lives on Chicago's southside with her old-fashioned mother, Weedy. Their relationship is tested when a mysterious street singer comes searching for a woman he used to know, and Alberta must confront the feelings she's long been suppressing. An award-winning drama, The Sty of the Blind Pig captures the sense of black consciousness in America on the cusp of the civil rights movement.

Livin' Fat
by Judi Ann Mason
directed by Michael Aaron Pogue
Monday, April 6, 2020 at 6:30pm
Venue: Experimental Station, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave.

The Cooper family's world is changed when two thieves leave $50,000 behind during a bank robbery. When David, who works as a janitor at the bank, brings the money home to his family, they must evaluate their morals in this lighthearted farce by Judi Ann Mason.

Famous Orpheus
by OyamO (Charles Gordon)
directed by Charles Dumas
Monday, June 1, 2020 at 6:30pm
Venue: NEIU's Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, 700 E. Oakwood Blvd.

Based on the ancient Greek story, Famous Orpheus reimagines the mythic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Caribbean. Orpheus' epic journey into the Underworld to reclaim his lost love is given a playful treatment in this lyrical take on an enduring myth.

Court Theatre is the professional theatre of the University of Chicago, dedicated to innovation, inquiry, intellectual engagement, and community service. Functioning as the University's Center for Classic Theatre, Court and its artists mount theatrical productions and audience enrichment programs in collaboration with faculty. These collaborations enable a re-examination of classic texts that pose the enduring and provocative questions that define the human experience. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to classic American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. The theatre revives lost masterpieces; illuminates familiar texts; explores the African American theatrical canon; and discovers fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.

Photo Credit: Jake Newell

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