Promethean Theatre's 2017-18 Season to Feature World Premiere, Plus Plays by Rivera, Girardoux

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Social commentary and satire with parallels to today, told through fantasy or absurdism, will be the focus of Promethean Theatre Ensemble's 2017-18 season.

The company's twelfth season will open in October, with Jose Rivera's Marisol - an absurdist comedy in which a young New York City woman of Puerto Rican descent finds herself immersed in a battle led by angels to save the universe. Juan Castaneda, former artistic director of Chicago's Urban Theater Company, will direct.

In February, the company will stage Jean Giraudoux's 1943 satire, The Madwoman of Chaillot, in a production to be directed by Promethean Artistic Associate John Arthur Lewis.

The season will close in July and August, 2018 with Bliss (or Emily Post is Dead!) by Jami Brandli in a Joint World Premiere with Moving Arts at Atwater Village Theatre in Los Angeles and in Association with Moxie Theatre in San Diego. Bliss (or Emily Post is Dead!) is a dramedy in which four women of Greek tragedy - Clytemnestra, Medea, Antigone, and Cassandra - become New Jersey neighbors in the year 1960. Erica Vannon will direct.

The company's Artistic Director Brian Pastor announced the season selections today. Pastor explained how the current political environment influenced the company's season selection. "2016 saw a landmark election that exposed deep divides within our country, and promised a shifting socioeconomic and political landscape," he said. "This led us to choose plays that are examples of how to respond, through the art of storytelling, to a changing political environment."

In Marisol - originally produced by The Public Theatre in New York City, in a staging directed by Michael Greif (Rent, Grey Gardens) that won the 1993 Obie award for playwriting - Marisol Perez is a copy editor for a Manhattan publisher. Though she is a white-collar worker, she still chooses to live alone in the tough section of the Bronx where she grew up. The play opens with Marisol barely escaping a vicious attack on her subway trip back to the Bronx. Later that evening, Marisol's guardian angel pays a visit to tell her she can no longer serve as Marisol's protector because she has been called to join the revolution already in progress against an old and senile God who is dying and "taking the rest of the universe with him." Soon, Marisol is caught up in the Armageddon being fought on the streets of New York City.

Director Juan Castaneda says, "No two people ever give the same answer to what Marisol is about. Is it about religion, or politics, race relations, the environment, gender equality, inner city violence, economics, poverty, or any other world issue you can think of? Our mission with this production is to figure out how to respond yes to all of those themes. Then we must help audiences realize that all of the issues surrounding these topics are interconnected. They are all one issue the same way we as people are part of one Earth. Finally, we must inspire audiences to realize that unity is the only way to combat these issues."

The Madwoman of Chaillot reveals a plot by a group of corrupt business executives who are planning to dig up the streets of Paris so they can pump oil that they believe lies beneath. Their plot is challenged by the titular "Madwoman," the eccentric Countess Aurelia, an idealist who resolves to fight back and rescue humanity from the scheming and corrupt developers with the help of her fellow outcasts and her fellow madwomen. Originally written to protest thoughtless urban renewal, The Madwoman of Chaillot has remained remarkably up-to-date. Today, the play speaks to environmental concerns, the destruction of the natural world, and the manipulation of world financial markets.

Director John Arthur Lewis, who also staged Promethean's productions of Anouilh's The Lark and Giraudoux's Tiger at the Gates, says "The play is surprisingly modern and accessible. In my head, it sounds like Aaron Sorkin at his funniest, Monty Python, or the craziest episodes of M*A*S*H. But there's a lot of value in this play beyond the comedy. I think it can be something unique, powerful, and profound."

In BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!), it's 1960 in North Orange, NJ. Clytemnestra and Medea are now housewives with a pill addiction, and Antigone is the teenage girl next door who is in love with a black boy. On the surface, they're seemingly blissful to follow the "rules" of Emily Post, the American author famous for writing on etiquette. But that's just the surface. Then Cassandra, a black working girl, moves into their neighborhood and all routines are interrupted. Cassandra is determined to finally break the curse of Apollo, the gorgeous and egotistical god who gave her this "gift" of prophecy but made it so no one would ever believe her. He makes it clear his curse is practically indestructible: yet all she must do is convince someone to believe her. Can Cassandra convince them they now have a choice in this modern era? That they don't have to live a doomed existence? Can all four women escape their ongoing fate?

Director Erica Vannon says of BLISS, "I find the clever entanglement of the stories of Clytemnestra, Medea, Antigone, and Cassandra set in a not too distant past where etiquette, secrets, and social norms rule the women's lives rival the high stakes of the original stories. In fact, I see the storytelling simultaneously parallel the past, the past-past, and the very present through a 1960's New Jersey setting to ancient Greece and into the inequality and intolerance that grips us here in 2017. The story's emphasis on a woman's choice to change the narrative and the undercurrents of objectification, violence, racism, sexism, as well as the "ancient rage" of women is relevant today, now, and always."

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS:

Jose Rivera is the Obie Award winning author of Marisol, Cloud Tectonics, References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, and Boleros for the Disenchanted, among many others. His screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. More recently, he wrote the screenplays for Letters to Juliet, On the Road and The 33.

Jean Giraudoux began his theatrical career in 1928 with Siegfried, a dramatization of his own novel. He most commonly sought inspiration in classical or biblical tradition as in Électre and Cantique des cantiques. He adapted Margaret Kennedy's novel The Constant Nymph in Tessa, la nymphe au coeur fidèle and La Motte-Fouqué's fairy tale of a water sprite who loves a mortal man as Ondine. Among Giraudoux's other important works is La Guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu (The Trojan War Will Not Take Place) adapted in English by Christopher Fry as Tiger at the Gates (staged by Promethean in 2015).

Jami Brandli's plays include Technicolor Life, BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!), S.O.E., M-Theory, ¡SOLDADERA!, and Sisters Three; her short plays are published with Smith & Kraus. Her work has been produced and developed at HotCity Theatre, WordBRIDGE, Ashland New Plays Festival, The Lark, New York Theatre Workshop, Great Plains Theatre Conference, The Aurora Theatre Company, Launch Pad, Milwaukee Rep, Rogue Machine Theatre, among other venues. BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!) was named in The Kilroy's THE LIST, which highlights the 46 most recommended new female-authored plays for 2014. A proud member of the Playwrights Union and Moving Arts, Jami teaches dramatic writing at Lesley University's low-residency MFA and is represented by The Gersh Agency.

IF YOU GO:

Marisol
by José Rivera
directed by Juan Castaneda
Raven Theatre West Stage
6157 N. Clark St., Chicago
October 20-November 26, 2017
Performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm
Previews Friday, October 20 - Friday, October 27
Press opening Saturday, October 28, 2018 at 8 pm
Regular run October 29 through November 26
No show on Thanksgiving
Tickets: General $25.00, Seniors (65+) $20.00, Students/Children $15.00
For box office inquiries, contact boxoffice@prometheantheatre.org

The Madwoman of Chaillot
by Jean Giraudoux
directed by Artistic Associate John Arthur Lewis
Athenaeum Studio 1
2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
February 9-March 17, 2018
Previews Friday, February 9 - Friday, February 16
Press opening Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2 pm
Tickets: General $27.00, Seniors (65+) $22.00, Students/Children $17.00
Available at www.athenaeumtheatre.org or by phone at 773-935-6875.
More information at www.prometheantheatre.org
Regular run February 18 through March 17, 2018

Bliss (or Emily Post Is Dead!)
by Jami Brandli
directed by Erica Vannon
Athenaeum Studio 1
2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
July 20-August 25, 2018
Performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2 pm
Previews Friday, July 20 - Friday, July 27
Press opening Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 pm
Regular run July 29 through August 25, 2018
Tickets: General $27.00, Seniors (65+) $22.00, Students/Children $17.00
Available at www.athenaeumtheatre.org or by phone at 773-935-6875.
More information at www.prometheantheatre.org



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