The Gift Theatre Sets 2016 Season

The Gift Theatre Sets 2016 Season

During last night's Season Release Bash at Fischman Liquors and Tavern, artistic director and co-founder Michael Patrick Thornton proudly announced The Gift Theatre's 2016 season will include: Shakespeare's Richard III to be presented in Steppenwolf's Garage Theatre starring Thornton as the villainous Richard; John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, adapted by Frank Galati; and Melissa Ross' world premiere of A Life Extra Ordinary.

"Great theater asks great questions. Our milestone anniversary season asks: What does it mean to be human?" Thornton said. "In perfect circuitousness, we begin where many of us first met: at Steppenwolf. In collaboration with our lead production sponsor The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, we will present a definitive Richard III for the ages performed over Shakespeare's 400th anniversary which will re-define what disability, ability, and Shakespeare's villain can look like."

The season kicks off in March 2016 with William Shakespeare's Richard III in Steppenwolf's Garage Theatre, directed by Jessica Thebus (Sex with Strangers, Steppenwolf ). On April 23, a Live Periscope Stream of Richard III will take place April 23 on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's shuffling off this mortal coil. Follow The Gift on Twitter at @TheGiftTheatre to experience the live stream.

"There are a few projects that you always have burning in your mind, and every now and then someone asks you what you really want to do if you could do anything," said Thebus. "For me, one of them is to direct Michael Patrick Thornton in Richard III. Watching Michael's work over many years, you see the fearlessness and ferocity with which he takes the stage, and the electric relationship he builds with an audience. I am beyond thrilled to get to join he and The Gift Theatre in the ring with one of the Great Villains."

New Ensemble member Erica Weiss (Vigils) returns in June to direct the epic and emotionally wrenching The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, adapted by Frank Galati; the season closes with the world premiere of Melissa Ross' haunting and heartfelt mystery A Life Extra Ordinary directed by ensemble member John Gawlik (The Royal Society of Antarctica).

"We originally opened our storefront with an American classic, and The Grapes of Wrath's classic call for decency in an age of dehumanizing wealth inequality is vital right now; experiencing this American epic in the intimacy of our theatre will stun you," Thornton said. "Finally, we're exceptionally proud that The Gift is nationally known as a destination for exceptional new plays; it's our honor to reunite ensemble member John Gawlik and Melissa Ross for our world premiere of Melissa's A Life Extra Ordinary. This harrowing play has haunted me since I first read it. Deeply concerned with justice, it echoes themes found in Steinbeck and Shakespeare and pleads for us to be the best version of ourselves possible, because society is counting on us. And that's a powerful reminder in an anniversary season: that we are all in this together."

In keeping with tradition, The Gift's year begins in January with TEN-this year titled TEN (+5) to honor the 15 year anniversary-the theater's annual roundup of world premiere ten-minute pieces by The Gift and guests, curated by Thornton and associate artistic director Paul D'Addario. Following TEN (+5), The Gift will further invest in their commitment to supporting and producing new works by launching 4802-

a new play development and production engine for ambitious and intimate plays, particularly by artists of color, women, and different abilities. Curated by ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker and Marti Lyon (Body + Blood), 4802 will partner with Steep and A Red Orchid Theatre.

The Gift Season Subscriptions - including admission to the two remaining plays of 2015, Body + Blood and Good for Otto - are available by calling The Gift Box Office at 773-283-7071.

TEN (+5)
January 1-10

This year's incarnation of the annual season kickoff celebration will feature 10 world premiere pieces + 5 additional theatrical treats to honor The Gift's 15th Anniversary.

Presented in Steppenwolf's Garage Theatre
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jessica Thebus
Previews: March 3-6
Run: March 7 - May 1

The Gift depicts the Machiavellian rise and reign of Richard III.

By John Steinbeck
Adapted by Frank Galati
Directed by ensemble member Erica Weiss
Previews: June 16-19
Run: June 20 -August 14

When an American family is forced off of their land during the Great Depression, they begin an epic journey west to California.

World Premiere by Melissa Ross
Directed by ensemble member John Gawlik
Previews: September 29 - October 2
Run: October 3 - November 20

Annabel Anderson McCafferty is an expectant mother who vanishes from her small Ohio town on Christmas Eve. Both mystery and memory play, A Life Extra Ordinary untangles and re-assembles the moments that make a life.

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