Matt Sax in Clay

SEEING A PLAY in Chicago can be
easier and cheaper than going
to the movies. Most theaters
offer student rates, low-price or free
previews and industry nights,
and/or discounted rush tickets.
Weeknights are usually cheaper
than weekends (and seats are easier
to get). Some theaters have a regular
“pay what you can” policy;
others offer free seats to volunteer
ushers. Even high-priced commercial
shows like Wicked and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee have day-of-show lotteries for bargain
seats. And the League of
Chicago Theatres’ Hot Tix booths
sell half-price tickets; go to or for
booth locations and available shows.

The Reader publishes longer
reviews as well as comprehensive theater listings, complete with critical
commentary. They’re posted
online at with
links to ticket services for
individual shows. The
listings also highlight
openings, closings,
recommended productions,
and free
You don’t have to
plan months in
advance to enjoy our
internationally famous
theater scene. For every big-bucks
commercial production that
comes to town, there are a dozen
low-cost alternatives—classic
drama and cutting-edge world premieres,
musicals and performance
art, large-cast ensemble pieces and
hip-hop solo shows.
The storefront/basement/loft/garage theaters are known as a
breeding ground for emerging
talent. This is the place to see people
at the start of their careers, people
who wouldn’t mind being John Malkovich—or David Schwimmer,
or John or Joan Cusack, or Megan
Mullally, or Joan Allen, or any of the
other stars who got their start here.

Here’s a sampling of what they’ll
be up to this fall:
Congo Square’s The African Company Presents Richard III tells
the true story of an all-black early-19th-century Shakespearean company,
running through October 15
at the Duncan YMCA Chernin
Center for the Arts (1001 W.
Roosevelt, 312-587-2292).

A solo show by hip-hop artist
Matt Sax, presented by About Face
Theatre, Clay focuses on a young man
who finds himself through poetry. It’s
running through November 18 at
Lookingglass Theatre in the historic
Water Tower Water Works (821 N.
Michigan, 312-337-0665).

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, the Neo-Futurists’ long-running
late-night underground
hit, features “30 plays
in 60 minutes,” with a
different lineup of new
material each week, at
the Neo-Futurarium
(5153 N. Ashland, 773-
275-5255). Admission price
is $7 plus the roll of a die.

Lydia Diamond’s wrenching
adaptation of Toni Morrison’s poetic
novel, The Bluest Eye, about a black
girl in 1940s Ohio who dreams of
having blue eyes, plays at
Steppenwolf (1650 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650) October 6-28 prior to
heading for off-Broadway.

The House Theatre of Chicago
dramatizes the most famous family
feud in American history in Hatfield & McCoy, a Romeo and Juliet
romance running through
November 4 at the Viaduct Theater
(3111 N. Western, 773-251-2195).

Profiles Theatre (4147 N.
Broadway, 773-549-1815) presents
the midwest premiere of Neil
LaBute’s Fat Pig, about a young
career guy whose buddies mock him
for falling in love with a plus-size
woman. The provocative comedy
runs through October 29.

Chemically Imbalanced Comedy
has launched “The Fall of Durang,” a
joint effort by several small troupes
to present a minifestival of plays by
controversial playwright Christopher
Durang. CIC’s The Vietnamization of New Jersey at the Cornservatory
(4210 N. Lincoln, 773-865-7731),
about a blind veteran who returns to
his parents’ home with an Asian wife,
runs through October 8. Infamous
Commonwealth Theatre stages
another Durang, Betty’s SummerVacation, at Live Bait Theatre (3914
N. Clark, 312-458-9780) through
October 1.

Remy Bumppo Theatre
Company’s revival of The Best Man,
Gore Vidal’s biting drama about
behind-the-scenes scheming during
a presidential campaign, runs
through November 5 at Victory
Gardens Greenhouse (2257 N.
Lincoln, 773-871-3000). Fans of
political intrigue may also enjoy The General From America, Richard
Nelson’s portrait of Revolutionary
War traitor Benedict Arnold, a
timely contemplation of notions of

“right” and “wrong” during wartime.
It plays through October 8 at
TimeLine Theatre (615 W.
Wellington, 773-281-8463).

Stage Left Theatre (3408 N.
Sheffield, 773-267-6293) uses
American history to illuminate the
present as well, in David Alan
Moore’s In Times of War, a world
premiere running October 3
through November 11, about a secret
commission ordered by President
Franklin D. Roosevelt to convict
German saboteurs in New York City.

The Black Ensemble (4520 N. Beacon, 773-769-4451), which
specializes in musicals saluting
African-American singing stars,
is presenting the Dionne Warwick
tribute Don’t Make Me Over

through October 29, followed
by Don’t Shed a Tear (The Story
of Billie Holiday), starting
November 4.

The Plasticene physical-theater
ensemble’s One False Note, or
How to Rob a Bank
, playing
October 19 through November 5
at the Storefront Theater (66 E.
Randolph, 312-742-8497),
employs “the body in action,
objects in motion, light as revelation,
and sound as sensation” to
explore the question of whether or
not crime pays.

Hizzoner stars playwright Neil
Giuntoli as the legendary Mayor
Richard J. Daley. The hit play, about
Da Mare’s struggles with the
turbulent racial and antiwar politics
of the late 1960s, is in an open run
at Prop Thtr (3502-4 N. Elston,
773-539-7838). Also at Prop: the Rhinoceros Theater Festival, an annual showcase
of experimental theater—more than
30 productions in all—runs through
mid-November. A celebration of
cutting-edge unpredictability, Rhino
Fest pays tribute this year to avant-garde
master Samuel Beckett.

Marquee Names

ANTHONY FLEMING III stars as slave-rebellion leader Denmark Vesey in
Charles Smith’s new drama Denmark, opening October 14 as the inaugural production
of Victory Gardens Theater’s new space in the historic Biograph Theater.

FRANK GALATI One of the city’s most eminent directors (Steppenwolf member,
Goodman associate director, Northwestern University professor, and Tony-winning
Broadway director) is dealing a pair of queens this season: The Pirate Queen, starting
previews October 3 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre prior to moving to Broadway, and
his puppet adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, playing at
Victory Gardens in December. Also, City Lit Theater is mounting his chamber-theater
adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

SEAN GRANEY The artistic director of the Hypocrites ensemble has stirred fierce
controversy with his handling of sexually charged material; his first show this season
is a December revival of Tennessee Williams’s steamy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the
Building Stage.

TRACY LETTS Equally accomplished as actor and writer, he’s featured at
Steppenwolf this season in Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy The Pillowman and
Harold Pinter’s marital drama Betrayal, and Steppenwolf is premiering his new play
August: Osage County next spring. William Friedkin’s much anticipated screen adaptation
of his hit Bug opens nationwide this December.

BRETT NEVEU has been favorably compared to Mamet, Pinter, and Albee. This
season he has two world premieres: The Meek, at A Red Orchid Theatre (where he’s
an ensemble member), and Harmless, at TimeLine Theatre.

MARY ZIMMERMAN The Tony-winning director and Galati protege brings the
myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece to life in her rendition of Apollonius’s Argonautika at Lookingglass Theatre in October; she remounts her version of the 12th-century
Persian epic The Mirror of the Invisible World at the Goodman next summer. | AW