Ahmed Serag
  • Courtesy International Voices Project
  • Egyptian playwright Ahmed Serag

I learned a lesson from last year’s installment of the International Voices Project, even though I didn’t attend. The IVP produces an annual festival of staged readings that highlights works by playwrights from outside the English-speaking world—Germany to Japan, Egypt to Catalonia. The roster for 2013 included Noise in the Waters by Italy’s Marco Martinelli and Hamlet Is Dead. No Gravity. by Ewald Palmetshofer of Austria. Not a year later Martinelli’s own Teatro delle Albe arrived from Ravenna with a full staging of Noise, while Chicago’s Red Tape Theatre presented the U.S. premiere of Hamlet Is Dead.

The lesson? Pay attention to what goes on at IVP—it may be your first glimpse of the next thing.

Here’s the 2014 schedule. All readings are performed in English.

Palmetshofer is back, represented by Living. Under Glass. (Mon 4/7). If Hamlet Is Dead is any guide, the play’s conventional premise—old friends reunite—harbors complex theatrical strategies. From Norwegian playwright Arne Lygre comes Man Without Purpose (Tue 4/8), in which one guy’s sadism picks up where his brother’s left off.

The IVP’s first Ugandan entry is Judith Lucy Adong’s Just Me, You and the Silence (Mon 4/14), about an ambitious politician who has to choose between his career and the person he “cherishes most in the world.” Sweden’s Jonas Hassen Khemiri had a script called Invasion! read at the 2012 festival; in further confirmation of my lesson, it went on to a full local production. This time Khemiri gives us a look at I Call My Brothers (Tue 4/15), inspired by a Stockholm suicide bombing.

Penned by German playwright Dea Loher, At Black Lake (Mon 4/21) chronicles odd doings at the title locale. The following soir French-Canadian IVP veteran Carole Frechette tells the story of a woman’s journey through a “chaotic Middle-Eastern city” in Helen’s Necklace (Tue 4/22).

The Castle and the Sparrow (Mon 4/28), by Ahmed Serag of Egypt, concerns dreams and deceptions on the eve of a battle. And the festival closes with a Chilean piece about a father and daughter meeting again after a long estrangement: Claudia Hidalgo’s That Thing I Never Shared With You (Tue 4/29).

The International Voices Project 4/7-4/29: Mon-Tue 7 PM, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, 773-250-7055, ivpchicago.org. Free.