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Court Theatre's 57th season to feature Tony Kushner's Angels in America directed by Charles Newell, a world premiere adaptation of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man directed by Christopher McElroen and adaptations of works by Zora Neale Hurston and Homer

Chicago, IL – Court Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Charles Newell, Executive Director Stephen J. Albert, Board Chair Virginia Gerst and Deputy Provost of the Arts Larry Norman, announces its 2011-12 season.  The company’s 57th season will feature the World Premiere adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man directed by Christopher McElroen, the Chicago Premiere of An Iliad directed by Artistic Director Charles Newell and starring Timothy Edward Kane, George C Wolfe’s adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s Spunk, and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America directed by Artistic Director Charles Newell. 

Artistic Director Charles Newell said, “I’m proud to announce the world premiere of the very first theatrical adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, one of the most penetrating American novels of the last century. With director Christopher McElroen, playwright Oren Jacoby, and a cast of Chicago actors, we’re honored to begin our journey of rediscovering this classic story at our home on the South Side of Chicago.   

“After Tony Kushner saw our productions of his plays Caroline, or Change and The Illusion, he asked me to consider directing Angels in America. Upon revisiting the play, I found it just as full of emotion, theatrical ingenuity, and political relevancy as it was twenty years ago. The 2012 election season is an apt moment to revisit this epic text, and I’m thrilled and humbled to be directing both parts to close out Court’s season next year.

“Along with George C. Wolfe’s Spunk and the Chicago premiere of a new adaptation of Homer’s Iliad, Court Theatre’s fifty-seventh season initiates a new era of more ambitious programming as a Center for Classic Theatre.”

Executive Director Stephen Albert said, “The bold season that Charles Newell has designed continues Court’s progression towards creating a theatre that mounts great plays, and discovers new ways to tell enduring stories. Court is proud to be a part of the University of Chicago, and the remarkable depth of tales assembled for our next season will fuel an exciting dialogue between our artists, audiences, community, and the University.   We anticipate a wide range of opportunities for all to maximize the access, interest and impact of the season across our city.”

The 2011/12 Court Theatre Season Up-Close:


Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston

Adapted by George C. Wolfe

Run Dates:  September to October 2011 

I git to the git with some pain n’ some spit n’ some spunk.” The verdant, earthy language of Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God) is animated through the music of the blues in these three tales of love, revenge, and redemption. Adapted by George C. Wolfe (The Colored Museum) and featuring musical narration composed y blues artist Chic Street Man, Spunk breathes new life into these three remarkable short stories from the Harlem Renaissance.

An Iliad

Adapted from Homer

By Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare

Translation by Robert Fagles

Directed by Charles Newell

Featuring Timothy Edward Kane

Run Dates:  Nov. 10, 2011 – Dec. 11, 2011

“Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Achilles.” Homer’s Iliad, a ten-year account of the Trojan War, remains one of Western literature’s most enduring legacies. In their one-man adaptation An Iliad, Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare (TV’s True Blood) return Homer’s epic poem to the voice of the lone poet as he recounts a story of human loss and folly that resonates across three millennia of war and bloodshed. Directed by Artistic Director Charles Newell, An Iliad illuminates an ancient classic by taking a harrowing look at the human cost of war.

The World Premiere Adaptation of

Invisible Man

By Ralph Ellison

Adapted by Oren Jacoby

Directed by Christopher McElroen

Run Dates:  Jan. 12, 2012 – Feb. 19, 2012

 “I am an invisible man.” In this world premiere stage production, the first authorized by The Ralph and Fanny Ellison Charitable Trust, a landmark American novel comes to life.  Ralph Ellison’s classic story of a young African American’s search for his identity blazes with luminous theatricality and truth. Adapted by Oscar-nominated writer Oren Jacoby, Invisible Man marks the first Chicago appearance by award-winning New York City director Christopher McElroen, a founding artistic director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem. Invisible Man is a produced in association with Christopher McElroen Productions. 

Angels in America: Millennium Approaches

Angels in America: Perestroika

By Tony Kushner

Directed by Charles Newell

Run Dates:  March 30, 2012 – June 3, 2012

“The Great Work Begins.” The year is 1985: Ronald Reagan has just been reelected to a second term, and the deadly AIDS epidemic is at its height in New York City. Tony Kushner’s two-part epic historical drama captures the lives of the HIV-positive Prior; Louis, his lover who abandons him; Joe, a closeted gay Mormon; his Valium-addicted wife Harper; Roy Cohn, a notorious lawyer from the McCarthy hearings, dying of AIDS; Belize, his African-American nurse; Hannah, Joe’s mother from Utah; and the Angel, a terrifyingly beautiful herald of the apocalypse. As these characters discover, confront, and seduce each other during a time of death, hypocrisy, and tumultuous change, Kushner summons a restless pastiche of the historical and the supernatural, the theological and the political—all told with surging theatricality by a company of eight actors. Having directed Kushner’s Caroline, or Change and The Illusion, Court’s Artistic Director Charles Newell will direct Millennium Approaches and a newly-revised Perestroika in repertory performance, giving Court audiences the unique opportunity to experience Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning magnum opus in its magnificent entirety.

Subscription Information

Five, four and three play subscriptions to Court’s 2011/2012 season range from $84 to $240 and are on sale now.  To purchase a subscription or to receive more information, call the Court Theatre Box Office at (773) 753-4472, or visit Court’s website at Individual tickets for Spunk, An Iliad and Invisible Man go on sale July 15.  Individual tickets for Angels in America go on sale September 1.  Groups of 10 or more may purchase tickets by calling Milan Penjovich in Court’s Group Sales Office at (773) 834-3243.

Now in its 57th season, Court Theatre is dedicated to creating innovative productions of classic plays that are thought provoking, character-driven, and thematically enduring. Through main stage productions, audience enrichment programs, and collaborations with the University of Chicago, Court re-examines, re-envisions, and renews classic texts that pose enduring and provocative questions that define the human experience.

Court Theatre’s vision is to create a Center for Classic Theatre at the University of Chicago dedicated to the creation and curation of large-scale interdisciplinary theatrical experiences. As a professional theatre-in-residence at the University of Chicago, Court is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the successful marriage of artistic practice and academic inquiry.

Court Theatre, the professional theatre in residence at the University of Chicago, is located at 5535 S. Ellis Ave. in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.  You can reach the Court Theatre Box Office at (773) 753-4472, or visit Court’s website at

Court Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Charles Newell, Executive Director Stephen Albert, Board Chair Virginia Gerst and Deputy Provost of the Arts Larry Norman, is generously supported by Hyde Park Bank, The Joyce Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Shubert Foundation, and the University of Chicago.  Court Theatre is also funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the CityArts IV program of the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; a Cultural Outreach Program grant from the City of Chicago; and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

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