In Chicago, Spring Means Great Theater

A celebration of the late, lamented August Wilson dominates Chicago’s theater scene in March and April, while at Victory Gardens, another African-American scribe tells a story inspired by today’s headlines. Other highlights include critically praised stories set in Ireland and terra incognita.

Two Trains Running” and August Wilson Celebration
March 7 to April 18

August Wilson, one of America’s greatest playwrights, wrote a landmark series of 10 plays about the black experience, with one drama set in each decade of the 20th century. Chuck Smith is directing one of those dramas at the Goodman: “Two Trains Running.” The year is 1969, and a Pittsburgh diner serves as a crossroads for African-Americans trying to find their way through that turbulent time. But “Two Trains Running” is just one part of an ambitious Wilson festival. Events include free readings of the other nine plays in Wilson’s cycle at venues from Evanston to the South Side, as well as panel discussions, a poetry reading and Wilson’s autobiographical show “How I Learned What I Learned,” performed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson March 30 at Northwestern UniversityGoodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, 312-443-3800

Outside Mullingar
March 13 to April 19

This lyrical romantic comedy brings together two eccentric, middle-aged misfits: Anthony, who’s lived his whole life on a cattle farm in the Irish countryside, and his neighbor Rosemary, who’s held a grudge against Anthony ever since he clobbered her down—way back when she was 6 years old. When “Outside Mullingar” premiered on Broadway last year, The New York Times said it was playwright John Patrick Shanley’s best work since “Doubt,” which won the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize in 2005. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300

An Issue of Blood
April 3 to May 3

After the police shooting of a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked protests, Chicago playwright Marcus Gardley felt compelled to address the controversy. And Victory Gardens quickly changed its season schedule to put his brand-new script on its stage. Although it was sparked by current events, “An Issue of Blood” takes place in the colonial era. As a symbol of peace during an era of rising racial tension, a free black woman in Virginia offers to marry her son to a powerful white planter’s daughter. Resounding with African-American spirituals and field hollers, Gardley’s drama is “part history, part myth.” Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773-871-3000

Title and Deed
March 18 to May 3

Will Eno’s plays are peculiar, poetic and playful, toying around with the English language and philosophical concepts about life. In this solo monologue, an unnamed man talks about his past in another country and his present life in an odd new one. At Lookingglass, the star will be Michael Patrick Thornton, who proved himself to be a compelling interpreter of Eno’s potentially puzzling scripts in 2011, when he starred in another show by the playwright, “Middletown,” at SteppenwolfLookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-337-0665

 

Theater Guide

AMERICAN BLUES THEATER (AT GREENHOUSE)
Yankee Tavern
Through March 22

Side Man
April 24 to May 24
773-404-7336

BANK OF AMERICA THEATRE 
The Book of Mormon
Through May 17
312-977-1700

CHICAGO CHILDREN’S THEATRE (RUTH PAGE CENTER FOR THE ARTS)
Wonderland, Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure
April 22 to May 24
872-222-9555

CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATRE 
Dunsinane
Through March 22

Sense and Sensibility
April 18 to June 7
312-595-5600

CITADEL THEATRE 
Other Desert Cities
Through March 15

Don’t Dress for Dinner
April 24 to May 24
847-735-8554

COURT THEATRE 
The Good Book
March 19 to April 19
773-753-4472

GIFT THEATRE 
The Royal Society of Antarctica
Feb. 26 to April 26
773-283-7071

GOODMAN THEATRE 
The Upstairs Concierge
March 28 to April 26
312-443-3800

HOUSE THEATRE (AT THE CHOPIN) 
The Hammer Trinity
Through May 4
773-769-3832

THE HYPOCRITES 
Endgame
Through April 5

Three Sisters
April 17 to June 6
773-989-7352

LIFELINE THEATRE 
The One and Only Ivan” (for children)
March 21 to April 26

One Came Home
Through April 5
773-761-4477

MARRIOTT THEATRE 
La Cage aux Folles
Through March 22
847-634-0200

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY (ETHEL M. BARBER THEATER) 
The Grapes of Wrath
April 24 to May 3
847-491-7282

PICCOLO THEATRE 
The Venetian Twins
March 20 to May 9
847-424-0089

PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE (AT STAGE 773)
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
April 17 to May 24
773-327-5252

PROFILES THEATRE 
The Other Place
Through April 5

Genius
March 13 to May 3
773-549-1815

RAVEN THEATRE
Dividing the Estate
Through March 28

The Birdfeeder Doesn’t Know
March 31 to May 16

Beast on the Moon
April 21 to June 6
773-338-2177

A RED ORCHID THEATRE
Red Handed Otter
April 9 to May 24
312-943-8722

REMY BUMPPO THEATRE (AT GREENHOUSE) 
Travesties
March 25 to May 3
773-244-8119

STEPPENWOLF THEATRE 
This Is Modern Art” (for young adults)
Through March 14

Marie Antoinette
Through May 10

The Herd
April 2 to June 7
312-335-1650

TIMELINE THEATRE 
The Apple Family Plays
Through April 19
773-281-8463

WRITERS THEATRE
The Diary of Anne Frank
Through May 31
847-242-6000