2014-15 Season Brings New Plays and New Novels!

by Richard Engling

Richard Engling

Artistic Director Richard Engling

Next season is number eleven for Polarity, and it’s going to be huge. We are producing two new plays. We are publishing two novels!! And we are presenting our annual DIONYSOS CUP FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS. All performances will be presented at our new home in the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.

First up will be MIRACLES IN THE FALL by Chuck O’Connor, playing September 4 through October 5, 2014. I am very excited to announce this because I admire this play so much. Chuck’s script operates like a work by Eugene O’Neill. The deep betrayals of the past twist the lives of the Connelly family, nearly destroying the next generation. It’s a fascinating story. I’m doubly pleased because MIRACLES IN THE FALL was developed in our 2013 DIONYSOS CUP FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS. It will be directed by one of my personal heroes, Richard Shavzin, director of our award-winning 2013 production of Bill Jepsen’s comedy, NEVER THE BRIDESMAID. Richard is a spectacular director for new plays, and I look forward to watching the evolution of the partnership he and playwright Chuck have already begun.

Playwright Chuck O'Connor

Playwright Chuck O’Connor

Next up is THE AFTERLIFE TRILOGY offering three views of a single character in two novels and a play. The character of Anna in my novel VISIONS OF ANNA and my play ANNA IN THE AFTERLIFE are both based on my dear friend, the late novelist Fern Chertkow.

Fern committed suicide in the late 1980s. Deeply affected by her death, I wrote the novel VISIONS OF ANNA in the 1990s. The protagonist of Fern’s novel, SHE PLAYS IN DARKNESS (written by Fern in the early 1980s) also exhibits a lot of Fern’s personality, including a self-destructiveness that seems disturbingly prophetic. In 2010 I conceived of the third work, ANNA IN THE AFTERLIFE (originally titled ABSOLUTION) which has gone through an in-depth development process with Polarity since first appearing in the 2011 DIONYSOS CUP.

The total effect of reading both novels and seeing the play will create an experience larger than the sum of its parts. Each of these works illuminates the others. I am convinced that no other theater company in America is offering an intertwining of prose fiction and drama like this. And I am delighted that Polarity Ensemble Theatre Books is bringing Fern’s richly poetic and fascinating novel to the world. The advance readers and our editors have loved this book.

On October 7, 2014 Polarity Ensemble Theatre Books will release VISIONS OF ANNA and SHE PLAYS IN DARKNESS. The TRILOGY culminates with the world premiere of ANNA IN THE AFTERLIFE, April 23 to May 24, 2015, directed by Susan Padveen. This will be the third time Susan directs for us. She directed our acclaimed production of LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT as well as the delightfully controversial production of Darren Callahan’s THE WHITE AIRPLANE.

Anna in the Afterlife

Anna in the Afterlife

In ANNA IN THE AFTERLIFE, novelist Matthew Harken finds himself in an afterlife world where he’s not quite alive and not quite dead. While his body is being worked on by surgeons, Matthew must decide whether or not to return to the living. He discovers his dear friend and fellow novelist Anna Toyevsky has split into three separate beings. Is that a result of her suicide?

In addition to a book release event on October 7, 2014, Polarity will present a number of readings throughout October and November at bookstores, libraries and book groups. We plan to bring our flare as a theatrical organization to the launching of these two novels in a way that a typical publisher would be unable to provide.

The season ends with the 2015 DIONYSOS CUP FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS in July. Our annual festival features one of the most intensive new play development processes in the nation. Once accepted, a play goes through a six-month course of development that includes detailed critiques, an early public staged reading and two later public workshop performances. Each is followed by audience/actor/director/playwright discussions. After the final workshop performance, playwrights are given a two-month period for further revisions before submitting the final scripts back to Polarity for consideration for a full production.

And please save the date of July 20, 2014! Our annual gala fundraiser will return to the summer, as in days of yore. Join us at the Greenhouse on July 20th at 7:30. Mark your calendar today, and support the company that’s bringing you work that is totally Chicago, from the page to the stage.

We hope you will join us for all the excitement!

My very best,

Richard Engling

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