Polarity Announces Epic 2011-2012 Season

by Richard Engling

Richard Engling & Bryson Engelen play Peer Gynt

Richard Engling & Bryson Engelen play Peer Gynt. Photo Credit: John Sisson

It is with great joy I announce our 2011-2012 season. This will be our biggest and most impressive line-up yet. It includes an important world premiere, an epic classic staged in a prestigious downtown venue and a bawdy romp that is sure to please–as well as our annual Dionysos Cup. It’s even possible that we’ll be moving to a new home!



We start with Keith Anwar‘s Kabulitis, a project very close to my heart. Keith’s play won the 2010 Dionysos Cup—and deservedly so. Keith had time to do a final rewrite of the script after the Festival, and then a sudden and aggressive liver cancer took his life. Keith was a talented and generous man, and his play stands as testament to the depth of his soul. We miss him terribly. Kabulitis gives us an intimate look into the life of an American woman married to an Afghani man living in Kabul, Afghanistan. The story was inspired by the lives and stories of Keith’s parents and family. Given America’s involvement in Afghanistan, the play could not be timelier. Polarity will produce Kabulitis in association with Rasaka Theatre Company, a wonderful South Asian American theatre ensemble whose work I admire. Rasaka’s artistic director Lavina Jadhwani will direct, and I am working on a final edit of the script, with the approval of Keith’s widow Connie. Together we intend to help Keith’s impressive and beautiful work live on. It is work that deserves to be seen–especially right now. World Premiere of Keith Anwar’s Kabulitis September 20 – October 30, 2011.

Bryson Engelen & Erica Bittner

Bryson Engelen & Erica Bittner in Peer Gynt. Photo: John Sisson

Next we will produce the Chicago premiere of Robert Bly’s translation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt at the prestigious DCA Storefront Theatre on Randolph near Michigan Avenue in the Loop. It is a feather in Polarity’s cap to have won a competitive bid for a Storefront slot—and it is a great satisfaction to me to stage Robert’s zany, muscular translation of the script. Robert is a best-selling author, a National Book Award Winner, Poet Laureate of Minnesota and a national treasure. I was privileged to participate in some of the early table readings of the script when Robert was commissioned by the Guthrie Theatre of Minneapolis to do the translation. Robert has been a personal mentor and influence as I’ve participated in founding and guiding Polarity Ensemble Theatre through these past seven years. It was during a walk in the woods with Robert when he first suggested Polarity produce Peer Gynt. It’s another feather in Polarity’s cap to host the first production of this wonderfully zany script after its acclaimed premiere.

The third feather in Polarity’s cap is to have landed Jeremy Wechsler of Theatre Wit to direct. Jeremy has been pursuing Peer Gynt for over a decade. He worked on an adaptation of the script with Eric Overmyer, and he knows the play inside and out. Despite his passion for the project, this is the first time everything has lined up to allow him to direct. I am convinced Jeremy is the absolute best director in town for this project, and we are very lucky to have him. Chicago Premiere of Robert Bly’s translation of Peer Gynt November 15 – December 18, 2011.

Tom Jones

Tom Jones

In the Spring we will produce the Midwest premiere of Tom Jones, an adaptation of the 1749 Henry Fielding novel by David Hammond. This is a big, sexy, funny romp of a play to be directed by Polarity’s new Managing Director, Maggie Speer. This play is really going to be fun. Both Tom Jones and Peer Gynt are big sprawling shows that will allow the Polarity actors to come out in force. Midwest Premiere of David Hammond’s adaptation of Tom Jones March 21 – May 1, 2012.

Finally, we will present our annual Dionysos Cup Festival of New Plays to continue our mission of developing tomorrow’s best new plays. We hope you will join us for every delightful moment. Dionysos Cup May 11 – 22, 2012.

In the midst of all this activity, we are exploring a possible move to Howard Street, on the Evanston side of the Chicago/Evanston border. The City of Evanston has purchased a double storefront and has offered Polarity the opportunity of making it our permanent home. We are highly intrigued by this possibility, but we are going to need help if we are to make it a reality. If you’d like to get in on the fun of building a new home for Polarity, contact me.

My very best,
Richard Engling, Artistic Director

Season Subscriptions

Subscribers get invitations to free special events, unlimited ticket exchanges, $5 off tickets to bring friends, and the best price on the full season.

Gala Night Series—$80
Join us for Gala Night excitement on our opening Fridays: 9/23, 11/18, 3/23. The package also includes a Dionysos Cup Festival Pass good for all 8 performances, and is a $115 value!

Regular Night Series—$50
Chose your performance, get a Dionysos Cup Festival Pass, and save 25% on this package — a $67 value!

Week 1: 9/24-25, 11/19-20 & 3/24-25
Week 2: 9/30-10/2, 11/25-27, 3/30-4/1
Week 3: 10/7-9, 12/2-4, 4/6-7
(no show Easter Sunday, 4/8)
Week 4: 10/14-16, 12/9-11, 4/13-15
Week 5: 10/21-23, 12/16-18, 4/20-22

Dionysos Cup Festival Pass good for all 8 performances, 5/10-20.

One Response to “Polarity Announces Epic 2011-2012 Season”

  1. Suzanne Erfurth says:

    That is wonderful news about Kabulitis. I only wish Keith could be there to see it, or at least as a spectral but attentive presence in the audience on opening night. Thank you and I will mark my calendar!