Female-Focused Plays Dominate The Stage This Fall

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It’s only fair that the fairer sex take center stage this fall with a host of female-focused plays written and/or directed by women.

Before Sandra Bernhard, there was Sarah Bernhardt—the legendary leading lady who shocked audiences and rocked the theater world when she portrayed Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the last turn-of-the-century. Today, Goodman Theatre presents Terri McMahon as “Bernhardt/Hamlet” (Sep. 14 – Oct. 20). Donna Feore directs the comedic historical (and fictional) behind-the-scenes take on the infamous 1899 production.

With the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, Goodman Theatre also presents the Midwest premiere of “Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary” (Oct. 8 – 13) written and performed by Marissa Chibas.

Janet Ulrich Brooks stars in the Chicago premiere of “Tiny Beautiful Things” (Sep. 6 – Oct. 13) directed by Vanessa Stalling at Victory Gardens Theater. “This profound and emotionally rich play deftly explores the power and complexity of love, healing and forgiveness in a way that connects us all on a basic human level,” says Artistic Director Chay Yew of the work Nia Vardalos adapted from Cheryl Strayed’s book.

Promethean Theatre Ensemble presents the Chicago premiere of “Blue Stockings” (Sep. 13 – Oct. 13) at The Den Theatre. Jessica Swale’s romantic drama relays the obstacles faced by the first female students to seek degrees at Britain’s Cambridge University in 1896.

Set during a 1960s party in Georgia, Leslie Liautaud’s award-winning play “Southern Gothic” (through Oct. 27) performs at Windy City Playhouse South. While the production is immersive, the cast doesn’t interact with the audience. Patrons are free to feel invisible as they follow the actors from room to room and sample cocktails and snacks throughout the performance.

Shattered Globe Theatre stages the Chicago premiere of Deborah Zoe Laufer’s comedy “Be Here Now” (Sep. 5 – Oct. 19) at Theater Wit. “Today’s social media is overloaded with images of people at their self-curated best–but how do we really get through this thing called life?,” asks Producing Artistic Director Sandy Shinner. “I hope that our audiences leave the theater with renewed appreciation for the complexities and joys of life.” 

Raven Theatre launches its new season with the Chicago premiere of “Sundown, Yellow Moon” (Sep. 13 – Nov. 17) by Rachel Bonds. Set in a small southern town, the musical centers around two sisters who use songs by The Bengsons to cope with a family crisis.

Kate Tarker’s comedy “Laura and the Sea” (Oct. 25 -Dec. 8) enjoys its world premiere at Rivendell Theatre. “I fell in love with the flawed and totally relatable characters that Kate has drawn, and so enjoy how the play delves into our rarely-examined relationships at our jobs—the people we work with every day, spend so much of our time with—yet sometimes don’t really know at all,” observes Artistic Director Tara Mallen.

Brigitte Ditmars directs Firebrand Theatre’s “Always…Patsy Cline” (Nov. 16 – Dec. 15) featuring Artistic Director Harmony France and Christina Hall alternating as Patsy Cline at The Den Theatre.

Mechelle Moe directs TimeLine Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Githa Sowerby’s 1912 feminist play “Rutherford and Son” (Nov. 14, 2019 – Jan. 12, 2020) which explores a woman’s place in a male dominated society.

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Image of “Bernhardt/Hamlet” courtesy of Goodman Theatre

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Ms. Arvia is a freelance writer, former filmmaker, artist and Janet-of-all-trades who is pleased to serve as Arts & Culture Editor on our magazine since she’s always been Rebellious.