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Northwestern Theatre in April

Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” to launch Wirtz Center’s Spring 2015 Mainstage season

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Frank Galati’s stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer prizewinning novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” will transport audiences back to the 1930s Dust Bowl era, when U.S. farming families struggled to survive damaging dust storms and severe droughts.

Presented by Northwestern’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts“The Grapes of Wrath” will be the first spring Mainstage production on the University’s Evanston campus. Performances will take place from April 24 through May 3.

Ike Holter’s “Hit the Wall,” an April 17 through April 19 School of Communication’s MFA Lab Series presentation, is set in 1969 in New York’s Greenwich Village shortly after Judy Garland’s death and tells the story of an historic fight for gay rights. It will be directed by Gina Marie Hayes, a School of Communication second-year MFA directing student.

The Wirtz Center’s Stage on Screen series continues with an April 1 National Theatre Live   (NT Live) broadcast of “Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” a hit London play based on American investigative journalist Katherine Boo’s award-winning non-fiction book about a garbage trader and his family who reside in a poverty-stricken slum on the edge of Mumbai’s airport.

Due to popular demand, an NT Live re-broadcast of David Hare’s hit play “Skylight” starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, will take place on April 2. Nighy and Mulligan portray former lovers who attempt to re-kindle their once passionate relationship.

A Stage on Screen broadcast of the Stratford Festival’s production of Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear” is scheduled for April 7. Colm Feore, an American-Canadian stage, film and television actor, stars in the title role.

In addition, the Wirtz Center will host two special admission-free One Book One Northwestern events on the University’s Evanston campus in collaboration with a special partnership with the Goodman Theatre of Chicago’s March 7 through April 18 August Wilson Celebration.

On March 30 Tony Award-winning Broadway actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson will perform Wilson’s one-man autobiographical play, “How I Learned What I Learned,” and on April 7 producer and director Lou Bellamy, founding artistic director of Penumbra Theatre and an early collaborator with Wilson, will lead an hourlong conversation with theater professionals and scholars about Wilson’s early career as an unknown playwright.


The Wirtz Center’s 2014-15 Mainstage season features award-winning directors and playwrights, acclaimed alumnae and faculty, groundbreaking plays and musicals and the annual Waa-Mu Show. The season reflects the evolving definitions of family and community and invites audiences to embrace the circumstances that unite and strengthen us. For more information and to order tickets to upcoming shows and Stage on Screen broadcasts, visit

The Wirtz Center’s 2014-15 season productions will be held, as noted, in venues on the University’s Evanston campus.

Single tickets for all Mainstage productions are on sale now. Where applicable, ticket discounts are available for groups of eight or more. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased by phone through the Wirtz Center Box Office at 847-491-7282 or online at

For more information, phone 847-491-4819, visit the Wirtz Center website at or email


• John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 24; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30; 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. Reduced to poverty by the loss of their Oklahoma farm during the Dust Bowl, the Joad family piles their few possessions into a battered old truck and head west for California, hoping to find work and a better life. Led by the willful Ma Joad and her volatile young son Tom, the family encounters an epic journey, testing their resilience and calling on the strength in a community that is innately American. Steinbeck’s classic novel comes to life through song, movement and gritty portrayals in a theatrical adventure that is a moving affirmation of the essential goodness that is the foundation of the American spirit and family. Steinbeck’s novel has been adapted for the stage by Frank Galati and will be directed by Aaron Snook. Talkback discussions will follow the April 24 opening night, April 26 matinee and April 30 evening performances. NOTE: A special student performance is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, May 1. Call the Box Office for more information and rates, 847-491-7282. Single tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors over 62 and Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators; and $10 for full-time students with valid IDs at the door, or $5 tickets exclusively for full-time Northwestern students on advance purchases only. Discounts are available for groups of eight or more.


The MFA Lab series matches talented young theatre directors from Northwestern’s MFA program with emerging designers from its partner MFA program in stage design for exciting and unexpected collaborations. These artists are the next wave, given the freedom to create together on bold, risk-taking productions of plays by today's most groundbreaking writers. The MFA Lab also gives Northwestern student actors a place to showcase their talents in contemporary work and to develop artistic collaborations, which will stay with them as they become the new face of American theatre. The series is presented in the intimate Wallis Theater, a flexible black box performance space perfectly designed for contemporary plays.

• MFA Lab Series, Ike Holter’s “Hit the Wall,” 8 p.m. Friday, April 17; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 18; and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 19, Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Directed by Gina Marie Hayes, a second-year MFA directing student, Holter’s play is set in New York's Greenwich Village on June 27, 1969, five days after the death of music icon Judy Garland has emboldened her gay followers. In a dangerous cocktail of grief, drugs, booze and heat at the underground gay nightspot The Stonewall Inn, a routine police raid erupts into a full-scale three-day riot and becomes the impetus of the modern gay rights movement. That’s the well-known myth of Stonewall, anyhow. Smash that myth against the vivid theatrical imagination of playwright Holter, add a live rock ‘n roll band, and you get a theatrical remixing of this historic confrontation that reveals 10 unlikely revolutionaries caught in the turmoil and fighting to claim “I was there.” Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for Northwestern University students who purchase tickets in advance only or $10 at the door.


• National Theatre Live, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. English playwright David Hare has fashioned a tumultuous play on an epic scale. His stage adaptation is based on Pulitzer prizewinning American journalist Katherine Boo’s book, which won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction 2012. Boo spent three years in Annawadi -- a makeshift slum in Mumbai -- recording the lives of its residents. Mumbai is surging with global ambition. But beyond the luxury hotels surrounding Mumbai airport lies a makeshift slum, full of people with plans of their own. Zehrunisa and her son Abdul aim to recycle enough rubbish to fund a proper house. Sunil, 12 and stunted, wants to eat until he’s as tall as Kalu the thief. Asha seeks to steal government anti-poverty funds to turn herself into a “first-class person,” while her daughter Manju intends to become the slum’s first female graduate. But their schemes are fragile; global recession threatens the garbage trade, and another slum-dweller is about to make an accusation that will destroy her and shatter the neighborhood. The production contains strong language and some scenes of violence. It is suitable for audiences from age 14 years to adults. Tickets are $20 for the general public; $16 for Northwestern faculty and staff (in-person or phone order only); or $10 for full-time students with valid IDs. To view a video trailer, visit

• National Theatre Live Re-broadcast of “Skylight,” 7 p.m. Thursday, April 2, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Bill Nighy (“Love Actually,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) and Carey Mulligan (“Inside Llewyn Davis,” “The Great Gatsby”) are featured in the highly anticipated production of David Hare’s “Skylight,” directed by Stephen Daldry (“The Audience”), broadcast live from the West End by National Theatre Live. On a cold London evening, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis (Carey Mulligan) receives an unexpected visit from her former lover, Tom Sergeant (Bill Nighy), a successful and charismatic restaurateur whose wife recently died. As the evening progresses, the two attempt to rekindle their once passionate relationship only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual desires.

• Stratford Festival, “King Lear,” 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. A kingdom divided, a family destroyed, the faithful banished and the hateful left to wreak inhuman havoc in the realm. Four hundred years after it was written, “King Lear” resonates as never before. This powerful and unforgettable production of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy stars the incomparable Colm Feore in the role of a lifetime, directed by Stratford Festival Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. To view a video trailer visit, Tickets are $20 for the general public; $16 for Northwestern faculty and staff (in-person or phone order only); or $10 for full-time students with valid IDs.  


One Book One Northwestern is the University’s community-wide reading program hosted by the Office of the President. The selection for the 2014-15 academic year is Claude Steele’s book “Whistling Vivaldi” (W.W. Norton, 2010). One Book also has scheduled film screenings, lectures, themed dinner/panel discussions and more throughout the current academic year. All events are free and many are open to the public. For information, visit or email


August Wilson Celebration, “How I Learned What I Learned,” 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, Josephine Louis Theater (NEW LOCATION), 20 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus. Wilson’s one-man autobiographical play will be performed by Tony Award-winning Broadway actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson. The hourlong performance relates to the Goodman Theatre’s spring 2015 citywide “August Wilson Celebration.” The seven-week retrospective of the late playwright’s life will be held in honor of the late playwright and his frequent collaborations with the Goodman. The Goodman will present a citywide retrospective of Wilson’s life and work and his artistry and influence on culture in collaboration with Chicago’s various off-Loop theaters and Northwestern University. The retrospective will take place from March 7 through April 18, marking the 70th anniversary of the Pulitzer prizewinner’s birth (in 1945) and the 10th anniversary of his death (in 2005). Admission to Northwestern’s March 30 one-man performance is free and open to the public. For more information on the August Wilson Celebration, visit the Goodman Theatre website at

• August Wilson Celebration, “August Wilson in St. Paul,” in special partnership with the Goodman Theatre, noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, Mussetter-Struble Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus. Before beginning work on his “20th Century Cycle” and establishing himself as one of the United States’ leading writers, Wilson worked in St. Paul, Minn. Lou Bellamy, founding artistic director of Penumbra Theatre and an early collaborator with Wilson, leads an hourlong conversation with theater professionals and scholars about Wilson’s early career as an unknown playwright. Admission is free and open to the public. RSVP required at: For more information on the August Wilson Celebration, visit the Goodman Theatre website at


After nearly three years of construction, Northwestern University’s Art Circle Drive has reopened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The road, drive-up handicap access to all Wirtz Center theaters, the pedestrian path at the lakefront and all sidewalks are now open for public use. New improvements to the South Beach Garage also has eliminated the need to use the stairways at the east and west ends of the two-story parking structure, which is now accessible to persons with disabilities for easy access to the Wirtz Center theaters. Additional parking is also available in the new Segal Visitors Center at 1841 Sheridan Road.

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