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Wirtz Center’s MFA Lab series features intimate productions of ‘Eurydice,’ ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ and ‘The Glass Menagerie’

MFA Lab directors Hamid Dehghani, Ji Won Jeon and Alvin Chan
MFA Lab directors Hamid Dehghani, Ji Won Jeon and Alvin Chan

A Greek myth retold, an unconventional narrative about cellmates in an Argentine prison and a Tennessee Williams classic seen through the lens of a Chinese American family will make up Wirtz Center’s annual MFA Lab series in winter and spring of 2020.

The series includes Sarah Ruhl’s 2003 play “Eurydice,” Jan. 31 to Feb. 2; Manuel Puig’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” May 1 to 3; and Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” May 22 to 24.

The MFA Lab series matches new theater 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,” said Al Heartley, managing director for the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. “They are given the freedom to create bold, risk-taking productions that span genres to delight audiences.”  

All productions will be presented at the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, 1949 Campus Drive on the Evanston campus.

The productions include:

Eurydice
By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Hamid Dehghani
Jan. 31 to Feb. 2

“Eurydice” retells the Greek myth about love that transcends death. Told from Eurydice’s viewpoint, the play depicts how Eurydice is seduced into death on her wedding day and must decide whether to return to earth or to stay in the underworld. The New York Times called this Drama League Award recipient a “weird and wonderful new play.” MacArthur “Genius” Ruhl's script is designed to be a “playground for the designer of the sets” which this MFA collaboration plans to exploit.  

Kiss of the Spider Woman
By Manuel Puig
Directed by Ji Won Jeon
May 1 to 3

Based on Manuel Puig’s 1976 novel, “Kiss of the Spider Woman” is an impactful tale of persecution that juxtaposes gritty realities with liberating fantasies. Set in a Buenos Aires prison, the storyfollows the relationship of two cellmates, Valentin and Molina, as they form an intimate bond. The work’s form is unusual because there is no traditional narrative voice.

Glass Menagerie
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Alvin Chan
May 22 to 24

This refreshing new take on Tennessee Williams’ classic memory play, “The Glass Menagerie” is told through the lens of a Chinese American family. Set in St. Louis in 1937, Tom Wingfield, an aspiring poet, recalls the memories of his mother and sister. Tom’s father ran off years ago and, except for one postcard, has not been heard from since…until now.

Performances for all MFA Lab Series productions are Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $6 in advance for Northwestern students (or $10 at the door).

More information and single tickets are available on the Wirtz Center website. Beginning Jan. 7, tickets can be purchased by phone at 847-491-7282 or in-person at the Wirtz Center box office, located in the lobby of the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Box office hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. The box office is closed Sundays and Mondays.  

The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts annually mounts more than 40 productions in theater, music theater and dance. Undergraduate actors, managers and playwrights, alongside graduate actors, designers, directors and dramaturgs, collaborate on works both classic and contemporary for audiences of all ages. The Center adheres to and reflects the academic mission of the University, the curricular needs of the theater and performance studies departments and the educational priorities of communication students. It exists in service to the campus and the greater community of the metropolitan Chicago area.

The Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.  

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