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The Wirtz Center throws open its doors Oct. 15-17

Season flex passes available online now; box office hours expanded

wirtz center
MFA candidate Alaina Moore. Photo by Justin Barbin

The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts at Northwestern University welcomes audiences to celebrate the return of live performance with an "Open House: A Weekend for the Arts," Oct. 15-17, at the Wirtz Center, 1949 Campus Drive on the Evanston campus.

During a self-guided tour, audiences will get an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at the technical aspects of theatre not often seen or experienced. Highlights include rehearsals for upcoming shows, a glimpse at sets under construction, sound and light displays, and an exhibition of breathtaking sculptures by MFA design students that combine costume and scenic elements.

The Open House is free and open to the public, with timed reservations for patrons to tour any length of time during this two-hour event. Visit the Wirtz Center website to register.

The 2021-2022 Wirtz Center season lineup includes the musical theatre productions "Something Rotten, (Feb. 3-13, 2022) and the 91st annual Waa-Mu Show (April 29- May 8, 2022), as well as a workshop production of American Music Theatre Project's "The Battlefields of Clara Barton," (Oct. 29-31, 2021).

Mainstage plays feature "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" (April 22-May 1, 2022) and "Water by the Spoonful" (May 20-29, 2022).

Imagine U's popular series for families returns with "Last Stop on Market Street" (Nov. 12-21, 2021), adapted and directed by Gloria Bond Clunie, as well as a retelling of the Chinese poem "The Ballad of Mu Lan," (Feb. 24-March 6, 2022).

For patrons, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours (two days) of a show is required. Northwestern is offering visitors COVID-19 rapid antigen testing to comply with guidelines. 

The Wirtz Center has outlined guidelines related to COVID-19 for the safety of its student performers, staff and crew members, and patrons.

"We're thrilled to safely welcome audiences back to in-person performances," said Al Heartley, Wirtz Center managing director. "This will be a season like no other – as we present a rapid-fire lineup of plays, musical theatre works and Imagine U productions, many running one week only. As a learning institution, we have ramped up the performance schedule to accommodate the academic requirements of our student artists while maintaining the high production standards and variety our patrons value," Heartley said.

‘Native Guard’

The Wirtz Center, Poetry Foundation and Black Arts Consortium in collaboration with Alliance Theatre of Atlanta, present the Chicago premiere of "Native Guard," Oct. 23-24. The production is directed by School of Communication alumna Susan V. Booth (’87). The special event inaugurates the new Wirtz Center for Performing and Media Arts Chicago, signaling the advent of future academic and professional arts partnerships to come.

"Positioning the School of Communication in downtown Chicago does as much to raise awareness of our stellar art programs and scholarship as it does to foment new strategic partnerships," said E. Patrick Johnson, dean of the school. "The Black Arts Consortium and Wirtz Center Chicago are pivotal to those new partnerships, as these are the laboratory spaces and brain trusts that will kickstart new, inclusive and representative creative innovations."

Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection of Natasha Tretheway, a two-time U.S Poet Laureate and professor of English at Northwestern, "Native Guard" juxtaposes the experiences of Tretheway, a child of a then-illegal marriage between her African-American mother and Caucasian father living in 1960s Mississippi, with the experience of a soldier in the Native Guard, the first African-American Union troop in the Civil War who was charged with guarding white Confederate captives. 

After playing to sold-out houses in Atlanta in 2014, "Native Guard" will run one weekend only at Wirtz Center Chicago, 710 N. Lake Shore Drive. Ticket availability is extremely limited.

Wirtz Center season flex passes, tickets and more information are available on the Wirtz Center Website. The Wirtz Center Box Office is closed for in-person service and available for online sales only until Oct. 1. After Oct. 1, call 847-491-7282 and/or e-mail wirtz@northwestern.edu. Wirtz Center Box Office hours are Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and Saturdays, noon–4 p.m. 

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