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Wirtz Center announces 2022 – 2023 MFA Co-Lab series

“The Revolutionists,“ ”Sweat,“ and "sandblasted” among the stories of resistance

Evanston, Ill --- Wily women fighting through the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, a story of friends, workers, and survival in the heart of the Rust Belt, and a story of healing in the midst of everything falling apart make up the trio of Wirtz Center's annual MFA Lab series in the winter and spring of 2023. 

The line-up includes Lauren Gunderson's "The Revolutionists," Feb 3 to Feb 5; Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer-Prize winning "Sweat," Apr 28 to 30; and Charly Evon Simpson's "sandblasted," May 26 to 28.

The MFA Lab series joins Northwestern MFA theater directors with Northwestern MFA designers, creating collaborations that represent the future of theater. 

"American Theater is entering a new frontier as we re-discover what coming back together as an audience looks like," says Tanya Palmer, Assistant Dean and Executive Artistic Director of the Wirtz. "It's exciting to support the next generation of artistic leaders as they realize productions that grapple with the strength and creativity of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming odds."  

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

FEB 3-5
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Jasmine B. Gunter

The Revolutionists is a new play about four beautiful, badass women who lose their heads in this irreverent, feminist comedy set during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror. Playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, former queen (and fan of ribbons) Marie Antoinette, and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle hang out, murder Marat, and try to beat back the extremist insanity in 1793 Paris. This grand and dream-tweaked comedy is about violence and legacy, art and activism, feminism and terrorism, compatriots and chosen sisters, and how we go about changing the world. It's a true story. Or total fiction. Or a play about a play. Or a raucous resurrection…that ends in a song and a scaffold.

APR 28-30
By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Tor Campbell

This Pulitzer Prize-winning play examines race, class, and the costs of capitalism. In once prosperous Rust Belt town, a group of friends spend their lives sharing drinks, secrets, and laughs while working together on the factory floor. However, when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in a heart-wrenching fight to stay afloat. Sweat captures the ever-present battle between American racial dynamics and collective progress, asking if friendships can endure when all hopes of economic stability and mobility disappear.

MAY 26-28
By Charly Evon Simpson
Directed by Manna-Symone Middlebrooks

Angela and Odessa are searching for something that might not be real, but they are determined to make a way out of no way. They seek out Adah– that’s right, the Celebrity-Wellness-Maven Adah–and follow her into the sand, hopeful that she’ll help them find what they need. sandblasted is a deeply stirring, funny, theatrically daring story of waiting and hoping, time and healing, from the award-winning playwright of Jump and Behind the Sheet.

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 $15 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. 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 classic and contemporary works for audiences of all ages. The Center adheres to and reflects the university's academic mission, 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, bringing film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance, and visual arts together.