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Northwestern’s Wirtz Center announces MFA Lab Series

Stories of romance, friendship and the pursuit of the American dream to be staged next year

Evanston, Ill – A slyly funny play about a family living in a world of magical realism, a delicate story about friendship, music and isolation, and a powerful tale about the coming of age of an immigrant family make up the trio of Wirtz Center's annual MFA Collaboration series in the winter and spring of 2024.

The line-up includes Sarah Ruhl’s “The Clean House,” February 16 to 18; Annie Baker's Obie-Award winning “The Aliens,” April 12 to 14; and Julia Cho’s “Durango,” May 10 to 12.

The MFA Lab series brings together Northwestern’s second year MFA theater directors with Northwestern MFA designers, creating collaborations that represent the future of theater.

“The collection of plays in this year’s MFA Lab series represent work by some of the most celebrated and influential playwrights of the American Theatre over the last twenty years,” says Tanya Palmer, assistant dean and executive artistic director of the Wirtz. “I’m excited to see how this next generation of artistic leaders will bring these stories to life.”

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

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 $20 for the general public and $8 in advance for Northwestern students (or $12 at the door).

More information and single tickets are available on the Wirtz Center website. Tickets are available 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 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.

2024 MFA Co-Lab Series

“The Clean House”
February 16-18
By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Francesca Patrón

“The Clean House” is a 2003-2004 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize winner and a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Prolific playwright Sarah Ruhl takes us into a world of rich magical realism that explores love, family and death. Lane, a career-oriented doctor, hires a comedian from Brazil to keep her pristine house clean. As their lives, cultures and families begin to intertwine, chaos ensues and love blooms. This funny, tender play has poetry, stand-up comedy, magical realism, absurdism, myth and a soaring sense of romance.

“The Aliens”

April 12-14
By Annie Baker
Directed by Seth Roseman

Two men sit behind a Vermont coffee shop in the bright sun. Then, a nervous high schooler arrives. Annie Baker’sThe Aliens,” a 2010 Obie Award winner of Best New American Play, is a quiet study of loneliness and connection. It’s a delicate play about friendship, isolation, music, and Bukowski.

May 10-12
By Julia Cho
Directed by Tae Heum Yeon

To the outside world, the Lee boys look perfect: The eldest son, Isaac, is headed to medical school, and his younger brother, Jimmy, is a champion swimmer. But when their single father, Boo-seng, is suddenly fired, he takes the family on a road trip to Durango, Colorado. As they near their destination, tempers flare, old wounds reopen, and secrets are revealed. “Durango” is the story of the identity crisis of second-generation immigrants, an immigrant breadwinner who sacrificed everything for his family to pursue the American dream, and the coming of age of an immigrant family.


Can we be consistent with whatever our style is? I think it’s quotes like this: “The Clean House”