Feminist Theatre Watch 2017-18

It’s season announcement season!  Chicago Theatres are rolling out their plans for 2017-18.  But how to find shows that might have a chance at passing the Bechdel Test?  Don’t just give up and re-watch Gilmore Girls (again).  Here’s a list of work by and about women and genderqueer folks that we think you’ll love!

Catch it Soon

Dirty Butterfly at Theatre on the Lake

July 12 – 16 & July 19 – 23

“Jason spends his nights with his ear pressed against the bedroom wall listening to the noises from Jo’s deeply troubled world next door. Amelia also hears into Jo’s world from her side of the wall and takes to sleeping downstairs to drown it all out. Soon all three are caught up in a blur of voyeuristic confessions and must confront the violence they cannot escape.”

Written by debbie tucker green and directed by Azar Kazemi Halcyon Theatre’s Dirty Butterfly is being remounted at Berger Park Cultural Center as part of Chicago’s Theatre on the Lake Series.  Tickets are only $10 and the show runs 7/12-7/23.

Submitted by Laura Stephenson.

The Portrait of Dorian Gray at The Runaways Lab Theatre

June 30 – July 29

The Runaways Lab Theatre in association with Pop Magic Productions presents THE PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GRAY from the Novella by Oscar Wilde.

“Dorian Gray is a young woman from a wealthy suburban family, who is discovered while riding the Pink Line by Ivy, an SAIC drop out & tattoo artist. When Ivy’s trust fund party boi / aspiring art dealer ex, “Lord” Henry sees Ivy’s sketch of Dorian’s face, Henry knows that the piece could make both his and Ivy’s names. With Ivy’s panicked refusal to part with the picture, Henry sets his sights on a new protege: Dorian herself … The Portrait of Dorian Gray brings you on a wild ride through violence, empathy, and the lack thereof.

The show runs June 30th – July 29th, 2017, Fridays & Saturdays @ 10pm at Compass Creative Dramatics. $12 online and $15 at the door. Only 25 seats per show.

Submitted by Olivia Lilley.

Summer Bash 2017: The Reunion Show at Second Story

Wednesday, July 19

“The cornfields of Central IL. Ann Arbor, MI. Los Angeles, CA. Mountains in Montana. Summer Bash 2017: The Reunion Show features a line-up of company members who have been out of town and all over the country. A one-night only event, this is a one-of-a-kind reunion show story fans won’t want to miss.”

2nd Story is a collective of story-makers and story-lovers working together to build community through the power of storytelling.  We host events (around Chicago and beyond) that fuse page, stage, and sound to deliver a unique, live, literary/theatrical experience.

Curated by 2nd Story Artistic Director Amanda Delheimer. 

Submitted by Lauren Sivak.

SWEETFleetwood Jourdain Theatre

(July 15-30)
“SWEET by Harrison David Rivers, poetically tells the story of Retha and Nina Baker, sisters who have always been close—folding laundry together, chasing fireflies together, and enduring the summer heat together. Set on the outskirts of an all-black town in rural Kansas, SWEET is a coming of age story about the sacrifices we make to hold on to the ones we love.
Submitted by Adia Alli.

Great Expectations at Silk Road Rising

May 11 – July 02, 2017

“Dickens’ beloved tale of aspiration, intrigue, and romance is thrillingly transplanted to a colonized India by award-winning British Bengali playwright Tanika Gupta. When Indian orphan Pip receives a mysterious inheritance, he must choose between his humble rural life and the city life of an English “gentleman.” In a vibrant clash of cultures, classes, and conscience, Gupta’s brilliant adaptation expands Dickens’ enduring question: Is it worth losing who you are for who you might become?”

Submitted by Lavina Jadhwani.

The Chicago Theatre Marathon

July 21-23

3 days.  2 stages.  26.2 hours of work.

“The Chicago Theatre Marathon is a weekend-long, marathon event celebrating the diversity of the Chicagoland theatre community. The Marathon aims to acknowledge the variety of characteristics and categories of identity that make individuals unique, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or gender expression, socio-economic status, age, physical, mental and learning abilities, religious beliefs and political views. Additionally, this year’s rallying cry will be “I am Indomitable,” and will reflect on how artists in Chicago can fully embody that word. This curated series will provide a platform to recognize the uniqueness of individuals, populations, groups and their experiences while cultivating a sense of commonality and shared goals for our community.”

Coming this Season

The Oregon Trail at Halcyon Theatre

“Jane’s trapped in her middle school computer lab playing “The Oregon Trail” for what feels like hours. The game becomes life and rips us back to the trail, 1848, where we travel in a covered wagon with Jane’s great great grandmother. As game moves us, back, forward and back again, Now-Jane’s and Then-Jane’s sadnesses are delicately juxtaposed in this play-meets-video game about depression, Then and Now.”

Written by Bekah Brunstetter and directed by Claire Reinhart, THE OREGON TRAIL runs September 14 to November 4th at Christ Lutheran Church in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood.

Submitted by Laura Stephenson.

You For Me For You at Sideshow Theatre

Two North Korean sisters plan an elaborate escape from the “Best Nation in the World,” only to be separated at the border. Now in two strange and separate worlds filled with outrageous characters, they must navigate barriers of language and bureaucracy, reckon with the ways that culture and country can shape us, and discover that survival requires sacrifice. Playwright Mia Chung weaves myth and striking imagery into a deeply affecting and surprisingly funny adventure, portraying the endless lengths to which two sisters will go to find one another again.

Narratives of Achromatopsia at Chicago Fringe Festival

A documentary theatre piece about the playwright’s visual impairment, Achromatopsia. The show will have 5 performances between August 30 and September 10 at the Chicago Fringe Festival.  Check the schedule for more details.

Submitted by Iris Sowlat.

The Good Fight at Babes with Blades

“The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel, was the primary militant group pushing for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom. Under the slogan “Deeds, not words,” the WSPU advocated targeting property as a form of protest, from smashing shop windows to burning and bombing buildings. Imprisoned WSPU members – including Emmeline Pankhurst – launched hunger strikes, which were initially countered by the authorities with force-feeding; later the government introduced the “Cat and Mouse Act,” under which dying suffragettes were released, only to be re-imprisoned once regaining their health.  To defend their members, the WSPU built “The Bodyguard” – an all-female security team, trained in jiujitsu – and THE GOOD FIGHT began.”

The Nice Girl at Raven Theatre

January 24 – March 11, 2018

“Set in a working-class suburb of Boston in 1984, thirty-seven-year-old Josephine Rosen has a dead-end job, still lives with her mother, and has settled into the uncomfortable comfort of an unintended spinsterhood. But when a chance flirtation with an old classmate and a new friendship at work give her hope for the possibility of change, she dusts off the Jane Fonda tapes and begins to take tentative steps towards a new life.”

BOY at Timeline Theatre 

January 18 – March 18, 2018 (previews 1/10 – 1/17)

A moving and poignant story, inspired by true events, about a search for personal identity and acceptance. In the 1960s, a surgical accident causes a well-intentioned doctor to convince the parents of twin boys to raise one as a girl. Two decades later, the repercussions of that choice continue to unfold, as those involved struggle to connect with each other and themselves, stuck between their hope for the future and their uncertainty about the past. BOY explores the beauty of finding love, the complexity of gender identity, and the consequences of the choices we make for those we love.

Bliss (or Emily Post is Dead!) at Promethean Theatre Company

July 20-August 25, 2018

“It’s 1960 in North Orange, NJ. Clytemnestra and Medea are now housewives with a pill addiction, and Antigone is the teenage girl next door who is in love with a black boy. On the surface, they’re seemingly blissful to follow the “rules” of Emily Post, the American author famous for writing on etiquette. But that’s just the surface. Then Cassandra, a black working girl, moves into their neighborhood and all routines are interrupted. Cassandra is determined to finally break the curse of Apollo, the gorgeous and egotistical god who gave her this “gift” of prophecy but made it so no one would ever believe her. He makes it clear his curse is practically indestructible: yet all she must do is convince someone to believe her. Can Cassandra convince them they now have a choice in this modern era? That they don’t have to live a doomed existence? Can all four women escape their ongoing fate?”

Submitted by Erica Vannon.

The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier

“Permoveo Productions, in association with Pride Films & Plays, have announced that the new musical THE CIVILITY OF ALBERT CASHIER.

The true story, set between 1862 and 1915, tells the tale of Albert Cashier, a Civil War soldier with a secret. Detailing the soldier’s life, fighting in more than 40 engagements during the Civil War, the musical follows Cashier through retirement and the onset of dementia, when it is discovered that Albert was born Jennifer Hodgers. Causing an uproar in the small southern Illinois community where Cashier lived, Cashier was prosecuted for impersonating a soldier.

THE CIVILITY OF ALBERT CASHIER has been workshopped at The Chicago Musical Theater Festival at Victory Gardens, and The Los Angeles LGBT Arts Center. The book is by GLAAD-Nominated Writer Jay Paul Deratany. Music and lyrics are provided by folk musician Joe Stevens and Emmy-nominated writer Keaton Wooden. Wooden will direct the production, which plays Stage 773 August 31 – October 15. Jon Schneidman is the music director and Derek Van Barham will choreograph.”

Submitted by Delia Kropp.

Breach: a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate at Victory Gardens Theatre

February 9 – March 11, 2018

“What happens when a woman trapped in a dead-end job and a fizzling relationship accidentally gets pregnant by a man that she’s not dating? A coming-of- age story about race, class and motherhoodBreach by Antoinette Nwandu and directed by Lisa Portes, examines how hard it is to love others when it’s you that you loathe most of all.”

Submitted by Adia Alli.

BLKS at Steppenwolf Theatre

“Some days feel like they will never end. After a morning that includes a cancer scare and kicking her girlfriend out of the house, Octavia decides to have a last turn up with her best friends. In poet Aziza Barnes’s ingenious portrait of a day in the life of four young black women in New York City, BLKS explores the joy and anguish of growing up and out. Riotously funny and magically rendered, Barnes’s playwriting debut marks the arrival of a truly original contemporary American voice.

Submitted by Adia Alli.

Ongoing Shows

Strip Joker

“Partnered with the ‘You are Beautiful’ campaign, Strip Joker combines body positivity and stand-up comedy into one hilarious show. Comics will be taking off clothes and doing their best body positive material! Our comics remove clothing in ways that make them feel empowered and comfortable in our space. Read about it in the Chicago Reader.

Appropriately located at Uptown Underground, this once a month showcase will feature the best comics in Chicago for a fantastic, hour and a half, mostly nude, totally funny, showcase. 2nd Fridays, Uptown Underground main stage.”

Plan 9 burlesque 

“A space where burlesque and fandom come together to produce innovative, creative, and bonkers performance art. They have perverted comic book heroes, sci-fi super stars, beloved children’s cartoons and fantastical fairy tales and much more.  Plan 9 Burlesque: Ruining your childhood since 2012.

Submitted by Stella Cheeks.


Loose Chicks

“Loose Chicks is a collection of courageous women who share experiences that most women keep to themselves. Each show features six exceptional writers and performers who allow themselves to be vulnerable as they share with uncommon honesty.”  Loose Chicks performs every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month.

Submitted by Roberta Miles.





What did we miss?  Email spielchicago@gmail.com to let us know!

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