Raven Theatre is pleased to welcome back live audiences with the announcement of its 2021-22 season, featuring three productions previously postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new season also marks Raven’s transition to an Equity theatre company.
The 2021-22 season kicks off this fall with the world premiere of Joshua Allen’s The Last Pair of Earlies. Tyla Abercrumbie directs this new drama, which follows the hardships and hopes of Wayland and Della Rose Early as they chase a sweet Southern dream on the South Side of Chicago.
This winter, Raven presents Jonathan Harvey’s sweet and charming coming-of-age play Beautiful Thing. Mikael Burke directs this touching story of two boys living in London discovering how they fit into the world around them.
Raven’s 39th season concludes next spring with the Chicago premiere of Melissa Ross’s The Luckiest. Artistic Director Cody Estle directs this heartfelt and honest look at the journey of life.
Raven Theatre is located at 6157 N. Clark St. (at Granville) in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Single tickets and a variety of 2021-22 subscription packages are currently available at www.raventheatre.com or by calling (773) 338-2177.
Raven Artistic Director Cody Estle comments, “I am pleased to announce Raven Theatre will be coming back stronger than ever. This season marks our initial year as an Equity theatre. Joining Actors Equity Association has been a goal for the theatre since I became the Artistic Director in 2017. This leap would not have been possible without the dedicated support and guidance of our board. Becoming Equity will allow the theatre to continue working with many of the artists we have had the pleasure of working with in the past, while also opening our doors to new talent. The season includes a world premiere by a Chicago native, a new understanding of a revival, and a Chicago premiere with a fresh perspective on life. This is going to be an exciting season. I cannot think of a better way to return to live theatre!”
Raven Managing Director Markie Gray adds, “I am so thrilled to welcome you all back to Raven Theatre, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that your return is safe. We will be keeping a close eye on city, state, and federal regulations regarding COVID-19, and will continue to trust and follow the advice and protocols of the CDC. The health and safety of our artists, staff, and audience are of the highest priority, and we’re thankful in advance for your partnership in a safe return.”
A World Premiere!
THE LAST PAIR OF EARLIES
- October 27, 2021 - December 12, 2021
- By Joshua Allen
- Directed by Tyla Abercrumbie
- Press opening: Monday, November 1, 2021 at 7:30 pm
Ever since he was a teenager in Mississippi, Wayland Early could count on two things – his talent for making handmade shoes and the love of his bride, Della Rose. But danger forces them to flee north to Chicago. Before they know it, nearly two decades have passed, and both Wayland and Della find themselves increasingly unable to count on anything, including their marriage. As they each contend with the weight of their spent youth and unrealized dreams, a life-altering question comes to the surface: are we still enough for each other? Joshua Allen, from the award-winning writers’ room of Empire and Executive Producer of HBO’s In Treatment, hits home with this world premiere.
But danger forces them to flee north to Chicago. Before they know it, nearly two decades have passed, and both Wayland and Della find themselves increasingly unable to count on anything, including their marriage. As they each contend with the weight of their spent youth and unrealized dreams, a life-altering question comes to the surface: are we still enough for each other?
Joshua Allen, from the award-winning writer's room of Empire and Executive Producer of HBO’s In Treatment, hits home with this World Premiere.
- February 9, 2022 - March 27, 2022
- By Jonathan Harvey
- Directed by Mikael Burke
- Press opening: Monday, February 14, 2022 at 7:30 pm
Anonymous among the thousands living in the working-class flats of southeast London, two boys struggle to carve out their own space in a constricting world. Driven away by his erratic family, Ste seeks order and purpose in sports and academics, building the idealized life he hasn’t lived. Jamie, instead, turns his back on structure, preferring independence and sharp wit to scholastic honors. With the pressures of their divergent lives mounting, the boys find solace with one another. Ste’s nightly refuge at Jamie’s house evolves into something more, something transformative: something beautiful. After redefining gay representation nearly 30 years ago, Beautiful Thing brings the warmth of first love back to Chicago.
A Chicago Premiere!
- May 4, 2022 - June 19, 2022
- By Melissa Ross
- Directed by Artistic Director Cody Estle
- Press openings: Monday, May 9, 2022 at 7:30 pm
Lissette and Peter are best friends living their best lives. But when an out of nowhere diagnosis shatters Lissette's world, Peter is left trying to pick up the pieces. Suddenly finding herself at odds with both her best friend and her mom – who each come bearing strong opinions wrapped in good intentions – Lissette is forced to navigate between the two while unflinchingly forging her own path for her future. This tender, funny and keenly-observed play explores the uncertain and sometimes heartbreaking territory of how we choose to take ownership of our lives.
About the Artists
Joshua Allen (Playwright, The Last Pair of Earlies) is a Chicago native whose plays include The Last Pair of Earlies, The October Storm, Chrysalis and About Monday Morning. His work has been produced and developed at Hudson Stage, the Cape Cod Theater Project, Primary Stages, the Lark's Playwrights' Week and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. An alumnus of New Dramatists, he has also been a member of the Ars Nova Play Group and the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers’ Group at Primary Stages. Joshua is a graduate of the University of Southern California and the Juilliard School. His television credits include In Treatment (HBO), Empire (FOX), Almost Family (FOX) and the upcoming From Scratch (Netflix).
Tyla Abercrumbie (Director, The Last Pair of Earlies) is honored to return to Raven Theatre with this production. She recently directed the stage reading of The Mountaintop by Katori Hall. A freelance director, writer, and actor, she has directed for various theatre companies and academic institutions. Credits include A Raisin in the Sun (Southeast Missouri State University), Moon Man Walk (Definition Theatre), Repairing A Nation (TimeLine Timepiece reading series), Asylum aka Life (MPAACT), Mirror Images (Studio Theatre) and The River Niger (Court Theatre’s Spotlight Reading Series). As an actor, she has appeared in a vast number of theatrical, television, and film roles. Theatre: Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Timeline Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Television credits include The Chi (recurring role), Utopia, Proven Innocent, Chicago PD, Chicago MED, Empire, Easy, Shrink, Crisis, Mob Doctor, Detroit 187, Chicago Code, and Shameless. Film credits: The Animator, Unexpected, and Time Served. Graduate with BA from Columbia College, Company Member with TimeLine Theatre. Recipient of the Writers Collective Fellowship with Timeline Theatre Company.
Jonathan Harvey (Playwright, Beautiful Thing) comes from Liverpool, England and is the multi award-winning writer of the play and film Beautiful Thing, the BAFTA nominated sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme, and Beautiful People (Best Comedy: Banff TV Festival). He has written twenty stage plays including Corrie!, Canary, Hushabye Mountain, Babies, Boom Bang A Bang, and Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club. He also wrote the 2001 stage musical Closer to Heaven with the Pet Shop Boys. His theatre work has won him an Evening Standard Award, two Manchester Evening News Awards, the George Devine Award, and the John Whiting Award.
Mikael Burke (Director, Beautiful Thing) is a Chicago-based director, deviser, and educator. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre and Jeff Award-nominated director, Mikael’s most recently worked with Victory Gardens Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Company, Windy City Playhouse, About Face Theatre, First Floor Theater, American Theater Company, Chicago Dramatists, and The Story Theatre in Chicago, regionally with Indiana Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center and Phoenix Theatre. He serves as Head of the Directing Concentration of the Summer High School Training Program of the Theatre School at DePaul University, is an adjunct faculty member of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and a faculty member in the Theatre division of the National High School Institute (Cherubs) at Northwestern University. Recent directing credits include The Agitators by Mat Smart, Sugar in Our Wounds by Donja R. Love, At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen by Terry Guest, This Bitter Earth by Harrison David Rivers, and Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm. The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA). mklburke.com
Melissa Ross’s (Playwright, The Luckiest) plays include Thinner Than Water (LAByrinth Theater Company), A Life Extra Ordinary (The Gift Theatre), Nice Girl (LAByrinth Theater Company), An Entomologist’s Love Story (San Francisco Playhouse), Of Good Stock (South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theater Club), and The Luckiest (La Jolla Playhouse). Her work has been developed and produced around the country at theaters including Dorset Theater Festival, Iama Theatre Company, Kitchen Dog Theater, Montana Rep, New York Stage and Film, The New Group, Raven Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Summer Shorts, and TheatreWorks Palo Alto. She is twice commissioned by both South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theater Club and is currently commissioned by Atlantic Theater Company, Raven Theatre, and San Francisco Playhouse. Melissa is a graduate of Bennington College and the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Program at The Juilliard School, and is a proud member of LAByrinth Theater Company.
Cody Estle (Director, The Luckiest) became the Artistic Director at Raven Theatre in November 2017 where he had previously served as the Associate Artistic Director. His directing credits include Sundown, Yellow Moon, How I Learned To Drive (named by Windy City Times as the best of Chicago theatre in 2019), The Gentleman Caller (2019 Jeff Award-winning new play by Philip Dawkins), The Assembled Parties, A Loss of Roses (named by Chicago Tribune honorable mention as one of the year’s best in 2016), Dividing the Estate, Vieux Carré (named by Chicago Tribune as one of the year’s best in 2014), Good Boys and True, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Boy Gets Girl and Dating Walter Dante at Raven Theatre; Damascus at Strawdog Theatre; Five Mile Lake at Shattered Globe Theatre; By The Water (named by Chicago Sun-Times honorable mention as one of the top theatre productions of 2017) at Northlight Theatre; American Hero at First Floor Theater; Scarcity at Redtwist Theatre; The Seagull and Watch on the Rhine at The Artistic Home; Don’t Go Gentle at Haven Theatre; Uncle Bob at Mary-Arrchie Theatre, and Hospitality Suite at Citadel Theatre. He is a member of SDC, serves on the board of directors of the League of Chicago Theatres, and is an alumnus of Columbia College Chicago.
About Raven Theatre
Raven Theatre tells stories of today and the past that connect us to our cultural landscape. Through its plays as well as its educational programming, Raven is committed to serving our communities’ needs through the arts.
Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by the The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at Prince, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Polk Bros Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, S&C Electric Company Fund, Paul M. Angell Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.