Eclipse Theatre Co. lists Pearl Cleage’s Midwest debut drama

Playwright Pearl Cleage’s A Song for Coretta will make its Midwest debut with the Eclipse Theatre Company of Chicago during its 2009 season, along with four full productions during the second and final celebration of past decade of featuring one pla

Playwright Pearl Cleage’s A Song for Coretta will make its Midwest debut with the Eclipse Theatre Company of Chicago during its 2009 season, along with four full productions during the second and final celebration of past decade of featuring one playwright per season.

Part II of Eclipse Theatre’s Celebration Series will showcase the company’s past featured playwrights. In addition to Cleage, the others are Rebecca Gilman, John Guare and Romulus Linney. Eclipse will once again present their entire calendar season at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

Eclipse Artistic Director Nathaniel Swift said in a written statement, “The Eclipse ensemble is pleased to continue the celebration of the remarkable writers we have featured since 1997. The second year of this two-year celebration–our first four show season since 1997/1998–will honor the contemporary writers featured by Eclispe over the last decade, including the Midwest premiere of Pearl Cleage’s A Song for Coretta, Romulus Linney’s rarely produced Democracy, and revivals of John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation and Rebecca Gilman’s Blue Surge.”

Eclipse Theatre’s 2009 Season: Celebration series Part II begins by honoring the work of Rebecca Gilman, opening with a revival of Blue Surge (March 19–May 3, 2009), directed by ensemble member Anish Jethmalani.

The story of two small-town cops who try to arrest and then help a pair of prostitutes working at a local massage parlor, Blue Surge examines issues of class and social dynamics with brutal honesty and surprising humor. Gilman explores the small space between hope and hopelessness as her characters struggle to find an American Dream in which they can believe.

Following is Clearge’s A Song of Coretta (June 4–June 28) which will be directed by Sarah Moeller. The play was inspired by the long line of mourners who came by Ebenezer Baptist Church to pay their respect to Coretta Scott King.

The drama introduces five fictional African American women, ages 17 to 57, waiting in the rain to say their final good-byes. Cleage shows the impact that Scott King had on the lives of these women, and the connections that they build with one another through her memory and legacy.

Summer of 2009 features Six Degrees of Separation (July 23–Aug. 30) that will be directed by Goodman Theatre Associate Producer Steve Scott.

The poignant story was inspired by a true story of a young Black con man who poses as the son of Sidney Poitier.

The final work in this series comes next winter with Linney’s Democracy, (Nov. 12- Dec. 20) and will be directed by ensemble member Steven Fedoruk.

The drama is set in Washington’s political society during the spring of 1875. Based on the decision of whether two beautiful American women should marry two handsome American men, the insightful vision of American democracy is scathing, passionate and humorous.

Recently featured at Eclipse Theatre was Neil Simon’s production of its 2008 series Part I production of Plaza Suite, it ran through August 31 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

The season concludes this fall with Lillian Hellman’s The Autumn Garden directed by Swift, running from November 13 until December 21, at the theater.

Earl Calloway can be reached at ecalloway@chicagodefender.com.

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