Theater Festival: THE ONCE AND FUTURE FESTIVAL (Greenhouse Theatre Center in Chicago)

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by Nia Liat on April 18, 2023

in Theater-Chicago


Six Chicago playwrights have come together to self-produce their own plays, their way. Inspired by previous self-producing collectives, the festival will feature two world premieres and four staged readings. The world premiere productions will be performed in rep with each other every night, while the reading series will take place on Monday evenings.

“What a blast it is to produce your own work alongside other playwrights doing the same. Bringing our theater to life with this model is very exciting, and I’m so grateful to the designers and actors and directors making this dream a reality,” says co-producer and playwright Philip Kenner.


The Heat Death Of The Universe is a tragedy about a politician forced to confront her past, her ideals, and, also maybe the God Dionysus during a fundraiser at a vineyard. Using humor, argument, and dance, this modern adaptation of The Bacchae by Euripides probes the agonies and ecstasies of leftist politics, conspiracy theories, and rosé in a world on fire.

The play is written by Michael Wilder Frazel and directed by Brent Ervin-Eickhoff. Featuring Zhanna Albertini, Suzy Krueckeberg, Gavin Rhys, and Martin Tebo.

“I am thrilled to be directing the world premiere of Michael Wilder Frazel’s The Heat Death of the Universe” says Ervin-Eickoff. “Frazel’s prescient and perceptive adaptation of Euripides’ The Bacchae speaks to the dangers of strictly adhering to one, singular political dogma while challenging us to find hope and take action in the face of climate crisis.” Frazel adds, “This play has been a passion project for years. And it could not come at a more prescient time, as both on a local and national level the awesome forces of nature continue to force us collectively to confront what ideals we are willing to compromise on for necessary- and painful- change.”

THE MALL THE MALL THE MALL is a comedy about a group of teenagers who uncover a shocking conspiracy and are forced to fight their way through Hollister, Bath & Body Works, The Apple Store, and more to save their beloved mall.

The play is written by Philip Kenner and directed by Eli Newell. The cast includes Haley Bolithon, Andrew Cawley, Danny Gadaj, Kandence Mack, and Emily Zhang.

“It’s been incredible to watch the actors bring these characters to life; we’re embracing silliness and teenagerdom and fan culture, and everyone’s generosity and sense of play are off the charts,” says Kenner. “Phil’s play is hilarious, surprising, and rip-roaring. We have already found ourselves inside poignant and vulnerable conversations about our adolescence and social development. It’s interesting how something seemingly unremarkable like a mall can actually become a container for these personal, raw insights. But that’s what gifted playwrights do!” says Newell.


Stand Your Ground is written by Patrick Vermillion and kicks off the reading series on Monday April 24th.

In the extreme heat of a south Florida summer, Carson pulls a gun on a cyclist during a road rage incident. Six weeks later, the cyclist shows up at his doorstep, informing him that she’s bought a gun of her own and that she wants a “rematch.” Now, the two will meet at the same time and place and re-enact their encounter, only this time both will be armed. Whoever survives “Stood Their Ground” per Florida State Law.

Wordplay is written by Salwa Meghjee and will be staged on Monday, May 1st.

When the Warden of Words outlaws the creation of new words, the words refuse to print in protest. Haiku poet Paulie and his half-paper friend Ellouie must adventure to convince the words to print again and to repair Ellouie’s paper heart that is ripping apart.

Racecar, Racecar, Racecar is written by Kallan Dana and will be read on Monday May 8th.

A father and daughter go on a road trip from New York to California and back again. They speak in palindromes, they pick up hitchhikers, they fabricate the future and erase the past. Everything is great!

Mother Of is written by Katherine Gwynn and will close out the festival on Monday, May 15th.

Marian is visited by a Marian Apparition (just call her Mary, thanks) who tells them to write a play about the Blessed Virgin considering an abortion. Miryam is visited by the angel Gavri’el, who tells her she’s to bear the son of God. And pomegranates keep fruiting up all around, asking them to choose.

The Once And Future Festival
April 20-May 15, 2023
Greenhouse Theater Center’s Studio 44 Theater
2257 N Lincoln Ave in Chicago
The OFF New Work Reading Series location TBD
visit Future Fest for schedule and updates

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