Chicago is, above all, known as a tryout town, an experimental city, a boundary crosser. It's world-premiere central, a Midwestern citadel of new and daring works of live performance.
Any theater lover in these parts should have a taste for adventure. But what are your best bets?
We've combed the fall performance schedules with an eye to offering some suggestions for the progressive theatergoer: the arts fan who likes to be surprised and challenged. On this list, you'll find solo tours de force, world premieres, Midwest premieres, Chicago premieres, experiments and all the risk-taking any audience member could want.
'The Iron Stag King': For fans of the House Theatre, "The Valentine Trilogy" was a series of shows staged between 2004 and 2006 that featured (as I said at the time) "cattle, illusions, cowboys,
'Equivocation': First produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2009 and seen in New York the year after, this play by Bill Cain ("Stand-Up Tragedy") ponders the difficulties faced by one
'Freshly Fallen Snow': At this venerable home of new works for the Chicago stage, the Evanston-based writer M.E.H. Lewis is back with a new play about a doctor who figures out a way to "edit" the memories of the traumatized, but who runs into painful matters of her own. Sept. 20 to Oct. 28 at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave.; $32 at 312-633-0630 and chicagodramatists.org
'One Name Only': Black Ensemble Theatre's fall world premiere is a celebration of those African-American music stars for whom a surname would be merely superfluous: Aretha, Gladys, Patti, Chaka, Whitney. Such one-name wonders cranked out a formidable clutch of hit records, and Black Ensemble plans on belting out as many of them as two hours can hold. Sept. 28 to Nov. at 11 Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark St.; $55-$65 at 773-769-4451 and blackensembletheater.org
'Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men': In this co-production with the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where it was first seen this summer, Dael Orlandersmith ("Stoop Stories") offers up a new solo show about five real New York men, all of whom tell their stories of struggle and their attempts to transcend domestic abuse. Chay Yew directs. Sept. 29 to Oct. 28 at the
'Making Noise Quietly': Steep Theatre specializes in staging works by playwrights from Ireland and Britain without substantial U.S. reputations. Its latest is this trilogy of short plays about ordinary people by the important but oft-overlooked British scribe Robert Holman, a writer of humanistic and empathetic inclination. Oct. 4 to Nov. 10 at Steep Theatre Company, 1115 W. Berwyn Ave.; $20-$22 at 866-811-4111 and steeptheatre.com
'Trainspotting USA': One of the most interesting fall commercial projects in Chicago, this is a so-called re-adaptation by Tom Mullen of the Irvine Welsh novel, which became a movie by
'The Opponent': Brett Neveu, whose new works for A Red Orchid Theatre enliven any Chicago theater season, turns his attention to the world of boxing (he usually has less specific locales). Red Orchid stalwart Guy Van Swearingen stars as the owner of a small-time gym. Oct. 18 to Dec. 23 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St.; $15-$30 at 312-943-8722 and aredorchidtheatre.org
'Mike Daisey: American Utopias': Ever since Mike Daisey copped to some fictionalization in his one-man show about