Chicago Theatre Review
Remy Bumppo welcomes Timothy Douglas
In with the new: Remy Bumppo’s new artistic director, new season
By Kaylee Holt
July 1st marked the first day on the job for Remy Bumppo’s new artistic director, Timothy Douglas. Douglas is replacing James Bohnen, the company founder, who announced that he was stepping down in 2009. Douglas has worked as a stage director, actor, and educator at a variety of prestigious theaters, and recently wrapped up a season of directing projects all across the country, including work with Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Studio Theatre Company in D.C. The decision to hire Douglas was unanimous among the theater’s artistic associates, board, and administrative staff. Douglas says that he cares about representing ethnically diverse playwrights, as well as diverse casting. This is evidenced by the theme of his inaugural season: “The American Evolution: from Civil War to Civil Rights to Civil Disobedience.” Douglas will be directing all three plays this season: Eugene O’Neill’s Morning Becomes Electra, Marivaux’s Changes of Heart, and Lee Blessing’s Chesapeake.
Morning Becomes Electra is a tragedy based on The Oresteia, in which a young woman takes a lover and murders her husband, leaving her daughter committed to revenge. Douglas says the revision, set at the end of the Civil War, cuts down on the chorus aspect of the original and fills the story with more action. It opens September 26th.
Changes of Heart, set to open November 28th, is a complex comedy about love between the classes. The play was written in pre-revolutionary France, when class divisions were viewed as much more significant than they are today. As such, Douglas was afraid that the audience might not have the same visceral reaction to what’s happening as audiences in Marivaux’s time. In an attempt to remedy this, Douglas is setting the play in Chicago during the 1960’s and playing up the tensions between the North and South sides in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. Still, though, he insists the story isn’t about race: “I just want to do justice to Marivaux’s play.”
Finally is Chesapeake, a one-man comedy about a performance artist who’s had his funding cut; he attempts a dog-napping in a plot to reveal the injustices of funding in the town. “It’s a play about redemption,” says Douglas. He also says some people may be able to relate to the political side of the story, the troubles of getting funding. Chesapeake opens April 2nd.
Tickets for Remy Bumppo’s productions can be purchased at www.remybumppo.org or by calling the Greenhouse Theater Center’s box office at (773) 404-7336.