A Year of Theater

Bloomington theaters prepare for new seasons of shows

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Jason Craig West and Ryan Claus play Bosola and Ferdinand in IU Theatre's production of "The Duchess of Malfi" in February. The IU Theatre will open with the musical "Urinetown" this year. Marlie Bruns

A year of theater, from “Urinetown” to video game-based play “Oregon Trail,” in Bloomington is entering another season of unprecedented work. 

This school year, Bloomington and IU are offering classic plays, musicals and contemporary dance shows. 

IU Theatre opens with the witty musical “Urinetown,” followed by Anton Chekhov’s classic play, “Three Sisters.” Other notable titles across the season are a modern rendition of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” and “City of Angels.” 

Department chair Jonathan Michaelsen said it takes four months for the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Dance to decide on which shows to produce. 

With 10 shows in the upcoming season, students have a lot of opportunities to take part in theater, Michaelsen said.

“We look at things we think would serve our students very well that are of a variety of styles, a variety of eras,” Michaelsen said.

Touching and farcical shows such as “Peter and the Starcatcher” sit alongside serious dramas, like Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” “The Resistible Rise of Arturo UI” are “a thinly-veiled allegory for Hitler’s rise to power,” according to the IU Theatre website.

These shows are interesting to contemplate in this day and age, Michaelsen said. According to the IU Theater website, the play brings the epic glory of the Roman Republic to the stage, with a treacherous assassination that causes Rome to erupt into a war zone. 

“Julius Caesar was relevant a hundred years ago,” Michaelsen said. “Now, in a different way, Julius Caesar is relevant today. This is grappling with current issues.”  

IU Theatre also offers two dance recitals throughout the year. The Winter Dance Concert is produced by faculty, and New Moves is a student-led contemporary dance program. 

Whatever your interest, there’s something for everyone, Michaelsen said.  

“It’s pretty often that this is the first time some people see live theater,” Michaelsen said. “We want that experience to be a great one.” 

Between College Avenue and Walnut Street is the Bloomington Playwrights Project. For 35 years, the Bloomington Playwrights Project has produced original works and provided a place for new artists to work, according to their website.

This season, it offers five original works. “Beating a Dead Horse” is the story of a failing pet funeral service, and “Out of Orbit” focuses on the relationship between a mother living on Mars with her daughter on Earth.  

“There’s always something people can find from our shows that they like,” said Jessica Reed, managing director of Bloomington Playwrights Project. “We have built a community of people who are just over the moon about new works.”  

Actor Jesse Eisenberg, "30 Rock" writer Jeff Daniels and Tami Sagher are among alumni playwrights of the Bloomington Playwrights Project.

Ninety-nine percent of actors are local, Reed said. Ultimately, Bloomington Playwrights Project’s ongoing goal is always to be a place for accessible new play development in tiny Bloomington.

“People can look forward to seeing something completely new that didn’t exist before we did it,” Reed said. “That makes even the most novice theater-goer feel like this is pretty cool.” 

The venue holds special events throughout the year. One is the Playoffs, where playwrights have 24 hours to write, design and rehearse a 10-minute play.

“It’s crazy and exhausting but really rewarding,” Reed said.  

Other theater venues with upcoming seasons around town are the IU Auditorium, Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, Cardinal Stage Company and Stages Bloomington. No matter where you go, theater is a collaborative art, Michaelsen said. 

“You have a shared experience, and that’s great,” Michaelsen said. “There’s something about seeing an issue embodied in theater that makes it a little easier to talk about.”      


Sept. 22, 23, 26 - 29, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 @ 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Wells-Metz Theatre 

Three Sisters

October 13, 14, 17-20, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.
October 21 @ 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Wells-Metz Theatre 

Peter and the Star Catcher

Oct. 27, 28, 31 - Nov. 3, 2017, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 4 @ 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Ruth N. Halls Theatre

Arturo UI

December 1, 2, 5-8, 2017, @ 7:30 pm
December 9 @ 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm
Wells-Metz Theatre

Julius Caesar

January 19, 20, 23-26, 2018, @ 7:30 pm
January 27 @ 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm
Ruth N. Halls Theatre

Winter Dance Concert

February 9 and 10, 2018 @ 7:30 pm
February 10 and 11, 2018 @ 2:00 pm
Ruth N. Halls Theatre

Out of Orbit

March 30, 31, April 5,6, 7, 12, 13, 14

Buskirk-Chumley Theater

City of Angels

April 13, 14, 17-20, 2018, @ 7:30 pm
April 21 @ 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm
Ruth N. Halls Theatre

New Moves

April 27, 2018 @ 7:30 pm
April 28, 2018 @ 2 pm
Wells-Metz Theatre

Beating a Dead Horse

Sept.  29 and 30, Oct. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Buskirk-Chumley Theater

All shows are $20.00 for the general public and $10.00 for students.

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