Court Theatre’s Chicago Premiere of “The Originalist” Featuring Edward Gero As Justice Scalia Runs May 10-June 10
Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, concludes its 2017/18 season with the Asolo Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Pasadena Playhouse production of The Originalist by John Strand, directed by Molly Smith with Associate Director Seema Sueko, and featuring Edward Gero as Antonin Scalia. The Originalist runs at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.
When a Harvard Law School graduate with decidedly different views takes on a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of America’s most brilliant and polarizing figures, she discovers in him an infuriating opponent and an unexpected mentor. Their relationship faces the ultimate test as they confront one of the most polarizing cases to reach the nation’s highest court. Written by Charles MacArthur Award winner John Strand, this daring new work shows just how much passion for the law and risk it takes to defend one’s version of the truth. Court is thrilled to introduce this brilliant play to Chicago, with Edward Gero at its center. Molly Smith’s production is a sensation in Washington, D.C., where it premiered and has been revived twice.
The cast of The Originalist includes Edward Gero (Justice Antonin Scalia), Jade Wheeler (Cat) and Brett Mack (Brad). The creative team includes Misha Kachman (scenic design), Joseph P. Salasovich (costume design),Collin K. Bills (lighting design), and Eric Shimelonis (sound design). The production stage managers areSusan R. White and Amanda Weener-Frederick.
About the Artists
JOHN STRAND (Playwright) has had works commissioned for Arena Stage including Snow Child, TheOriginalist, The Miser, Lovers and Executioners (MacArthur Award), and Tom Walker. Recent works include the book and lyrics for Hat! A Vaudeville (South Coast Reperatory); Lincolnesque (Old Globe); Lorenzaccio(Shakespeare Theatre Company), and the book for the musical The Highest Yellow (Signature Theatre). Additional plays are The Diaries (Signature Theatre) and The Cockburn Rituals (Woolly Mammoth). Strand spent 10 years in Paris, where he worked as a journalist and drama critic, and directed NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing in Paris. His novel Commieland was published by Kiwai Media, Paris in 2013. He is currently at work on a new play about President Teddy Roosevelt for Arena Stage and on the film adaptation of The Originalist.
MOLLY SMITH (Director) has served as Artistic Director of Arena Stage in Washington DC since 1998. Her more than 30 directing credits at Arena Stage include Carousel, Oliver!, The Originalist, Fiddler on the Roof,Camp David, Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!, A Moon for the Misbegotten, My Fair Lady,The Great White Hope, The Music Man, Orpheus Descending, Legacy of Light, The Women of Brewster Place, Cabaret, South Pacific, Agamemnon and His Daughters, All My Sons, and How I Learned to Drive. She recently directed Our Town at Canada’s Shaw Festival. Her directorial work has also been seen at The Old Globe, Asolo Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, Montreal’s Centaur Theatre and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998. Molly has been a leader in new play development for over 30 years. She is a great believer in first, second and third productions of new work and has championed projects including How I Learned to Drive; Passion Play, a cycle; Next to Normal; and Dear Evan Hansen. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Lawrence Wright, Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 39 world premieres, staged numerous second and third productions and been an important part of nurturing nine projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In 2014, Molly made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage. She was awarded honorary doctorates from American University and Towson University.
SEEMA SUEKO (Associate Director) joined the Arena Stage staff in July 2016 as Deputy Artistic Director and made her Arena Stage directorial debut with Smart People. She previously served as Associate Artistic Director at Pasadena Playhouse and Executive Artistic Director of Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company. Her directing and acting credits include Pasadena Playhouse, People’s Light, The Old Globe, San Diego Repertory, Yale Repertory, 5th Avenue Theatre, and Native Voices, among others. As a playwright, she received commissions from Mixed Blood Theatre and Center Stage. Her work has been recognized by the California State Assembly, NAACP San Diego, Chicago Jeff Awards, American Theatre Wing and American Theatre magazine. Seema developed the Consensus Organizing for Theater methodology, has done research on the neuroscience of acting and serves on the Diversity Committee of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
EDWARD GERO (Justice Antonin Scalia) is a four-time Helen Hayes Award winner and 15-time nominee. Regional credits include The Originalist (Arena Stage, Asolo Repertory, Pasadena Playhouse); The Little Foxes and Red (Arena Stage); Red and Gloucester in King Lear (Goodman); Nixon’s Nixon and Night Alive(Round House); Sweeney Todd (Signature Theatre); Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (Ford’s Theatre); andAmerican Buffalo, Shining City and Skylight (Studio Theatre). In 32 seasons with Washington DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company, his over 70 roles include Helen Hayes turns in Henry IV, Richard II andMacbeth. Film/TV credits include House of Cards, TURN: Washington’s Spies, Die Hard 2, Striking Distanceand narrations for Discovery Channel and PBS. He is a Ten Chimneys 2015 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow and associate professor of theater at George Mason University.
JADE WHEELER (Cat) returns to the role of Cat in The Originalist following productions at Pasadena Playhouse and Asolo Repertory. Jade has performed extensively along the east coast from Massachusetts to Florida. Most recently she appeared in The Legend of Georgia McBride at GableStage. Her one-woman show Who is Eartha Mae? played Off-Broadway at the 2016 United Solo Fest and won for Best Cabaret. Local credits include Debbie Allen’s Alex in Wonderland and Lost in the Stars (the Kennedy Center); An Octoroon (Woolly Mammoth); The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare Theatre Company); and Ruined(Everyman Theatre). Regional credits include GableStage, Central Square Theatre and Stoneham Theatre. She received her B.A. in theater and French from George Mason University and additional training from La Ferme de Trielle and The Actors Space.
BRETT MACK (Brad) has appeared in The Originalist (Arena Stage), The Great Society (Asolo Repertory);Mezzulah 1946 and The Muckle Man (Pittsburgh City Theatre); Leveling Up and The Tempest (The Hippodrome Theatre); Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre); and The Illusion(Chautauqua Theatre). Brett is a recent M.F.A. graduate from Florida State University. He can be seen in season two of Scandal on ABC.
Court Theatre will be hosting a number of events related to The Originalist. Upcoming events are as follows:
The Originalist Discussion Series
In the spirit of The Originalist, a play about listening to and engaging in civil discourse with those who have opposing viewpoints, Court is pleased to host a series of post-play discussions to delve deeper into the art and its related themes. Even if you are attending the production on a different day, we invite Court patrons to attend any of the discussions. The production runs approximately 100 minutes and discussions begin promptly at the end of the performance.
: First Preview Tasting with CHANT and Discussion
Enjoy samples from Dining Partner CHANT pre-show in the lobby, and a post-play discussion led by Seema Sueko, Arena Stage Deputy Artistic Director.
: Preview Performances with Post-Play Discussion
Following all preview performances, Seema Sueko, Arena Stage Deputy Artistic Director, or Edward Gero who portrays Justice Scalia, or other members of the artistic team lead a discussion with the audience.
: The Originalist Playwright John Strand
Following the performance, Charles MacArthur Award winning playwright John Strand leads the audience discussion.
: Martha Nussbaum and John Corvino on Religion, Law, and LGBT Rights
Following the matinee, Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, joins John Corvino, Professor of Philosophy at Wayne State University and author of Debating Same-Sex Marriage, to discuss Supreme Court decisions on religious liberty and LGBT rights.
: David Bevington Discussion
Following the performance, join us for a discussion with theatre scholar David Bevington and members of Court Theatre’s artistic staff.
: Elliot Feldman, Attorney and Legal Advisor for The Originalist
Following the matinee, enjoy a discussion led by Elliot Feldman, Senior Partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP in Washington, D.C., UChicago Alumnus, and Legal Consultant for The Originalist.
: Alison LaCroix and Jason Merchant on Rhetoric and Legal Interpretation
Following the matinee
In celebration of Alumni Weekend at the University of Chicago, the discussion will be led by Alison LaCroix, Robert Newton Reid Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, and Jason Merchant, Lorna Puttkammer Straus Professor, Department of Linguistics and Humanities Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago.
Staged Reading of Thurgood
By George Stevens, Jr.
Featuring A.C. Smith as Justice Thurgood Marshall
Directed by Charles Newell
Thurgood is a one-man tribute to Justice Thurgood Marshall’s pioneering career and legacy as the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court. Justice Marshall revisits landmark civil rights victories, likeBrown v. Board of Education, and the moments in history that are still charged with a moral urgency today. For a short time, Thurgood Marshall served on the Supreme Court with Antonin Scalia who is the subject of the final production in Court’s 2017/18 season, The Originalist. Court favorite A.C. Smith (Gem of the Ocean, Waiting for Godot, Fences) will bring to life this vivid portrait of a civil rights icon in a special staged reading event. Subscribers enjoy free tickets as part of their benefits. All other tickets are $10 general admission.
Open-Captioned Performance of The Originalist
Please call the Box Office at (773) 753-4472 to purchase tickets, as we may have seating suggestions.
The Originalist is sponsored by The University of Chicago Women’s Board and Charles Custer.
Court Theatre is guided by its mission to discover the power of classic theatre. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. Court revives lost masterpieces, illuminates familiar texts, and distinguishes fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.