Five year Civil War theater project begins at City Lit

March 21, 2011

City Lit Theater has just announced a fascinating project--a five-year commemoration of the Civil War, leading up to the 150th anniversary of the war's end in 2015.

Yes, I know the war didn't end in 2015, you misplaced-modifier hawks.  In fact, the Civil War didn't end at all: what do you think those Tea Party people are on about?  That's what makes the City Lit project so gripping: that its exploration of the themes of the Civil War are necessarily conversations about the nation--or nations--we live in today.

The series starts on April 8 with a little-known play from 1918, The Copperhead, about an Illinois man whose sympathies lie with the Confederacy.  (It seems appropriate that the play comes from the end of another war that seemed to end but actually didn't.)  Kathy Scambiatterra, artistic director of The Artistic Home, will direct at City Lit's space in the Edgewater Presbyterian Church, 1020 West Bryn Mawr.

Then annually through 2015 City Lit will produce a show connected to the Civil War, each of them a world premiere.  There's a piece featuring the war's music; a play by the fine actress-playwright Maureen Gallagher about the woman disguised as a man who earned an Army pension for her service during the war; a play about slaves who escaped to Chicago, by City Lit's Associate Director (and another fine actress-playwright) Kristine Thatcher; and finally, an adaptation by City Lit Artistic Director Terry McCabe of "Confederates in the Attic," a nonfiction book about the influence of the war and images of the Confederacy in the contemporary South.

TimeLine Theatre has already shown Chicago how exciting it can be to produce theater rooted in stories from history, whether familiar or brand-new.  Now City Lit goes it one better, drilling down into a single period for the whole range of stories it contains. 

Sounds amazing--I can't wait.