GreenMan Theatre in Elmhurst closes its ninth season with a production that features a collection of short plays and one-acts that deal with beginnings, endings and other apocalyptic scenarios.
The production, "After the End of the World," features nine such plays directed by six local directors and with a combined cast of 20 actors. Some of the plays are original works in their world premiere, while others are published works from well-known playwrights such as Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter.
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If you goWhat: "After the End of the World," a collection of nine short plays staged by Greenman Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, May 3-19
Where: Asbury Hall at First United Methodist Church, 232 S. York Road, Elmhurst
Tickets: $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and students
"Castle" is an original work by local playwright Cathleen Ann and directed by Elmhurst resident Cory Sandrock. The premise of the play deals with three couples who re-enact famous literary characters or writers such as "Beauty and the Beast," Elizabeth and Darcy from "Pride and Prejudice" and Mary and Percy Shelley.
Each couple has booked a remote castle for their dream re-enactment before the world is supposed to end. Each couple thinks they have the castle to themselves, but comic situations arise when they discover the manager has made the same promise to the other two couples.
Sandrock, who is also a playwright, is excited by the challenge of directing the show.
"Through rehearsals the cast is embracing the eccentricities of each character and they are enjoying the process of creating each over-the-top personality," he said.
"It is also fun to build the comic conflict between characters who believe their own fantasies, so rehearsals are never boring and always end with everyone rolling on the floor in laughter."
Ann, a Palatine resident, wrote the play with a specific intention in mind.
"I wrote 'Castle' to poke some fun at the idea of ordinary people being prompted to indulge in extraordinary adventures in response to the threat of the world ending. Everyone has secret dreams they hope to realize someday," she said.
"Goodbye, Oscar" by Romulus Linney is another short play in the production, which Sandrock also directs it. He had a connection to this title for quite a while.
"I was introduced to this script in college when I was looking for scenes to perform in acting class. After enjoying my work with it as an actor, the script stuck in my memory and seemed to be a perfect fit for our after-the-end-of-the-world theme," Sandrock said.
Oscar Wilde, lying on his deathbed in Paris, is visited by a young gentleman who brings memories, or dreams, to life. As they explore these fleeting moments, Oscar recalls the emotions and chances he lost in life as well as his hopes for the future.
"I am especially intrigued by the fact that it is never clear whether the Young Gentleman character is an angel or a devil or something else," Sandrock said.
"I am also a huge fan of Oscar Wilde, so a play that explores his death is immediately interesting to me, and I also believe that the subject gives the actor a great opportunity to dig into the life of a truly unique historical figure."
While some of the plays in "After the End of the World" are humorous, some are serious and some deep, while still others are reflective about life.
"And Then What?" written and directed by Carl Zeitler, is one that falls in the reflective category. The play deals with two recently deceased strangers being led to an afterlife waiting room by a mysterious host.
As they await news of their fate, they start a conversation about happier times of their previous lives, their ideas of heaven and hell, and where they may end up for eternity.
"I was intrigued by the prospect of showing real people in an unreal situation," Zeitler said. "It's interesting that we always hope that the departed rest in peace without considering how our own peace factors in. What if the departed had to cope with finding peace, too?"
The rest of the titles in the program include "Come and Go" by Samuel Beckett, directed by GreenMan Theatre Artistic Director David Soria; "Last Call" by Hal Corley, directed by Rich Bucchi; "Precisely" and "Victoria Station," both by Harold Pinter, directed by Rich Geiger; "Remember Me?" written and directed by Jim Bruner; and "The End of the World -- and After" by Peter Barnes, directed by Bruner.
"After the End of the World" opens May 3 and runs for nine weekend performances until May 19.
Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m. All performances are in Asbury Hall at First United Methodist Church, 232 S. York Road, Elmhurst.
Tickets are $17 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. Free parking is available. For tickets and information, visit greenmantheatre.org.