UI, Chicago theater groups join forces for show, festival

UI, Chicago theater groups join forces for show, festival

URBANA — Illinois Theatre, the producing arm of the University of Illinois Department of Theatre, and a Chicago theater group founded by UI alumni are joining forces to present a play and a short-play festival at the end of May and in June.

For its first Illinois Theatre residency, the Definition Theatre Company founded by six alumni via a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 will remount its 2012 inaugural production of "The Brothers Size," directed by Illinois Theatre Professor Kathleen F. Conlin.

The play is part of Tarell Alvin McCraney's "The Brother/Sister Plays" trilogy, a series that has been performed at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jerskey; The Public Theater in New York; Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago; and the Young Vic in London, among other places.

Hailed by a Chicago Tribune critic as "The greatest piece of writing by an American playwright under 30 in a generation or more," "The Brothers Size" is a hot-blooded, music-filled drama that tells the story of two Louisiana brothers — — Ogun (Tyrone Phillips) and Oshoosi Size (Julian Parker) — and Oshoosi's former jailmate, Elegba (Mercedes White), who enters his post-prison life with promises of a new type of freedom.

"Poetic language, Nigerian mythology and stylized movement heighten the environment as the complexities of fraternal love, the impact of poverty, and the true cost of redemption come to light," reads a news release from Illinois Theatre.

"The Brothers Size" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. May 29-June 1 and June 4-7 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for youths and UI students.

Definition Theatre Company will continue its Illinois Theatre collaboration this summer with a four-day festival featuring new short works, including a new one by McCraney and four by Illinois alums.

The New Short Play Festival curtain times will be 7:30 p.m. June 11-14 and 10 p.m. June 13. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5, youths and UI students.

The founders of Definition Theatre Company are Aurora Adachi-Winter, Kelson Michael McAuliffe, Jessica Dean Turner, Julian Parker, Tyrone Phillips and Mercedes White.

Illinois Theatre is directed by UI theater department head Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, in consultation with Conlin and theater Professor Peter Davis.

Tickets and information are available at KrannertCenter.com, by phone at  333-6280 or visit theatre.illinois.edu/ or definitiontheatre.org/.

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