The Trinity River Plays, Regina Taylor’s Critically-Acclaimed Trilogy, launches 2011 at the Goodman, January 15 – February 20

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Penny Johnson Jerald and Karen Aldridge journey through nearly half a century as mother and daughter in this Epic Tale

Chicago, IL – Artistic Associate Regina Taylor kicks off 2011 at Goodman Theatre with her most ambitious work to date, the critically-acclaimed The Trinity River Plays.

“Florid, earthy and abundantly alive” (Dallas Morning News), Taylor’s new trilogy consists of three stylistically distinct plays—Jar Fly, Rain and Ghoststory—that follow Iris Spears and her matriarchal Texas family. Ethan McSweeny directs this world premiere, in which Taylor explores transformative moments throughout Iris’ life and the intricacies of her relationship with her mother.

The ensemble cast features Chicago actress Karen Aldridge as Iris, and stage and screen star Penny Johnson Jerald as her protective mother, Rose. The Trinity River Plays, a co-production with Dallas Theater Center, runs January 15 – February 20, 2011 in the Goodman’s Albert Theatre; tickets are $25 – $78.

Target is the Major Corporate Sponsor of The Trinity River Plays and Albert Goodman/The Edith-Marie Appleton Foundation is the Major Production Sponsor. Principal Support of Artistic Development and Diversity Initiatives is provided by The Joyce Foundation.

“The Trinity River Plays came to me when I was sorting through things after my mother’s death. I was inspired by the storms that we go through in our lives, and how we navigate through those storms,” recalls playwright Regina Taylor. “I think of these plays as different chapters in the life of Iris Spears—and they are each able to stand alone or work altogether as a triloger. Together, the plays draw a portrait of Iris as she overcomes life’s seemingly insurmountable obstacles.”

In the first play, Jar Fly, Iris is determined to go to college and become a writer, while her rebellious cousin Jasmine has dropped out of high school to follow a path of self-destruction. The cousins come to a crossroads when Jasmine draws Iris into the terrible secret she has been hiding since childhood. In the second play, Rain (first seen as part of the Goodman’s 2009 New Stages Series), fiercely independent Iris has made a successful life for herself as a journalist in New York City—but when her marriage fails, she begins to unravel. In search of solace, Iris returns to her mother’s house in Texas, but her homecoming proves more confounding than consoling when her mother makes a shocking announcement. As longburied family secrets come to light, Iris must face her past and make some difficult decisions about the future. In Ghoststory, the third play in The Trinity River Plays, Iris is surprised by a visit from her estranged husband, Frank, desperate for a reconciliation. But before this reconnection can be explored, she must confront and embrace the specters of her past that continue to haunt her present.

As previously announced, the cast is completed by Jacqueline Williams as Rose’s sister Daisy; Christiana Clark as Iris’ rebellious cousin Jasmine; Jefferson A. Russell as Jasmine’s stepfather, Ray Earl (in Jar Fly), and Iris’ ex-husband, Frank (in Rain and Ghoststory); and Samuel Ray Gates as Jack, Iris’ love interest (in Jary Fly and Ghoststory. McSweeny has tapped an award-winning design team for the co-production—Todd Rosenthal (Set), Karen Perry (Costumes), Tyler Micoleau (Lighting), Steven Cahill (Sound/Original Music) and Daryl Waters (Original Music).

The Trinity River Plays marks playwright Regina Taylor’s 10th production at the Goodman. Over the course of her 17-year tenure as a member of the Artistic Collective, she has amassed a varied and complex body of work, often drawing inspiration from historical characters and events (Crowns, Oo-Bla-Dee,

The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove) and classic literature (Drowning Crow, Magnolia). Taylor’s other plays include Oo-Bla-Dee, which premiered at the Goodman and which won the 2000 American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award; Escape From Paradise, a one-woman show; Watermelon Rinds; Inside the Belly of the Beast; Mudtracks; Love Poem #97; and she curated Urban Zulu Mambo, an evening of plays by Adrienne Kennedy, Ntozake Shange, Suzan-Lori Parks and Kia Corthran. Her acting credits include roles on Broadway, off-Broadway and in numerous regional theaters. Her film credits include Clockers, Losing Isaiah, Lean on Me, A Family Thing, Courage Under Fire (with Denzel Washington) and The Negotiator (with Samuel L. Jackson). For her role as Lilly Harper on the television series I’ll Fly Away, Taylor won an NAACP Image Award, was nominated for an Emmy Award and received the Golden Globe Award for Best Leading Dramatic Actress. She appeared as Cora in Cora Unashamed in PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre American Collection. She was seen on CBS’s The Education of Max Bickford as Judith Bryant. Her additional television credits include the CBS series FEDS, Law & Order, Crisis at Central High, The Howard Beach Story, Children of the Dust (with Sidney Poitier), and Strange Justice, a Showtime original film in which she portrayed Anita Hill (Peabody Award, Gracie Award). She most recently played Molly on CBS’ The UnitI, written and produced by David Mamet and Shawn Ryan (2008 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama). She received an honorary doctorate from DePaul University.

Tickets to The Trinity River Plays ($25 – $78) are currently on sale at Tickets and subscriptions can also be purchased at the box office (170 North Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800. Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10 a.m. online (promo code MEZZTIX) day of performance; Mezztix are not available by telephone. 10Tix are $10 rear mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online on the day of performance; 10Tix are not available by telephone; a valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets; limit four per student with I.D. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted Group Tickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820. Purchase Goodman Gift Certificates in any amount at The flexibility of Goodman Gift Certificates allows recipients to choose the production, date and time of their performance. Artists, dates and ticket prices are subject to change.

About Goodman Theatre – Now Celebrating A Decade on Dearborn

Goodman Theatre, “the leading regional theater in the nation’s most important theater city” (Time), is a major cultural, educational and economic pillar in Chicago, generating nearly $300 million in economic impact over the past decade in its state-of-the-art two-theater complex on North Dearborn Street.

Founded in 1925 and currently under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Falls, “Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, Chicago’s oldest and largest not-forprofit resident theater has experienced unprecedented success over the past 10 years in its new downtown facility, welcoming nearly 2 million patrons to productions and events—including 10 festivals celebrating playwrights such as David Mamet, August Wilson and Horton Foote, as well as the biennial Latino Theatre Festival—serving 30 percent more students through its Education and Community Engagement programs (including the FREE Student Subscription Series and other interactive programs) and employing more than 3,000 artists and theater professionals.

The Goodman has earned more than 90 awards for hundreds of productions, including the Pulitzer Prize for Ruined by Lynn Nottage—one of 25 new-work Goodman commissions in the last decade. The Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees is Patricia Cox, and Joan Clifford is President of the Women’s Board. American Airlines is the Exclusive Airline of Goodman Theatre.


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