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2021-2022 Season

Fall Quarter


Directed by Detra Payne and Scott Weinstein

October 15–17, 2021

Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts

1949 Campus Drive

Fri., 10/15 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 10/16 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 10/17 2 p.m.

Admission is FREE. Registration is required.

Welcome Back!  The Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts hosts “A Weekend for the Arts” to celebrate our return to live performance. From scenes of upcoming shows to captivating displays of costumes and scenic elements designed by our talented students, this special event offers patrons an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at aspects of the Wirtz Center not often seen or experienced.


in partnership with the Alliance Theatre

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry by Northwestern University Professor and Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey

Directed by Susan V. Booth

October 23–24, 2021

Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for Performing and Media Arts, The Wirtz Theater, Chicago Campus

Sat., 10/23 @ 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 10/24 @ 7:30 p.m.

Native Guard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry by Northwestern University Professor and Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, will be staged this season as the inaugural production at the newly dedicated Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for Performing and Media Arts in Chicago. First adapted for the stage by Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in 2014 to sold-out audiences, Native Guard juxtaposes the deeply personal experiences of Trethewey, a child of a then-illegal marriage between her African-American mother and Caucasian father living in 1960s Mississippi, with the experience of a soldier in the Native Guard, the first African-American Union troop in the Civil War who was charged with guarding white Confederate captives. Years after her mother’s tragic death, Trethewey reclaims her memory, just as she reclaims the voices of the black soldiers whose service has been all but forgotten.


a workshop production

In partnership with the American Music Theatre Project

By Suzan Zeder & Jenn Hartmann Luck

Directed by Rives Collins

October 29–31, 2021

Josephine Louis Theater

Fri., 10/29 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 10/30 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 10/31 @ 2 p.m.

The Battlefields of Clara Barton is a modern folk/rock musical about the vibrant life of Clara Barton, a Civil War nurse, a political activist, and a revered founder of the American Red Cross. In a tumultuous life that spanned almost a century, Clara fought on many battlefields: historical, political, and emotional. Brought to life by an ensemble of women playing multiple roles where age and gender are fluid, the threads of Clara’s story run from past to present with seamless synchronicity, creating a rich tapestry of themes as personal and potent today as they were then.

Since 2017, The Battlefields of Clara Barton has been under creative development here at Northwestern University, the University of Texas, and the Austin Playhouse at the Paramount Theatre in Texas. This workshop brings Northwestern’s MFA and undergraduate programs together to develop the theatrical world of a brand-new musical, all with the writers in the room providing feedback throughout the month-long process. The creative team will elicit audience reactions after each performance to refine the piece before its ultimate premiere.


(Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, Caldecott Honor)
By Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Adapted and Directed by Gloria Bond Clunie

November 12–21, 2021 in person; Dec. 3-12 streaming

Ethel M. Barber Theater

Fri., 11/12 @ 7 p.m.                                  Fri., 11/19 @ 7 p.m.

Sat., 11/13 @ 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.            Sat., 11/20 @ 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Sun., 11/14 @ 2 p.m.                               Sun., 11/21 @ 2 p.m.

(Streaming: Fri., 12/3 @ 9 a.m. through Sun., 12/12 @ 11:59 p.m.)

One Sunday morning, CJ and his Nana set out in the rain on their weekly bus ride across town.  Along the way, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car, or headphones, or an iPad like his friends.  Most of all he wishes they didn’t have to journey to the scary last stop on Market Street. Their trip through the bustling city becomes an exciting magical adventure which helps CJ solve a mysterious riddle, make unexpected special friends — including Mumford, The Dragon, and discover a wonderful new kind of beauty.

Recommended for ages 6+

Winter Quarter

MFA Collaboration Series: IN HIS HANDS

By Benjamin Benne

Directed by Ismael Lara, Jr.

January 28–30, 2022

Hal & Martha Hyer Wallis Theater

Fri., 1/28 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 1/29 @ 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 1/30 @ 2 p.m.

This is a list of things Christian believes in logic, banana Laffy Taffy, video games, and Daniel. This is a list of things Christian doesn’t believe in caffeine, alcohol, monogamy, and God. Daniel, a Mario Kart wizard and aspiring Lutheran pastor, is falling for Christian. But as these men explore the potential of their new relationship, voices from Christian’s past threaten to overpower the connection they share — with one another and something bigger than themselves.


Book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick

Music and Lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick

Directed by Rory Pelsue

February 3–13, 2022

Ethel M. Barber Theater

Thurs., 2/3 @ 7:30 p.m.

Fri., 2/4 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 2/5 @ 2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 2/6 @ 2 p.m.

Thurs., 2/10 @ 7:30 p.m.

Fri., 2/11 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 2/12 @ 2 p.m. 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 2/13 @ 2 p.m.

Set in the 1590s, brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rockstar known as “The Bard.” When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theater involves singing, dancing, and acting simultaneously, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical. But amidst the scandalous excitement of the opening night, the Bottom Brothers realize that reaching the top means being true to thine own self…and all that jazz.

MFA Collaboration Series: peerless

By Jiehae Park

Directed by Ji Won Jeon

February 18–20, 2022

Hal & Martha Hyer Wallis Theater

Fri., 2/18 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 2/19 @ 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 2/20 @ 2 p.m.

A modern twist on Macbeth, Peerless follows M & L, twins determined to gain admission to The College. When they discover someone else has been awarded “their” spot, the twins decide to resort to alternative methods to get what they want and let nothing stand in their way. This shocking play provides a wildly satirical look at academia, teenagers, and race and confronts the cut-throat world of college admissions as well as the extremes to which people will go to succeed.


Written and directed by Alvin Chan

February 24–March 6, 2022

Josephine Louis Theater

Thurs., 2/24 7 p.m.

Fri., 2/25 @ 7 p.m.                                   Fri., 3/4 @ 7 p.m.

Sat., 2/26 @ 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.             Sat., 3/5 @ 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Sun., 2/27 @ 2 p.m.                                 Sun., 3/6 @ 2 p.m.

When Mu Lan dresses up as a boy to take her father’s place in the army, she has lots to learn and lots to prove, but her biggest battle might be with her confidence. This new telling of an ancient Chinese legend mixes traditional Chinese theatrical techniques with contemporary music for a brand-new take on a classic story of girl power.
Recommended for ages 5+

Spring Quarter

MFA Collaboration Series: LATE, A COWBOY SONG

By Sarah Ruhl

Directed by Kelsey Leigh Ervi

April 22–24, 2022

Hal & Martha Hyer Wallis Theater

Fri., 4/22 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 4/23 @ 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 4/24 @ 2 p.m.

This play is for all the lady cowboys of heart and mind who ride outside the city limits of convention. Mary, always late and always married, meets a lady cowboy outside the city limits of Pittsburgh who teaches her how to ride a horse. A story of one woman’s education and her search to find true love outside the box.


By Rajiv Joseph

Directed by Hamid Dehghani

April 22–May 1, 2022

Josephine Louis Theater

Fri., 4/22 @ 7:30 p.m.                              Thurs., 4/28 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 4/23 @ 7:30 p.m.                             Fri., 4/29 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 4/24 @ 2 p.m.                                 Sat., 4/30 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 5/1 @ 2 p.m.

Two U.S. Marines and an Iraqi translator are thrust into a world of greed, mystery, and betrayal after encountering a very angry tiger that escaped from the zoo. The streets of war-torn Baghdad are filled with ghosts and riddles in this wryly funny ground-breaking play that explores the power and perils of human nature. “A gripping, ferocious new drama…Refreshingly topical and stylistically daring, Bengal Tiger never loses its sense of wonder or humor,” Time Out New York.


April 29–May 8, 2022

Cahn Auditorium

Fri., 4/29 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat.,4/30 @ 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 5/1 @ 2 p.m.

Thurs., 5/5 @ 7:30 p.m.

Fri., 5/6 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 5/7 @ 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 5/8 @ 2 p.m.

Northwestern’s oldest theatrical tradition, The Waa-Mu Show, provides undergraduates with an unparalleled education in new musical theatre development. More than 100 students participate every year as producers, writers, and performers in the creation of an original musical that inspires audiences, challenges the artists involved, and engages the surrounding communities. The Waa-Mu Show is a forerunner in the world of musical theater writing, giving undergraduate students a chance to serve as leaders in every aspect of the original production, from writing to orchestration to performance.


By Quiara Alegría Hudes

Directed by Ji Won Jeon

May 20–29, 2022

Ethel M. Barber Theater

Fri., 5/20 @ 7:30 p.m.                              Thurs., 5/26 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sat., 5/21 @ 7:30 p.m.                             Fri., 5/27 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 5/22 @ 2 p.m.                                 Sat., 5/28 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sun., 5/29 @ 2 p.m.

Water by the Spoonful is a heartfelt, poetic meditation on people at the brink of redemption and self-discovery during a time of heightened uncertainty. Working in a sandwich shop in his hometown of Philadelphia, Elliot has returned from Iraq and struggles to find his place in the world. In a chat room, recovering addicts forge an unbreakable bond of support and love. The boundaries of family and community are stretched across continents and cyberspace as birth families splinter and online families collide.  Hudes is the Tony-nominated writer of In the Heights and wrote the screenplay for the movie.

MFA Collaboration Series: MEN ON BOATS

By Jaclyn Backhaus

Directed by Katie Lupica

May 27–29, 2022

Hal & Martha Hyer Wallis Theater

Fri., 5/27 @ 7:30 p.m.
Sat., 5/28 @ 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Sun., 5/29 @ 2 p.m.

Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. Men On Boats is the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River. This thrilling and widely acclaimed play cleverly fuses unconventional casting with contemporary dialogue and slapstick comedy to discuss the dark, uncomfortable, and often painful aspects of U.S. history.