Stages Monthly: What to See in Chicago Theaters in October

October is a crazy month for arts and culture in Chicago. We have plenty of theater openings, and in addition there are festivals such as Chicago Ideas Week, Open House Chicago, the Chicago International Film Festival (see the Screens Monthly post) and the Chicago Humanities Festival, Here is some of the theater we’re looking forward to. You’ll see our reviews of some of these productions.

(Note: we give the opening date of each play. Previews typically start a week or more before opening.)

The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar at Steep Theatre. Opens October 5.

Steep Theatre’s 17th season will open this fall with the Chicago premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar’s The Invisible Hand, directed by Audrey Francis. Akhtar won the Pulitzer for his play Disgraced, which premiered in 2012 at American Theatre Company in Chicago and later played both at the Goodman Theatre and on Broadway. The Invisible Hand is a geopolitical thriller about a banker taken hostage by militants in Pakistan.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at Steppenwolf for Young Adults. Opens October 7.

Like other Miller plays, The Crucible takes on new meaning for each generation. The Crucible is a chilling portrayal of the Salem witch trials and Miller intended it as an allegory for the rise of McCarthyism in the late 1940s. Jonathan Berry directs at Steppenwolf Theatre.

Ensemble, Evening at the Talk House.

Evening at the Talk House by Wallace Shawn at A Red Orchid Theatre. Opens October 7.

Shade Murray directs this semi-dystopian play about a reunion of old friends at one of those clubs where theater people gather to gossip, reminisce and relive past stage hits and flops. Talk House had its U.S. premiere off-Broadway earlier this year.

Piaf the Show at the Athenaeum Theatre. One show only on October 8.

Piaf the Show is a musical celebration of the life and music of the legendary French singer, Edith Piaf, performed by Anne Carrere.

Thornton Wilder’s Skin of Our Teeth at Remy Bumppo Theatre. Opens October 10.

It’s the 75th anniversary of Wilder’s story of the Antrobus family, American suburbanites who have survived all kinds of disasters—world wars, refugee crises and environmental catastrophes—yes, by the skin of their teeth. Somehow, Wilder seems very prescient.

A Swell in the Ground by Janine Nabers at Gift Theatre. Openings October 20.

The final show in Gift’s season is the world premiere of Janine Nabers’ time-hopping love story, directed by ensemble member Chika Ike. The title is from a line of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Four college friends fight through years of love affairs, dreams and changed lives as they try to reconcile the lives they imagined with the lives they have.

Two plays in repertory at Prop Thtr. Open October 20 and 27.

The two plays are: The Last Days of the Commune by Bertolt Brecht, directed by Prop Thtr artistic director Stefan Brün (opening October 20), and In Sarah’s Shadow: The Eleonora Duse Story, written and directed by Olivia Lilley and choreographed by Kelly Anderson (opening October 27).

Marisol by Jose Rivera by Promethean Theatre Ensemble. Opens October 29.

Promethean opens its 12th season with an absurdist comedy. Marisol, a young NYC woman of Puerto Rican descent is in a battle led by angels to save the universe from a senile God. Armageddon ensues. On stage at Raven Theatre.

Nancy S Bishop
Nancy S Bishop

Nancy S. Bishop is publisher and Stages editor of Third Coast Review. She’s a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and a 2014 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. You can read her personal writing on pop culture at, and follow her on Twitter @nsbishop. She also writes about film, books, art, architecture and design.

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