From Sept ’10 Spotlight: Chicago Dramatists on West Chicago Avenue kicks off its 32nd season with a brand new play called The Invasion of Skokie, which opened on Sept 2. I haven’t seen it yet, but playwright Steven Peterson gave me special permission to read his script and I was impressed enough to order tickets.
Set in June 1978 (right before, during, and after the infamous Neo-Nazi demonstration), Invasion finds members of the Kaplan family in a state of transition. Husband “Morry” still commutes south every day to his store in Lawndale, but wife “Sylvia” is a successful suburban realtor, and daughter “Debbie” is a corporate lawyer in the Loop. Simmering domestic tensions erupt when Sylvia and Debbie learn that Morry not only intends to protest the demonstration, but has acquired a rifle. Nothing Debbie says about First Amendment rights matter; Morry knows the marchers have deliberately chosen Skokie because of its large Jewish population, and he cannot be appeased.
This is history, well-worth knowing for its own sake, but good theater isn’t merely a didactic exercise. The characters are all well-developed, interesting individuals, and their dialogue gives voice to a specific cultural moment in which political macrocosm and personal microcosm collide on multiple levels.
The Invasion of Skokie runs through Oct 10. To order tickets call the box office at (312) 633-0630, or visit www.ChicagoDramatists.org.
Photo Credits: Jeff Pines.