In a fitting coda for GreenMan Theatre's ninth season, the troupe presents a collection of short plays and one-acts about beginnings, endings and other apocalyptic scenarios. Titled "After the End of the World,” the nine plays are helmed by six directors, with a combined cast of 20 actors spanning the Cook and DuPage suburbs.
Some of the plays are enjoying world premieres, while others are from well-known playwrights such as Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. GreenMan board member Carl Zeitler of Glen Ellyn shares the thoughts of his fellow playwrights and directors.
He notes Cory Sandrock of Elmhurst directs “Castle,” whose premise deals with three couples who like to reenact famous literary characters or writers. Each pair thinks they have booked a remote castle all to themselves for their dream reenactment before the world is supposed to end. But comic situations arise when they discover the castle has booked them all together.
Sandrock relishes the directorial challenge.
"Through rehearsals, the cast is embracing the eccentricities of each character, and they are enjoying the process of creating each over-the-top personality,” he says.
Palatine playwright Cathleen Ann explains her inspiration.
"I wrote 'Castle' to poke some fun at the idea of ordinary people being prompted to indulge in extraordinary adventures in response to the threat of the world ending,” she says.
The nine plays run from humorous to serious. “And Then What?,” written and directed by Zeitler, falls into the reflective category. The story deals with two recently deceased strangers being led to an afterlife waiting room by a mysterious host. As they await news of their fate, they start a conversation about happier times, and their ideas of heaven and hell. Local cast member is Renata Allelujka of Downers Grove.
"I was intrigued by the prospect of showing real people in an unreal situation," Zeitler says. "It's interesting that we always hope that the departed rest in peace … What if the departed had to cope with finding peace, too?"
Sandrock also directs “Goodbye, Oscar” by Romulus Linney.
"I was introduced to this script in college,” he recalls. “After enjoying my work with it as an actor, the script stuck in my memory and seemed to be a perfect fit for our after-the-end-of-the-world theme.”
In the play, Oscar Wilde, lying on his deathbed in Paris, is visited by a young gentleman who brings memories, or dreams, to life. As they explore these fleeting moments, Oscar contemplates the chances he lost in life, as well as his hopes for the future.
"I am especially intrigued by the fact that it is never clear whether the young gentleman character is an angel or a devil or something else,” Sandrock says. “I am also a huge fan of Oscar Wilde, so a play that explores his death is immediately interesting to me."
What: GreenMan Theatre Troupe presents "After the End of the World"
Where: Asbury Hall at First United Methodist Church, 232 S. York Road, Elmhurst
When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, May 3 to 19
How much: $17, $15 for seniors and students; industry discount Sunday, May 5; www.greenmantheatre.org