CHICAGO: When the Court Theatre, the University of Chicago’s professional theatre, staged Oren Jacoby’s new adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in 2012, attendees included faculty members from the university’s Center for the Study of Race, Culture and Politics, who suggested the time was ripe to restage another mid-20th-century African-American classic: Richard Wright’s harrowing social-realist novel Native Son. Serendipitously, another theatre across town, the American Blues Theater, had the rights to do a new adaptation of the novel by playwright Nambi E. Kelley. The Court and American Blues aren’t the only partners behind the new Native Son (at the Court Sept. 11-Oct. 12). The DuSable Museum of African American History is doing an exhibit on Wright and his work, and Chicago public libraries have put Wright’s novel on their summer reading lists. Though both the Court and Bigger Thomas—the poor, confused protagonist of Wright’s novel—hail from the South Side, this looks likely to be a Native Son the whole city can claim.
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