Woolly's 2017-18 Season

Woolly Mammoth's 2017-18 season will be absolutely incendiary. Our nation is a house afire, and we've chosen work expressly to lean into the current moment. All we need is you to complete the conversation. Subscribe now!

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The Arsonists

The Arsonists

By Max Frisch, newly translated by Alistair Beaton
Directed by Michael John Garcés
September 5—October 8, 2017

The world may be starting to burn, but Biedermann has it all under control. He’s a respected member of his community with a loving wife and a flourishing business, so surely the arsonists will spare him. As an upstanding citizen, he’s even happy to do his civic duty by opening his home to two new guests… but when they start filling his attic with drums of gasoline, will he end up starting the fire himself?

Written as a reflection on the rise of both Nazism and Communism, The Arsonists has uncanny new relevance today in light of the rise of populist nationalism around the globe. For Woolly’s incendiary take on Max Frisch’s classic political drama, artistic director Howard Shalwitz will be making his long-awaited return to the Woolly stage as Biedermann. Directed by company member Michael John Garcés and starring company members Kimberly Gilbert, Emily Townley, and Tim Getman, The Arsonists will light the fuse on the theater’s 38th season.

Featuring company members Tim Getman, Kimberly Gilbert, and Emily Townley and artistic director Howard Shalwitz.

“Timeless political satire” — The Guardian

The Arsonists is made possible by a generous grant
from The Roy Cockrum Foundation.

Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains)

The Second City Presents Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains)

By Felonious Munk
Directed by Billy Bungeroth
November 11—December 31, 2017

The one-and-only Felonious Munk returns to Woolly Mammoth to headline a new show from the creators of last year’s runaway hit, Black Side of the Moon… and this time, he’s put his own life story on the line!

He’s a thought-provoking standup comic, a TV personality, and an all-around good father and man… but he used to be a drug dealer, a convict, and a dangerous-ass mothafucka. Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains) tells the hilarious and harrowing story of how one Black man went from six years in a state prison to a six-figure job in corporate America to a new life as an activist and satirist. Performed by Felonious and a cast of Chicago’s sharpest comedians, the latest installment in the long-running partnership between Woolly and The Second City will combine sketch, stand-up, and music to remind us that true freedom comes only from within. 



By Danai Gurira
Directed by Adam Immerwahr
February 5—March 4, 2018

It’s winter in Minnesota, and an immigrant Zimbabwean family is preparing for the wedding of their eldest daughter, a first-generation American. But when the bride insists on observing roora, a traditional bride-price ceremony, it opens a deep rift in the household. Rowdy and affectionate, Familiar pitches tradition against assimilation among the members of one devoted family. Which will prove stronger: the customs they keep… or the secrets they’ve kept buried?

Familiar—the third Woolly production of Danai Gurira’s work, after successful runs of Eclipsed (2016 Tony nominee for Best Play) and The Convert—is Woolly’s entry into the Women’s Voices Theater Festival.

Featuring company member Shannon Dorsey.

“A fiercely funny new play...Ms. Gurira weaves issues of cultural identity and displacement, generational frictions and other meaty matters into dialogue that flows utterly naturally. Her engaging characters are drawn with sympathy.” 
— New York Times

Underground Railroad Game

The Ars Nova Production of Underground Railroad Game

By Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard with Lightning Rod Special
Directed by Taibi Magar
April 4—April 29, 2018

At Hanover Middle School, two teachers get shockingly down and dirty with a lesson about race, sex, and power. The quick-witted duo goes round after round on the mat of our nation’s history in an R-rated, far-reaching, and absolutely unflinching comedy.

Underground Railroad Game is a fourth-wall-breaking, audience-implicating, “in-all-ways sensational” (New York Times) experience. You will never forget which side of history you were on.

For Woolly's production, Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard will be reprising their roles from the original run.

“The year’s most resounding testament to the theater’s continuing power to shock.” — Ben Brantley, New York Times, “The Best Theater of 2016”

“Explosive! Fearlessly, ferociously uninhibited… It’s wildly entertaining.” 
— New Yorker

Botticelli in the Fire

Botticelli in the Fire

By Jordan Tannahill
Directed by Marti Lyons
May 28—June 24, 2018

Sandro Botticelli is devoted to beauty, sensuality, and pleasure. While painting The Birth of Venus, however, the limits of his dedication are put to the test by the arrival of a conservative priest leading a populist revolution in Lorenzo de' Medici’s Florence. When his full-throttle, decadent ways catch up to him, will the famed artist sacrifice his work… or the life of his young apprentice, Leonardo Da Vinci?

Botticelli in the Fire is an ambitious, modern story that sets the present political moment ablaze. The American premiere of this new work by Jordan Tannahill—“the hottest name in Canadian theatre” (Montreal Gazette)—will bring Woolly’s 38th season to a searing close.

Featuring company members Cody Nickell, Jon Hudson Odom, and Dawn Ursula.


An Octoroon

An Octoroon

By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Nataki Garrett
July 18—August 6, 2017

Last year’s most talked-about, most unforgettable production is returning to Woolly for a limited three-week run: An Octoroon by new MacArthur "Genius Grant"-winner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins!

A plantation on the brink of foreclosure. A young gentleman falling for the part-black daughter of the estate’s owner. An evil swindler plotting to buy her for himself. Meanwhile, the slaves are trying to keep things drama-free, because everybody else is acting crazy.

An Octoroon, Jacobs-Jenkins’ Obie-winning riff on a 19th century melodrama that helped shape the debate around the abolition of slavery, is an incendiary adaptation. Part period satire, part meta-theatrical middle finger, it’s a provocative challenge to the racial pigeonholing of 1859—and of today.

Featuring company members Shannon Dorsey, Jon Hudson Odom, and Erika Rose.