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Wirtz Center Opens for In-Person Audiences

The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts is celebrating the long-awaited return of audiences to its in-person productions with an exciting 2021-22 season lineup of new playwrights, blockbuster musicals, and special events.

The season kicks off with “A Weekend with the Arts at Wirtz” open house that will include sneak peeks of upcoming shows and a behind-the-scenes look in to how the Wirtz Center ticks. Native Guard, an adaptation of poems by Northwestern professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, will be the inaugural show at the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for Performing and Media Arts in Chicago, our Evanston Center’s downtown counterpart. Produced in partnership with Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre and the Poetry Foundation, and directed by Susan V. Booth (GC87), Native Guard juxtaposes the deeply personal experiences of Trethewey, a child of a then-illegal marriage between her African American mother and Caucasian father living in 1960s Mississippi, with the experience of a soldier in the Native Guard, the first African American Union troop in the Civil War who was charged with guarding white Confederate captives. Years after her mother’s tragic death, Trethewey reclaims her memory, just as she reclaims the voices of the black soldiers whose service has been all but forgotten.

A workshop production of The Battlefields of Clara Barton, in partnership with the American Music Theatre Project, unites undergraduate and graduate theatre students with their counterparts at the University of Texas, and the Austin Playhouse at the Paramount Theatre in Texas to continue the show’s creative development. Lastly this fall, Imagine U presents Last Stop on Market Street, which follows CJ and his nana as they take their weekly bus ride and embark on an exciting adventure through a town full of surprises. The show is recommended for ages 6 and over.

For times, tickets, protocols and more, visit