When one generation fails the next, what choice is left? Playwright and Northwestern University theater lecturer Laura Schellhardt’s timely and suspenseful play, “Ever in the Glades,” follows a group of teenagers making a daring escape from an island in the Florida Everglades.
Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts will present “Ever in the Glades” from May 18 to 27 in the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.
Directed by Rives Collins, associate professor of theater at Northwestern, the full production with student cast will transfer to the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., June 8 to 10 where it will be presented as part of the Kennedy Center’s Theatre for Young Audiences series.
“Ever in the Glades” tells the story of five teenagers trying to survive in an island town full of secrets where the adults are as dangerous as the alligators that surround them. When one of the kids returns from a juvenile detention center to help the rest escape to the mainland, it seems their prayers have been answered. There's only one problem -- they need a boat, and they need it before the adults catch wind of their plan and end it, or end them.
Schellhardt, who taught in the playwriting program at University of Central Florida before joining the Northwestern theater faculty, started writing “Ever in the Glades” during the 2013 Flint Michigan water crisis to channel her anger into hope and support for young people. “For me, playwriting is an invitation to have a difficult conversation in a safe way,” said Schellhardt.
The play has deep Northwestern roots. Schellhardt and Collins submitted the yet-to-be finished play for Kennedy Center’s “New Visions, New Voices” festival. When it was accepted, Schellhardt didn’t yet know how the play would end. “I suspected they would try to get off the island, but I didn’t know if they would make it,” she said.
Schellhardt and Collins workshopped the play with Northwestern students for the festival, where it was very well received and added to the 2017-2018 season. The Kennedy Center commissioned two productions written by Schellhardt and directed by Collins for the current season, “Digging Up Dessa,” from Feb. 3 to 18 and “Ever in the Glades,” from June 8 to 10.
“Teens are arguably the most often ignored audience in the theater today, but that appears to be changing,” said Collins, noting new plays by Naomi Izuka, Idris Goodwin and Phillip Dawkins that are geared toward young adults. “Laura Schellhardt has crafted a beautiful story about teens and for teens that honors their full complexity and intelligence. Placing the teen characters at a crossroads, she compels them to face a decision that will leave them forever changed.”
Performances of “Ever in the Glades” are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The production runs 75 minutes with no intermission and is recommended for teens 12 and up and their families.
Tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors (62+) and area educators; $20 for Northwestern faculty, staff and emeriti; $10 for children and full-time students; and $6 in advance or $10 at the door for Northwestern students.
Tickets are available online at the Wirtz Center website, by phone at 847-491-7282 or in person at the Wirtz Center box office in the Barber Theater lobby, 30 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston.
Box office hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. The box office is closed Sundays and Mondays.