Patrick Clear (President) and Janet Ulrich Brooks (Provost) in Pulitzer Prize finalist Christopher Shinn’s “Teddy Ferrara,” directed by Evan Cabnet at Goodman Theatre (through March 3). Photo by Liz Lauren

Chicago’s Goodman Theatre bravely commissioned “Teddy Ferrara” from Pulitzer Prize finalist Christopher Shinn. It is the provocative story of Gabe, a college senior who launches a gay campus group while falling deeply in love with new boyfriend Drew, an ambitious journalism student. Gabe’s best (and straight – or is he?) friend, Tim, is the able student-body-president candidate who contemplates cheating on his girlfriend, Jenny (Paloma Nozicka of Evanston). Although emotions often twist among the college seniors with pending careers and uncertain loves, their futures look bright until a campus tragedy occurs, attracts national attention and ignites mania.  Anchoring scenes bring humor as university president (Patrick Clear of Evanston) and provost (Janet Ulrich Brooks) contemplate campus strategy.

Grappling with campus sexuality, fears and jealousies that envelop both hetero- and homosexual circles, “Teddy Ferrara,” directed by Evan Cabnet, tackles serious, uncomfortable themes. Motivated by the 2010 case of gay Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate used a webcam to capture him kissing another man, Mr. Shinn’s play also draws from his experiences as a teacher at The New School for Drama in New York. 

Ever-accelerating social media venues and threats of viral bullying weave throughout the story, highlighting the dangerous and vulnerable ways young people expose their lives through texting, sexting, YouTube videos and cyberlives.

“It’s an entirely different social world today as mediated through media and technology,” said Mr. Shinn, “and it’s rare to see college students represented truthfully. I’ll know I have achieved this if college-aged students respond to this play.” 

Students can take advantage of “10Tix” tickets – $10 tickets exclusively for students, now available for advance purchase at GoodmanTheatre.org using the promo “10Tix” or at the box office (170 N. Dearborn, Chicago). Previously, 10Tix were only available day-of-show.  A valid student ID must be presented upon pickup, with a limit of four tickets per student.