UIC Theatre premieres ‘A Matter of Life and Death’

Rehearsing students dance before a "stairway to heaven" under construction.

Rehearsing students dance before a “stairway to heaven” under construction.

Heidi Stillman, Lookingglass Theatre’s artistic director of new works, will direct University of Illinois at Chicago student-actors in the North American premiere of a play based on a classic film.


“A Matter of Life and Death,” adapted by Emma Rice and Tom Morris, is based on the 1946 fantasy film by the U.K. writing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, originally released in the U.S. under the title “Stairway to Heaven.”


April 10, 11, 16, 17, 18 at 7:30 p.m.
April 12, 15, 19 at 2 p.m.


UIC Theatre
1044 W. Harrison St.


This new adaptation unfolds against the backdrop of World War II. A doomed British pilot contacts an American radio operator named June  just before he’s about to jump without a parachute. His would-be conductor to the afterlife becomes lost, and the pilot wakes up on a beach near June, thinking he’s in heaven. Eventually, he finds himself before a celestial court of law.

UIC’s production will feature original music by a band made up of six theatre students, with lyrics from the play. There also will be a dance number including most of the cast, characters riding bikes throughout the action, a magical ping-pong match, and a 14-foot “stairway to heaven.”

“The set pieces will be manipulated to imply setting, location and specific wartime imagery,” said Dina Klahn, stage manager. “The play bounces between the real and surreal, and between war and love.”

Tickets are $12-17 and can be purchased online or through the UIC Theatre box office at (312) 996-2939.

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