Goodman’s ‘Gloria’ show brings new perspective to publishing industry

‘Gloria’ at The Goodman Theatre

By Kendrah Villliesse

Dozens of students crowded  the seats, at the Goodman Theatre and anxiously waited for the darkly humorous but inspiring play “Gloria” to begin. Classical music filled the theatre as the curtain opened on two millennials hard at work in an office. 

“Gloria,” written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Evan Cabnet, brings its audience into another reality. The show that began its run at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., on Jan. 14  continues through Feb. 19.

Catherine Combs, who plays Ani—a hardworking editorial assistant who is still ambitious despite seeing herself, and her co-workers- -as being stuck in a dead-end career— has been associated with the play since workshopping it in New York in 2012. The play had its debut at the Vineyard Theatre in New York City on May 28, 2015, where it had a for two-month run.

Robert Falls, the artistic director at the Goodman Theatre, saw the show in New York City and decided to move the play into a larger space, according to Combs.

“It is a really exciting thing to be attached to a play that has had such a long arc, a long journey,” Combs said. “Ending up at the Goodman feels pretty natural.”

The story follows a group of ambitious publishing assistants in their 20s, working in an unhealthy environment, full of constant stress, negativity and competition, at an iconic New York magazine. But when a shooting occurs inside the office, the play takes an unexpected turn. The focus is on the characters’ constant battle to find themselves and break out of the tainted office, where they over-publicize the same gory story over and over again just to climb the ladder of success. 

Diana Beltran, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago who saw “Gloria” Jan. 25 during The Goodman’s College Night, said she wants to see it again because she wants to re-live what she called an incredible performance. 

 “I came, and I was completely unprepared.” Beltran said. “It really makes you think, and it is well put together. It served its purpose as art.”

The show interprets today’s dynamics of the workforce and the difficult and awkward transition in this generation, from interning  to becoming employed after college, according to Patrick Hill, a spokesman at the Goodman. 

“It really speaks to society right now; how we interact with people in general,” Hill said. “The play is about how to conduct yourself as a person in the workplace and when something out of the ordinary happens at work, how people deal with it and how society deals with sudden change.”