American Blues Theater Stages World Premiere of Keith Huff’s ‘Six Corners’
By Stephanie Harte
Photo Credit: Peter DeFaria as Detective Nick Moroni and Monica Orozco as Detective Bernadette Perez in "Six Corners." Photo courtesy of American Blues Theater.
For Keith Huff, writing plays is his way of making sense of life’s most baffling events. Six Corners, which will be making its world premiere at American Blues Theater Feb. 16 – Mar. 24, serves as just one example of this method. The play is partially inspired by a terrifying incident Huff experienced when a CTA employee, who had been shot, died in his arms on the platform of Chicago’s Western Brown Line stop.
“To witness a murder…it was a haunting thing and really shook me,” Huff shares. “I always thought about it and it wasn’t until years and years later that I decided to mine it for its dramatic potential.”
Six Corners, under the direction of Gary Griffin, is the final play in Huff’s loosely based Chicago cop trilogy and winner of the esteemed Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. The play follows two homicide detectives Bernadette Perez (Monica Orozco) and Nick Moroni (Peter DeFaria) as they try to crack the startling murder of a CTA employee, much like the one Huff witnessed in real-life. The trilogy began with A Steady Rain, which premiered at Chicago Dramatists in 2007 and later made its way to Broadway starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. The second installment, a murder mystery entitled The Detective’s Wife, premiered at Writers Theater in 2011.
After two of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars signed on for A Steady Rain, Huff kissed his status as an unknown writer, and his day job, goodbye. Hollywood began knocking on Huff’s door and before he knew it he was a writer for the award-winning AMC drama Mad Men. Other TV writing credits include Netflix’s House of Cards and ABC’s American Crime.
Six Corners is the final play in Keith Huff's loosely based Chicago cop trilogy. Photo Courtesy of American Blues Theater.
Huff describes A Steady Rain, The Detective’s Wife, and Six Corners as a loose trilogy since all three pieces have the same setting and subject (Chicago and Chicago cops), but different characters and plotlines. Six Corners also brings back key players from the previous two installments. Griffin returns after directing The Detective’s Wife, while DeFaria previously starred in the original production of A Steady Rain.
“Keith writes such sharp, witty, urban dialogue,” DeFaria says. “I think there’s some really great twists and reveals in this script (Six Corners). I’m hoping the production will stay one step ahead of the audience.”
Unlike A Steady Rain where the two cops break down the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience, Six Corners is a police procedural done on stage. DeFaria sees some similarities between Joey, who he played in A Steady Rain, and Nick Moroni from Six Corners. He shares that while both characters have good intentions, their motives are often misguided due to their limited world views.
“It should be an open and shut case,” Huff explains about the Six Corners script and the complications these characters face. “Instead, it evolves into a bigger mystery and unearths this legacy of violence and bigotry and injustice that stretches back for years.”
After marrying into a Chicago cop family, Huff became increasingly interested in the ethical decisions these officers make on a daily basis. Huff’s father-in-law worked as a police commander, while his brother-in-law was a homicide detective, giving him tons of stories over the years.
“I think of Perez and Maloney as the contemporary night watchmen,” Huff says about the play’s main characters. “They see the worst of the worst and as a city we sleep soundly at night because they are standing guard. The plays asks, ‘Is it the responsibility of cops to tell us the truth? Or should they mask danger and manufacture hope when there is no hope on the horizon?’”
Six Corners, presented by American Blues Theater, runs Feb. 16 – Mar. 24. at stage 773 at 1125 W. Belmont Ave. For tickets visit americanbluestheater.com or call the box office at 773-327-5252.