Actors' Theatre of Columbus is producing stripped-down plays at non-traditional venues until its regular season resumes in May at Schiller Park.
Shakespeare Underground, a new project that includes classic plays and lesser-known works, will be held the third Monday of each month through Dec. 17 at various locations.
The next show is "R.U.R.," or Rossum's Universal Robots, a play written in the 1920s by Karel Capek. It is to be performed at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at Tatoheads Public House, 1297 Parsons Ave.
A goodwill donation of $15 is encouraged, but the plays are free and open to the public.
Reservation of seats in advance, at a cost of $15, can be completed at theactorstheatre.org/the-shakespeare-underground.
Set in the 1950s, "R.U.R." centers on robots replacing human employees, and touches on artificial intelligence and workers' rights. It is considered one of the early works of science fiction, said Philip K. Hickman, director of the play.
"The story is about people dealing with the fact that the artificial beings are displaying signs of real personhood," said Hickman, who also is the artistic director for Actors' Theatre.
"It is one of my favorites, something that I've wanted to present for a few years."
The first Shakespeare Underground play, "Ubu Roi," scheduled for Jan. 18, was canceled because of inclement weather. It has been rescheduled for April 16.
Hickman described Shakespeare Underground as a combination of guerrilla street theater and traditional Elizabethan staging methods.
"One of the things we've wanted to do as a company is shed some light on some other classic theater that is still relevant," he said.
"These series of readings, the underground readings, are a way to look at plays that maybe have been overlooked over time."
The theater company's 2018 season is scheduled to start May 24 in the Schiller Park amphitheater.
Hickman said the Shakespeare Underground will complement what Actors' Theatre does in Schiller Park.
"The summer season is our history and focus," he said. "The Shakespeare Underground gives us a chance to hear other scripts and let artists work alongside our main season.
"None of the performances conflicts with the season; instead, they give our audience a chance to see work in a different style and venue throughout the year."
Daniel McCarthy, owner of Tatoheads, said when he learned Actors' Theatre needed local venues in which to perform, he was more than happy to offer his stage.
Tatoheads is not open on Mondays, so the interruption is minimal, he said.
"I pushed for it because I want to be known as an arts bar, music and creative -- lots of creative," McCarthy said.