Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2017’
THEATRE NEWS FOR SAN FRANCISCO BAY
BERKELEY REP’S 2017-18 SEASON FEATURES ANGELS IN AMERICA AND WORLD PREMIERE MUSICAL ABOUT THE TEMPTATIONS
Upcoming season celebrates Tony Taccone’s 20th anniversary
Subscription package sales begin online March 23, 2017
Berkeley Repertory Theatre today announced a collection of seven productions for its 2017-18 subscription season. Featured in the season are new and classic works by Tony Kushner, Julia Cho, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Dominique Morisseau, Nilaja Sun, Lillian Hellman, directed by Tony Taccone, Lisa Peterson, Des McAnuff, and Ron Russell. The season includes two world premieres and one West Coast premiere. Casting for each production will be announced later.
The 2017-18 season is bookended by two major presentations: It opens with the world premiere of AIN’T TOO PROUD—THE TEMPTATIONS, penned by Morisseau and directed by McAnuff, and closes with the Bay Area’s first major production of Kushner’s epic Angels in America in over 20 years – and the first to be directed by Taccone at Berkeley Rep.
The 2017-18 season also honors the 20th anniversary of Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone. Taccone, who announced his 2019 departure earlier this year, directs three productions next season: Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit and both parts of Angels in America, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. Taccone’s history with this Pulitzer Prize-winning work stems from its very origins in 1988, when as artistic director of San Francisco’s Eureka Theatre, he commissioned the work and, in 1991, co-directed the world premiere performances of the entire piece. Imaginary Comforts marks Handler’s second collaboration with Taccone and was developed at The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work.
Rounding out the season are two recent works by a broad range of theatrical voices, plus one mid-century classic that speaks to current times: Julia Cho’s bristling Office Hour, directed by Berkeley Rep’s associate director Lisa Peterson; virtuoso artist Nilaja Sun in the West Coast premiere of her latest one-woman show, Pike St.; and Lillian Hellman’s classic and timely Watch on the Rhine, also directed by Peterson.
“Both in terms of content and form, every play in the 2017-18 season is a radical attempt to reveal something about how we live,” states Taccone. “From Dominique Morisseau to Lemony Snicket, from Julia Cho to Tony Kushner to Lillian Hellman to Nilaja Sun…these writers have something to tell us, with a sense of political urgency, as they re-imagine the world in a way that’s entertaining, insightful, and ultimately irresistible.”
THE 2017-18 SEASON
In 2017, Billboard Magazine named The Temptations “the greatest R&B group of all time.” In 1960, they were five young guys on the streets of Detroit when they were discovered by Berry Gordy, who signed them to his legendary new label. After 24 attempts, they finally had a hit, and the rest is history: how they met, how they rose, the groundbreaking heights they hit and how, as the nation fell into civil unrest, personal and political conflicts threatened to tear the group apart. Detroit native and Kennedy Prize-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau (Pipeline, The Detroit Projects), Olivier Award-winning choreographer Sergio Trujillo, and two-time Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys, The Who’s Tommy) bring to life this thrilling story of brotherhood, family, loyalty, and betrayal. AIN’T TOO PROUD—THE TEMPTATIONS features iconic hits like “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” plus the signature dance moves that made the “Classic Five” Temptations part of our cultural history forever. Starts in August 2017.
Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes finally arrives at Berkeley Rep in its entirety, directed by artistic director Tony Taccone. This will be the first major production of this two-part masterpiece in the Bay Area since 1994 and marks the first time Taccone directs it at Berkeley Rep. Commissioned by San Francisco’s Eureka Theatre while Taccone was serving as artistic director, and first staged 26 years ago in a production co-directed by Taccone at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, this fierce and astounding two-part drama is at once an epic exploration of American politics, gay identity, and mythology and a personal story of love and loyalty. In today’s socio-political climate, Kushner’s universal message of compassion and inclusion makes Angels in America as timely as ever. Part One: Millennium Approaches and Part Two: Perestroika will be performed in repertory. Starts in March 2018.
Best known for the beloved children’s novels A Series of Unfortunate Events he wrote as Lemony Snicket – and which he has recently adapted into an acclaimed series for Netflix – Daniel Handler brings his relentlessly mischievous style to a new play for adults. Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit, directed by Tony Taccone and developed at The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Development of New Work, will have its world premiere this fall. Taccone and Handler first collaborated on the world premiere production of Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead during Berkeley Rep’s 2010-11 season. Fantastical and wise, hilarious and sobering, Imaginary Comforts celebrates ordinary people trying to make sense out of life in the midst of endless, comedic chaos that includes a bumbling rabbi, a hysterical widow, and, yes, the ghost of a dead rabbit. Starts in October 2017.
Written in 1941 by activist playwright Lillian Hellman, Watch on the Rhine is a timely examination of moral obligation, sacrifice, and what it means to be American. Set in the fraught days leading up to the U.S. engagement in World War Two, the work explores Hellman’s own anti-fascist beliefs and demonstrates her distinctive ability to weave strong politics with personal stories of individual struggles. Directed by Berkeley Rep associate director Lisa Peterson, in a co-production with the Guthrie Theater. Starts in November 2017.
After enthralling audiences with Aubergine in 2016, with her deeply moving portrayal of characters finding redemption through empathy, playwright Julia Cho returns to Berkeley Rep with Office Hour, a searing and heartrending play about otherness, paranoia, and our essential human need for connection. Cho centers her story around a university instructor’s fear of live shooter scenario, carefully balancing both the characters’ and the audience’s expectations about possible outcomes and the motivations of a reticent and mysterious student. Directed by Lisa Peterson. Starts in February 2018.
Virtuoso performer Nilaja Sun’s award-winning hit No Child… captivated audiences at Berkeley Rep and nationwide in 2008. Now she delivers Pike St., a new critically acclaimed solo show about Evelyn, a single mother who fights for the survival of her family in the face of a threatening hurricane. Directed by her longtime collaborator Ron Russell, Sun portrays three generations of a Puerto Rican family and the vibrant characters of New York’s Lower East Side in a story of tribulation, perseverance, and redemption that also “glows with humor” (New York Times). Starts in May 2018.
Subscribers to Berkeley Rep get the best seats for these shows at the consistently lowest prices. The 7-play Full Season package guarantees tickets for Ain’t Too Proud, Imaginary Comforts, Watch on the Rhine, Office Hour, Pike St., and both parts of Angels in America. Best of all, subscribers have guaranteed seats to sold-out plays and can renew their packages online starting March 23; 7-play Full Season packages are available from $184 to $612, while 5-play Main Season packages range from $131 to $436. In addition to significant savings, subscribers receive valuable advantages such as the ability to reschedule performances for free, discounts when purchasing tickets for friends, and the opportunity to secure seats before the general public for special events. Additional subscription discounts are available for senior citizens and pre-K–12 educators.
New for 2017-18: 35 is the new 30! Patrons under the age of 35 receive 50 percent off most subscription packages.
For the 2017-18 season, Berkeley Rep recognizes BART and Wells Fargo, who have generously renewed their commitment as Berkeley Rep’s official season sponsors. Berkeley Rep is proud to have Peet’s Coffee as a third-year season sponsor. Berkeley Rep is also delighted to have Michael and Sue Steinberg on board as a season sponsors.
“Wells Fargo is thrilled to support Berkeley Repertory Theatre, whose dedication to artistic excellence and community engagement makes such a meaningful impact on the lives of so many Bay Area residents,” says Micky Randhawa, Greater Bay region president. “We have supported the award-winning theatre as a season sponsor for the last 12 years. We value their commitment to expanding a community of theatre lovers, mentorship to the youth, and core values. The Theatre has tremendous reach through their workshops and has fostered the creative potential of hundreds of youth and teens. We look forward to this season’s continued success.”
“We are very proud of our continued partnership with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and are thrilled to support Peet’s Theatre for the 2017-18 season,” says Dave Burwick, CEO, Peet’s Coffee. “When Alfred Peet opened his first store on Vine Street in 1966, he planted our roots in Berkeley. The city is very much a part of our ethos, and we are firm believers in the value of contributing to the local arts community.”
SPEAK EASY REMAINS OPENS EXTENDED BY POPULAR DEMAND GOOD NEWS!
We are releasing a brand-spankin’ new batch of reservations along with a new pricing structure.
Pre-sale tickets are available this Thursday, March 24 @ 10am for Club 1923 members only. Not a member yet? Become a member today for access to tickets and exclusive member events. To snag those advanced tickets, email the box office at email@example.com or call 415.891.9744.
Otherwise, mark your calendars for Monday, March 27 @ 10am when tickets will be publicly released. If you’re quick, you’ll be able to snag some tickets! We are now offering a range of prices from $65-$145. These are gonna go fast, kids…so act fast!
If you’ve stopped by before, come back and see what you missed! We’ve been told the show is best after you really know your way around.
TALK SOON. SPEAK EASY.
SMUIN CONCLUDES 23RD SEASON WITH“DANCE SERIES 02” FEATURING TREY MCINTYRE WORLD PREMIERE CELEBRATINGTHE “SUMMER OF LOVE”
Program also includes:World Premiere by Nicole HaskinsBroken Open by Amy SeiwertShows in Mountain View, Walnut Creek, San Francisco, and Carmel May 5-June 3, 2017
Smuin concludes its 23rd season with Dance Series 02, featuring a world premiere by internationally acclaimed choreographer Trey McIntyre entitled Be Here Now. Hailed by The New York Times as “one of the most important choreographers working today,” McIntyre returns to Smuin to pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love” in an energetic exploration of dance and the creative process. The program also includes an exciting new addition by Smuin dancer Nicole Haskins. Rounding out the bill is Choreographer-in-Residence Amy Seiwert’s critically lauded Broken Open. Continuing its 23rd season under its new identity of Smuin (formerly Smuin Ballet), the company will tour the Bay Area with this vibrant program, beginning with shows in Mountain View (May 5-7), continuing in Walnut Creek (May 12-13) and San Francisco (May 19-28), and finishing in Carmel (June 2-3). Tickets ($32-$75) are available by calling the individual venues (see below for details) or visiting www.smuinballet.org.
McIntyre’s new work, Be Here Now, is inspired by the “Summer of Love,” a historic moment in time that shaped San Francisco and its culture for generations. The title is taken from Ram Dass’ iconic book on spirituality, Be Here Now. The world premiere features selections from musical legends of that vibrant era, including Jefferson Airplane and The Mamas & the Papas, among others. McIntyre was last seen with the troupe when commissioned by Smuin to create his acclaimed Oh, Inverted World, a piece set to music of indie-rock band The Shins. Much loved by audiences and cheered by critics, it was called “irresistible” by The New York Times, and “arresting” with “undeniable freshness” and “witty physicality” by the San Francisco Chronicle. McIntyre has won numerous awards, including a Choo San Goh Award for Choreography, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters, two personal grants for choreography from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a United States Artists Fellow. He has produced more than 100 pieces during his career thus far. His works have been performed by companies around the world such as Stuttgart Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Queensland Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, New York City Ballet, BalletX, The Washington Ballet, and Oregon Ballet Theatre. He recently created a piece for San Francisco Ballet’s 2017 Gala.
Company member and choreographer Nicole Haskins will employ a classical score to create a new work that is a joyful celebration of dance. She sets her world premiere to the allegro and the adagio of Tchaikovsky’s Sextet in D minor Op. 70, also known as “Souvenir de Florence.” In her fourth season at Smuin, Haskins’ talent has established her as standout dancer and choreographer. She has danced professionally with the Sacramento Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Washington Ballet, and Amy Seiwert’s Imagery. Her innovative choreography has previously been commissioned by the Sacramento Ballet, Richmond Ballet, and Smuin. She has presented original works at the Los Angeles Dance Invitational and the McCallum Theatre’s Dancing Under The Stars Choreographic Competition. Most recently, her work was selected as a finalist at the 19th annual Choreography Festival at the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert. Haskins has contributed memorable works to the last three productions of The Christmas Ballet, in which her Fantasia was declared “enchanting” by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Also on the bill is Amy Seiwert’s Broken Open, which the San Francisco Chronicle called “fresh, challenging, and relevant” and “endlessly inventive, fascinating” when it received its world premiere with Smuin in Fall 2015. The Contra Costa Times also lauded Seiwert’s “keen craftsmanship.” This piece is set to music by world-renowned cellist and composer Julia Kent, who creates music using looped cello, found sounds, and electronics. Seiwert worked with her mentor Michael Smuin for eight of her nine years as a dancer with Smuin. As a choreographer, her collaborations with artists of other disciplines and commitment to experimental work from a classical base make her a unique voice in the Bay Area dance community. The Bay Area Reporter declares her to be “the most talented and prolific young choreographer working from a ballet base around here” and the San Francisco Chronicle has called her “sharply innovative” and “one of the country’s most exciting young dance makers.” She has also been called “a Bay Area choreographer you need to know about” by The Mercury News. She was named one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine, one of the “Hot 20 under 40” by 7×7 Magazine, and her choreography has been listed in the “Top 10” dance events of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle three times. In addition to Smuin, Seiwert’s work is in the repertory of companies across the country, including Ballet Austin, BalletMet, American Repertory Ballet, Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Louisville Ballet, and Cincinnati Ballet, as well as Robert Moses’ Kin.
Custom Made Theatre Co. Presents Winner of New Play Development Program, in Collaboration with EXIT Theatre, by Staging Marissa Skudlarek’s “You’ll Not Feel the Drowning”Workshop production runs April 13-22 at EXIT Theatre in San Francisco.
You’ll Not Feel The Drowning, written by Marissa Skudlarek and directed by Gabriel A. Ross, is the first play to be workshopped by Custom Made Theatre Company as part of their New Play Development Program, Undiscovered Works, a project in collaboration with the EXIT Theatre with the goal of creating more direct avenues from page to stage.
You’ll Not Feel the Drowning is a play about coming to terms with the dangerous natural forces that surround us. Inspired by an award-winning New Yorker article about the likelihood of a cataclysmic tsunami striking the Pacific Northwest coast, it tells an intimate story of three people who make their lives in a tsunami zone. Greg (Jason Wong), a post-doctoral researcher in seismology, comes to a small town on the Oregon coast to do scientific research, but encounters unexpected resistance from its citizenry. Susan (Terry Bamberger), the mayor, is a formidable woman who is aware of the tsunami risk but has done nothing to mitigate it. Laura (Maria Giere), Susan’s daughter, is caught in the middle between Greg and Susan, between bravery and fear. In determining how to respond to the tsunami threat, all three learn that some of their beliefs are well founded, and some are built on shaky ground.
“I had already wanted to write about the part of the world where I’m from, “ says playwright Marissa Skudlarek, “Well, technically I grew up in the Portland suburbs, but I wanted to write about Oregon’s wilder parts, its beauty, the somewhat masochistic love I feel for wet, grey places. Oregon can make you a romantic. I thought about Schulz’s article, and the twisted sea chanteys of Portland-based band The Decemberists, and the bleak cold grandeur of the Pacific. It was the idea of the tsunami that stuck with me, more than the earthquake itself. I’ve always found drowning a particularly scary way to go; yet at the same time, mightn’t there be something oddly poetic about it?”
Given its first reading in May, with subsequent developmental readings in September and December, the 2017 workshop of You’ll Not Feel The Drowning will have six performances by fully memorized actors who have been rehearsing with the director for two weeks. Basic costumes, sound, and lighting will help envision what a full production would look and feel like. A key part of the development process in this work’s progression to a full production, the workshop is like creating the blueprints for the building to come and gives the author an exciting new way to see the best aspects of her work, and what still might need tweaking.
As part of our new play development program, two performances will include a chance to give verbal feedback to Skudlarek (mediated by dramaturg Allie Moss and program director Stuart Bousel.) Skudlarek will then use this feedback to continue evolving the play on its journey to a full production. Each performance will also give the audience a chance to provide written feedback. Please stick around and help a new work continue to grow!
EUGENE O’NEILL FOUNDATION CELEBRATES TWENTY YEARS OF PLAYWRIGHTS’ THEATRE WITH TWO SHORT PLAYS, MAY 6-7 IN DANVILLE
The twentieth anniversary productions for the Playwrights’ Theatre have been scheduled by the Eugene O’NeillFoundation, Tao House. For this anniversary year, artistic director Eric Fraisher Hayes has chosen two notable short plays that played a seminal role in launching Modern America Theatre. Eugene O’Neill’s Shell Shock and Rita Creighton Smith’s The Rescue will be seen on a single bill on Saturday, May 6 at 8:00 p.m., and on Sunday, May 7 at 2:00 p.m. in the Old Barn at the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site in Danville. Tickets for the Playwrights’ Theatre program are availablebeginning April 1 on-line at the O’Neill Foundation’s website, www.eugeneoneil.org or calling (925) 820-1818. Seating in the Old Barn is limited so early reservations are suggested.
Both of the short plays made their debut in 1918 at the Provincetown Playhouse on Macdougal Street in New York. The Greenwich Village venue was an outgrowth of the theatrical interest of Eugene O’Neill and his Bohemian colleagues who had summered and presented newly written works on Cape Cod at the Wharf Theatre on the Provincetown waterfront.
The double-bill is produced for the Eugene O’Neill Foundation in collaboration with Symmetry Theatre
Company of San Francisco whose mission is to create stimulating and challenging professional theatre that is “balanced” – i.e. plays chosen that will always have at least as many female characters as male.“Our goal is to recognize that women’s stories are as important as men’s,” says Symmetry’s artistic director Chloe Bronzan. “We hope to bring to the public and theater community at large the need for more ’balance onthe boards’.”
“These two plays from early Provincetown Playhouse give us a special opportunity to present plays that reinforce Symmetry’s mission,” says the O’Neill Foundation artistic director Eric Fraisher Hayes. “Many of us are familiar with the Provincetown Playhouse’s most famous playwright, Eugene O’Neill, but just as important and less known are the works of the Playhouse’s women writers.”
A panel discussion on gender equality in theater and issues related to the plays’ theme of mental illness will take place immediately following the two performances, says Hayes.Shell Shock War One. Each of the three was concerned with different realities of war. Written in early 1915, and set prior to the end of the war, Shell Shock focuses on the impact on mental health that the war is having on many surviving soldiers. It was written while twenty-six year old O’Neill was completing his first year at Harvard University’s playwriting course taught by George
Pierce Baker. The one act play was entered into Harvard Dramatic Club’s competition where it received honorable mention. Rita Creighton Smith’s The Rescue was also written for George Pierce Baker’s playwriting workshop at Harvard.
The drama, with three female characters, concerns the remaining daughter of a notable New England family who is worried she has inherited her family’s strain of insanity. She faces the issue when she returns to her dignified, but gloomy, family home for her mother’s funeral.
Bill Rauch announces OSF’s 2018 season Playbill features a diverse, celebrated array of playwrights and directors
Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) Artistic Director Bill Rauch announced the Festival’s 2018 playbill today.
Rauch said, “Using humor, passion, poetry, heartbreak, music and much more, the playwrights, composers and other creative artists of this season give us stories that help us discover our hidden past, our present selves and our hopes for the future. The 2018 season will take us further into the Native American canon that we have begun to explore in 2017, and we will also see a newly adapted classic of ancient Chinese theatre that comes to OSF after its premiere at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Women playwrights created five of our plays for next season, a historic high for our classical theater. We will also continue our thrilling exploration of Shakespeare’s Henriad quartet in the most intimate way possible in the Thomas Theatre.”
“I’m so proud to share this 2018 season with our OSF audiences as well as our colleagues in the theatre field,” Rauch enthused. “It is such an exciting, vitally important time to be working in and experiencing the American theatre. There’s never been a greater diversity of voices and artists whose work is being seen on stages all over our country. While there is still so much work to be done in achieving true equity and representation, there is also much to take joy in, including this fabulous lineup of 2018 plays at OSF.”
In the Angus Bowmer Theatre
“O beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” The 2018 season will open in February with OTHELLO, directed by Bill Rauch. This will be the 11th time in OSF’s history that this tragedy has been produced. In addition to the title character, the play contains one of Shakespeare’s most memorable villains, Iago, as well as two of his most nuanced, compelling female characters, Desdemona and Emilia. This will be director Rauch’s first time helming the play, and he observes: “This is Shakespeare’s most intimate tragedy, and his searing indictment of a society negotiating with difference could not be a more urgent story for our times.”
Running all season alongside OTHELLO is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s enchanting romantic tale SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, directed by Hana S. Sharif and adapted by Kate Hamill. This adaptation first debuted at Bedlam Theatre in New York City, directed by Eric Tucker (director of OSF’s 2017 production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) in a widely-praised and often-extended production that the New York Times praised as “a troupe’s triumphant joy in giving defiantly theatrical form to a literary narrative.” Director Hana S. Sharif is the associate artistic director at Baltimore’s Center Stage, where she recently directed productions of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Pride and Prejudice.
Also opening at the top of the season and playing through early July is the delicious and provocative comedy DESTINY OF DESIRE by Karen Zacarías, directed by José Luis Valenzuela. Playwright Zacarías supercharges the standard telenovela genre in this smart, sizzling, music-filled romp that follows the adventures of two girls secretly switched at birth one stormy night in small-town Mexico. The Los Angeles Times praised Destiny of Desire as a “terrifically entertaining theatrical roller-coaster” that “shimmers…with majestic theatrical artistry.” Director Valenzuela is the artistic director of the Los Angeles Theatre Center, an award-winning theater and film director and a tenured professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
Opening in April is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA! directed by Bill Rauch. The OSF production will celebrate this groundbreaking musical’s 75th anniversary by offering a uniquely 21st-century interpretation featuring same-sex couples while retaining the original 1906 Oklahoma territory setting. Rauch says, “Audiences will see beloved OSF acting company members in inspired casting that celebrates the original pioneering spirit of this musical.” When Oklahoma! first opened on Broadway in 1943, Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times that the show’s opening number, “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” changed the history of musical theater, saying, “After a verse like that, sung to a buoyant melody, the banalities of the old musical stage became intolerable.”
The final show to open in the Angus Bowmer Theatre is the U.S. premiere of SNOW IN MIDSUMMER by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig. Debuting in Ashland after the play’s widely acclaimed world premiere at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Snow in Midsummer is a contemporary re-imagining of the 13th-century Chinese Yuan dynasty ghost story by Guan Hanqing called The Injustice to Dou E. Cowhig’s adaptation tells of the spirit of the wrongly executed Dou Yi wreaking havoc on the modern industrial village of New Harmony, bringing catastrophic drought and midsummer snow until her innocence is proclaimed. The Evening Standard praised the RSC production as “a beguiling and unexpected evening” that has “an unusual and most particular sense of grace and beauty.” The director of Snow in Midsummer will be announced shortly.
In the Thomas Theatre
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” The first show to open in the Thomas Theatre and running the entire season will be Shakespeare’s HENRY V. Audiences will see Daniel José Molina continue his two-season journey in the title role following 2017’s productions of both parts of Henry IV. Henry V will be directed by first-time OSF director Rosa Joshi, a Seattle-based director and co-founder of upstart crow collective. Joshi says “Shakespeare is my great passion. I’m always looking for what is relevant, fresh and immediate in the plays for a contemporary audience. As a director who loves classical work, I’m obsessive about asking ‘why this play, why now?’”
Opening in late March and running through October is the world premiere of MANAHATTA by Mary Kathryn Nagle, directed by Laurie Woolery. Mary Kathryn Nagle is a playwright, lawyer, and citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, as well as the executive director for the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program. Laurie Woolery has previously directed The Language Archive and the world premieres of The Tenth Muse and The River Bride at OSF. Manahatta tells the story of Jane Snake, a brilliant young Native Lenape woman with a Stanford MBA. Jane reconnects with her ancestral homeland, known as Manahatta, when she moves from her home with the Delaware Nation in Anadarko, Oklahoma to New York for a job at a major investment bank just before the financial crisis of 2008. Jane’s struggle to reconcile her new life with the expectations and traditions of the family she left behind is powerfully interwoven with the heartbreaking history of how the Lenape were forced from their land. Both old and new Manahatta converge in a brutal lesson about the dangers of living in a society where there’s no such thing as enough.
The final show to open in the Thomas Theatre will be the world premiere of THE WAY THE MOUNTAIN MOVED by Idris Goodwin, commissioned by OSF’s American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle. In the haunting and haunted wilderness setting of the play, African-American Mormons, Department of War surveyors, pioneer women and a Mexican-American war veteran lose their way and find each other in the starkly beautiful, pre-railroad American West. They are unknowingly watched by Native Americans who argue whether to befriend, fight, or flee the newcomers. In a nation still taking shape, built mostly of dreams and ideas, which version of America will prevail? The director of The Way the Mountain Moved is May Adrales, who directed the wildly popular Vietgone in OSF’s 2016 season.
In the Allen Elizabethan Theatre
The “star-cross’d” young lovers and feuding families of Shakespeare’s tragedy ROMEO AND JULIET will inaugurate the Allen Elizabethan Theatre season in early June, in a production directed by Dámaso Rodríguez, artistic director of Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre. Rodríguez says, “Audiences will see a production steeped in lush period detail and historical context that considers the effects of the religious and social order of the time as the source of the ancient grudge between Montague and Capulet. This look to a century far in the past will echo our polarized present.” In addition to his four years leading Artists Rep, Rodríguez’s directing credits include work at Playwrights’ Center, Pasadena Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Laguna Playhouse, A Noise Within, The Theatre@Boston Court, Naked Angels and Furious Theatre, which he co-founded and co-artistic-directed.
Also opening in June on the outdoor stage is THE BOOK OF WILL, playwright Lauren Gunderson’s riotous and heartfelt comedy about the creation of Shakespeare’s First Folio that feels tailor-made for the OSF acting company. The Book of Will, to be directed by Christopher Liam Moore, centers on the efforts of Henry Condell and John Heminges, two members of Shakespeare’s theatre company, to bring his plays to publication against seemingly insurmountable odds. The Boulder Weekly praised the 2017 world premiere of The Book of Will as a “thoughtful rumination on mortality, a touching ode to the power of love and a laugh-out-loud comedy,” adding “Shakespeare lovers will kick themselves, hard, if they don’t get to a performance of The Book of Will.” Lauren Gunderson will be the first female playwright with a completely original play on OSF’s Elizabethan Stage in its 83-year history. Director Christopher Liam Moore is in his eighth season as an actor and director with OSF and is the director of 2017’s Shakespeare in Love.
The third show to open outside will be Shakespeare’s LOVE’S LABOR’S LOST, directed by Amanda Dehnert. Instinct does battle with intellect in this comedy about a group of young male scholars, led by King Ferdinand of Navarre, who swear themselves to three years of chastity, contemplation and scholarship. That plan is quickly derailed when a group of lovely, witty and playful ladies arrive on the scene. Linguistic and physical hijinks abound in Shakespeare’s delicious comedy with a cast of indelible supporting characters and a surprising twist of an ending. Festival audiences have previously been treated to director Dehnert’s inventive and provocative stagings of My Fair Lady, Into the Woods and Julius Caesar, among others.
The 2018 season will begin previews on February 16 and open the weekend of February 23-25. The official opening weekend in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre will be June 15-17. The season will run through October 28. Tickets for the 2018 season will go on sale in November 2017 for members, and general sales will begin in early December.
OSF gratefully acknowledges current season sponsor U.S. Bank for their dedicated support of the Festival since 1978.