Michael Kahn will make his Studio Theatre directing debut and Stephen King’s bloody thriller Carrie will find its way to Studio’s stage as a musical during its 2013-2014 season, the company announced yesterday.
Studio has not released the dates for any of its plays yet.
The mainstage season will feature award-winning dramas. Kahn, the longtime Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company and a member of the Theater Hall of Fame, will direct Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy to open Studio’s 11-production season.
The play, which won a Best Play Tony in 1981, tells three stories about Arnold Beckoff, a drag queen and a gay man who seeks domestic fulfillment with a spouse and family. In the first, Arnold tries to find love with a man uncomfortable with his bi-sexuality; in the second, he finds a partner and they are trying to adopt when a tragedy strikes; in the third, he is raising a teenager as a single parent in the face of the hostility and ridicule of his acid-tongued mother.
Studio Artistic Director David Muse, who worked under Kahn at STC, is looking forward to his old mentor’s visit. “I am delighted to welcome Michael to Studio for the first time,” Muse says. “He has a wonderful rapport with actors and a real skill with language; it’ll be great to set him loose on Harvey’s groundbreaking play.”
Studio will also be doing two plays in rep from Richard Nelson’s Apple Family Quartet, That Hopey Changey Thing and Sweet and Sad. The Apple family is a group of adult siblings, including their spouses and significant others, who share an unshakeable faith in liberalism. In That Hopey Changey Thing they are meeting for dinner on the night of the 2010 Congressional elections – a disastrous night for President Obama. It’s not a great night for the Apples, either, as one of the siblings announces that he’s leaving state service to work in the private sector, and at another point blames liberals for Sarah Palin’s success. Worse, Uncle Benjamin – who may be the only one who knows a dark family secret – has lost a large part of his memory.
“Mr. Nelson, the author of numerous plays, is an astute observer of family dynamics as well as the upstanding liberal conscience,” said Charles Isherwood of the New York Times. “His dialogue is literate without being arch, and fits smoothly in the mouths of his characters.”
In Sweet and Sad, which the Times’ Ben Brantley calls “richer and deeper than ‘Hopey Changey,’” the Apple family is again gathered – this time on the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. (One of their number was in the World Trade Center at the time; he wants to treat the day as no different than any other day). They try to avoid political talk – with only intermittent success – while coming to grips with the changes the family experienced during the previous ten months.
Serge Seiden will direct both productions.
Mike Bartlett’s (Contractions) Cock, a 2010 Olivier Play award winner as an outstanding new play, will tell the story of a man who has separated from his long-term boyfriend and who meets, and falls in love with, a woman. When his old lover seeks to reconcile, he finds that a purely personal choice has political implications. His inability to decide is the story. “Mike Bartlett’s play is a sharp, witty study of a man helplessly torn between his longtime male partner and a loving woman,” Michael Billington says in The Guardian. “Bartlett’s play examines, with clinical precision, what Schopenhauer once called ‘the tyranny of the weak.’”
“Mike’s plays are marked by an economy of language, with a dry wit and a deeply theatrical sensibility,” says Muse, who will direct. “After the success of Contractions, we’re thrilled to bring his work to a larger audience.”
Quiara Alegría Hudes (In the Heights) returns with Water by the Spoonful, the second part of a three-play trilogy that began with Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue and ends with The Happiest Song Plays Last. Elliot has returned from Iraq for the funeral of a favorite aunt; he also confronts addiction in his family and the ways he has been damaged in the war. “Hudes’s writing is controlled and graceful,” Richard Zoglin says in a Time Magazine review. “Each of the play’s 15 short scenes is perfectly balanced, the language both lyrical and lucid. “
Finally, the Studio Mainstage season will feature a collaboration with Gallaudet University: Nina Raines’ Tribes. This is a story of a child born deaf into a family of garrulous academics; they teach him to integrate into the hearing world by reading lips, but do not teach him to sign. When he meets a young woman who is losing her hearing, his perspective changes. Poignant elements abound: a haunted older brother hears voices; the young woman plays the piano to celebrate her remaining time as a hearing person. The Times’ Brantley calls Tribes “a smart, lively…new play that asks us to hear how we hear, in silence as well as in speech.” Muse will direct.
Two celebrated DC actors will be directing plays in the Studio 2ndStage this coming season. Holly Twyford, who made her directorial debut last year in No Rules’ Stop Kiss, will be directing Edgar and Annabel, Sam Holcroft’s wild story about a dystopian future in which a couple of operatives, pretending to be married to each other to enhance their cover stories, read domestic banalities to each other in order to fool the listening devices. “Holcroft’s intriguing new play… keeps us guessing throughout,” says Brian Logan of the Guardian. “about the nature of the freedom-fighting activity in which its heroine is engaged, and about Holcroft’s intention.”
Tom Story will direct Declan Greene’s Moth, the story of a teenage outsider who is driven by bullying to have an apocalyptic vision inspired by St. Sebastian, and of his teenage outsider friend who can’t seem to help him. “This is theatre at its finest, a potent blend of Greene’s cunningly wrought script [and] hallucinogenic imagery,” says Kate Herbert of the Sydney Herald-Sun. “With its strong language, disturbing themes and imagery, this play is not for the faint-hearted, but Moth is a must-see for teenagers, parents and teachers.”
The third play on the 2ndStage stage will be a musical version of the Stephen King breakout novel Carrie, a blood-drenched revenge story. The production features musical by Michael Gore and lyrics by Dean Pitchford; the book is by Lawrence D. Cohen. Keith Baker will direct. This is another story about a teenage outsider bullied by her classmates; the reaction here is a little different than the one in Moth.
Studio’s season will also feature two special events and an experimental production in the Studio Lab. The Studio Lab production will be the world premiere of Lucas Hnath’s (Death Tax; A Public Reading of An Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney) Red Speedo, a story about an Olympic swimmer whose dream is an endorsement contract with Speedo, which will assure him of a life free from job worries. The discovery of a stash of performance-enhancing drugs in the team’s locker room, however, threatens everyone’s future.
“Lucas is an exciting new American voice,” says Muse. “Red Speedo is a stylish exploration of professional sports and the larger American competitive spirit, for better and worse.” Lila Neugebauer (The Aliens) will direct.
As special events, Studio will feature two one-actor plays performed by their authors. The Night Watcher is Charlayne Woodard’s exploration of the challenges of parenthood. Out of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival will come Beats, Kieran Hurley’s story of the day a teenager snuck off to an illegal rave.
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