Having nearly completed a season devoted to inquiries about the expiration of civilization, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company has elected to invest its 2012-2013 season with new plays and the investigation of unfamiliar cultures: the newest play by Danai Gurira (Eclipse), an Aaron Posner play loosely based on Chekhov’s The Seagull, the maiden effort of a promising Brown University MFA, and the return of Mike Daisey with a new monologue.
Woolly Mammoth Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz announced the season during a sort of mini-festival last night, which featured actors performing portions of the play, videos, and interviews with the playwrights.
The season will start off with the Steinburg-nominated, Pulitzer finalist The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Kristoffer Diaz’s exploration of the world of professional wrestling. José Joaquin Perez (Creon in last year’s Oedipus el Rey) takes on the role of Mace and last night delivered a monologue which captured the character’s abiding love for the wrestling business. Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times says that Chad Deity is a “vibrant play set in the wacky world of professional wrestling, [which] seems tailor-made for people who find contemporary drama dull, staid and more or less irrelevant.” The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will run from September 3 to the 30th of this year, directed by John Vreeke.
You for Me for You will follow, from November 5 to December 2. This world premiere is the first produced work of Mia Chung and will, as Chung explains it, portray North Korea through the theory of the Stockholm Syndrome, in which an abducted person acquires sympathy for and even loyalty to his captor. You for Me for You, which Towson State’s Yuri Urnov directs, is a story of two sisters who try to leave the captor state. One of them succeeds.
Woolly will start 2013 with Gurira’s new play, The Convert, set in 1890s Zimbabwe. The play features celebrated DC actors Dawn Ursula and KenYatta Rogers, who yesterday delivered a tension-filled set piece between two recent converts to Christianity, one of whom is not exactly prepared to give up the old ways. The Convert, which will play in New York and Los Angeles before coming to DC, examines a woman who converts in order to avoid the unpleasantness of an arranged marriage. It will run from February 4 to March 3 of 2013.
Of course, a Woolly season would not be the same without a new monologue by Mike Daisey, and from March 25 through April 21, Daisey will be delivering American Utopias, a meditation on the Occupy movement by way of Disney World and the Burning Man Festival. Daisey will be delivering the first draft at Woolly earlier in the season as part of his development process.
The 2012-2013 Woolly season will conclude with Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird, a play which in some ways resembles Chekhov’s The Seagull but which may owe a greater debt, according to Posner, to Charles Mees’ re-treatments of classic Greek myth. Posner and Shalwitz (who will direct the play) ran through a passage in which Konstantine (called “Conrad” in this play) and Medvedenko (“Med”) talk about their doomed loves for Nina and Masha, respectively. Posner is a celebrated adapter (Is He Dead? and Cyrano, which he did with Michael Hollinger) but Stupid Fucking Bird seems to be at a substantially greater remove from its source material than a conventional adaptation. The play, which will feature acclaimed DC actor Kimberly Gilbert as well as Katie DeBuys (In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play) will run from May 27 to June 23 of next year.
In addition to its 5-play subscription series, Woolly will offer In The Middle of No One, the improvisational work of The Pajama Men, between December 11 and January 6. Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez are The Pajama Men, who do their entire act, as you might have guessed, in their pajamas. The duo, who are from Albuquerque, have to this point worked principally in Europe. Ian Shuttleworth of the Financial Times of London says, “The pair’s trademark style is now well established: a stage bare save for a couple of chairs, and performers bare save for a couple of pairs of pyjamas; high-speed character/sketch comedy linked by a basic but unconstricting narrative; great physical discipline spiced by riffs of improvisation; and an almost endless inventiveness.”
Subscription to Woolly’s 33rd season are on sale now by phone 202.393.3939 or at the theater’s box office at 641 D Street NW in Washington. Single tickets go on sale July 1, 2012.