The 2014-2015 Theater J season will feature new plays by Helen-Hayes-award winning playwrights Aaron Posner, Renee Calarco and Tanya Barfield along with the work from some of the most celebrated writers of this and the last century – Tony Kushner, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Charles Busch.
Posner, who reimagined The Seagull as Stupid Fucking Bird and was a finalist for the prestigious Steinberg Award for it, mines Chekhovian territory again in Life Sucks (or The Present Ridiculous), a reworking of Uncle Vanya. The comic drama about people with enough insight to see their dilemmas but not enough to do anything about them will feature Eric Hissom. Posner, a celebrated director, will direct the piece, which will run from January 14 to February 15 of next year.
Calarco’s play, G-d’s Honest Truth, is also a reimagining – in this case, of the real-life experiences of Menachem Youlus, the self-proclaimed “Jewish Indiana Jones”. She imagines a devout and goodhearted Jewish couple who are suddenly given an opportunity to rescue a Holocaust Torah, and bring it back to their Temple. But the generous, it turns out, are no more immune to heartbreak than the greedy. Directed by Jenny McConnell Frederick, G-d’s Honest Truth will run from March 18 to April 19, 2015.
Theater J will start its season with a familiar story: Singer’s Yentl, the story of a 19th-century woman who disguises herself as a man because this is the only way she will be permitted to study the Talmud. When she falls in love, she must choose between passions, and vocations. Directed by Shirley Serotsky, Yentl will feature a pop-rock-klezmer score by Jill Sobule (“I Kissed a Girl”) and run from August 28 to October 5 of this year.
Tony Kushner’s An Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures – a story a little less academic than the title suggests – follows. Gus, an unreconstructed Communist, calls his three children to his side to tell them why he is selling their home and taking his own life. Too bad! They’ve got troubles of their own! David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter called the play “a brainy, brawny, thematically expansive work, stuffed with challenging sociopolitical ideas and dialectical fireworks.” With Tom Story, Susan Rome, Michael Anthony Williams and Tim Getman and directed by John Vreeke, Intelligent Homosexual’s will run between November 13 and December 21, 2014.
Following the two new plays, Theater J will produce Barfield’s The Call – the story of a white couple who set out to adopt an African child. The Call looks hard at the impulse to adopt and, by implication, to have children at all. Is it built out of love or narcissism? Charles Isherwood of the New York Times noted that The Call is “[w]ritten in smart, natural and often sparkling dialogue.” Directed by Jennifer Nelson, it will run between May 6 and 31, 2015 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
Theater J will close out its season with Charles Busch channeling Neil Simon in Tales of the Allergist’s Wife, the Story of Margie Taub, the high-minded spouse of an altruistic allergist who finds herself at midlife full of ennui and self-loathing. A free-spirited old friend arrives to get her and her husband into mischief. Ben Brantley of The Times called Allergist’s Wife a “window-rattling comedy”. Eleanor Holdridge will direct this play, which will run from June 3 to July 5 of next year.