Six plays offering life-changing journeys intertwining the political, the personal, the poignant and the provocative will comprise Theater J’s upcoming 2014-15 season of Epic Expressions.
The ambitious line-up of socially relevant drama and cultural celebration will tackle feminist aspirations within a traditional religious community, interracial adoption and the ethics of assisted suicide in the face of political despair, as well as timeless questions of love, envy and spiritual longing.
“We set a high bar for a follow-up to our current ambitious season—our most successful financially and critically in our history,” Ari Roth, Theater J’s artistic director, said at the announcement of the season. “For the 2014-15 season, we’re thrilled to be taking on one grand symphonic undertaking after another.”
Things kicks off with the musical Yentl, playing Aug. 28 to Oct. 15, based on the Isaac Bashevis Singer short story “Yentl The Yeshiva Boy.” Adapted for the stage by Leah Napolin and Isaac Bashevis with new music and lyrics composed by pop star Jill Sobule?, the story follows a girl in 19th Century Eastern Europe who is forbidden to pursue her dream of studying Talmud. Unwilling to accept her fate, she disguises herself as a man and must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect her identity.
Theater J’s season includes two recently revised signature pieces from iconic New York playwrights: First up is Tony, Obie, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, being staged Nov. 13 to Dec. 21. Directed by John Vreeke and featuring Tim Getman, Tom Wiggin, Tom Story, Susan Rome and Michael Anthony Williams, the play tells the story of a retired longshoreman and lifelong Communist who summons his three adult children to their Brooklyn home to explain why he’s selling the family brownstone and ending his life—but things don’t go as planned.
“The grand theme for the season is set emphatically by Tony Kushner’s newly revised opus,” Roth said. “It’s positively operatic and epic in its range of subject matter explored through the lens of a progressive family at a crossroad. We’ve fallen in love with this play for its arias; for its passionately emotional invocation of labor and sexual politics; and for its even-handed weighing of the different agendas born by each member of this fraught family.”
Ending the season will be Charles Busch’s satirical Broadway comedy The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, scheduled for June 3 to July 5, 2015. The satiric play follows an Upper West Side woman, deep in the throes of mid-life existential ennui, when an enigmatic childhood friend with a taste for mischief unexpectedly arrives at her door. The show will be directed by Eleanor Holdridge? and features Susan Rome, Marjorie Taub and Can Marjorie.
Two locally grown world premieres are also on the docket with Life Sucks (Or the Present Ridiculous), a loose adaptation of Chekov’s Uncle Vanya by DC powerhouse Aaron Posner (Stupid Fucking Bird), playing Jan. 14 to Feb. 15, 2015; and G-d’s Honest Truth by Helen Hayes Award-winning playwright Renee Calarco (The Religion Thing), running March 18 to April 19, 2015.
The latter tells the tale of a Jewish couple who have the opportunity to help rescue a Holocaust Torah and try to do what’s best for their son, marriage and their synagogue in the process. The story was inspired by the Rabbi Menachem Youlus, the self-dubbed “Jewish Indiana Jones,” and the play won the 2014 Jewish Play Project. It will be directed by Jenny McConnell Frederick.
“The back-to-back world premieres by local star playwrights, Posner and Calarco point to the maturation of the DC playwriting talent pool,” Roth said. “In both cases, the plays are big statements and big showcases. In Posner’s latest Chekhovian riff, the emotions are about aging, lust, loss and raging jealousy and, as in Stupid Fucking Bird, it’s both screamingly funny and poignant and moving (because, after all, it’s Chekhov).”
Tanya Barfield’s The Call is the remaining play of the season and will play the Atlas Performing Center May 6-31, 2015. Directed by Jennifer Nelson, the story looks at a couple who try to adopt a child from Africa and the cultural divide their efforts take with being White Americans trying to adopt an African-American child.
Theater J is will introduce a 10 for $10 program this season. Designed to promote affordable access to theater, 10 tickets at each performance all season long will be available for $10 each. In total, 1,730 $10 tickets will be available for the entire season. The tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.
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