The Arlington-based WSC Avant Bard announced today that it will devote its upcoming three-play season to the kind of theater for which it is best known: original spins on classic plays.
The Bard himself penned two of the originals. On November 3, 2016, WSC Avant Bard will open with Tame, Jonelle Walker’s reimagining of Taming of the Shrew. Walker, a DC-based playwright, has created an Eisenhower-era universe in which Cat, a gifted young poet, returns to her home town of Anuhuac, Texas. Her family, dismayed by her rebelliousness, engages a firebrand youth minister to teach her to submit and conform. DCTS’ Maegan Clearwood (who is now WSC’s dramaturg), reviewing a version of Tame performed by the Blind Pug Collective in the 2014 Fringe Festival, observed that “the dialogue is crisp and engaging. Shakespeare’s famous fight scenes are updated with verve, and the production manages to transport a centuries-old story into 1960s America while still raising questions that are unequivocally now.“
Angela Pirko will direct Tame, which will run until December 11.
WSC Avant Bard’s closing production will also be from the mind of Shakespeare: King Lear, the playwright’s meditation on power, loneliness, alienation and betrayal. Multiple Helen Hayes Award-winner Rick Foucheux plays the title role, and longtime WSC Avant Bard Artistic Director Christopher Henley will play the Fool. Current Artistic Director Tom Prewitt will direct this play, which will run from May 25 to June 25 of 2017.
In the middle, Jennifer Nelson directs The Gospel at Colonus, Lee Breuer’s retelling of Oedipus set to Gospel music. The frame of the story is a service in an African American Pentecostal Church, where a visiting preacher builds his sermon around Sophocles’ tragic hero, and a blind Gospel singer takes on the role. “At the reviewed performance, which transpired in the immediate wake of the Emanuel AME Church massacre, this reviewer found himself repeatedly wiping away tears and joyously swaying in the spirit,” David C. Nichols of the L.A. Times said. “Theater at its most healing, electrifying and transcendent, Colonus demands attendance. Can we get an ‘Amen’?” The Gospel at Colonus will run from February 23 to March 26 of next year.
All performances for this, Avant Bard’s 27th season, will be at Gunston Arts Center, Theatre Two in Arlington, VA. Avant Bard passport to the new season is available online or by calling 703-418-4808.