Qui Nguyen’s (Living Dead in Denmark) Steinberg Award-winning play Vietgone will highlight Studio Theatre’s 2017-2018, according to a partial season schedule released by the company.
Vietgone is the story of a man and a woman who are definitely not Nguyen’s parents (we know this because a character named “Qui Nguyen” tells us so at the opening of the play) who meet in an American refugee center after the fall of Saigon. The play focuses on their romance, but also on racial stereotyping. (In Vietgone, all of the white characters act in comically stereotypical ways.) Like the characters in Hamilton, the characters in Veitgone break into rap when the mood hits them. “Nguyen jars us into seeing the story with fresh eyes,” says Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times. “[T]his riotous theatrical cartoon won me over with its simple honesty.” Natsu Onodo Power directs this production, which is part of the company’s Studio X season.
As for the rest of the season, the dates aren’t selected; some of the shows haven’t been selected; one of the shows isn’t even written, but Studio Theatre has identified enough of its 2017-2018 season to make an announcement, and to offer a season subscription.
In its mainstage season, Studio will produce Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew, the story of the last remaining workers at the last small auto plant in Detroit. Morisseau brings the de-industrialization of America down to the personal level in this, the third of her Detroit plays (the other two are Detroit ’67 and Paradise Blue). With the plant’s future in extreme doubt, four workers try to suss out their moral responsibilities, to themselves and their friends, in the face of likely joblessness and even homelessness. The New York Times’ Ben Brantley calls Skeleton Crew a “very fine new play” in which the characters ” travel an uncertain path between comfort and chaos, lawfulness and criminality, mutual support and blinkered selfishness.” Patricia McGregor directs.
Ready for some indoor soccer, featuring a teenage girl’s soccer team? Well, Studio 4 might be your destination. The company will fit it with fake grass and goalposts for The Wolves, Sarah DeLappe’s debut play which features nine young women making sharp observations about the world and each other while preparing to take on an opponent in hideous yellow jerseys. The Wolves has already won praise for its writing. Brantley observed “Ms. DeLappe’s dialogue isn’t just true to the jargon of a certain age in a particular place; it also varies in subtle but sharp ways from character to character. As we listen and try to make sense of the torrent of words, each young woman emerges by degrees as a completely defined self.” Marti Lyons will direct this play, which will be part of the Women’s Voices Festival.
We know less about Curve of Departure, other than that it is about a family gathered in a small New Mexico hotel room on the eve of a funeral, and that it is by Rachel Bonds, the author of Studio Theatre’s 2014 hit, The Wolfe Twins (no relation to The Wolves.) DCTS’ Jennifer Clements said, of The Wolfe Twins, “Bittersweet and hilarious, edgy and heartrendingly real, this world premiere is an elegy for the things we cannot recover.” Mike Donohue, who directed The Wolfe Twins, will direct Curve of Departure.
The Studio Mainstage Season will also feature a world premiere play by Ken Urban called The Remains, in which a pioneering married couple deconstruct their marriage over an excellent meal. The production will feature Maulik Pancholy, who played Jonathan in 30 Rock and Sanjay Patel in Weeds and will play Nambue, Chief Medical Officer of the U.S.S. Shenzou in the upcoming TV series, Star Trek: Discovery. Studio Artistic Director David Muse will direct.
A fifth Mainstage Season play is yet to be announced.
Along with Vietgone, the Studio X season will feature Lucy Prebble’s The Effect, a winner of the London Critic’s Circle Award. Tristan loves Connie, and Connie loves him right back. Does it matter that they fell in love while they were in a clinical drug trial to test a new antidepressant, which makes dopamine levels skyrocket? How about the fact that one of them is taking a placebo? Brantley called the play “very clever — and ultimately more than clever” and observed, “in exciting theater, feeling always trumps science. The conflict between these two elements — as well as the muddy area in which they overlap — is precisely mapped in the structure and design of ‘The Effect.'” Muse will direct this production.
The Studio X Season will also feature a new play by the British comedian Daniel Kitson (Where Once Was Wonder), in which he will also perform. Since the show hasn’t been written yet, though, there’s not much I can tell you about it.