The Constellation Theatre Company, operating out of the Source theater on 14th Street NW, has decided to focus on stories from the first half of the last century for their 2017-2018 ‘Survival’ season. A classic horror film; a story about a party which gets way out of hand way too fast; a play which opens with a couple celebrating their anniversary — their five thousandth — and the tale of a heroic peasant woman, designed to soothe two warring Soviet collectives will make up the season.
First on the docket will be the classic 1927 silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, in which an evil hypnotist and his enslaved somnambulist appear to wreck havoc on a small community. The original Hans Janowitz-Carl Mayer film uses an impressionistic set, which has a terrific impact, particularly on the story’s close. Helen Hayes Award-winning percussionist Tom Teasley will provide an original score. The film will run from August 7 to 13 of this year.
The Wild Party, Andrew Lippa’s musical about a wild prohibition-era bash will open the live-theater portion of Constellation’s schedule on September 21, 2017. Lippa based his musical on a long 1928 narrative poem of the same name by John Moncure March; it tells the story of a bold young woman locked in an abusive relationship who decides she needs to liven things up with a party, which quickly gets out of hand. (Coincidentally, at virtually the same time Lippa wrote his version of The Wild Party, Michael John La Chiusa also turned the poem into a musical; while opinions differ, Lippa’s version is produced more frequently now.) Jayne Blanchard, reviewing the recent Iron Crow show run described Lippa’s score as “a pastiche of jittery jazz, gospel, torch songs and a sprinkling of traditional show tunes and this erratic quality enforces The Wild Party’s theme of recklessness.” Constellation Artistic Director Allison Arkell Stockman will direct Wild Party, which will run through October 29.
Next year, Constellation will turn to Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, which tracks a family from the onset of the Ice Age to a post-Apocalyptic world in which civilization lies in ruins. Ben Brantley of the New York Times, reviewing a recent production of this 1942 play, called it “perversely suitable to 2017.” From January 11 to February 18, 2018; Mary Hall Surface will direct.
Constellation will wrap up its season with Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, the story of a maid who safeguards an official’s child during a time of political turmoil. The guardianship, and the maid herself, are at risk as political factions rise and fall. The story, though, is merely a play within a play; designed to bring two warring Soviet collectives to peace. The Guardian’s Michael Billington, reviewing a current production of this 1944 play, noted that “[Brecht] was a natural storyteller…Brecht creates one of the great comic figures in modern drama: one who is infinitely corruptible and politically incorrect…yet who manages to dispense a rough justice.” Stockman will direct; Teasley will provide live music.