Silver Spring’s Forum Theatre will produce four plays — one of them yet to be announced — in a season which features the human struggle against the crushing forces of convention. In the season-opening play — Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information — our unnamed protagonists struggle against loneliness. In two later plays, the consequence of intransigence is death.
Churchill’s Love and Information is a sixty-minute, fifty-seven-scene bullet ride in which a hundred characters — none of them named — struggle to find meaning in an environment in which information comes out of a fire hose. Churchill challenges her audience to pick up meaning and context from the fragmentary scenes before them. Los Angeles Times critic Charles McNulty describes some of the scenes: “A scientist describes in gory detail the experiment he’s been running on chickens to map changes in their brains from cruelly enforced learning. Mathematicians argue over the utility of irrational numbers. A doctor tells a patient that 10% of people with the same condition are still alive after three years.”
“Churchill lays bare the frenetic zeitgeist with surgical precision, but she allows mystery and poetry to hold sway,” McNulty says.
Much of the organization of the play is left up to the director. In this case, the director will be Forum Artistic Director Michael Dove, who has directed many of the five Churchill plays Forum has staged over the years. Love and Information will run from September 28 to October 21, 2017.
From a play with a hundred characters, Forum will transition to a solo show: Alexander Manuiloff’s The State. This is an account of Plaman Goranov’s last day, before he set himself on fire to protest the corrupt Bulgarian state. Goranov was a real person, but Manuiloff’s story is fictional, and the story encourages audience participation. The playwright, in an interview with Radio Bulgaria, explained his concept this way:
“I myself was really emotionally affected by the fact that someone might set his own body on fire due to problems of the state. It is a desperate and extreme act which shows how many thngs have gone wrong in our Bulgaria. Plamon wasn’t even the only one – maybe 13 or 14 more did the same – and most of them were young and healthy people with professions. I found it natural to pick up that topic at a certain moment as well.”
The State will run during the winter of 2017. Forum has not announced a director, and further information is not yet available.
In Spring of 2018, a playwright familiar to DC audiences — Nathan Alan Davis, whose award-winning Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea played at the Source Festival and Theater Alliance — will be at Forum to tell a story of another man who sacrificed everything to call out political injustice: Nat Turner, whose 1831 slave rebellion resulted in his hanging. Nat Turner in Jerusalem, like The State, is about the protagonist’s last night on the planet — this one spent in a jail cell in Jerusalem, Virginia, talking with his lawyer. Turner, who was inspired to launch his revolt by a religious vision, argues with his lawyer about the integrity and honor of his beliefs and actions.
Forum has not announced its final play, hoping to select something which resonates with the issues of the moment. “We did the same this season, allowing us the unique opportunity to produce Building the Wall, a piece of new theatre, one produced on an accelerated timeline, challenging the customary cycle of readings and workshops over years,” said Managing Director KJ Fisher. “As we continue to strive to build community through conversation surrounding topics that affect us all, we will wait to see how the current events unfold before making the final selection.”