WSC Avant Bard will bring some familiar names into its three-production 2017-2018 season.
Lauren Gunderson (I and You) brings us the life and times of a pioneering physicist and mathematician in Emile: La Marquise du Châtele Defends Her Life Tonight. You may remember the Marquise from Legacy of Light, the acclaimed Karen Zacarías play that ran at Arena eight years ago. Du Châtele, the author of Principes Mathématiques, was even more well-known as the lover of the philosopher and writer Voltaire (she was also a notable card shark). The head-heart conflict which characterized Legacy of Light takes center stage in Emile, where the protagonist rises from her deathbed on the last day of her life to do the calculus of her time on earth. The play “is informative, entertaining, engaging, uplifting … and the list could go on!” according to Pamela Vesper and Kurt Benrud of Triangle Arts & Entertainment. Rick Hammerly will direct; Sara Barker will play the title role. From October 12 to November 19 of this year.
Avant Bard will kick off 2018 with a reprise of The Gospel at Colonus, a retelling of the middle story in the Oedipus cycle as a gospel musical. “What [adapter and lyricist Lee] Breuer and [composer and lyricist Bob] Telson have done with Oedipus at Colonus is to explore its understated moments, and mine them for optimism and grace,” said this brilliantly perceptive review of this year’s Avant Bard production (all right, it was my review). “What appears to be a bleak tale in Sophocles’ telling (or what survives of it) is rethought and reiterated with insight and compassion…It is not a religious story, but we walk away understanding that human beings are more than just animated meat.” Jennifer L. Nelson, who directed last March’s production, will direct this production, which will run from February 22 to March 25, 2018.
Finally, what would Avant Bard be without a story from the Bard himself? Thus on May 31, 2018, Christopher Henley will assume the role of Prospero in The Tempest, generally thought to be the last play which Shakespeare wrote without a collaborator. Prospero, overthrown, stripped of his kingly robes and forced into exile with his infant daughter, has become a wizard and rules over his wilderness island. He now summons his enemies to the island, for a final accounting. Until July 8, 2018; WSC Avant Bard Artistic Director Tom Prewitt will direct.
WSC Avant Bard will be staging readings of scripts under consideration for future production between November 27 and December 17 of this year. Previous years’ readings yielded Emile: La Marquise du Châtele Defends Her Life Tonight, The Good Devil (in Spite of Himself) and TAME, both of which went on to full productions.