Mosaic Theater Company’s fourth season will bring iconic figures from our past — Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Donny Hathaway, the great R&B and Gospel singer Rosetta Tharpe and her protégé Marie Knight, as well as two actors from the world premiere of The Return (and their army of detractors, as harvested from Facebook and Twitter) — back to life, along with a stage version of Richard Wright’s Native Son, a new play by local writer Allyson Currin, and a psychotherapist meets her new patient, God. The characters will hammer out personal and political issues, and in many instances they are opposite sides of the same coin.
The Mosaic season will begin with George Brant’s Marie and Rosetta, the story of the first meeting of Tharpe, a significant influence on Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix, and Knight, who began their collaboration not in a studio but in a funeral home — the only place they could find accommodations in segregated Mississippi. Tharpe recognized Knight’s beautiful high-church voice, and takes it as her mission to get Knight to use it in the service of raucous rhythm and blues songs. Newsday’s Linda Winer calls Marie and Rosetta a “succinct and touching play” which “take[s] us into the nuanced evolution of a musical collaboration and friendship, and deliver[s] the music that, whether we know it or not, is part of rock and roll legend.” Sandra L. Holloway will direct; Roz White will play Tharpe. From August 23 to September 20, 2018.
Another dynamic pair from the pages of history will cross the Mosaic stage in October with Mat White’s The Agitators, which examines the lengthy friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, in a series of vignettes. Marcia Morphy of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle called The Agitators “a brilliant success in illuminating the rights of American citizenship — a powerful history lesson that needs to have a voice.” From October 24 to November 25 of this year; no director has been announced.
God gets on the couch in Anat Gov’s Oh, God (not to be confused with the movie by the same name). And why not? Who is more entitled, for example, to have abandonment issues? Broadway World’s Justin J. Sacramone says “Regardless of belief, Oh, God is a fascinating discussion of faith in a secular society between a woman of science and the immortal symbol of Faith with a message that we all possess the ability to change and improve. Even God.” Michael Bloom will direct Kimberly Schraf and Mitchell Hébert in this one, which will run December 12, 2018 to January 6, 2019.
Mosaic kicks off the new year with an entry from its Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival: Einat Weizman’s and Morad Hassan’s Shame, in which two actors who appeared in the world debut of the highly controversial Hanna Eady-Edward Mast play The Return, try to explain their experiences in the face of a hostile audience which constantly interrupts them with comments culled from Facebook and Twitter. Mosaic Artistic Director Ari Roth has adapted this play, and John Vreeke, who directed The Return when it ran at Mosaic in 2017, will direct. From January 16 to February 10 of next year.
In March, Mosaic will perform two plays in rep. Naomi Kelley’s adaptation of the seminal Richard Wright novel Native Son will be the story of Bigger Thomas, a man who has been so marginalized and impoverished that he no longer has any identity, except in the judgment of others, and so is fated to play out their expectations of him — expectations which include a horrific murder. “[Y]ou never doubt the truth of his journey, just as you never doubt the truth of all that you are seeing in this gutsy, powerful, relentless, profoundly disturbing piece of…theater,” said Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune. Psalmayene 24 will direct.
Meanwhile, Aaron Davidman (Wrestling Jerusalem) will wrestle with the gun issue in The Peacemaker, a Play About Guns in America. Playwright Davidman will play multiple characters as they talk about guns and gun violence from their own unique perspectives. Michael John Garcés will direct.
Both plays will run in rep from March 27 to April 28, 2019.
Local playwright Allyson Currin’s Sooner/Later, a story of a teenage girl who tries to get her mother back into dating and the unlikely suitor who is the unexpected result will be at Mosaic from May 15 to June 16 of next year. No director has been announced for this play, a product of Mosaic’s “locally grown” program.
Twisted Melodies: The Donnie Hathaway Story, originally announced as the last show of the season, has been temporarily withdrawn. Look for a final announcement for this slot shortly.