Round House Theatre’s 2020-2021 season brings the past into the present, then hits us with two world premieres and concludes with a raucous contemporary favorite known as a showcase for fine acting.
The season begins with Quixote Nuevo, Octavio Solis’ reinvention of the Don Quixote story. Dr. Jose Quijano, the man of La Plancha, Texas, is slowly slipping into dementia after living a life of disappointment. A huge fan of Cervantes’ hero, Professor Quijano resolves to lead a heroic quest, and so takes off on a tricycle with a bedpan as a helmet. He is joined, eventually, by an ice-cream vendor as they take on, U.S. Border Patrol agents and others. Ed Siegel of The ARTery calls Quixote Nuevo a “highly entertaining modern adaptation of the Cervantes classic” and notes “the story embraces the original’s concerns with reality and escapism, but with a bit of a twist…Solis reminds us that there’s a price to pay for not living in reality.” Quixote Nuevo will run from September 2-27, 2020. No director has been announced.
Then it’s on to The Tempest, which Round House will be producing in collaboration with Folger Theatre. This play, about a magician who reconciles with those who did him ill, will be co-directed by an actual magician — Teller, the silent half of Penn and Teller. Teller will be collaborating with Aaron Posner, with whom he also successfully collaborated in a 2008 Folger production of Macbeth. Matt Kent of Pilobolus will choreograph this production, which will also feature the music of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. From November 4 to December 27 of this year.
With the New Year, Round House will come back to the near present with Dominique Morisseau’s (Pipeline) Paradise Blue, a noirish story set in a 1949 Detroit nightclub. Blue, a gifted trumpeter with an explosive temper who is subject to fits of depression, owns this shabby place. When the bigoted Mayor announces a plan to clear out predominantly African-American Paradise Valley, (“We be the blight he talking about” says the band’s drummer, P-Sam), Blue has good reason to take the money and run. Complicating things is the arrival of a sultry widow with lots of money. “Playwright Morisseau…manage[s] to march the piece to its inevitable conclusion without being obvious. And by using humor mixed with compassion the tension mounts without becoming overwhelming,” says Donna Herman of New York Theatre Guide.com. Paradise Blue will run from January 27 to February 21, 2021; no director has been announced.
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The spring will see the opening of two world premieres playing in rep at Round House. Tim J. Lord’s “We declare you a terrorist…” reenacts the seizing of the Dubrovka Theater, during a sold-out showing of Nord-Ost, in Moscow by Chechen fighters in 2002. The story will be from the point of view of the Nord-Ost’s playwright, who was one of the hostages. “We declare…”, which Round House Artistic Director Ryan Rilette will co-direct with Jared Mezzocchi, runs from April 6 to May 16 of 2021.
In Charly Evon Simpson’s It’s not a trip it’s a journey, four African-American women decide to take a road trip from New York City to the Grand Canyon. It is a voyage of discovery, where what they will discover is themselves. Simpson is the recipient of Vineyard Theatre’s 2019 Paula Vogel Award. It’s not a trip…will run from April 13 to May 16, 2021; Nicole A. Watson will direct.
Round House’s season will wrap up with Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, in which a little kid (not yours) knocks another kid’s teeth out; their very civilized parents meet with each other, and chaos ensues. “Even though the play was written more than a decade ago in another country, God of Carnage proves to be a timely and relevant piece of dark comedy that speaks expertly to the present American moment,” DCTS’ John Bavoso said in this review of a 2019 production. Rilette will direct this production, which will run from June 9 to July 3 of next year.