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Q&A with Playmakers’ Joseph Haj


Joe Haj

PlayMakers Repertory Company will stage nine diverse shows in the 2012-13 season, including the world premiere of an adaptation of “Imaginary Invalid” and a spoken-word piece by hip-hop group Universes.

This season’s main stage series will include “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” and a rotating repertory of “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Clybourne Park,” which is an extension of “A Raisin in the Sun” written 50 years later.

Staff writer Deborah Strange spoke with producing artistic director Joseph Haj, PlayMakers’ about how the season was planned.

DAILY TAR HEEL: How did you decide which shows to put on?

JOSEPH HAJ: There are so many factors that are involved in choosing the season. It’s not simply, “These are the nine plays that Joe likes the most.” Choosing plays that can fit (our resident acting theatre) is important to me … We really understand that our work has to be a lot of things to a lot of different people … If you look across our season, there’s really a wide variety of work, and that’s deliberate.

DTH: How do the shows relate to each other?

JH: Obviously, “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Clybourne Park” were chosen. Those are two plays that really belong in conversation together and that our audience would enjoy seeing together … There are theatres in the country that have put the plays together in their season but in different slots. As far as I know, we’re the only theatre in the country that put them together in alternating reps.

DTH: Are the seasons based off of one another?

JH: Each season ends up with its own internal pattern, but then we look at the larger fabric of how seasons relate to one another … Every season has some mix of classic work — a fresh innovative look at some classic plays.

Sometimes we look at things and say, “Yeah, not this year; that’s two years out. Yes, this play, but not this year because it doesn’t make sense in the shape of the current season.”

DTH: This season has a wide variety of themes, from racism in the rotating repertory to family optimism in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” How did you plan that?

JH: We wanted to get a true family show back into the season. We didn’t have one last year … This is a very grown-up season. There’s a lot of grown-up language and challenging scenes. We wanted to make sure we had something in the season that someone could bring their whole family to.

DTH: What’s your favorite show of the season?

JH: That’s like asking me who’s my favorite child. I love them all, and they wouldn’t have found their way into the season. I think that question’s harder now than in other years … I love them all but in different ways.

I think the “A Raisin in the Sun”/“Clybourne Park” rep is kind of amazing. I’m directing the “Cabaret,” so of course I’m very excited about that …The fact that we get Dominique Serrand to make a new adaptation as “Imaginary Invalid” is just a huge, huge thing for us.

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