PlayMakers Repertory Company is kicking off their 2014 season tonight, which will feature a diverse selection of comedies, dramas, classics, contemporaries and even a musical.
“As the largest professional theater in the region, we realize we have to be a lot of things to a lot of people,” said producing artistic director Joseph Haj. “The programming is intentionally designed to invite many different conversations.”
PlayMakers Fall 2014 Shows
Rodney King: Sept. 2-7
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: Sept. 17- Oct. 5
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Nov. 1 - Dec. 7
Into the Woods: Nov. 2 - Dec. 6
For more info, visit http://www.playmakersrep.org/
The first conversation will be sparked by Roger Guenveur Smith's “Rodney King.” The one-man play — which opens tonight — is a poetic look at Rodney King and the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
PlayMakers will also be debuting “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” a lighthearted play that comments on the dysfunction, yet togetherness of families. Jeffrey Cornell, senior lecturer and associate chair in the department of Dramatic Arts, will play Vanya, and is pleased with the play's relevance to audiences.
“This year were starting off with a new comedy that’s very sunny, also a little touching and should be good for a lot of laughs,” he said. “It’s funny, it’s sad, but it strikes us as true because we all have crazy families, or parts of family that are crazy — that’s what I think will be fun about it.”
The family comedy will be followed by a rotating combination of two different plays that were inspired by last year’s “The Tempest” and “Metamorphoses” pairing.
“Last year we put in rotating repertory “The Tempest” and “Metamorphosis,” which were played around a 15-ton pool of water, as both of those plays have water as their central metaphor,” Haj said. “This year we will be combining two plays that take the forest as their central metaphor — “Into the Woods” and “Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’”
The season also includes modern selections that feature common themes of political investigation and global change. Although written in the 1950s, “Trouble in Mind” still sparks political conversation today.
“It’s about a company of actors — artists — who are putting together the first interracially diverse cast, integrated cast, that’s going to be on Broadway,” said PlayMakers' associate artistic director Jeffery Meanza. “It’s going to be really biting and really interesting — it feels very contemporary.”
Meanza said he believes “Rodney King” and “Wrestling Jerusalem,” both second stage shows, are also relevant to today's media, touching on topics mirroring events in the Middle East and even in Ferguson, Missouri.
“Everything on the second stage is paired with conversation, so having a lot of opportunities to bring in artists and thinkers to reflect on the artistic work and to engage our community in dialogue are great opportunities to move that second stage series forward,” Meanza said.
Meanza said this dedication to open dialogue is something PlayMakers prides itself in as a way to give back to the community. With a season of dynamic and diverse shows the performances — as well as the conversations they spark — seek to expand the community's understanding of theater and the world around it.
“It’s a huge season,” Meanza said.
“It's going to be very challenging and, as always with the launch of any new thing, you’re a bit anxious to get started and I’m really excited to see how it plays out.”
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