Seattle Repertory Theatre Announces 20142015 Season
Seattle Repertory Theatre's full 2014-2015 season was announced today by Artistic Director Jerry Manning. The season is headlined by the first-ever presentation of Seattle writer Robert Schenkkan's striking meditation on power and morality in his two-part Lyndon B. Johnson plays, All the Way and The Great Society, in repertory format.
"Producing All the Way and The Great Society is a colossal undertaking for our theatre: two original plays, 18 actors, and the opportunity for city-wide community engagement. It will be the largest artistic project of our 51 year history," stated Manning. "We look forward to giving our patrons a once-in-a-lifetime theatre-going experience."
The new season also boasts three world premieres, a new production of August Wilson'sThe Piano Lesson, and a redefined design concept for the Leo K. Theatre season. The season runs from October 2014 through May 2015, and subscriptions are available now through the Seattle Rep Box Office at 206-443-2222 as well as online at www.seattlerep.org. Single tickets will go on sale Aug. 19, 2014.
All the Way and The Great Society
From November 2014 through January 2015, the Rep kicks off the Bagley Wright Theatre season with Robert Schenkkan's plays about the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, All the Way and The Great Society. Due to the large scope of the project, Seattle Rep and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) partnered to bring Schenkkan's vision to life, with OSF commissioning All the Way and Seattle Rep commissioning The Great Society. Both works received readings at the 2013 New Play Festival.
All the Way is a vivid dramatization of LBJ's tumultuous first year in office following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Commissioned, developed and premiered in 2012 at OSF under the direction of OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch, All the Way was a runaway hit, with Rauch directing subsequent productions at American Repertory Theatre (Fall 2013) and later on Broadway (March 2014-present). Variety's Marilyn Stasio called the play "a jaw-dropping political drama" (Mar. 7, 2014).
The second play, The Great Society, picks up where the All the Way leaves off and continues through LBJ's second term, as he struggles to push his legislative agenda at home while fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam. The Great Society will premiere at OSF in July 2014 directed by Rauch. Both shows will then move to the Rep and be presented in repertory format.
The Rep's 2014-2015 season coincides with the 50th anniversaries of four landmark legislations of the Johnson era: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the War on Poverty, and the implementation of Medicare. Potential topics for community outreach and civic dialogue include civil and voting rights, domestic and foreign policy, and poverty and social justice.
The Bagley Wright Theatre Season
Following the productions of All the Way and The Great Society, a new production of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson will be mounted in the Bagley Wright Theatre in January 2015. Last seen at the Rep in 1993, Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play will be reimagined by director Timothy Bond (Fences, 2010) in partnership with Syracuse Stage. Seattle is the city that Wilson called home, and the Rep is the only theatre in the world to have produced all of his work, including his 10-play Century Cycle and one-man show How I Learned What I Learned.
In March 2015, the Rep will premiere Laura Schellhardt's The Comparables, a Seattle Rep commission directed by Associate Artistic Director Braden Abraham. In this pitch black comedy, three women vie for power in the cut-throat world of high-end real estate. In 2013, Abraham and Schellhardt workshopped the play at The Denver Center New Play Summit and The Ojai Playwrights Conference. This will be their second collaboration following the success of Schellhardt's The K of D, an urban legend in 2011.
Doubt and Moonstruck author John Patrick Shanley's hot new play Outside Mullingarconcludes the 2014-2015 season. An enchanting romantic comedy about two misfits who fall in love in rural Ireland, Mullingar premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club in January 2014 and has been called "Mr. Shanley's finest work since Doubt" by Charles Isherwood of The New York Times (Jan. 23, 2014).
The Leo K. Theatre Season
The 2014-2015 season will feature a unified vision for the intimate Leo K. Theatre, a modern aesthetic dubbed "unplugged" by Manning. The creative team will be led by set designer L.B. Morse (The Hound of the Baskervilles, This) and lighting designer Robert J. Aguilar (Bo-Nita, I Am My Own Wife).
"It has always been deeply important to me to nurture and provide opportunities to the next generation of designers and theatre makers who call Seattle home," commented Manning. "I'm very excited to see the Leo K. serve as an incubator for some of Seattle's best young design talents in the upcoming season."
Seattle artists and Cornish College graduates Jerick Hoffer and Richard Andriessen (widely known as their performance personas Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales) bring their New York smash hit The Vaudevillians back to Seattle to open the Leo K. season in October 2014. Recently seen in Seattle in Balagan Theatre's productions of Spring Awakening and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hoffer displays his immense musical talent alongside partner Andriessen in this vintage cabaret.
Opening in February 2015 is Sarah Ruhl's Dear Elizabeth, a play chronicling the friendship between the great American poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Sifting through 800 of their letters spanning three decades, Ruhl arranged their own words to create a nostalgic and transporting narrative. Allison Narver (The Hound of the Baskervilles, Three Tall Women) returns to the Rep to direct.
Concluding the Leo K. season is the premiere of Seattle artist Justin Huertas' Lizard Boy, a modern love story set on the streets of Seattle. Commissioned by the Rep, Lizard Boy was the runaway hit of the 2013 New Play Festival. Huertas serves as writer, librettist, composer, and lead actor for this coming-of-age rock musical with a superhero twist.
New Play Program and Community Engagement
The 2014-2015 season, Artistic Director Jerry Manning's fifth at the helm, serves as a shining example of his commitment to telling Seattle stories written and performed by Seattle artists. Of the eight plays on the new season's roster, five are written by Seattle residents. Since 2010, the Rep has commissioned 13 works, 9 by Seattle writers. The premieres of The Great Society, The Comparables, and Lizard Boy will bring the total to seven commissioned plays produced during Manning's tenure.
States Manning: "When I was named Artistic Director in 2010, I committed myself to a singular goal: to re-emphasize the importance of telling the stories of our community written by Seattle's incredibly talented writers. This season is the pinnacle of that goal. Five years of hard work in new play development have really begun to show in our programming."
Beyond commissions, other New Play Program initiatives continue in the new season. The 2014 New Play Festival, in which four new works will receive public readings or workshops, will kick off the season in October in the black box PONCHO Forum. As previously announced, new works by Cheryl L. West, co-adapters Jerry Manning and Kirsten Grind, and co-adapters David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright are under consideration for programming. The Writers Group, a collective of eight Northwest playwrights at all stages of their careers, continues to create new work with the support of Seattle Rep resources. Their works-in-progress will be shared at the annual Writers Group Showcase in Summer 2015.
Seattle Rep will renew a variety of educational programs in 2014-2015. Lizard Boy will be presented as part of the Yes Project, an initiative focused on developing and presenting plays featuring young protagonists. The fifth annual Seattle August Wilson Monologue Competition has been confirmed, along with a third year of the Y-WE Speak program, a nine-month residency which encourages teen girls to find their voices through shared theatre experiences. Plans are also underway for Playwriting Projects in partnership with several Seattle area high schools.
About the 2014-2015 season plays (in chronological order)*
The Vaudevillians/Leo K. Theatre
starring Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales
Oct. 3-Nov. 2, 2014
Following a sold-out off-Broadway run and an international tour to Australia, Seattle natives Jerick Hoffer (Jinkx Monsoon, "RuPaul's Drag Race") and Richard Andriessen (Major Scales) bring this bawdy, rowdy musical revue home. The impossible premise? "The Vaudevillians," a fictional 1920s duo, were literally frozen in time while touring in Antarctica. Thawing out nearly a century later, they discover their original music has been co-opted throughout the years-and they're not going to stand for it. Wigs will fly as the two perform hits from the likes of Janis Joplin and Gloria Gaynor in the style of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. It's a vintage cabaret with a twist of drag.
All the Way/Bagley Wright Theatre
by Robert Schenkkan
directed by Bill Rauch
in partnership with Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Nov. 14, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015
Accidental president. Brilliant politician. Flawed man. It's 1963 and an assassin's bullet catapults Lyndon Baines Johnson into the presidency. A Shakespearean figure of towering ambition and appetite, the charismatic, conflicted Texan hurls himself into Civil Rights legislation, throwing the country into turmoil. But in faraway Vietnam, a troublesome conflict looms. The Huffington Post calls Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan's dramatization of LBJ's first year in office "a vivid profile of one of the most complicated men to occupy the presidency."
The minute you gain power, you start to lose it. In his second term of office, LBJ struggles to fight a war on poverty as the war in Vietnam spins out of control. Besieged by opponents, Johnson marshals all his political wiles to try to pass some of the most important social programs in U.S. history. Commissioned by Seattle Rep, Robert Schenkkan's The Great Society depicts the larger-than-life politician's tragic fall from grace, as his accomplishments-the passage of hundreds of bills to enact reform in civil and voting rights, poverty, and education-are overshadowed by the bitter failure of the Vietnam War.
From director Timothy Bond and the creative team that brought you Fences (2010) comes August Wilson's second Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. Berniece Charles is planning to bestow her family's antique piano to her daughter, but her brother Boy Willie has other ideas. He wants to sell the heirloom for cash to buy the land their family once worked as slaves. In this intimate story, brother and sister struggle over how to claim their family's legacy and when to free themselves of the past. Set in Depression-era Pittsburgh, The Piano Lesson is a perfect introduction to the late playwright's Century Cycle, as well as a touching tale of family, history and survival.
Dear Elizabeth/Leo K. Theatre
by Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, arranged by Sarah Ruhl
directed by Allison Narver
Feb. 6-Mar. 8, 2015
Sarah Ruhl, one of the most celebrated playwrights of her generation, paints a portrait of the remarkable 30-year friendship between two of the most honored American poets of the 20th century: Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Using their actual letters with postmarks from across the country and around the world, Ruhl illustrates a relationship full of artistic admiration and warm camaraderie. Directed by Allison Narver (The Hound of the Baskervilles, Three Tall Women), this artfully woven story captures the beauty and power of language as two poets navigate the terrain of an ever-shifting world.
The Comparables/Bagley Wright Theatre
WORLD PREMIERE AND SEATTLE REP COMMISSION
by Laura Schellhardt
directed by Braden Abraham
Mar. 6-29, 2015
The master storytellers behind 2011's hit The K of D, an urban legend return with this world premiere play about women behaving badly. In this pitch black comedy commissioned by Seattle Rep, Bette, Monica and Iris are high-end real estate agents whose sales pitches are as hard and polished as their nails. When Bette's reputation takes a hit, they are faced with a choice-band together to save the agency or fend for themselves. Playwright Schellhardt has crafted a neo-feminist satire that begs the question: is there more than one way for women to do business?
Lizard Boy/Leo K. Theatre
WORLD PREMIERE AND SEATTLE REP COMMISSION
written, composed and performed by Justin Huertas
Mar. 27-Apr. 26, 2015
From the ashes of Mount St. Helens emerged a monster with mysterious powers-powers that changed one boy's life forever. Superhero or freak? Not even he was sure until one fated night of adventure, music and love on the streets of Seattle. Triple-threat Seattle artist Justin Huertas brings his breakout hit of the 2013 New Play Festival to the mainstage in this world premiere production. Equal parts comic book lore, coming-of-age love story and irrepressible tunes, audiences can expect the unexpected in this original rock musical. Ka-Pow!!
Outside Mullingar/Bagley Wright Theatre
by John Patrick Shanley
Apr. 24-May 17, 2015
Hot off Broadway! From the author of Doubt and Moonstruck comes a romantic comedy set in rural Ireland. Anthony and Rosemary are 40-somethings who haven't got a clue when it comes to love. These hopeless singletons will need to overcome a bitter land feud, familial rivalries, and their own romantic fears to find happiness. Full of dark humor and poetic prose, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer John Patrick Shanley's tenderhearted portrait reminds us it's never too late to take a chance on love.