Neil LaBute's REASONS TO BE PRETTY HAPPY, Jocelyn Bioh's 'SCHOOL GIRLS' Highlight MCC Theater's 31st Season

By: Apr. 06, 2017

MCC Theater has announced its five-show 31st Season. The new season - which adds a fifth production to MCC's usual four-show season - boasts an exciting mix of World and New York Premieres from artists both familiar and new to MCC audiences - each fulfilling MCC's longtime commitment to bold, risk-taking works from the most vital voices working in theater today.

Highlights of the 2017-18 Season include: the NYC premiere of Charm, a play by Chicago-based, Jefferson Award-winning playwright Philip Dawkins to be directed by Helen Hayes Award winner and 2017 Lucille Lortel nominee Will Davis, a transgender artist; School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh and directed by Rebecca Taichman, developed last year at MCC's PlayLab series; Relevance by JC Lee and directed by Tony Award nominee Liesl Tommy; Transfers by Lucy Thurber and directed by Jackson Gay; and the world premiere of MCC Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute's new play, Reasons to be Pretty Happy, to be directed by MCC alum Leigh Silverman.

Reasons to be Pretty Happy is the final play in MCC Playwright-in- Residence LaBute's acclaimed 'Reasons' trilogy which also includes Reasons to be Happy and Reasons to be Pretty, the latter of which transferred to Broadway and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. All three plays in the trilogy will have originated with world premiere productions at MCC Theater. LaBute's most recent play, All The Ways To Say I Love You, marked his 10th full-length play produced by MCC in a 15-year collaboration that includes some of the playwright's seminal works: Fat Pig, The Mercy Seat, and The Distance from Here. Reasons to be Pretty Happy will be his 11th. Transfers is the first mainstage collaboration between MCC Theater and Obie Award-winning playwright Lucy Thurber, who has led the MCC Theater Youth Company Playwriting Lab as program director for the last decade.

"In four world premieres and a New York debut our 17/18 season embraces the urgency of the moment. In plays comic, dramatic, and wholly surprising, we'll meet a breadth of memorable characters united by the struggle to reinvent themselves in ways wholly relatable. We are especially excited to announce our first mainstage collaboration with playwright and MCC Youth Company Playwriting Lab director Lucy Thurber," said MCC Co-Artistic Director Will Cantler

MCC Theater broke ground on its first permanent home on March 22, 2016. Set to open in 2018, the space will unite MCC's diverse roster of programs under one roof for the first time in the company's three-decade history. The new facility will also allow MCC to expand its programming and establish it as a cultural anchor within the Clinton neighborhood. The $35 million project is funded by a public-private partnership between the Theater and the City of New York, which has contributed $25.7 million to the project. The campaign has raised $30 million to-date.

MCC Theater recently launch of a matching gift challenge made possible by The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust. The Trust has awarded a $2.5 million challenge grant in support of MCC's first permanent home and expanded programming. This matching gift marks the Trust's first gift to a theater company. The campaign has raised $30 million to-date. Upon the Theater completing the dollar-for-dollar matching challenge by April 30, 2018, the company will meet the campaign's $35 million goal. MCC's new home will unite the company's diverse roster of programs under one roof for the first time in its more than three-decade history.

The MCC Theater 2017-18 Mainstage Season:

New York Premiere

by Philip Dawkins
directed by Will Davis

First Preview: August 31, 2017
Opening: September 18, 2017
Closing: October 8, 2017

When Mama Darleena Andrews-- a 67-year-old, black, transgender woman -- takes it upon herself to teach an etiquette class at Chicago's LGBTQ community center, the idealistic teachings of Emily Post clash with the very real life challenges of identity, poverty and prejudice faced by her students. Inspired by the true story of Miss Gloria Allen and her work at Chicago's Center on Halsted, Philip Dawkins' CHARM asks - how do we lift each other up when the world wants to tear us down?

World Premiere

by Jocelyn Bioh
directed by Rebecca Taichman

First Preview: November 2, 2017
Opening: November 19, 2017
Closing: December 10, 2017

Paulina, the reigning Queen Bee at Ghana's most exclusive boarding school, has her sights set on the Miss Universe pageant. But the mid-year arrival of Ericka, a new student with undeniable talent and beauty, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter - and Paulina's hive-minded friends. Jocelyn Bioh's buoyant and biting comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe.

World Premiere

by JC Lee
directed by Liesl Tommy

First Preview: February 1, 2018
Opening: February 21, 2018
Closing: March 11, 2018

Theresa Hanneck is a celebrated author and veteran feminist warrior; Msemaji Ukweli is a promising young writer who is quickly becoming the leading cultural critic on race, class, and gender for a new generation. When a heated exchange between the two women goes viral, Theresa finds herself ill-equipped to manage her message in the era of 140 character tweets-especially against a rival whose time may have come. A collision of ideals within the feminist movement propels JC Lee's riveting drama from breathless start to surprising finish.

World Premiere

by Lucy Thurber
directed by Jackson Gay

First Preview: April 5, 2018
Opening: April 23, 2018
Closing: May 13, 2018

Cristofer and Clarence are two gifted students from the South Bronx. After two years at a local community college being coached by faculty members, the young men are competing for a life-changing scholarship at an elite northeast university. During a campus visit, the young men are unexpectedly confronted with their shared past while trying to break through a system that seems designed to keep them on the outside.

World Premiere

by Neil LaBute
directed by Leigh Silverman

First Preview: August 16, 2018
Opening: September 9, 2018
Closing: September 23, 2018

After five years in New York, Greg and Steph return to their blue-collar hometown for their 20th high school reunion and to a dramatic encounter with Kent and Carly, the friends they left behind. Old secrets and new lies become increasingly difficult to hide as the evening (and the drinking) goes on. With Reasons To Be Pretty Happy, MCC Theater's Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute revisits the characters first introduced in Reasons To Be Pretty (2009 Tony Award-nominated Best Play) and Reasons To Be Happy as they grapple with that eternal question: Have I become the person I wanted to be?

MCC subscriptions are now on sale for the 2018-2019 season in four and five play options as well as a six play option available for a limited time which includes Matthew Perry's The End of Longing Directed by Lindsay Posner with Quincy Dunn-Baker, Sue Jean Kim, Jennifer Morrison, and Matthew Perry which begins performances on May 18th.

MCC is one of New York's leading nonprofit Off-Broadway companies, driven by a mission to provoke conversations that have never happened and otherwise never would. Founded in 1986 as a collective of artists leading peer-based classes to support their own development as actors, writers and directors, the tenets of collaboration, education, and community are at the core of MCC Theater's programming. One of the only theaters in the country led continuously by its founders, Artistic Directors Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, and William Cantler, MCC fulfills its mission through the production of world, American, and New York premiere plays and musicals that challenge artists and audiences to confront contemporary personal and social issues, and robust playwright development and education initiatives that foster the next generation of theater artists and students.

Plays and musicals developed by the company have gone on to stagings around the globe. Notable productions over the course of the company's 30-year history include Robert Askins' Hand to God, nominated for five Tony Awards and transferred to London's West End; Sharr White's The Other Place, starring Laurie Metcalf; The Submission by Jeff Talbot, winner of the inaugural Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for new American plays; Bryony Lavery's Frozen, a 2004 Tony nominee for Best play and winner for Brian F. O'Byrne's performance; Wit by Margaret Edson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1999; the classic cult musical Carrie, which has gone on to international productions since the Theater's extensive redevelopment work and staging in 2012, the first in more than two decades; and ten plays by Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute, including Fat Pig; reasons to be pretty, a 2009 Tony nominee for Best Play; Reasons to Be Happy; and All The Ways To Say I Love You . Blake West joined the company in 2006 as Executive Director. MCC will open its first permanent home in 2018 in Manhattan's Clinton neighborhood, unifying the company's activities under one roof for the first time and expanding its producing, artist development, and education programming. The Theater is currently in the midst of a $35 million campaign to support its expansion and growing artistic operations, with $30 million raised to-date.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride