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Seasons Announced for Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre, Featuring SLAVE PLAY West Coast Premiere & More

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Shows include: Blues for an Alabama Sky, King James, Alma, Tambo & Bones and more.

Seasons Announced for Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre, Featuring SLAVE PLAY West Coast Premiere & More

Center Theatre Group Artistic Director Michael Ritchie and Managing Director / CEO Meghan Pressman have announced the upcoming seasons for the Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre. Presenting a rich variety of work on all three of CTG's physical venues plus an offering on the Digital Stage, this season draws on a range of playwrights from emerging voices to acclaimed artists.

"This moment has been a long time coming," said Pressman. "It's the moment we have planned, worked and hoped for since we closed our theatres in March 2020. But as we prepared for this return to live performances, we also spent time reflecting on what it means to be a Los Angeles theatre company-a company that puts the multitude of communities and stories of L.A. center stage and elevates the stories that we want to tell in this new world."

"The shows that Michael and our team of Associate Artistic Directors-Luis Alfaro, Lindsay Allbaugh, Tyrone Davis, Neel Keller and Kelley Kirkpatrick-have selected are a result of their deep and thoughtful work. These are seasons that celebrate the artists and diverse voices who have inspired us. On behalf of the Board and staff of Center Theatre Group, we are so proud to share Michael's final season as artistic leader of Center Theatre Group with L.A. audiences."

"When we closed the theatres at the start of the pandemic, I didn't realize that the Taper would be closed for almost two years," shares Ritchie. "But I did know that this unprecedented intermission would require a big return. Jeremy O. Harris' previously announced 'Slave Play' offers just that-a revelatory new play that truly changes the way we see the world around us. I felt that Los Angeles needed the opportunity to see Jeremy's work then, and it has only become more vital since.

"Across the plaza at the Ahmanson Theatre, 'The Lehman Trilogy' is a stunningly beautiful epic directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes which tracks nearly two centuries in the lives of an immigrant family and their namesake business that both defined and threatened to destroy the American dream. It's a production that took London by storm and did the same on Broadway. I believe it is an excellent piece for the Taper audience."

"We welcome two of our longtime collaborators back to the Taper for the next two shows. Phylicia Rashad appeared in the world premiere of 'Blues for an Alabama Sky' 25 years ago. Now she revisits Pearl Cleage's beautiful work as a director. This is the fifth show Phylicia has directed for CTG, and the fourth on the Taper stage where she has also stunned audiences as an actress. Rajiv Joseph, who premiered 'Bengal Tiger and the Baghdad Zoo' and 'Archduke' with Center Theatre Group, returns with the world premiere production of 'King James' which explores basketball great LeBron James' impact on Rajiv's hometown of Cleveland and the way sports fandom can shape relationships well off the court."

"Master storyteller Mike Birbiglia, whose hilariously honest 'The New One' played the Ahmanson in 2019, will premiere his newest work at the Taper," said Ritchie. "Titled 'Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool,' this latest piece delves into his own life for a disturbingly funny coming-of-middle-age story."

"And one more piece of the Taper season is Jon Robin Baitz's wry and revealing new play 'I'll Be Seein' Ya,' which is set in Los Angeles during the summer of 2020 where Hollywood fantasies collide with modern realities. This is Baitz's eighth production at CTG and fourth world premiere with us. Appropriately, this piece will have its premiere on CTG's Digital Stage, a venue born out of the pandemic and a need to create art and stay connected when our traditional stages were shuttered.

"Across town at the Kirk Douglas Theatre we will premiere another Southern California story from an exciting young writer, L.A.-native Benjamin Benne. His new play, 'Alma,' tells a humorous yet deeply human story of a mother and daughter and the wishes they hold for each other."

"We follow that with another important young writer and a voice that needs to be heard-the previously announced premiere of Dave Harris' 'Tambo & Bones,'" Ritchie continued. "We've been following his work for some time and after seeing a reading of this electric new play, we approached Dave and the director, Taylor Reynolds, to let them both know that we hoped we could be a part of their journey with this piece. It's been a long time coming but absolutely worth the wait.

"We conclude the season at the Douglas with Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre. We had already selected our partner theatres and were days away from previews when the theatres closed in 2020. One of the plays, IAMA Theatre Company's 'Canyon' by Jonathan Caren, was adapted for (and is currently available on) our Digital Stage. Thankfully, we are able to bring back Sacred Fools' production of 'The Art Couple' by Brendan Hunt, who launched a cultural phenomenon in the interim, co-creating, performing on and winning an Emmy for 'Ted Lasso.' Our other production in Block Party 2022 will be The Los Angeles LGBT Center production of 'To T or Not to T? A Comedic Trans Journey through (T)estosterone and Masculinity' by CTG's 2021 Dorothy and Richard Sherwood Award-winning actor/writer/comic D'Lo. This immensely talented artist tells a very funny, personal and poignant story of self-discovery.

"This is a time like no other. And for me, this season is a season unlike any other. We normally announce the next season when we are in the midst of the last; one rolls into the next. But after a year and a half with our theatres sitting empty, I look at the theatre pieces with a new perspective-I see what I missed when it was gone. There is the electricity of a crowd waiting to be transported. For those of us who work in the theatre, there is always an excitement as we wait to see how the special alchemy of each performance reveals itself as the most vital element, the audience, is added.

"At this moment we have assembled a remarkable group of artists who are exploring the essential questions about who we are, how we got here and what's next. They come at these subjects from different perspectives, at different phases in their careers and lived experiences. Soon they will be joined by actors, directors, designers, producers, stage managers and the countless other artists and artisans that will come together to realize their now shared vision. In that process, we create theatre that will makes us laugh, cry, think and feel-that will spark conversations, expand our understanding of the world around us and challenge things we thought we knew."

Mark Taper Forum Season Production

"Slave Play"

By Jeremy O. Harris
Directed by Robert O'Hara
West Coast Premiere
February 9 through March 13, 2022
Opens February 16

Jeremy O. Harris' unflinching new work "Slave Play" will launch Center Theatre Group's new season at the Mark Taper Forum February 9 through March 13, 2022. Opening is set for February 16. Two-time NAACP and Obie Award winner and the recipient of Center Theatre Group's inaugural Sherwood Award, Robert O'Hara returns to direct "Slave Play," which earned a record 12 Tony nominations, the most for any play in the history of those awards. The original creative team from the Broadway engagement will bring the acclaimed new work to Los Angeles direct from Broadway, for its first production outside of New York. Casting will be announced at a future date.

"Slave Play" takes place at the MacGregor Plantation, where nothing is as it seems, and yet everything is as it seems. It's an antebellum fever-dream as three interracial couples converge to rip open history at the intersection of race, love, sex and sexuality in 21stcentury America.

"Slave Play" received the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, The Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences, and the 2018 Paula Vogel Award. The play was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Playwriting Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play.

Mark Taper Forum Season Production

Presented at the Ahmanson Theatre

"The Lehman Trilogy"

Written by Stefano Massini
Adapted by Ben Power
Directed by Sam Mendes
March 3 - April 10, 2022
Opens March 6

The story of a family and a company that changed the world, told in three parts on a single evening, The National Theatre and Neal Street Productions' critically acclaimed "The Lehman Trilogy" will play a special limited engagement at the Ahmanson Theatre March 3 through April 10, 2022 directly following its limited Broadway engagement and after sold-out runs at The National Theatre, in London's West End and at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. "The Lehman Trilogy" is written by Stefano Massini, adapted by Olivier Award-nominated Ben Power and directed by multiple Olivier Award, Tony Award and Oscar winner Sam Mendes ("The Ferryman," "Skyfall," "1917"). Opening is set for March 6, 2022.

"The Lehman Trilogy" weaves through nearly two centuries of Lehman lineage. On a cold September morning in 1844, a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside dreaming of a new life in the new world. He is joined by his two brothers and an American epic begins. One hundred and sixty-three years later, the firm they establish-Lehman Brothers- spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy and triggers the largest financial crisis in history.

"The Lehman Trilogy" features set designs by Es Devlin, costume design by Katrina Lindsay, video design by Luke Halls and lighting design by Jon Clark. The composer and sound designer is Nick Powell, the co-sound designer is Dominic Bilkey, with music direction by Candida Caldicot and movement by Polly Bennett. The associate director is Zoé Ford Burnett. Casting to be announced.

The world premiere of Stefano Massini's "The Lehman Trilogy" opened at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan in 2015. It turned out to be Artistic Director Luca Ronconi's final production before his death. A long-term admirer of Ronconi's, Sam Mendes was inspired to begin planning an English adaptation for Neal Street Productions.

Ben Power was commissioned by Neal Street Productions to create a new version of this epic play, using a literal English translation by Mirella Cheeseman. This production opened at The National Theatre on July 4, 2018, before its North American premiere at the Park Avenue Armory where it garnered huge critical acclaim.

"The Lehman Trilogy" subsequently opened May 11, 2019, for a 16-week sold-out West End run at the Piccadilly Theatre. Following Broadway's 18-month shutdown, "The Lehman Trilogy" has returned to Broadway-where it had previously played four performances in March 2020-and is now playing at the Nederlander Theatre for a limited engagement until January 4, 2022.

Mark Taper Forum Season Production

"Blues for an Alabama Sky"

By Pearl Cleage
Directed by Phylicia Rashad
April 6 - May 8, 2022
Opens April 13

Center Theatre Group's season at the Mark Taper Forum continues with Pearl Cleage's "Blues for an Alabama Sky" April 6 through May 8, 2022. Phylicia Rashad, who originated the role of Angel in the world premiere of "Blues for an Alabama Sky" 25 years ago, returns to the play, this time to direct this major revival of Cleage's rich and beautiful work. "Blues for an Alabama Sky" opens April 13.

Angel is free-spirited Cotton Club singer who's out of luck but never out of dreams. Guy is a costume designer waiting for Josephine Baker to invite him to join her in Paris. Delia, a young activist, is trying to give the women of Harlem a choice about their future. Sam, a prominent physician, is either delivering babies or out at the club letting the good times roll. And Leland, who recently arrived in Harlem from Alabama, is haunted by the wide-open skies and lost love he left behind. The lives and dreams of these men and women converge with passion and politics as the art and celebration of the Harlem Renaissance give way to the harsh realities of the Great Depression.

Mark Taper Forum Season Production

"King James"

By Rajiv Joseph
Director to be announced
World Premiere Production
A Co-production with Steppenwolf Theatre Company
June 1 - July 3, 2022
Opens June 8

Center Theatre Group's season at the Mark Taper Forum continues with the world premiere production of "King James" by Rajiv Joseph June 1 through July 3, 2022. Co-produced with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, "King James" was co-commissioned by Center Theatre Group and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Opening is set for June 8. The director will be announced at a future date.

"King James" will have its world premiere at Steppenwolf March 3 through April 10, 2022. For more Information on the Chicago production, visit steppenwolf.org.

"King" LeBron James's reign in Cleveland brings promise, prosperity and renewal to a city in desperate need of all three. It also brings together two friends who communicate best when they are talking and arguing about sports. "King James" is an intimate exploration of the place that sports and athletes occupy in our emotional lives and relationships. It explores the star player's impact on Cleveland, from his rookie season to the city's historic championship, and the lives of these two unlikely friends whose turbulent relationship is best navigated through their shared love of the sport in a verbal game of one on one. Though he is never seen in the show, LeBron James serves as a symbol for the hopes, desires and fears that they have bottled up since childhood.

Mark Taper Forum Season Production

"Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool"

Written and Performed by Mike Birbiglia
Directed by Seth Barrish
World Premiere
July 27 - August 28, 2022
Opens August 3

Center Theatre Group's season at the Mark Taper Forum continues with "Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool" written and performed by Mike Birbiglia. Directed by Seth Barrish, "The Old Man and the Pool" gets its world premiere July 27 through August 28, 2022. The opening is set for August 3.

On the heels of his award-winning Broadway show "The New One," which made its west coast premiere on the Ahmanson stage, comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia returns to Center Theatre Group with a tale of life, death, and a highly chlorinated YMCA pool. With his unique form of comedic storytelling, Birbiglia chronicles a coming-of-middle-age story that asks the big questions: Why are we here? What's next? And what happens when the items at the doctor's office that you thought were decorative become quite useful.

Mark Taper Forum Season Production

Presented on CTG's Digital Stage

"I'll Be Seein' Ya"

Written by Jon Robin Baitz
Directed by Robert Egan
World Premiere
Streaming dates to be announced

The world premiere of Tony nominee and two-time Pulitzer finalist Jon Robin Baitz's "I'll Be Seein' Ya" will be presented on CTG's Digital Stage as part on Center Theatre Group's season at the Mark Taper Forum. Co-commissioned by Center Theatre Group and Second Stage Theatre, "I'll Be Seein' Ya" is directed by Robert Egan. The run dates for this presentation will be announced at a later date.

Allie Murchow dreams of a better yesterday, and bearable tomorrow in a rapidly changing urban America. It's the summer of 2020 in Los Angeles, and this anxious, aging recluse is holed up in her meager apartment with little more than a million stories of her life in Hollywood's yesteryear. But even the best makeup can't cover up what's really going on outside. Her neighbor is worried. Her brother needs peace and quiet. And her fantasies quickly Seasons Announced at the Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre - 11 -morecrash into reality in this deeply human exploration of empathy, guilt, the kindness of strangers, and the impossibility of hiding from our ever-changing world.

Kirk Douglas Theatre Season Production

"Alma"

Written by Benjamin Benne
Directed by Juliette Carrillo
World Premiere
Produced in Cooperation with American Blues Theater
March 6 - April 3, 2022
Opens March 13

The world premiere of Benjamin Benne's "Alma" opens Center Theatre Group's next season at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Produced in cooperation with American Blues Theater, "Alma" begins previews March 6 continues through April 3, 2022. Directed by Juliette Carrillo, "Alma" is set for March 13.

Alma and her daughter, Angel, have built a lifetime of wishes, one for each of Angel's 17 years-health, love, carne asada every day and a spot at UC Davis. Now, on the eve of the SAT test, Alma comes home to discover her daughter is out drinking rather than studying her flashcards. As Alma goes into her parenting toolbox, drawing on guilt, nostalgia and an expertly wielded chancla (sandal), we learn that there is more than one person's future at stake and the mother and daughter's hopes and goals for each other may not be in as close alignment as they once were.

Kirk Douglas Theatre Season Production

"Tambo & Bones"

By Dave Harris
Directed by Taylor Reynolds
World Premiere Production
A Co-Production with Playwrights Horizons
May 1 - May 29, 2022
Opens May 8

The world premiere production of Dave Harris' "Tambo & Bones" is the second production in Center Theatre Group's season at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. A co-production with Playwrights Horizons, this explosive new work from one of the country's fastest rising playwrights will be directed by Taylor Reynolds. "Tambo & Bones" previews May 1 and continues through May 29, 2022. Opening is set for May 8.

Tambo and Bones are two characters trapped in a minstrel show. It's mad hard to feel like a real person when you're trapped in a minstrel show. Their escape plan: get out, get bank, get even. A rags-to-riches hip-hop odyssey, "Tambo & Bones" roasts America's racist past, wrestles America's racist present, and explodes America's post-racial future-where what's at stake, for those deemed less-than-human, is the fate of humanity itself.

"Tambo & Bones" is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

Kirk Douglas Theatre Season Production

Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre
Production One
The Los Angeles LGBT Center production of

"To T or Not to T?

A Comedic Trans Journey through (T)estosterone and Masculinity"
Written and Performed by D'Lo
Direction and Dramaturgy by Adelina Anthony
June 25 - July 10, 2022
Opens June 29

Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre returns with the Los Angeles LGBT Center production of "To T or Not to T? A Comedic Trans Journey through (T)estosterone and Masculinity" June 25 through July 10, 2022. Opening is set for June 29.

Written and performed by acclaimed queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American actor/writer/comedian D'Lo, "To T or Not to T" is an unapologetically bold and hilarious personal autobiographical one person play. Featuring direction and dramaturgy by Adelina Anthony, "To T or Not to T" follows D'Lo's transformational journey of taking "T" starting from his childhood in Lancaster, California, towards the embodiment of a beautiful masculinity. Along the way, "To T or Not To T" explores the ways his relationship with his immigrant father, his love for hip hop and feminism, and his chosen family shape his decisions as both an artist and a human.

Kirk Douglas Theatre Season Production

Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre
Production Two
Sacred Fools Theater Company production of

"The Art Couple"

Written by Brendan Hunt
Directed by Lauren Van Kurin
July 23 - August 7, 2022
Opens July 27

Originally announced as part of the 2020 Block Party, "The Art Couple" from Sacred Fools Theater Company will take the second slot in the 2022 Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre and will begin previews July 23, open July 27 and continue through August 7, 2022.

Written by five-time Emmy-nominated writer/actor/producer Brendan Hunt (winner for "Ted Lasso" - Outstanding Comedy Series) and directed by Lauren Van Kurin, "The Art Couple" is a dramedy about Neil Simon's struggle to break a terrible case of writer's block he is suffering after accepting a huge commission for his completely unwritten third play: "The Odd Couple." Encouraged by a mysterious busboy with a western twang (who also happens to be an aspiring playwright), Simon decides the play should be more than schtick, it should be about art. When he learns that Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin shared an ill-fated cohabitation, he endeavors to write about that real-life (but very odd) couple. Neil and the busboy battle for control of the play in parallel scenes and the odd couples begin to resemble something closer to "True West," building irrevocably to a suitably ridiculous conclusion.

While Center Theatre Group performances of do not begin until November 30, CTG currently plans to require all audience members to provide proof of vaccination and to wear masks at all times unless they are actively eating and drinking in designated areas. Children under 12 and those who are unvaccinated due to a medical or religious reason must provide proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to attending an indoor performance along with government issued ID. Rapid or antigen tests will not be accepted. CTG will be announcing further details, including methods of confirming vaccination records or negative test results closer to the Ahmanson's re-opening date in late November 2021. These health and safety measures are subject to change, at Center Theatre Group's sole discretion and based on evolving health and safety guidance and conditions. CTG will continue working closely with The Music Center and L.A. County officials to ensure they are following all applicable health and safety protocols. Additional information about The Music Center's safety plans, including its recent upgrades to all HVAC systems, is available at MusicCenter.org. Center Theatre Group has also upgraded the HVAC system, improving the air flow and maximizing circulation, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre which received the UL Verified Healthy Buildings Mark for Indoor Air and Water Quality as have all Music Center venues. More information is available at www.centertheatregroup.org/visit/health-and-safety/.

Tickets for Center Theatre Group's seasons at the Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre are currently available by subscription only. For information and to charge subscriptions by phone, call the Exclusive Subscriber Hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase subscriptions online, visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/Season.

Center Theatre Group offers a number of services to accommodate persons requiring mobility, vision and hearing access. For more information, please visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/access.


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