World Premieres from Tony & Pulitzer Prize Winners on Tap for La Jolla Playhouse's 2016-17 Season
La Jolla Playhouse, nationally-renowned for its development of new work, has announced four world-premiere productions for the 2016/2017 season, including works by Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro, Pulitzer Prize winners Quiara Alegría Hudes and Ayad Akhtar, and 2014 Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award winner Jeff Augustin.
The 2016/2017 slate will feature Hollywood, by Joe DiPietro (Tony Award winner for La Jolla Playhouse-launched Memphis), directed by Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley; JUNK: The Golden Age of Debt by Ayad Akhtar (Playhouse's The Who & The What; Pulitzer Prize winner for Disgraced), helmed by Tony Award-winning director Doug Hughes; The Last Tiger in Haiti by UC San Diego playwriting alumnus Jeff Augustin (Roundabout's Little Children Dream of God), directed by UC San Diego directing alumnus Joshua Kahan Brody (co-founder of San Diego's THE TRIP), which was developed as part of the Playhouse's 2015 DNA New Work Series earlier this year; and the world-premiere, Playhouse-commissioned musical Miss You Like Hell, book and lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes (Pulitzer Prize winner for Water by the Spoonful, Tony Award nominee for the book of In the Heights), music and lyrics by renowned musician Erin McKeown, directed by Lear deBessonet (Public Theatre's The Odyssey and The Winter's Tale). Prior to its full production, the musical will have a first workshop as part of the Playhouse's 2016 DNA New Work Series in February.
"These first four announced shows in our 2016/2017 season come from a beautiful multiplicity of voices, each of which transforms a specific community, setting or locale into a story that speaks to us in a universal way. Whether it's a fight for a corrupt industry's soul in Joe DiPietro's Hollywood; the creation of our selves through our stories in Jeff Augustin's The Last Tiger in Haiti; the power-driven machinations of the 1980s financial markets in Ayad Akhtar's JUNK; or a mother and daughter embarking on a journey to find America - and themselves - in Quiara Alegría Hudes and Erin McKeown's Miss You Like Hell, each of these brand-new works invites us to engage with the very things that make us human," said Ashley. "As we continue to serve as a home for the new and the next, I'm proud to share these stories - from some of the finest playwrights and directors in the nation - with our audiences in San Diego and beyond."
Run dates and the final two productions of the 2016/2017 season - one of which will be directed by Christopher Ashley and the other by Associate Artistic Director Jaime Castañeda - will be announced shortly.
About the 2016/2017 Season
By Joe DiPietro
Directed by Christopher Ashley
In 1922, famed director William Desmond Taylor is found murdered in his home. The celebrity suspects mount as the headlines explode with lurid reports of love triangles, hush money and deception. Enter Will Hays, Hollywood's newly-appointed moral watchdog, determined to silence the scandal and purify this increasingly corrupt city. Based on the true story of Taylor's unsolved murder, Hollywood is a noir thriller set in the Golden Age of movies by Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro.
JUNK: The Golden Age of Debt
By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Doug Hughes
The Deal. The Board Room. The Takeover.
This is the battleground where titanic egos collide, where modern day kings are made and unmade. It's a world where debt is an asset and assets are excuses for more debt, a world where finance runs the show. How did we get here? How did the world we once knew change? Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ayad Akhtar takes us back to the hotbed of the '80s and offers us an origin story for the world that finance has given us, a sexy and epic thriller about an upstart genius hell-bent on changing all the rules.
The Last Tiger in Haiti
Directed by Joshua Kahan Brody
In an earthquake-torn tent shack in Haiti, the sounds of kanaval fill the air as a group of restaveks - child slaves - spend the night trading fantastic folktales until the line between reality and fiction blurs. At daybreak, the oldest plans to break free for a new life but discovers the story of his future and past are in the hands of someone else. Set in a world that is utterly real and remarkably imaginative, this unforgettable new play weaves Haitian lore into a contemporary narrative of survival and betrayal.
Miss You Like Hell
World Premiere, La Jolla Playhouse Commission
Book and Lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Music and Lyrics by Erin McKeown
Directed by Lear deBessonet
When a free-spirited mother convinces her whip-smart teenage daughter to join her on a drive across the country, neither can imagine where it will take them. Chance encounters with a motley crew of characters along the way brings them closer to understanding what sets them apart - and what connects them forever. This vibrant and affecting new American musical from Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes and renowned rock musician Erin McKeown exudes the joy, love and frustration of being a family in a changing nation.
Ayad Akhtar (Playwright: JUNK: The Golden Age of Debt)'s The Who & The What had its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in 2013 and was developed as part of the Playhouse's DNA New Work Series. The play later went on to run at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater. Born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he is the author of American Dervish, published in over twenty languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto's Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His stage play Disgraced played at New York's LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in 2012, and won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has been the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center Theater and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities with degrees in Theater and Film Directing.
Christopher Ashley (Director: Hollywood) has served as La Jolla Playhouse's Artistic Director since October, 2007. During his tenure, he has helmed the Playhouse's productions of Come From Away, The Darrell Hammond Project, Chasing the Song, His Girl Friday, Glengarry Glen Ross, A Dram of Drummhicit, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Restoration and the acclaimed musicals Xanadu and Memphis, which won four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical. He also spearheaded the Playhouse's Without Walls (WoW) series and the Resident Theatre program. Prior to joining the Playhouse, he directed the Broadway productions of Xanadu (Drama Desk nomination), All Shook Up and The Rocky Horror Show (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), as well as the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration productions of Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along. Other New York credits include: Blown Sideways Through Life, Jeffrey (Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards), The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Valhalla, Regrets Only, Wonder of the World, Communicating Doors, Bunny Bunny, The Night Hank Williams Died and Fires in the Mirror (Lucille Lortel Award), among others. Mr. Ashley also directed the feature films Jeffrey and Lucky Stiff, as well as the American Playhouse production of Blown Sideways Through Life for PBS. Mr. Ashley is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award, the Drama League Director Fellowship and an NEA/TCG Director Fellowship.
Jeff Augustin's (Playwright: The Last Tiger in Haiti) play Little Children Dream of God received its world premiere at the Roundabout Underground, where he was the inaugural Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence. His plays have also been produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville (Cry Old Kingdom, Humana 2013; That High Lonesome Sound, Humana Apprentice Anthology 2015), and Western Washington University (Corktown). His work has been developed at the La Jolla Playhouse's DNA New Work Series, Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference, The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, American Conservatory Theater and Seattle Rep. He is the Shank Playwright-in-Residence at Playwrights Horizons; a member of The Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm and the Rita Goldberg Playwrights Workshop at Lark. He is the recipient of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, Lorraine Hansberry Award, and was a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow. He is currently under commission from Manhattan Theatre Club and the Roundabout Theatre. He received his B.A. from Boston College and his M.F.A. from UC San Diego.
Joshua Kahan Brody (Director: The Last Tiger in Haiti) is currently in residence at La Jolla Playhouse with a 2015 Princess Grace Award Apprenticeship (Faberge Theater Award). His recent directing work includes King of the Yees at New Stages (Goodman Theatre), True Believer (TheaterLab, NY); Fourteen Flights (Award for Excellence in Directing, NY Fringe Festival); Pericles (UMKC); Titus Andronicus, Little Children Dream of God, The Dybbuk, The Santa Barbarians and A Man, His Wife, and His Hat (UC San Diego). At La Jolla Playhouse, Brody has worked as an assistant director on The Nightingale and The Who & The What, and as an actor in the 2013 WoW Festival production of Our Town. He is co-founder of THE TRIP, a San Diego-based performance group, for which he recently directed Three Plays in a Tattoo Shop. He received his M.F.A. from the UC San Diego Department of Theatre & Dance and his B.A. from Yale University.
Lear deBessonet (Director: Miss You Like Hell) is the founder/director of Public Works at the Public Theater, for which she has directed pageant-style musical adaptations of The Tempest, The Winter's Tale, and The Odyssey at the Delacorte, each featuring over two hundred New Yorkers from all five boroughs with appearances from diverse groups including gospel choirs, marching bands, park rangers, and taxi drivers. She received Obie and Lilly Awards and a Drama Desk nomination for her direction of Good Person of Szechwan (Foundry Theatre at LaMaMa; Public Theater). Her previous large-scale community projects include The Odyssey at The Old Globe (2011) and her site-specific Don Quixote, a collaboration with homeless shelter Broad Street Ministry and the punk-gypsy ensemble The Psalters (2009). She has directed shows for Encores! Off-Center, LCT3, the Intiman, the Guthrie, Joe's Pub, Women's Project, Performance Space 122, 13p, and Clubbed Thumb. Recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Award, TCG's Peter Zeisler Award, LMCC's Presidential Award for Artistic Excellence, and the Meadow's Prize, she has also acted as a visiting professor at NYU-Tisch School of the Arts.
Joe DiPietro (Playwright: Hollywood) was most recently at the Playhouse in 2014 with the Page To Stage musical Chasing the Song. He won two Tony Awards for co-writing Memphis, which won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical. He won the Drama Desk Award and was nominated for another Tony Award for Best Book for his Gershwin show, Nice Work If You Can Get It, starring Matthew Broderick. Other works include the award-winning The Toxic Avenger (with David Bryan) and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, the longest-running musical revue in off-Broadway history. His new comedy, Clever Little Lies, starring Marlo Thomas, is currently running off-Broadway, and his new historical drama, The Second Mrs. Wilson, is currently playing at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse.
Doug Hughes' (Director: JUNK: The Golden Age of Debt) recent Broadway productions include Outside Mullingar, The Big Knife, An Enemy of the People, Born Yesterday, Elling, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Oleanna, the Tony-nominated revival of The Royal Family, A Man for All Seasons, Mauritius, the Tony-nominated revival of Inherit the Wind, A Touch of the Poet, Frozen (Tony nomination, Best Director) and Doubt, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Director. Recent off-Broadway productions include The City of Conversation, Death Takes A Holiday, The Whipping Man, An Experiment With an Air Pump, Flesh and Blood, and Defiance. In addition to the Tony, he has been awarded Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel, Obie and Callaway Awards for his productions.
Quiara Alegría Hudes (Book/Lyrics: Miss You Like Hell) received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for her play Water by the Spoonful. Previously, her play Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue was a Pulitzer finalist, and her most recent work, The Happiest Song Plays Last premiered at the Goodman Theatre and then at New York's Second Stage. Hudes wrote the book to the Broadway musical In the Heights, which premiered off-Broadway and earned the Lucille Lortel Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. In the Heights transferred to Broadway where it received the Tony Award for Best Musical, a Tony Nomination for Best Book of a Musical, and was named a Pulitzer Finalist. She is a resident playwright at New York's Signature Theatre, where her play Daphne's Dive premieres this spring. She has been honored with official Quiara Hudes Days, declared by both the City of Philadelphia and the City of Chicago. After graduating from public school in Philadelphia, she received a B.A. in music composition from Yale and an M.F.A. in playwriting from Brown, where she studied with Paula Vogel. Hudes is the Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater at Wesleyan University.
Erin McKeown (Music/Lyrics: Miss You Like Hell) is a musician, writer and producer known internationally for her prolific disregard of stylistic boundaries. Her brash and clever electric guitar playing is something to see. Her singing voice is truly unique - clear, cool, and collected. A familiar presence on NPR and the BBC, McKeown's songs have also appeared on numerous television shows and commercials. Since her debut record, Distillation, dropped in 2000, Erin has sold over 100,000 albums. While a student at Brown University, Erin spent three years as an artist in residence at Providence, RI's revolutionary community arts organization, AS220. She spent the next decade playing nearly 200 shows a year while releasing 7 studio albums and refining a distinct and challenging mix of American musical styles. An active voice on social justice issues and culture, Erin was a 2011-12 fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She is the recipient of a 2016 writing residency at The Studios At Key West. Her latest album, 2013's MANIFESTRA, is a call to civic engagement and action. A lifelong musical fan and (happily) amateur actor, Miss You Like Hell is her first theatrical composition.
The Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse is internationally-renowned for creating some of the most exciting and adventurous work in American theatre, through its new play development initiatives, its innovative Without Walls series, artist residencies and commissions, including BD Wong, Daniel Beaty and Kirsten Greenidge. Currently led by Artistic Director Christopher Ashley and Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg, the Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, and reborn in 1983 under the artistic leadership of Des McAnuff, La Jolla Playhouse has had 25 productions transfer to Broadway, garnering 35 Tony Awards, among them Jersey Boys, Memphis, The Who's Tommy, Big River, as well as Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays and the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife, both fostered as part of the Playhouse's Page To Stage Program. Visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org.
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