Palm Beach Dramaworks Announces Twentieth Anniversary Season
Palm Beach Dramaworks will celebrate its twentieth anniversary season by paying tribute to its past and stepping in to the future.
To mark this milestone anniversary, PBD Producing Artistic Director William Hayes is bringing back three plays that patrons have frequently expressed an interest in seeing again: Mark St. Germain's Camping with Henry and Tom, Stephen Temperley's Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins, and Ronald Harwood's The Dresser. The company continues its commitment to new work with the world premiere of Michael McKeever's The People Downstairs, which was commissioned by PBD and was met with an enthusiastic response when it was read at the just-completed New Year/New Plays Festival. Rounding out the schedule is Lynn Nottage's critically acclaimed Intimate Apparel.
The season gets underway at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre on Friday evening, October 9 with St. Germain's Camping with Henry and Tom, a fictional work inspired by an actual camping trip that President Warren G. Harding took with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison in 1921. PBD first staged the piece in the 2001-2002 season.
Up next, on December 4, is the world premiere of McKeever's The People Downstairs, which tells the story of the courageous souls who hid and took care of Anne Frank and seven others, including her sister and parents, during the Holocaust. That's followed on February 5 with Nottage's Intimate Apparel, a purely imagined piece which was inspired by a photo of the playwright's great grandmother, who had worked as a seamstress and married an immigrant from Barbados.
The season continues on April 2 with Temperley's Souvenir, first seen at PBD during the 2007-2008 season. Elizabeth Dimon returns to her award-winning role as the tone-deaf Florence Foster Jenkins, who, despite - or perhaps because of - a legendary lack of talent, managed to sell out her only performance at Carnegie Hall. Closing out the season is the revival of Harwood's The Dresser, opening on May 21. William Hayes, who played Norman in the company's 2003-2004 production, will be back in his award-winning role as the loyal, protective dresser to an actor near the end of his career.
"This is a special season, so we wanted to take a look at where we've been and where we're going," said Hayes. "We wanted to give our longtime patrons a chance to revisit some of their favorite plays, and provide new audiences with the opportunity to discover these works. The three that we're reviving were chosen both because they're among the most requested, and because the material suits a number of the artists who have contributed significantly to the growth of PBD over the years. I want to showcase as many of these actors as possible." Casting will be announced at a later date.
"The two plays that are new to us are a wonderful reflection of the organization's evolution and vision as we start another decade," Hayes continued. "This is our fourth consecutive season producing a world premiere, and developing new work is now an essential part of our profile. We also want our audiences to hear from an expanding variety of voices, so I'm extremely pleased to produce a play by Lynn Nottage, one of our very best contemporary playwrights. As we look ahead, we will, of course, continue to stage great classic works. We remain guided by the idea of 'Theatre to think about,' and in these turbulent times we feel an even greater urgency to offer plays that illuminate the period we're living through."
2020 - 2021 SEASON
CAMPING WITH HENRY AND TOM
By Mark St. Germain
October 9 - November 1, 2020
Warren G. Harding, eager to get away from the press, prying eyes, and the presidency, accepts an invitation to join Henry Ford and Thomas Edison on their annual camping trip. Stranded in the woods, they converse about politics, ambition, family, and fame, revealing three starkly different personalities and world views. A work of fiction inspired by an actual 1921 excursion, the play deals with issues and ideas that remain as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.
THE PEOPLE DOWNSTAIRS
By Michael McKeever
December 4 - December 27, 2020
For two years and one month, Anne Frank and seven others hid in four small rooms concealed behind a bookcase in the building where her father worked. Her diary revealed their ordeal to the world. But what of the people who hid them, got them food, and kept them informed? This play explores the complex challenges faced by these brave individuals on their journey of rebellious morality during the horrors of the Holocaust.
By Lynn Nottage
February 5 - February 28, 2021
In this heartfelt and heartbreaking work set at the turn of the 20th century, Esther is a 35-year-old African-American seamstress of exquisite intimate apparel who aches to love and be loved. An unlikely opportunity arises when she enters into a correspondence with a man she's never met. The play is a lyrical exploration of loneliness and longing, sweet dreams and bitter truths, determination and resiliency.
SOUVENIR: A FANTASIA ON THE LIFE OF Florence Foster JENKINS
By Stephen Temperley
April 2 - April 25, 2021
Florence Foster Jenkins was a wealthy socialite who had unwavering confidence in her "pitch- perfect" voice and was blissfully unaware that her singing was astonishingly awful; it was so bad that it made her a celebrity. Cosmé McMoon was her longtime accompanist, who was pained by her lack of talent but came to admire her indomitability. McMoon narrates this funny and touching memory play about self-delusion, friendship, kindness, compassion, and joy.
By Ronald Harwood
May 21 - June 6, 2021
It's 1942, bombs are dropping over England, and a renowned but fading actor is bringing Shakespeare to the provinces with a ragtag troupe. Sir, scheduled to give his 227th performance of King Lear, is in no condition to go on, but his devoted, self-sacrificing dresser, Norman, is determined to get him onstage. Sir and Norman's co-dependent - if unequal - relationship is the heartbeat of this warts-and-all, tragicomic valentine to the transcendent power of theatre.
Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Florida Professional Theatres Association, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.
Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30PM, Friday and Saturday at 8PM, and select Sundays at 7PM. Matinee performances are on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2PM. Post-performance discussions follow Wednesday matinee and Sunday evening performances.
The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information contact the box office at (561) 514-4042, or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.