City Lights 2017-18 Season Focuses on Family Matters

City Lights 2017-18 Season Focuses on Family Matters

Family is where you find it-not just where you're born. How do we define our kin and who we are in relation to them? In City Lights Theater Company's 35th season, family and community are found in a Chekhovian country house, Washington Heights, and Mr. and Mrs. Darcy's Christmas. They're also in the pages of a controversial children's book, and in how we connect with each other to meet the dark side of humanity.

"We have all felt the push and pull between the families we choose versus the ones we're born into," Executive Artistic Director Lisa Mallette said. "It's an intriguing contrast that always makes great theater."

City Lights, based in downtown San Jose's SoFA Arts District, presents a six-show mainstage season in its 100-seat house at 529 S. Second St. Shows draw crowds and praise for their compelling storytelling that encourages empathy and illuminates the human experience in unexpected ways. Ever seen a high- tech version of Frankenstein or an up-close, intimate telling of a sweeping musical like West Side Story? City Lights has presented both in recent years.

The 2017-18 season starts this fall with Stupid Fucking Bird, the bold, raucous riff on Chekhov; and continues with the new holiday work Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. Up next is the moving Civil Rights Movement-era tale Alabama Story, followed by Shakespeare's contentious The Merchant of Venice and a yet-to-be-announced fifth play (stay tuned!). The exuberant musical In the Heights closes out the season next summer.

Season passes for 2017-18 range in price from $130 to $170 and are now on sale. To purchase a pass, go to

Performance details and synopses:

Stupid Fucking Bird

by Aaron Posner

South Bay Premiere

September 14-October 15, 2017

This is Chekhov-like you've never seen it before. Award-winning playwright Aaron Posner's bold, raucous, contemporary riff on The Seagull moves the Chekhov work to a country house where unrequited desire drowns in sarcasm and alcohol. Actresses, playwrights, novelists and doctors all bare their souls as they struggle to find the truths of life. And everyone discovers the disappointments of art, love and growing up in this skillful remix of Chekhov's classic.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon

South Bay Premiere

November 16-December 17, 2017

In this new holiday work, revisit favorite characters from Pride and Prejudice as they come together for Christmas at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. It's a continuation of Jane Austen's beloved tale with the focus on Mary Bennet, still feeling like the odd sister out as she spends the holidays with her witty, pretty and newly married sisters. Then Mary unexpectedly finds she has a chance to write her own story. But will it end happily?

Alabama Story

by Kenneth Jones

West Coast Premiere

January 18-February 18, 2018

It's 1959 and the Civil Rights movement is starting to grip America. In Montgomery, Alabama, a fight over a controversial children's book-one in which a black rabbit marries a white rabbit-pits librarian Emily Wheelock Reed against segregationist Sen. E.W. Higgins. Childhood friends reunite, only to be caught up in the political and racial tensions of the time. Inspired by true events, this drama explores tests of character and emotions that reshaped our nation.

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

Timelessly compelling

March 22-April 22, 2018

More than four centuries after it was first performed, Merchant remains one of the Bard's most compelling, ambivalent and controversial plays. Poised somewhere between drama and comedy, it balances precariously on the edge where the light and the dark of humanity meet, and reflects the emotional turmoil of Shakespeare's time, aspects of which eerily suggest the troubles that roil America today. With some of the most famous speeches and scenes in the Shakespearean canon, the work still challenges and fascinates audiences.

Our May-June 2018 show will be announced shortly!

We're on the hunt for just the right show ... something provocative and innovative, something with that special City Lights vibe. Were you expecting anything less?

In the Heights

Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda Music by Quiara Algeria Hudes New York Times Critics' Pick July 12-August 19, 2018

Before Hamilton, there was In the Heights, set in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The Tony Award-winning musical takes us into the life of a young storeowner as he watches the joys and heartbreaks of his tight-knit, vibrant community as it passes by his bodega. For all its traditions, it is a world on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams-and disappointments. And it's all captured in the pulsating rhythms of this magical work.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Executive Artistic Director Lisa Mallette, contact marketing director Rebecca Wallace at or 408-295-4200.

About City Lights:

Since 1982, the nonprofit City Lights Theater Company has been inspiring audiences with an exciting mix of plays and musicals. The company's San Jose theater is a bustling 100-seat space that attracts artists, educators, students and playgoers alike. Committed to presenting thought-provoking plays that

speak strongly to audiences, the company also develops new plays, with some scripts joining a regular season. Other special events include the Lights & Music concert series.

Executive Artistic Director Lisa Mallette has led the company since 2001. Since then, City Lights has been recognized not only for expanding its artistic reach and achievement, but also for its sound fiscal management; 2015-2016 marked the company's 13th consecutive season in the black.

City Lights' mainstage 2016-17 season is now featuring Kit Wilder's world-premiere adaptation of Frankenstein, followed by the witty Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo, and the Goth-rock musical Lizzie.

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