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Oakland Theater Project Announces Six-Production 2023 Season: HISTORY VS. HOPE

The season launches February 3—26 with the World Premiere of Exodus to Eden.

Oakland Theater Project has announced its 2023 Season: History vs. Hope, a six-production lineup featuring groundbreaking new plays, re-mounted classics, and the company's first musical.

"If what the poets and philosophers tell us is true, and history is a story from which we can never fully escape, perhaps hope is the force that gives us the freedom to try," said OTP Co-Artistic Director Michael Socrates Moran.

"All six of our plays this season wrestle with the paradoxical tension between history and hope in today's world. As we continue to face enormous uncertainty and profound disillusionment, theater, as a realm of illusion, has a role to play in how we might choose hope in a world that often seems committed to repeating history."

The season launches February 3-26 with the World Premiere of Exodus to Eden, written and directed by Oakland Theater Project Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director Michael Socrates Moran. This contemporary epic, created specifically for Oakland Theater Project Company Members and artists, follows the journey of an exiled people across America, through environmental devastation and into their dreams. From a dispossessed family searching for a lost future, to The Man, to Angels, to a girl named Edén, this production features an unforgettable cast of characters and an ensemble of 17. Inspired by The Grapes of Wrath, the Book of Exodus, and the company members of OTP, Exodus to Eden is set in a time after history ends, and before history begins again. Seeking hope in an era that feels often hopeless, the tale asks: What do we worship in America today? Can we change it? If so, what could we change it to that would renew our world?

From March 31-April 23, OTP presents the Bay Area Premiere of Aleshea Harris' multi-award-winning play Is God Is, directed by OTP Co-Artistic Director William Hodgson. After becoming a smash hit Off-Broadway in 2018 and a runaway success in London's West End, Aleshea Harris' contemporary epic is finally making its Bay Area debut. After receiving a letter from a mother they believed was dead, 21-year-old twins Racine and Anaia embark on an odyssey from the Northeast to the Dirty South to The Valley, on a mission to avenge their past. Harris weaves "the ancient, the modern, the tragic, the Spaghetti Western, hip-hop and Afropunk" (Relentless Award, 2016) in an unforgettable tale of two women seeing justice- and taking control their own narratives.

From May 26-June 18, OTP continues its tradition of remounting classic American dramas for our time, as Michael Socrates Moran directs Edward Albee's Tony Award-winning drama, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Following a faculty party at a New England college, George and Martha (played by OTP Associate Artistic Director Lisa Ramirez: The Crucible, The Wasteland, A Streetcar Named Desire) host younger couple Nick and Honey for late-night drinks and games-but the games aren't limited to simple party fare, and the purpose begins to emerge as something deeper, and more dangerous. Written in 1962, Albee's masterpiece continues to resonate with its exploration of truth, illusion, and of protecting one's own version of reality-no matter the cost.

From September 1-24, OTP will stage the West Coast Premiere of groundbreaking theater artist Taylor Mac's Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, directed by Emilie Whelan (A Streetcar Named Desire). The 2019 Broadway hit, which garnered seven Tony Award nominations, is set after the blood-soaked conclusion of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Two servants are charged with cleaning up the aftermath, in a darkly comedic play the New York Times called "fabulous and bedraggled: a defiant and beautiful mess." An exploration of power, privilege, death, survival, and the role of art in shaping the world, Gary reveals how hope can be hilariously created after history has exploded in the gory apocalypse.

Up next, from October 27-November 19, Oakland Theater Project presents its first-ever musical: Cabaret, with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff. Co-Artistic Director William Hodgson (Every Brilliant Thing) doubles as Clifford and the Emcee in this one-of-a-kind production, directed by Michael Socrates Moran. In the twilight of the Jazz Age in 1929- 1930 Berlin, the Nazis are ascending to power, while the hedonistic nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub carries on. There, a young novelist named Clifford Bradshaw meets a cabaret singer named Sally Bowles-but can their relationship survive the cataclysmic changes in the world around them? A collision of decadent celebration and psychological thriller, the multi-Tony-winning musical holds an arresting mirror up to a world in danger of repeating its horrific history.

Finally, OTP presents an encore of Geetha Reddy's "totally epic" (KQED) 2019 Mahābhārata, featuring OTP Company Member J Jha in a bold, one-person retelling of the ancient text-with new scenes added! Dating from around 800 BCE, the great Indian epic boasts 100,000 verses and a cast of thousands, and is told anew to each generation of Indian children in a version that speaks to the time in which they are living. From tales of triumphant warriors to tantalizing histories woven among the battles, to boundaries broken and pathways blazed-don't miss this audience favorite, which examines the nature of conflict, betrayal, and victory through a contemporary lens, and recounts the history of a cosmic civil war in the hope that humanity will learn not to repeat it. Performance dates and venue to be announced at a later date.


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