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ACT Theatre Announces 2020 Season

ACT Theatre Announces 2020 Season

ACT - A Contemporary Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director John Langs, officially announces its 55th season-a celebration of five contemporary plays including ACT's 50th Mainstage world premiere. The 2020 mainstage season will open with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sweat by Lynn Nottage, followed by The Effect, a scintillating, pill-popping love story by Lucy Prebble. Summer 2020 will feature a co-production with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts with the soaring coming-of-age musical-drama Choir Boy by the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Moonlight, Tarell Alvin McCraney. Fall at ACT will feature the world premiere of The Laugh Track by Wendy MacLeod, inspired by the true story of the first female Hollywood writer on the I Love Lucy Show. Closing the season, will be the weirdly wonderful and witty Witch by Jen Silverman, an updated version of The Witch of Edmonton, where the Devil comes to bargain for souls and things go awry when he meets up with the town outcast.

ACT is proud to exceed the goal of having 50% of plays in 2020 written by female playwrights. The 50/50 in 2020 initiative is being championed nation-wide by film and theatre advocates that are working to advance parity in representation in arts and entertainment, throughout all levels of their industries.

2020 is the first season of Artistic Director John Langs' recently renewed five-year contract. About next year Langs says, "My first season for ACT was 2016 and we learned a lot about trying to anticipate an audience's state of mind in an election year. 2020 will no doubt be a year of great importance. In choosing next year's plays, we've been deliberate in making ACT a place where audiences can find the inspiration and will to make things better in whatever way we can. The plays explore stories of resilience, of being proud of who you are, of understanding different views, connecting through the joy that comes from connection and being seen, and the great importance of laughter."

The 55th Mainstage season will appear as follows:


Mar 20-Apr 12, 2020

By Lynn Nottage

Directed by John Langs

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Sweat is the scorching new play that The New York Times hailed as "keenly observed and surprisingly funny...throbs with heartfelt life." Sweat is the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets, and laughs while working together on the factory floor in Reading, PA. But when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in a fight to stay afloat. Heartbreaking and surprisingly funny, this remarkable play is about the profound forces that seek to divide us, and redemption in the face of inequity.

Nottage is the first and only woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice; the first in 2009 for Ruined, and the second in 2017 for Sweat. Sweat, was the recipient of an Obie Award for Playwriting and was nominated for three Tony Awards including Best Play.

The Effect

Apr 17-May 19, 2020

By Lucy Prebble

Directed by Tracy Young

A whip-smart, cerebral, and sexy play based on the clinical trial for a new anti-depressant, which questions whether emotion manipulated by chemicals is for real. Hearts racing. Minds reeling. Knees buckling. Connie and Tristan have palpable chemistry-or is it a side effect of a new drug? They are volunteers in a clinical trial, but their sudden and illicit romance forces the supervising doctors to face off over the ethical consequences of their work. Written by Lucy Prebble, contributing writer on the HBO series Succession, The Effect takes on our pill-popping culture with humor and scintillating drama.

The Effect, which premiered at The National Theatre in 2012, won the 2012 Critics' Circle Award for Best Play.

Choir Boy

June 5-28, 2020

By Tarell Alvin McCraney

Directed by Jamil Jude

A co-production with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Pharus doesn't fit in at The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys. Despite embodying the strong, ethical morals the school seeks to ingrain in its black students, being gay has made him an outsider within its hallowed halls. But this year, his talent and perseverance have paid off with a chance to lead the prestigious choir, a position where he may finally shake the dogged bullying by his fellow classmates. Featuring gorgeous gospel music, you'll want to raise your voice and cheer as one student boldly stands up to the those that seek to silence him. This soaring coming-of-age drama was the Broadway debut of Oscar-winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight), whose deeply human storytelling illuminates the chaotic collision of race, masculinity, and sexuality on the path to adulthood.

Choir Boy was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Play and Best Choreography. McCraney has previously been awarded the Steinberg Award and MacArthur Fellowship. Among many works, he is also the author of the Brother/Sister Plays Trilogy.

World Premiere

The Laugh Track

Sept 11-Oct 4, 2020

By Wendy MacLeod

Directed by John Langs

Go behind the scenes with the team that changed television forever. Madelyn Pugh Davis was Hollywood's first female showrunner at time when there were no "girl writers". For six seasons, she developed and penned I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, making them America's favorite couple. Wendy MacLeod's The Laugh Track, commissioned by ACT and developed at the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, is all about female mentorship and the revolutionary idea that women can be funny.

Macleod's play The House of Yes became an award-winning Miramax film starring Parker Posey and was produced in theatres throughout the US. Her prose has appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney's, Salon, POETRY magazine, and on NPR's All Things Considered.


Oct 23-Nov 15, 2020

By Jen Silverman

Directed by Alison Narver

Jen Silverman's Witch, a riff on the 17th-century fable The Witch of Edmonton, takes place in a sleepy town where a "middle management level" devil with a gift for enticing people to sell their souls in exchange for certain life-altering favors comes to call. While he easily snaps up the souls of two men through a slick bargain, he soon finds out that his most worthy opponent will not be easily bought. Elizabeth, the town's outcast, also happens to be a woman of intelligence, experience and cynicism who will not be scammed. With wry wit and humor this fiercely feminist play skewers our centuries-long fight for humanity.

Witch premiered to rave reviews in 2018 at the Writer's Theatre in Chicago and is now playing at The Geffen Playhouse in L.A. Silverman is a member of New Dramatists, and an affiliated artist with The Playwrights Center in Minneapolis and SPACE on Ryder Farm. She also writes for television and film, most recently on Netflix's Tales of the City.

Subscriptions for 2020 are on sale now. All Mainstage shows are available through subscription and will be available for single ticket purchase in January 2020.
All ticket purchases and information are available at, by phone at 206.292.7676 or by visiting ACT's ticket office at 700 Union St. Seattle, WA 98101

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