PlayMakers Repertory Company unveils 2008-2009 season

 

CHAPEL HILL — From William Shakespeare’s epic adventure “Pericles” to Tanya Barfield’s exploration of cultural heritage in “Blue Door” and Tennessee Williams’ classic “The Glass Menagerie” in rotating repertory with Lisa Kron’s Broadway sensation “Well,” PlayMakers Repertory Company will present a variety of offerings in 2008-2009.

 

PlayMakers is the professional theater company in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All performances will be presented at UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road.

 

Rounding out the theater’s mainstage season, set to begin this fall, is Jane Austen’s witty and wise romance “Pride and Prejudice,” adapted by Jon Jory. PlayMakers will also bring back by popular demand a reprise of its hit production “The Little Prince” by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar, based on the book by Antoine de St. Exupéry, as a special holiday event.

 

PlayMakers will also present three shows in its innovative PRC2 second stage series: “In the Continuum” by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter, “The Young Ladies Of …” by Taylor Mac and “9 Parts of Desire” by Heather Raffo.

 

With works of heartbreaking drama, hilarious comedy, intimate stories book-ended by two wonderful classics, and the return of holiday hit “The Little Prince,” there is truly something for everyone in PlayMakers’ 33rd season.

 

Dates and descriptions of the 2008-2009 mainstage plays are:

 

William Shakespeare’s “Pericles”: Sept. 24 – Oct. 12, 2008

 

One of the most popular of Shakespeare’s plays during his lifetime, “Pericles” is an epic adventure, reminiscent of Homer’s “Odyssey.” Spanning oceans and generations, travels and travails, it’s chock full of riddles, princesses, pirates, assassins, exotic locales, not to mention a bawdy house andmultiple shipwrecks. As The New York Times said of a modern revival, “Pericles” has it all!” “Pericles” will feature original music and songs written especially for PlayMakers’ production by Jack Herrick of Chapel Hill’s storied Red Clay Ramblers. PlayMakers’ producing artistic director Joseph Haj will direct.

 

“Blue Door” by Tanya Barfield: Oct. 22 – Nov. 9, 2008

 

“Blue Door” is the story of a 50 year old African-American university professor whose wife leaves him because of his reluctance to embrace his identity.  Their break culminates, actually and symbolically, with his refusal to participate in the Million Man March. Over the course of a sleepless night he is visited in Dickensian fashion by a series of spirits, including those of his grandfather, brother and several male ancestors. In hearing their life stories, he may be able to reclaim his own identity and find his way back to his authentic self. Through text and song, “Blue Door” is a beautiful exploration of what it costs to disconnect from our past and our cultural heritage.  PlayMakers’ production will be its regional premiere.

 

Back by popular demand:

 “The Little Prince” by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar, based on the book by Antoine de St. Exupéry: Nov. 26 – Dec. 14, 2008

 

PlayMakers’ hit production of the magical classic by St. Exupéry returns as must-see holiday entertainment for the whole family. When an aviator crashes in the Sahara, an ethereal Little Prince from another planet helps him see his world through the wonder of a child’s eyes.2008-2009 subscribers will have the option of adding “The Little Prince” to their subscription package as a special holiday event. Tickets are now on sale. PlayMakers’ December 2007 presentation sold out rapidly making individual tickets hard to come by.

 

PlayMakers’ fourth and fifth Mainstage shows will run in rotating repertory performances, just as “Doubt’ and ‘Topdog/Underdog” did during the 2007-2008 season,.  The two repertory plays are ground-breaking works written over 60 years apart. However, both explore mother/daughter relationships, contend with illness and disability, and wrestle with theatrical form in extraordinary ways.

 

Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie”: Jan. 25 – Feb. 28, 2009

(in rotating repertory with “Well”)

           

“The Glass Menagerie” was the play that put Tennessee Williams on the map and is acknowledged as a modern classic by one of America’s preeminent playwrights. The story of faded Southern belle Amanda Wingfield, her shy, damaged daughter and sensitive son, and the gentleman caller who intrudes on their delicately constructed world contains some of the most moving moments in theatre. Although usually staged as naturalistic drama, in Williams’ own production notes he described his concept of the play as a break from “realistic conventions.” PlayMakers will bring audiences a fresh look at this seminal work, realized with Williams’ original intentions in mind.

 

“Well” by Lisa Kron: Jan. 24 – March 1, 2009

(in rotating repertory with “The Glass Menagerie”)

“Well” is the recent Broadway sensation by Lisa Kron, who in January performed her OBIE Award-winning show “2.5 Minute Ride” in PlayMakers’ first PRC2 series. “Well” is a howlingly funny comedy and inventive look at another mother/daughter relationship. Kron valiantly attempts to tell stories from her childhood as characters break free from the script and take over the stage, particularly Lisa’s own force-of-nature mother. The Tony-nominated production was hailed by critics. The Boston Globe said ”’Well’ “has moments goofy enough to make your sides ache – and other moments intelligent enough to rearrange your understanding of the world.”

Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” adapted by Jon Jory: April 1 – 19, 2009

 

This sparkling adaptation brings the beloved Austen novel from page to stage. “Pride and Prejudice” is a glorious evening of sheer enjoyment. Along with swooning romance, the story deals with its accompanying obstacles – family baggage, social class and money matters – with delicious wit and surprisingly clear-eyed observations. The five Bennet sisters in pursuit of romance, heart-throb Mr. Darcy, duplicitous Mr. Wickham, and the imperious Lady Catherine de Bourgh will all grace PlayMakers’ stage in the mainstage series finale.

 

2008-2009 marks the second season for PlayMakers’ innovative second stage series, PRC2. The three shows comprising the new PRC2 season are:  

 

“In the Continuum” by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter: Sept. 10 – 14, 2008

 

Garnering national and international acclaim, “In the Continuum” is the powerful story of two black women, one in South Central LA and one in Harare, Zimbabwe, whose contemporaneous HIV diagnoses bring the international AIDS epidemic down to very personal, very human terms. The New York Times called it “moving, smart, spirited, and powerfully funny” and named “In the Continuum” one of the ten best plays seen Off-Broadway in 2005.

 

“The Young Ladies Of…” by Taylor Mac: Jan. 7 – 11, 2009

 

Next year UNC explores the subject of gender, and PlayMakers presents the audaciously talented actor/playwright Taylor Mac in his New York production, “The Young Ladies Of…”, as part of this campus-wide initiative. “The Young Ladies Of…” is the autobiographical story of a man whose father died quite young, and the son’s desire to learn who his father was in order to better understand himself. His father came from a macho family where the men all drank heavily, owned guns, and served in the military; a world far different than the one the son has chosen. It’s a stunning exploration, made even more interesting as the son is a New York City, downtown performance artist, who performs the show in drag while playing a ukulele and singing songs from “Carousel.” “Taylor Mac’s deeply inspiring ‘The Young Ladies Of…’ is a beautiful play. (He is) one of the best performers the city has to offer,” said The New York Press.

 

“9 Parts of Desire” by Heather Raffo: April 22 – 26, 2009

 

The New Yorker said “9 Parts of Desire” is “A triumph! Thrilling! An example of how art can remake the world!” Based on a decade of interviews by Iraqi-American playwright Heather Raffo, portraits of nine distinctly different Iraqi women are woven into a riveting presentation.  Humor and horror are experienced together in this moving portrayal that lifts the veil on women’s lives in a culture vastly different than our own.

 

A variety of 2008-2009 subscription packages are now available, with discounts for students, seniors and youth. Call (919) 962-PLAY (7529) or visit http://www.playmakersrep.org for information.

 

Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the Carolinas’ premiere resident professional theatre company. New York’s Drama League named PlayMakers one of the “best regional theatres in America” and the North Carolina Theatre Conference gave PlayMakers its “Professional Theatre of the Year” award for 2007.

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PlayMakers contact: Connie Mahan, (919) 428-1744, cmahan@email.unc.edu