For immediate use: Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

PlayMakers Repertory Company’s PRC 2 second stage series opens its fifth season with playwright Caryl Churchill’s intensely charged family drama with a twist, “A Number,” Sept. 7-11.

PlayMakers, the professional theater company in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has also announced that “The Amish Project,” has joined the PRC2 lineup, to run Jan. 11-15. Written and performed by Jessica Dickey, the one-woman show will be directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde.

Both plays will be presented in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. PRC2 combines an intriguing, topical production with audience discussions with the creative artists and other panelists after each performance.

In “A Number,” Churchill takes the age-old scenario of confrontation between father and son and turns it inside out to explore issues of human identity and parental responsibility, tackling the nature-versus-nurture debate head on. In this family the sons are actually clones of the father’s “original” son. Variables mount, guilt surfaces, lies are exposed and consequences cannot be denied as startling facts are revealed.

PlayMaker’s production will feature longtime company member Ray Dooley as the father. Dooley is a professor of dramatic art and head of the Professional Actor Training Program at UNC. New York-based actor Josh Barrett will play the sons.

The Washington Post said “A Number” is “fiendishly clever” and The Telegraph of London called it “intellectually and morally profound.” Internet magazine Theatreworld said this is “a play that you will want to discuss and debate long after you have left the theatre.”

“A Number” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. nightly and 2 p.m. Sept. 11.

“‘A Number’ works like a detective novel,” said PlayMakers associate artistic director Jeff Meanza. “Full of questions and sharp dramatic twists, the play is perfectly suited to the PRC2 format.”

“The Amish Project” is a compelling fictionalized account of the 2006 Nickel Mines schoolhouse shooting in Pennsylvania Amish country.  Five girls were killed in a hostage-taking incident, the kind all too often played out in today’s society from Columbine to this summer’s tragedy in Norway.

Told through the voices of seven characters, including the gunman and two of his victims, Dickey’s performance links their lives together through back stories and side dramas, ultimately framing this devastating tale into a brilliant exploration of compassion and forgiveness.

The New York Times proclaimed “The Amish Project” “an extraordinary performance … a remarkable piece of writing.” Time Out New York’s reviewer wrote “[Dickey’s] craft made me weep. The virtuosic writer-performer acts her bonnet off.”

”The Amish Project” rounds out the 2011-2012 PRC2 season, which also includes the world premiere of “Penelope,” written and performed by Ellen McLaughlin, with live music composed by Sarah Kirkland Snider (April 25-29).

PlayMakers’ new Mainstage Season opens with Sarah Ruhl’s Tony Award-nominated comedy “In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)” Sept. 21-Oct. 9.

Tickets for “A Number” are available as part of PlayMakers’s 2011-2012 season subscription packages, or for $10-$35 for individual PRC2 shows, and may be purchased at www.playmakersrep.org or by calling (919) 962-PLAY (7529).

New York’s Drama League has named PlayMakers, based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, one of the “best regional theatres in America.”

PlayMakers contact: Connie Mahan, (919) 962-5359, cmahan@email.unc.edu