PlayMakers Repertory Company has announced their 2017-2018 season: “A Season on the Edge.” For Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch’s second season, it appears she’s carrying PlayMakers’ tradition of social activism forward, featuring PlayMakers’ faith-exploring rotating repertory, a cut-loose Jane Austen interpretation and two compassion-filled regional premieres. Last fall, Benesch told us she hopes “to bring exciting actors, directors, designers and multidisciplinary artists into conversation with our community.” And she’s doing just that – the regional premieres are written by Carolina alumni, including Bekah Brunstetter, who writes for NBC’s popular new hit “This is Us.” The upcoming season promises to explore an intimate relationship between actors and audience, morals and preconceptions, pushing the theater to the edges of human connection.
Below is the 2017-2018 season schedule and performance descriptions provided by PlayMakers.
“The Cake” by Bekah Brunstetter, Sept. 13 – Oct. 1
The season opens with a regional premiere and the first of three North Carolina stories this season. Della makes cakes, not judgment calls. But when the woman she helped raise comes back home to Winston-Salem to get married and her fiancé is actually another woman, Della is forced to examine some of her deeply held beliefs for the first time in her life. “The Cake” was written by critically acclaimed UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus Bekah Brunstetter, who currently writes for NBC’s “This is Us.”
“Sense and Sensibility” adapted by Kate Hamill, Oct. 19 – Nov. 6
Based on the novel by Jane Austen
Playwright Kate Hamill gives a fresh, comic take on Jane Austen’s beloved novel. Set in gossipy late 18th-century England, this eminently theatrical adaptation follows the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the Dashwood sisters—sensible Elinor and hypersensitive Marianne—after their father’s sudden death leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable. Hamill’s adaptation has been called “an unconditional delight” by The New York Times and “full of galloping comic vitality” by The Wall Street Journal.
“Dot” by Colman Domingo, Nov. 21 – Dec. 16
In another regional premiere, Dotty and her three grown children gather for the holidays with more than exchanging presents on their minds. This compassionate and often hilarious look at dementia’s effects on a family grapples unflinchingly with aging parents and midlife crises in the heart of a West Philly neighborhood. Theater Mania called “Dot” is “a magnificent play full of laughter and heartbreak.”
The rotating repertory presents two shows that explore different aspects of a theme, encouraging discovery and conversation.
Molière’s “Tartuffe”, Feb. 3 – March 11, 2018
Adapted by David Ball
In rotating repertory with “The Christians”
The man of the house has lost his mind. He has been blinded by the counterfeit zeal of a penniless scoundrel who fully intends to make off with his wife, his livelihood and probably the kitchen sink. The New York Times calls David Ball’s new adaptation of this classic French satire of religious hypocrisy “glorious from the first scene.”
“The Christians” by Lucas Hnath, Feb. 3 – March 11, 2018
In rotating repertory with Molière’s “Tartuffe”
Twenty years ago, Pastor Paul’s church was nothing more than a modest storefront. Now he presides over a megachurch of thousands, with a coffee shop in the lobby and a baptismal font as big as a swimming pool. But Pastor Paul is about to preach a sermon that will shake the very foundations of his church’s beliefs. The Chicago Tribune heralded this big-little play about faith in America as “truly gripping and wholly unexpected.”
“Leaving Eden” by Mike Wiley with music & lyrics by Laurelyn Dossett, April 4 – 22, 2018
World Premiere of a PlayMakers Repertory Company commission
Mike Wiley, UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and acclaimed playwright of “The Parchman Hour,” returns to PlayMakers with singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett to explore, through words and music, the cyclical nature of humanity. This unearthing of yesterday yields a hymn for our future, with its glimpse into identity, immigration and economic struggle—all told through the lens of a small town in North Carolina. American Theater has called Wiley’s plays “sophisticated blends of narrative and wit.”
PRC2 second- stage productions:
“Count” by Lynden Harris (a co-production with Hidden Voices), Aug. 23 – 27, 2018
PlayMakers’ own resident company member Kathryn Hunter-Williams directs this searing portrayal of a single day on death row, where six men unpack their personal inheritances of violence, racism, mental illness, poverty and unexpected love. Who is disposable, who counts, and what does justice mean when the scales are broken and the blindfold is our own?
TBA: April 25 – 29, 2018
A PlayMakers special holiday event for the whole family:
“Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” Dec. 13 – 23, adapted by William Leach
An intimate evening with PlayMakers legend Ray Dooley as he shares the classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s journey through Christmases past, present and future to find redemption, charity and love.