The Playwrights’ Center has announced its 2018-19 season of eight new plays, all free and open to the public. These were chosen from among the 70+ plays developed there over the past year. The performances are staged readings, not full productions, but the casts feature top local and national actors, directors, and design elements.
If you’ve never been to a staged reading, you might give it a try. We love full-blown mainstage shows as much as anyone, but we’ve found staged readings to be uniquely satisfying. They’re smaller, more intimate and transparent. You zero in on the language. Your imagination fills in the rest.
The season has two parts: the PlayLabs festival in October, with three plays, and the Ruth Easton New Play Series of five plays, one each from December through April. More than 65 percent of the plays featured in PlayLabs over the past decade have gone on to full productions.
Up first in PlayLabs is “Berlin Diary” by Andrea Stolowitz, a play about remembering and forgetting, based on a copy of her great-grandfather’s 1939 diary from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and her own life. The cast: Bob Davis and Miriam Schwartz. Directed by Larissa Lury. Oct. 22 and 26.
Stacey Rose’s “Legacy Land” is the story of two sisters, their lovers (one barely legal, the other loutish), a history of sex abuse, incest and family dysfunction, and a freak Thanksgiving weekend blizzard that traps them all in the same place. The cast: Ivory Doublette, Kory LaQuess Pullam, Thomasina Petrus and James A. Williams. Directed by Logan Vaughn, with Talvin Wilks as dramaturg. Oct. 23 and 27.
In Ariel Stess’ “Kara & Emma & Barbara & Miranda,” a comedy-drama set in Santa Fe, four people try to break free from forces in their lives that are holding them back so they can start again. The cast: Chloe Armao, Zoe Geltman, Peter Christian Hansen, Terry Hempleman, Tracey Maloney, Luverne Siefert and Angela Timberman. Directed by Hayley Finn. Oct. 24 and 27.
The casts and directors for the Ruth Easton Series haven’t yet been announced, but these are the plays.
“Darling Boud (as in Loud)” by Allison Gregory. The six controversial, blue-blooded Mitford sisters – Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah – are brought together in a collusion of family, love and world war. Dec. 3 and 4.
“Jeune Terre” by Gab Reisman. The waters are rising around a Louisiana town, the land is slipping away, and a storm is approaching when a theater troupe arrives to tell an old story in a new way. A play with songs. Jan. 14 and 15, 2019.
“The History of Religion” by Carlyle Brown. A journey from mystery to revelation and back again, set against a musical backdrop by multi-instrumentalist Victor Zupanc and percussionist Ahanti Young. Feb. 4 and 5.
“Tiny Houses” by Stefanie Zadravec. On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 was shot down over a a tiny, war-torn village in the eastern Ukraine. In Zadravec’s play, “a comic riff on Pandora’s Box,” several women on the ground suddenly realized they could disrupt the status quo. March 4 and 5.
“The Dance” by Kim Euell. The personal relationships between three young people – two African-American artists and an activist attorney – are shaped by epic events including Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and visit to the Bay Area. April 1 and 2.
In addition to PlayLabs and the Ruth Easton Series, the Playwrights’ Center will also present a Playwriting Fellows Showcase on Oct. 28, with scenes by nine 2018-19 playwriting fellows including Antonio Duke, Idris Goodwin and May Lee-Yang, whose play “The Korean Drama Addict’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity” recently ended a sold-out run on the Park Square’s Andy Boss stage.
Reservations for PlayLabs will open soon. FMI.
Tonight (Wednesday, Sept. 26) at Vieux Carré: Cyrus Chestnut Trio. This is the second of two nights with the great pianist and his jaw-dropping trio: drummer Lenny White, part of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” and Chick Corea’s famed fusion band Return to Forever, and bassist Buster Willliams, who has recorded with everyone from McCoy Tyner to Nancy Wilson. 7 and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30-40).
Tonight at the Landmark Center: Flordelino Meet & Greet. On Sept. 6, the very classy Park Square Theatre hosted a public retirement party at the Landmark for its outgoing artistic director, Richard Cook. Tonight it will hold a public reception for its incoming AD, Flordelino Lagundino. Meanwhile, the exhibition “Unpacking a Theatre Attic: Park Square Theatre’s First 43 Years,” curated by Cook, is up and viewable through Sept. 30. See the exhibit, have some light snacks and hear Lagundino talk about his vision for the future. 5:30-7:30 p.m. RSVP here. Free.
Thursday at Northrop: Dan Buettner: The David A. Rothenberger Lecture. Where in the world do people live the longest, healthiest lives? A New York Times best-selling author, National Geographic Fellow, award-winning journalist, explorer and Minnesota native, Buettner found five places he calls “Blue Zones.” He wrote very popular articles about them. He now works with municipal governments, large employers and health insurance companies to apply lessons learned to entire communities, dramatically improving the health of millions of Americans. Take the afternoon off (if you can) to hear what he has to say. 4 p.m. Free and open to the public. FMI and reservations. In case you’re wondering if the Twin Cities are a Blue Zone, sadly, no.
Thursday in the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater: 9×22 Dance/Lab. September is the 15th anniversary of the monthly showcase of Twin Cities dance curated and moderated by 2918 McKnight choreographer fellow Laurie Van Wieren. Each piece will be followed by a discussion. Thursday’s choreographers will be Maria Tordoff, Jonathan Arneman and Chris Schlichting. Doors at 7 p.m., performance at 8. FMI and tickets ($6-15 sliding scale).
Friday at the Parkway: The Theater of Public Policy: Civil Fest 2018. If anyone can keep politics civil (besides MinnPost, of course, as anyone who’s been to a MinnRoast knows), it’s T2P2. This event at the newly renovated Parkway will be a nonpartisan celebration of voting and democracy. Political guests from both sides will play classic game show games. T2P2 will provide original sketch comedy inspired by Minnesota politics and improv. The band City Counselor will contribute music throughout the night. As of Tuesday morning, the lineup of pols included Secretary of State Steve Simon, Sen. Jeff Hayden, Sen. Scott Dibble, Rep. Erin Murphy, Rep. Erin Maye Quade, Mayor Jacob Frey, St. Paul Council Member Mitra Nelson and State Auditor Rebecca Otto, with others likely but not yet confirmed. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8. FMI and tickets ($20/24).
Bob Woodward: A Conversation. On Monday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m., the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of “Fear: Trump in the White House” will speak at the State Theatre with MPR’s Kerri Miller. Tickets will go on sale to the public Friday (Sept. 28) at 11 a.m. ($48.50-$58.50). A presale offer starts today (Wednesday, Sept. 26) at 10 a.m. and ends tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 27) at 10 a.m. Password: NYTBEST . Buy online, by phone or in person at the State Theatre box office. FMI.