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New works set for second season of CTG's DouglasPlus

October 8, 2009 | 10:00 am

Kirk Plays about love and Big Pharma, magicians, a son’s death in Iraq and life at the post office are part of this fall's DouglasPlus series of new works, which the Center Theatre Group will announce today.

Artistic director Michael Ritchie introduced the series at the Kirk Douglas Theatre last season in an attempt to break away from traditional programming and production constraints. The emphasis is on material in development at CTG, with a nod to local artists. Shows are presented for limited runs at reduced prices.

The lineup for the Culver City theater includes four commissions.

The first, which opens Oct. 30, is Kate Fodor’s “Rx,” in which a magazine editor enters a clinical drug trial to seek a cure for workplace depression -- and finds romance. The reading will be directed by Matt Shakman, artistic director of L.A.’s Black Dahlia Theatre.

Avant-garde clowns Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford, who brought the fanciful “all wear bowlers” to the Douglas four years ago, are back with a staged workshop of  “Next Stop Amazingland.” They will join magician Steve Cuiffo in portraying illusionists who search for personal truth in the world of smoke and mirrors.

Jessica Goldberg’s “Just War” relates the true story of a Van Nuys father, Darrell Griffin Sr., who decides to write a book based on the journal kept by his soldier son, who died in Iraq in 2007. The reading will be directed by Kate Whoriskey, who also directed this year’s Pulitzer winner, Lynn Nottage’s “Ruined.”

High emotions and hidden drama lurk on both sides of the counter in “Post Office,” which has music by Michael Friedman (his “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “This Beautiful City”appeared at the Douglas in 2008) and book and lyrics by Melissa James Gibson. The staged workshop will be directed by Drama Desk and Obie winner Mark Brokaw.

The series also will include what CTG calls an event more than a play -- “The Lunacy Commission,” a cabaret-party that combines live performance, music and visual art to examine the crazy world of insanity. The piece, which will occupy the theater’s lobby and rehearsal room, was created by Lars Jan and his L.A.-based art lab Early Morning Opera and features a cast of local experimental artists.

Returning to the Douglas will be last season’s family-friendly parable, “Darwin: An Adventure for All Ages.” A glow-in-the-dark dinosaur and his scientist-creator are among the characters brought to life through puppetry, technology and dance by Corbin Popp and Ian Carney. Free puppet-making workshops will follow each performance.

CTG also said the world premiere of Dael Orlandersmith’s drama “Bones” will be presented in a second installment of DouglasPlus scheduled for the summer.

Nonreserved seating for all shows except “Post Office.” Tickets go on sale Oct.16.

The lineup:

“Rx” -- 8 p.m. Oct. 30, Nov. 1; $10
“Next Stop Amazingland” -- 8 p.m. Nov, 4, 6 and 8; $20
“Just War” -- 8 p.m. Nov. 14; $10
“The Lunacy Commission” -- 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Nov. 7 and 8; $20 (drink ticket included)
“Darwin: An Adventure for All Ages” -- 11 a.m. Jan. 23; 3 p.m. Jan. 30; $20
“Post Office” -- 8 p.m. Feb.17, 18, 20 and 21; $20

-- Karen Wada

Photo: Kirk Douglas Theater. Credit: Los Angeles Times