South Coast to offer three world premieres, five name authors in 2011-12 season
The 2011-12 season that South Coast Repertory announced Wednesday includes four well-known plays by Pulitzer-winning authors, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” and four plays never seen before in Southern California, including three world premieres, one of them a serious-minded "chamber musical."
The bankable authors (besides Austen, whose novel as adapted by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan, will unfold onstage in Costa Mesa Sept. 9-Oct. 9) are the late Horton Foote, whose “The Trip to Bountiful” runs Oct. 21-Nov. 20; Suzan-Lori Parks, whose “Topdog/Underdog” won her a Pulitzer and will be seen Jan. 8-29; August Wilson, whose “Jitney” runs May 11-June 10, 2012; and Donald Margulies, whose 1991 drama “Sight Unseen,” plays March 11-April 1. Margulies’ play, which concerns love, art and religion, will continue a recent SCR trend of revisiting some of the signature works that premiered on its stage years ago – among them the current revival of Richard Greenberg’s “Three Days of Rain.”
The season’s three premieres all had preliminary presentations as works-in-progress in the recent Pacific Playwrights Festival at South Coast Rep.
“How the World Began” by Catherine Trieschmann (Sept. 25-Oct. 16) concerns a high school biology teacher from New York City who moves to Kansas, starts making comments about the origins of life that conflict with a literal reading of the Book of Genesis, and finds from the reaction that she’s not in Manhattan anymore.
“The Prince of Atlantis,” by Steven Drukman (March 30-April 29) features a white-collar criminal whose tranquility while serving his sentence is disturbed by the news that the grown son he never knew wants to establish contact.
In the musical “Cloudlands” (April 15-May 6), composer Adam Gwon and playwright Octavio Solis focus on a girl who is fascinated by clouds and stumbles onto some of her family’s secrets.
Having its West Coast premiere is “Elemeno Pea” by Molly Smith Metzler (Jan. 27-Feb. 26) in which there's a clash of sensibilities between blue-collar worker bees and wealthy summer residents on Martha’s Vineyard.
SCR will offer the 32nd running of its holiday staple, “A Christmas Carol,” with Hal Landon Jr. playing Scrooge for the 32nd time.
The plays were chosen by the troika of Marc Masterson, the new artistic director who officially began his job April 1 after a decade running Actors Theatre of Louisville, and South Coast co-founders Martin Benson and David Emmes, under their new title of founding artistic directors. Each of the three will direct a play -- Masterson staging “Elemeno Pea,” a play he chose that premiered at this year’s Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville; Emmes taking a crack at “Sight Unseen” (Michael Bloom directed it in ’91) and Benson directing “The Trip to Bountiful.”
Benson worked closely with Foote on SCR’s 2002 world premiere of Foote’s “Getting Frankie Married,” which was the first play by the then 86-year-old playwright ever presented on a major Southern California stage. The following year, Benson, who for “Frankie” had soaked up the atmosphere by staying with the playwright in the small Texas town where Foote lived and where most of his plays were set, staged the West Coast premiere of Foote’s “The Carpetbagger’s Children.” Foote died in 2009.
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: South Coast Repertory. Credit: Don Bartletti