Lynn Nottage, Donald Margulies set for Geffen's 2012-13 season
New and recent plays by Lynn Nottage, Donald Margulies and Joanna Murray-Smith will be among the highlights of the Geffen Playhouse's 2012-13 season, which the company will announce on Friday. It will be the Geffen's first complete season since the death late last year of Gil Cates, the company's founder and producing director.
Leaders at the Geffen said that Cates had a lot of input into the new lineup -- he saw a production of Nottage's "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark" in New York and invited the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright to present the West Coast premiere at the Geffen.
"Stark," a period comedy about an African American woman trying to make it in Hollywood as an actress, will kick off the Geffen's season, with an official opening set for Sept. 26 and running through Oct. 28. Nottage's play "Ruined" opened at the Geffen in 2010.
Nottage said in an interview that she thinks "Vera Stark" "has tremendous resonance for African American actresses who are still finding themselves excluded from a lot of the industry." She said the play is "about discovering how difficult it is to get into the film industry, and that one often makes compromised decisions."
Cates commissioned Margulies to write a Christmas play with the intention that it will be presented each year during the holiday season. "Coney Island Christmas" (Nov. 28 to Dec. 30), which is adapted from a short story by Grace Paley, tells the story of a young girl who is cast as Jesus in a school play.
Margulies said Cates approached him about doing a holiday play following the Geffen's production of "Shipwrecked!" in 2008. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer said he told Cates that the production would have to be a "Jewish Christmas play." Margulies said he is dedicating the new work to Cates.
Murray-Smith's "The Gift" (Feb. 6 to March 10 next year) will have its U.S. premiere at the Geffen. The play, about two couples who meet at a vacation resort, follows Murray-Smith's "The Female of the Species," which ran at the Geffen in 2010.
Neil LaBute will return to the Geffen to direct his adaptation of Strindberg's "Miss Julie" (March 6 to April 7) at the company's Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre.
The season will also include "Build," a new play by Michael Golamco (Oct. 17 to Nov. 18); a revival of David Mamet's "American Buffalo" (April 10 to May 12, 2013); the U.S. premiere of "Yes, Prime Minister" (June 12 to July 14, 2013), which is an adaptation of the BBC TV series; and "The Judy Show" (May 15 to June 16, 2013), a comedic memoir by Judy Gold and Kate Moira Ryan.
-- David Ng
Photo: The Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times