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Kirk Douglas Theatre announces 2009-10 season

July 1, 2009 |  1:06 pm


New plays by Lisa Kron and Danai Gurira, as well as the U.S. premiere of a play about Kenneth Tynan starring Malcolm McDowell, are the highlights of the Kirk Douglas Theatre's upcoming 2009-10 season. The truncated lineup features three full productions supplemented by an expanded roster of special programming under the DouglasPlus umbrella.

The three productions represent a decline from four shows presented during the 2008-09 season. The Douglas, which is part of Center Theatre Group, is moving away from the traditional subscriber model of ticket sales toward a system that allows more freedom in scheduling. "We've been planning to move in this direction for three years. The idea is to give ourselves more flexibility in terms of programming, and that's what DouglasPlus is intended to do," CTG artistic director Michael Ritchie told Culture Monster this morning.

Last month, CTG laid off one-tenth of its staff as a result of declining ticket sales and a drop in donations. But Ritchie said the shortened lineup had nothing to with the company's recent financial problems.

The West Coast premiere of Gurira's "Eclipsed" will open the season in

September. Directed by Robert O'Hara, the drama is set in 2003 during Liberia's civil war and follows a group of rebel commanding officers' "wives" as the they form a close community and fight for their rights amid the horrors of war. The play will have its debut in August at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, D.C. Gurira appeared at the Douglas in 2006 in "In the Continuum," a play about the effect of AIDS that she co-wrote and starred in with Nikkole Salter.

A new play by Kron will have its world premiere at the Douglas in March. Co-commissioned by CTG and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the as-yet-untitled drama tells the story of a writer's confrontation with her own personal limitations during the 2000 presidential election. The play will be directed by Leigh Silverman, who directed the 2006 production of Kron's "Well" on Broadway.

"Tynan," a biographical drama based on the life of the British theater critic, will open in May and star McDowell ("A Clockwork Orange," "Caligula") in the title role. Directed by Richard Nelson, the play is based on Tynan's diaries, which have been adapted for the stage by Nelson and Colin Chambers. "Tynan" was  previously produced in the U.K., and the Douglas' production will be the play's American premiere.

The rest of the season will be filled with special theatrical events under the recently launched DouglasPlus label. The theater has so far confirmed three short-run productions: "Next Stop Amazingland," a work that features magic and is being created by by Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford of "all wear bowlers" (presented by the Douglas in 2005) along with magician Steve Cuiffo; "The Lunacy Commission," a cabaret show created by director Lars Jan; and a world premiere production of Obie-winning actress and playwright Dael Orlandersmith’s "Bones."

-- David Ng

Photo: the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times