Center Théâtre Group Announces Plays for upcoming Season
October 7, 2021
The 17th Season at the Kirk Douglas Theatre Includes "Alma," "Tambo & Bones" and Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre Featuring "To T or Not To T" and "The Art Couple" in a Season Which Begins March 6, 2022.
Center Theatre Group Artistic Director Michael Ritchie and Managing Director / CEO Meghan Pressman are announcing the upcoming seasons for the Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre. Presenting a rich variety of work on all three of CTG's physical venues plus an offering on the Digital Stage, this season draws on a range of playwrights from emerging voices to acclaimed artists.
"This moment has been a long time coming," said Pressman. "It's the moment we have planned, worked and hoped for since we closed our theatres in March 2020. But as we prepared for this return to live performances, we also spent time reflecting on what it means to be a Los Angeles theatre company-a company that puts the multitude of communities and stories of L.A. center stage and elevates the stories that we want to tell in this new world."
"The shows that Michael and our team of Associate Artistic Directors-Luis Alfaro, Lindsay Allbaugh, Tyrone Davis, Neel Keller and Kelley Kirkpatrick-have selected are a result of their deep and thoughtful work. These are seasons that celebrate the artists and diverse voices who have inspired us. On behalf of the Board and staff of Center Theatre Group, we are so proud to share Michael's final season as artistic leader of Center Theatre Group with L.A. audiences."
"When we closed the theatres at the start of the pandemic, I didn't realize that the Taper would be closed for almost two years," shares Ritchie. "But I did know that this unprecedented intermission would require a big return. Jeremy O. Harris' previously announced 'Slave Play' offers just that-a revelatory new play that truly changes the way we see the world around us. I felt that Los Angeles needed the opportunity to see Jeremy's work then, and it has only become more vital since.
"Across the plaza at the Ahmanson Theatre, 'The Lehman Trilogy' is a stunningly beautiful epic directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes which tracks nearly two centuries in the lives of an immigrant family and their namesake business that both defined and threatened to destroy the American dream. It's a production that took London by storm and did the same on Broadway. I believe it is an excellent piece for the Taper audience."
"We welcome two of our longtime collaborators back to the Taper for the next two shows. Phylicia Rashad appeared in the world premiere of 'Blues for an Alabama Sky' 25 years ago. Now she revisits Pearl Cleage's beautiful work as a director. This is the fifth show Phylicia has directed for CTG, and the fourth on the Taper stage where she has also stunned audiences as an actress. Rajiv Joseph, who premiered 'Bengal Tiger and the Baghdad Zoo' and 'Archduke' with Center Theatre Group, returns with the world premiere production of 'King James' which explores basketball great LeBron James' impact on Rajiv's hometown of Cleveland and the way sports fandom can shape relationships well off the court."
"Master storyteller Mike Birbiglia, whose hilariously honest 'The New One' played the Ahmanson in 2019, will premiere his newest work at the Taper," said Ritchie. "Titled 'Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool,' this latest piece delves into his own life for a disturbingly funny coming-of-middle-age story."
"And one more piece of the Taper season is Jon Robin Baitz's wry and revealing new play 'I'll Be Seein' Ya,' which is set in Los Angeles during the summer of 2020 where Hollywood fantasies collide with modern realities. This is Baitz's eighth production at CTG and fourth world premiere with us. Appropriately, this piece will have its premiere on CTG's Digital Stage, a venue born out of the pandemic and a need to create art and stay connected when our traditional stages were shuttered.
"Across town at the Kirk Douglas Theatre we will premiere another Southern California story from an exciting young writer, L.A.-native Benjamin Benne. His new play, 'Alma,' tells a humorous yet deeply human story of a mother and daughter and the wishes they hold for each other."
"We follow that with another important young writer and a voice that needs to be heard-the previously announced premiere of Dave Harris' 'Tambo & Bones,'" Ritchie continued. "We've been following his work for some time and after seeing a reading of this electric new play, we approached Dave and the director, Taylor Reynolds, to let them both know that we hoped we could be a part of their journey with this piece. It's been a long time coming but absolutely worth the wait.
"We conclude the season at the Douglas with Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre. We had already selected our partner theatres and were days away from previews when the theatres closed in 2020. One of the plays, IAMA Theatre Company's 'Canyon' by Jonathan Caren, was adapted for (and is currently available on) our Digital Stage. Thankfully, we are able to bring back Sacred Fools' production of 'The Art Couple' by Brendan Hunt, who launched a cultural phenomenon in the interim, co-creating, performing on and winning an Emmy for 'Ted Lasso.' Our other production in Block Party 2022 will be The Los Angeles LGBT Center production of 'To T or Not to T? A Comedic Trans Journey through (T)estosterone and Masculinity' by CTG's 2021 Dorothy and Richard Sherwood Award-winning actor/writer/comic D'Lo. This immensely talented artist tells a very funny, personal and poignant story of self-discovery.
"This is a time like no other. And for me, this season is a season unlike any other. We normally announce the next season when we are in the midst of the last; one rolls into the next. But after a year and a half with our theatres sitting empty, I look at the theatre pieces with a new perspective-I see what I missed when it was gone. There is the electricity of a crowd waiting to be transported. For those of us who work in the theatre, there is always an excitement as we wait to see how the special alchemy of each performance reveals itself as the most vital element, the audience, is added.
"At this moment we have assembled a remarkable group of artists who are exploring the essential questions about who we are, how we got here and what's next. They come at these subjects from different perspectives, at different phases in their careers and lived experiences. Soon they will be joined by actors, directors, designers, producers, stage managers and the countless other artists and artisans that will come together to realize their now shared vision. In that process, we create theatre that will makes us laugh, cry, think and feel-that will spark conversations, expand our understanding of the world around us and challenge things we thought we knew."