Planning the year in show biz

A run of runs
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  December 26, 2013

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FINDING THE LITTLE PRINCE Saint-Exupéry looks at himself, in New Hampshire Theater Project’s January production.

Portland-area theater in 2014 will take on the vicissitudes of activism, politics, religion, and family. From Dramatic Repertory Company comes a solo show of the tragic truth-telling to power of an American student in Palestine: I am Rachel Corrie (March 6-16), starring Casey Turner, culls from the letters Corrie wrote before being killed under an Israeli tank. Later in the year, DRC mounts another musing on telling truth to power in Equivocation (May 29-June 8), which finds a Shakespeare-like character in a tricky situation when he’s commissioned by the English government to chronicle a national crisis.

Snowlion Repertory Company offers The Elephant Piece in March (exact dates TBD) an absurdist musical minstrel show about humans pursuing the last elephant on Earth (a show described as “Ionesco meets Greenpeace”) and a later, TBA show, Moral and Political Lessons on “Wyoming,” which presents a future in which theater has been banned.

Religion is as ticklish a matter, starting with two productions at Portland Stage Company: In Veils (February 25-March 16), an African-American Muslim student in Cairo debated the wearing of veils with her Egyptian friend, until the Arab Spring intervenes. The Savannah Disruption (April 22-May 18) pits two Catholic sisters against a young evangelical who knocks on their door. Also set in a religious context is Carolyn Gage’s new Stigmata (Mayo Street Arts, May 23-24), about a 17th-century Italian nun tried for perpetrating a stigmata hoax and committing the “silent sin” of homosexuality.

On to the rigors of family life, aging, and death: The American Irish Repertory Ensemble stages Da (March 20-April 5), in which a young man can’t rid his life of his dead Da — literally. The Widow experiences something similar in Vigils (Mad Horse, January 16-February 2), keeping her husband’s soul in a box and talking to it. The Good Theater’s line-up includes Becky’s New Car (January 29-February 23), the title character has a mid-life crisis, and The Outgoing Tide (March 5-30), which deals with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Lewiston’s Public Theatre will mount the quirky dysfunction of the Wickman women, in Tigers Be Still (January 24-February 2).

Winter is a good time to huddle up for the modern dramatic heavies, and the upcoming season will see three biggies. Portsmouth’s Players’ Ring stages both the classic tragedy Death of a Salesman (February 14-March 2) and the richly harrowing family epic August: Osage County (April 18-May 4). And at the Theater Project, Chris Price directs Annie Baker’s new adaptation of Uncle Vanya (January 24-February 9).

A bevy of the Bard’s shows will also be in evidence. Outdoor theater mavens Fenix Theater Company return to Deering Oaks Park with Much Ado About Nothing (dates TBA), while Acorn Productions will bring a touring Hamlet to diverse area venues, in May. Portland Players stages the comedy Twelfth Night (January 24-February 9), Players’ Ring takes on Taming of the Shrew (May 30-June 15), and at the Theater at Monmouth, the season’s Shakespeare selection will be Romeo and Juliet (summer, in rep).

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