New Repertory Theatre travels to the American Southwest for THE ICE-BREAKER (Arsenal Center for the Arts, October 25–November 19), an Al Gore–hot play by David Rambo in which a young female academic studying climatology seeks out a once-legendary scientist whose work on polar ice inspired her own. Sexual and intellectual sparks fly between the two in this National New Play Network “rolling world premiere,” which takes place in conjunction with troupes in San Francisco, Tucson, and Indianapolis. Sonorous Voice of Frontline Will Lyman puts his body where his pipes are to play the scientist. And Merrimack Repertory Theatre moves from the Maine of Richard Dresser’s AUGUSTA (September 21–October 15), in which a couple of cleaning ladies outmaneuver an overbearing boss, to the London bedroom of neurasthenic Lemon in Wallace Shawn’s 1985 AUNT DAN AND LEMON (October 26–November 19), where a sickly intellectual sponge of a young woman soaks up the unthinkable ideas of a family friend who is, among other things, a Nazi apologist.
ALTAR BOYZ: Spoofing a Christian boy band, at the Colonial Theatre.
On the fringe front, an indubitable coup is Zeitgeist Stage Company’s procurement of the area rights to STUFF HAPPENS (Boston Center for the Arts, October 20–November 11), British playwright David Hare’s partly documentary, partly imagined depiction of the run-up to the Iraq war. The characters include Dubya, Tony Blair, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Donald Rumsfeld, whose reaction to the looting of priceless antiquities following the invasion supplies the play’s title. The drama premiered at London’s Royal National Theatre in 2004 and was subsequently mounted at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and at New York’s Public Theatre. This will be just its fourth production, and David J. Miller’s staging will use the Public Theatre version, into which Hare incorporated changes reflecting political developments of the past two years.
A fall tradition — if hardly a traditional one — is the Theater Offensive’s annual OUT ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL OF QUEER THEATER (BCA, October 14–November 11). Now in its 15th year, the festival boldly engineered by Abe Rybeck offers, in addition to staged readings of new works by Boston playwrights Letta Neely and Darius Williams (October 14-15), visiting artists including Marga Gómez in LOS BIG NAMES (October 26-29), Paul Zaloom inTHE MOTHER OF ALL ENEMIES (November 8-11) and (for kids) BEAKMAN IN PERSON (November 1, 4, and 5), and David Parker & the Bang Group in NUT/CRACKED (November 3-11). In a co-production with Slippage, TTO also presents MIT faculty member Thommie DeFrantz’s QUEER THEORY: A MUSICAL TRAVESTY (October 19-22).
The season also brings Boston’s first MOBIUS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PERFORMANCE ART (Midway Theatre, Fort Point Channel, November 1-4), an orgy of performance pieces by 20 international artists from 14 countries as well as the work of 17 Mobius Artist Group members. And on Cape Cod, we get the FIRST ANNUAL PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS FESTIVAL (various venues, September 28–October 1), a compendium of performances, film screenings, gallery exhibitions, readings, and walking tours of the Outer Cape spots that inspired the playwright. Among the highlights is the premiere of an early autobiographical work, THE PARADE, OR APPROACHING THE END OF SUMMER (Art House, October 1), which Williams wrote in Provincetown in 1940 to dramatize a season of gay self-discovery.