Stage worthies

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  September 12, 2007

Before that, the SECOND ANNUAL PROVINCETOWN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS FESTIVAL (various venues, September 27-30) looks at Williams’s work both iconic and unknown. Highlights include a benefit performance featuring Jeremy Laurence playing the writer in Everybody Expects Me To Write Another “Streetcar”; an address by poet/playwright Amiri Baraka sharing “his vision of Tennessee Williams as forever provocative and political”; and the world premiere of Williams’s 1980 short play Sun Burst (paired with The One Exception), which the writer penned just weeks before his death in 1983. The festival also will focus “on the role of women in Williams’s work.”

From Tennessee Williams, it’s a logical jump to the Theater Offensive’s 16TH ANNUAL OUT ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL OF QUEER THEATRE (Calderwood Pavilion, October 20–November 10). This year’s line-up includes staged readings of new plays by Renita Martin and TTO’s own Abe Rybeck; the New England premiere of the Five Lesbian Brothers’ Off Broadway hit Oedipus at Palm Springs; and the Boston premiere of Elliot Norton Award–winning performance artist John Kelly’s Paved Paradise: The Songs of Joni Mitchell, which the New York Times calls not drag but “transformation through spiritual osmosis.” Boston-based drag kings All the King’s Men offer the world premiere of Out of the Box: Twisted Tales, and David Parker and the Bang Group are back by popular demand with Nut/Cracked.

Not quite a festival but ambitious nonetheless is Zeitgeist Stage Company’s collaboration with Way Theatre Artists on THE KENTUCKY CYCLE (BCA Plaza, October 6–November 17). Robert Schenkkan’s 1991 series of nine plays, to be presented in two parts, was the first theater work to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize before being produced in New York. A sweeping exercise in mythmaking, it utilizes 25 actors to tell the story of seven generations of three intersecting Kentucky families between 1775 and 1975. By contrast, only two generations are involved in Shakespeare Now! Theatre Company’s upcoming production of HAMLET (Mass College of Art’s Tower Auditorium, October 31–November 20), but they’re choice. Veteran Boston director David Wheeler directs his son, Lewis D. Wheeler, in Shakespeare’s father-son tale of floundering revenge.

But there are promising events on petite stages before that Halloween Hamlet. Downstage @ New Rep leads off, in its downstairs Black Box, with Pulitzer Prize winner (for Rent) Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical rock musical TICK, TICK . . BOOM! (September 22–October 21); it’s about a 30-year-old waiter struggling to write the great American musical. Charlestown Working Theater joins with the ART to bring the rigorous, Ashfield-based Double Edge Theatre to town in REPUBLIC OF DREAMS (CWT, October 3-13). Conceived and directed by Stacy Klein, the piece is inspired by the work of World War II–era Polish-Jewish artist Bruno Schulz. Also at CWT, resident troupe Theatre on Fire offers Olivier Award–winning British playwright and Black Adder writer Ben Elton’s satire GASPING (October 19–November 3), which according to director Darren Evans tackles “issues of resource depletion, corporate greed, and manmade environmental disaster. Only it’s a lot funnier than An Inconvenient Truth.”

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