Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre turns 20 years old this year with two world premiere productions, Brutal Imagination from Running Man's Cornelius Eady and Diedre Murray and Douglas Wright's four- play work, Unwrap Your Candy.
Candy kicks off the season Sept. 9 with an opening Oct. 8. Described by the Quills playwright in a release as "mordant bedtime tales for adults," Unwrap Your Candy visits frightening family secrets, corrupting adults and corrupting children and dark dirty crimes, while warning about the perils of attending live theatre.
In Brutal Imagination, beginning performances Dec. 19, Eady examines the Susan Smith case, in which a young South Carolinian mother strapped her sleeping children into her car and pushed the vehicle into a lake. She later accused a mysterious black man of carjacking her children, a man she created in her own head — who suddenly shows up to tell his side of the story. When the piece played in workshop form at the Kitchen in October 2000, other stereotypical characters making appearances in the musical included John Henry, Mr. Bojangles, Uncle Ben and Uncle Tom.
Brutal Imagination opens Jan. 27. Diane Paulus (Eli's Comin') directs.
The spring is less firmly planned, although a new play from Jeremy Dobrish will play the Vineyard Stages. Development continues on a new Polly Pen musical, a new work by Kristen Childs (The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin) and readings of a theatre piece based on the unpublished lyrics and writing of Carolyn Leigh. Leigh is best known for her lyrics to Little Me with Cy Coleman and Neil Simon, Wildcat, which starred Lucille Ball, and How Now Dow Jones. In 2001, Eady and hot young playwright Christopher Shinn will have residencies with the company. Shinn's Four made its New York premiere July 1 at the Tribeca Playhouse. Other works include Other People, What Didn't Happen and The Coming World.
Finally, the Vineyard will host festivals of new work created by the recently formed Vineyard Community of Artists, a resident company of theatre folk creating for the company. A series of special events will also mark the Vineyard's 20th season.
The Vineyard is located at 108 E. 15th Street. For ticket and subscription information, call (212) 353 3366.
— By Christine Ehren