D.C.'s Arena Will Premiere Ruhl's Passion Cycle, Welcome Fichandler and Revise On the Verge in 2005-06

News   D.C.'s Arena Will Premiere Ruhl's Passion Cycle, Welcome Fichandler and Revise On the Verge in 2005-06 Arena Stage's 2005-06 season in Washington, D.C., includes two world premieres, the musical Damn Yankees and the return of founding director Zelda Fichandler to direct an American classic.

The theatre's 55th season, under the artistic directorship of Molly Smith, will open with the world premiere of Sarah Ruhl's three-play cycle, Passion Play, directed by Smith in the Kreeger Sept. 2-Oct. 16. Ruhl was a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Clean House.

"In this cycle of three plays, three historic tellings of the Passion Play are the backdrop for up-and-coming playwright Sarah Ruhl’s bold examination of truth, love, loyalty and belief through the ages," according to Arena. "Across performances in Elizabethan England, Nazi Germany and post-Vietnam America, each community of actors finds itself facing unexpected tests of faith and courage as their parts in the Passion seep into their daily lives. Ruhl's exquisitely layered narrative reveals a world in which the lines between identity and performance have increasingly blurred — and the differences between ideology and fact are in danger of disappearing altogether. Arena Stage is extremely proud to present this momentous and thought-provoking world premiere event."

Next, in the Fichandler, Kyle Donnelly directs Garson Kanin's Born Yesterday, Sept. 30-Nov. 6.

Charles Randolph-Wright will direct his adaptation of Cuttin' Up, a book by Craig Marberry (Crowns) "which chronicles the lives and loves of men in barbershops." The world premiere plays Nov. 4-Jan.1, 2006.

According to Arena Stage, "Across the country, haircuts tell the tales in the local barbershop: A departing soldier wants to ship out sporting a sharp new fade. A father christens his son with his first trim. Young men with dreadlocks brag about women and worry about their families. The barbershop is a community, and its denizens are the storytellers of their time, sharing the joys and troubles life hands them. Together, these colorful stories illustrate a remarkably simple truth: 'When you have history, you belong.'" Smith will direct the Richard Adler-Jerry Ross musical Damn Yankees (Dec. 9-Feb. 5, 2006), the story of a desperate baseball fan who sells his soul to play for the Washington Senators and help them win the pennant, in the Fichandler. Broadway star Matt Bogart, who last appeared at Arena Stage in Smith's productions of Orpheus Descending and Camelot, will star as Joe Hardy. Alice Ripley is in talks to play Lola, the devil's diva who tries to seduce the young ballplayer.

For the first time in nearly a decade, Arena Stage founding director Zelda Fichandler, who ran the theatre for 40 years, returns to direct Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing!, a "compelling tale of heritage and tradition set in a humble New York apartment housing a proud Jewish family," Jan. 20-March 5, 2006, in the Kreeger.

Next in the Fichandler comes N. Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker, the story of a con man and a plain young woman and the connection they make during a devastating drought, March 3-April 9, 2006. Lisa Peterson directs.

Lanie Robertson's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, about Billie Holiday, is the second musical offering of the season, March 31-June 4, 2006, in the Kreeger. Ken Roberson directs.

Closing the season May 5-June 11, 2006, in the Fichandler, is Eric Overmeyer's lyrical comedy On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning, "a sublime and hilarious expedition across earth and through time." Arena Stage veteran Tazewell Thompson "will direct and collaborate with Overmyer on a large-scale reimagining of the original script."

In the "hilarious adventure play," three "sister sojourners" set off from middle America, 1888, on an exploratory trek to Terra Incognita. "Spurred on by a mysterious message on a metal button, the trio marches through jungle and over canyon, encountering a series of fascinating and strangely familiar characters along the way. But the fun really begins when the discovery of several inexplicable artifacts – a hula hoop, cream cheese, and a newspaper clipping about someone called "President Nixon" – leads our intrepid heroines to realize theirs is no ordinary journey, and their insatiable curiosity lands them in a most unexpected destination."

Season subscription packages are now on sale and may be purchased by calling Arena Stage subscriptions at (202) 488-4377, or by visiting www.arenastage.org.

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