D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Tackles Four World Premieres in 2005-06; Horse Opera, Steve & Idi and Starving Among Works

News   D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Tackles Four World Premieres in 2005-06; Horse Opera, Steve & Idi and Starving Among Works Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. will boast four world premieres in its 2005-06 season, the first full season in its new home.

The coming season, starting in fall, will offer a co-commissioned new musical by Quincy Long and Chris Jeffries, plus premieres of work by David Grimm, Robert Aguirre-Sacasa and S.M. Shephard-Massat.

Woolly Mammoth's new theatre at 641 D Street, NW (at 7th and D) officially opens in May 2005 with the final two productions of the 25th anniversary season: the world premiere of Mickey Birnbaum's Big Death & Little Death (May 10-June 12) and Sarah Ruhl's acclaimed play The Clean House (July 11-August 14).

"The five-play lineup for the first full season in our new theatre deepens Woolly's obsession with developing the best and most provocative new plays and taking bold risks on some of the hottest emerging writers in the country," artistic director Howard Shalwitz said in a statement. "Each voice is original, and each script has the kind of heightened theatricality that is Woolly's trademark. Thematically, desperate love predominates, along with a range of political and social angles. I'm very eager to see how our new theatre affects the visual impact and feel of our work. Plus, when our next community play takes center stage in mid-fall, we will showcase the incredible impact the arts can have on our community."

The new season begins with Shalwitz directing Bridget Carpenter's The Faculty Room Sept. 5-Oct. 16. It's about "a small town," "a rundown faculty lounge," "inappropriate love" and "spiritual fanaticism," according to Woolly Mammoth notes. "In this funny and caustic look at how truly f*@ked up the relationships between teachers and students can get, a public high school erupts with gunshots, desperate longing and misguided acts of courage. Our education system may never recover."

Bridget Carpenter is the winner of the 2003 Kesselring Prize for Playwriting for The Faculty Room. She also received the 2000 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for playwriting and is the author of Fall, Typhoid Mary, Mr. Xmas and Up (The Man in the Flying Lawn Chair). Horse Opera, with book and lyrics by Quincy Long and music by Chris Jeffries, was commissioned and developed in partnership with Seattle's Empty Space and Minneapolis' Illusion Theatre, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Allison Narver directs the May 29-July 16, 2006, staging.

It's "an epic musical screwball tragedy which asks the eternal question, 'What’s the deal with pretty girls and horses?' This globe-trotting, inter-species world premiere musical by two of America’s most irreverent theatre artists travels from a bizarre wedding night in Mexico, to an unexpected birth in a Texas stable, to the first-ever running of the Belmont stakes."

Quincy Long penned People Be Heard, seen at Playwrights Horizons in 2004. Jeffries co-created the children's musical, Bunnicula.

The 2005-06 season also includes:

  • Starving by S.M. Shephard-Massat, directed by Seret Scott, Nov. 14-Jan. 1, 2006. World premiere.
    "A bustling apartment stoop in a new black neighborhood in 1950s Atlanta brims with vitality and ambition, while a peek behind apartment walls reveals an intimate and steamy world of private bonds and struggles within. With a keen eye, vivid language and riotous humor, Shephard-Massat captures a pivotal moment in one particular black community as it struggles over sex, shifting values, and an unknown future." S.M. Shephard-Massat has received numerous awards for her plays including the American Theatre Critics' Association’s M. Elizabeth Osborn Award (2001) and the Black Theatre Alliance Award (2002). Her first full-length play, Waiting To Be Invited, has been produced by theatre companies across the United States.

  • The Velvet Sky by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, directed by Rebecca Taichman, Jan. 30-March 5, 2006. World premiere.
    "Hovering in a neverland between dreaming and waking, poor Bethany hasn't slept in 13 years in an effort to protect her son Andrew from the Sandman's youth-stealing grasp. When her husband whisks Andrew away in the middle of the night, her already fragile grip on reality starts to weaken — setting into frenzied motion this blissfully twisted journey brimming with wild comic detours and surreal hallucinations." Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa began his theatrical writing career in D.C. with productions at Source Theatre. His The Mystery Plays was recently produced at Second Stage in Manhattan. He has won awards from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts and been nominated for a 2003 GLAAD Media Award. He also writes "The Fantastic Four" for Marvel Comics.

  • Steve & Idi by David Grimm, March 27-May 7, 2006. World premiere.
    "Steve, neurotic and gay, is suffering some serious writer's block. He refuses to acknowledge that his lover of 10 years has dumped him for good, his writing group is insipid and his sexual pursuits unsatisfying. Enter the tyrannical, brutally honest and very dead Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada — unwanted, uninvited and geared up to make serious trouble. If Idi can't shake Steve out of his funk, who can?" David Grimm's play Kit Marlowe was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, earning a 2000 GLAAD Media Award nomination, as well as being cited by the New York Post as one the "10 Best Plays of 2000. His plays include Once in Elysium, Edgar and Sheridan, or Schooled in Scandal.

    In addition to the five works above, Woolly Mammoth will present The Anacostia River Playbuilding Project, Oct. 21-23 at Woolly Mammoth and Oct. 28-30 at THE ARC in Anacostia. It's "the second of four community-based plays the theatre is developing that focuses on neighborhoods throughout Anacostia and Southeast, D.C.," according to the season announcement. "Each community play is set in different quadrant of the city and tells the distinct and diverse stories emerging from Washington's neighborhoods. The play is researched, developed and performed by a mix of professionals and community participants from The SEED School, Hine Junior High, Ballou Senior High, THE ARC, the City Museum of Washington DC, Life Pieces to Masterpieces, Allen Chapel AME Church and Young Playwrights' Theater."

    Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is under the leadership of artistic director Howard Shalwitz and managing director Kevin Moore.

    For more information, visit www.woollymammoth.net.