Two new plays, one by an unknown playwright and one by an established English writer, will fill the 2001-02 season at Soho Rep, the Off-Broadway company known for challenging and textually and structurally avant garde work by the likes of Mac Wellman and Richard Maxwell.
Before the season officially gets underway in November, the company is doing a workshop by the Flying Machine troupe, Signals of Distress, running Sept. 27-30.
The show, adapted from a National Book Award-winning novel by Jim Crace and directed by Joshua Carlebach, was nearly cancelled owing to the difficulty of getting things back in order following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. However, Soho Rep has managed to overcome the theatre's restricted street access and other problems of bringing people to the show.
Audience members will likely need to show valid U.S. identification to police at security checkpoints in the area. A Soho Rep staffer will stay at the southwest corner of Broadway and Canal just to help direct confused theatregoers. On the plus side, the #1/9 train is again stopping at the nearby Franklin Avenue subway station.
The previous week, police barricades proved a hardship for Soho Repertory. "We're in the land of the unknown in a very big way," artistic director Daniel Aukin told Playbill On-Line Sept. 19. " We're two blocks south of Canal Street, between Church and Broadway. Church is one of main arteries. Pedestrian traffic is not allowed in unless you live or work in the area. There are still barricades at Canal Street; I don't think a lot of people realize how much of the city is still shut down. Some cops I've spoken to think these restrictions could be in place months from now, since it's still essential to the crime scene." The Flying Machine, which Aukin calls "a LeCoq-trained commedia ensemble, use text, movement and stylized characterization to tell of two ships washed ashore in a 19th century English coastal town."
Asked how their current roster is affected by the madness, Aukin replied, "Right now we have a rental company in the space... We're not that much dependent on walk-in traffic, however," Aukin continued. "We have an incredibly loyal and devoted following. We sell upwards of 70 percent capacity for our season, half of which is developmental. We discovered through questionnaires that our core audience isn't interested in subscriptions (possibly because our prices are so low). Even so, we're not getting the usual amount of interest. People are still in shock. As such, we're talking to a couple of different theaters to move this workshop if we can' t perform it at Soho Rep next week. We've got a larger show coming in in mid-November, and we're putting feelers out in case we can't perform it at Soho Rep."
The fall offering will be [sic] by newcomer Melissa James Gibson, beginning Nov. 11 for an open-ended run. Soho Rep artistic director Daniel Aukin will stage the piece. The play concerns Babette, Theo and Frank, who live in neighboring apartments. Once wunderkinds who looked forward to great careers as a novelist, musician and auctioneer, respectively, they are now not so young and not so promising. The show is described as being about "friendships built on quicksand."
[sic] was developed in Soho Rep's 2000-01 playwrights-directors lab and given a reading this past spring. The company then took the extraordinary step of immediately giving it a production slot. Aukin directed the Soho Rep hit The Year of the Baby by Quincy Long and Cat's Paw by Wellman.
"[sic]" is an editorial term meaning, roughly, "intentionally so written." It is typically placed after a misspelled or archaically spelled word to indicate that the spelling is that of the original writer or speaker, not the publication or editor which has reprinted the quote.
Soho Rep's spring show, meanwhile, is Attempts on Her Life, the latest by British scribe Martin Crimp. Since the plot has been summed up as, "Is she a terrorist? Is she a porn star? A new car model?", it will be interesting to see how world events affect that choice. The show bowed at the Royal Court in London. New York sightings of Crimp's work include The Treatment at the Public Theater and a new adaptation of The Misanthrope at CSC.
Attempts will run in April 2002, with specific dates and a director to be announced.
Last spring, Soho Rep won an Obie Award grant of $1,000.
—By David Lefkowitz
and Robert Simonson