Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis will unveil the world premiere of playwright-in-residence James Still's Looking Over the President's Shoulder in the 2001-2002 season — the 30th — of the nonprofit resident troupe.
The nine-show season opens with the relighting of the newly renovated Mainstage Theatre, which will house Peter Shaffer's theatrically opulent Amadeus, Oct. 2-27.
The Mainstage Theatre will have new lighting and sound equipment, as well as new seating, carpet and architectural design detailing. The fall season marks the end of four years of renovation of the 1927 historic home.
James Still's Looking Over the President's Shoulder, gets its world premiere, Oct. 30-Dec. 22, on the IRT Upperstage. The play focuses on the 21 years that Indiana native Alonzo Fields spent in the White House as the Chief Butler, and "the passing parade of history" he witnessed. According to IRT, Fields was the grandson of a freed slave whose family had settled in Lyles Station in Gibson County. His family moved to Indianapolis when he was a young man. He went on to become a musician, singer, teacher, businessman, baseball player in the Negro Baseball League, a boxer, opera singer and, from 1932-1953, the Chief Butler in the White House to presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. James Still is IRT's playwright-in-residence and previously penned The Velocity of Gary and IRT's 2000 farm drama, Amber Waves. He was named the New Voices in American Theatre playwright for the 19th annual William Inge Theatre Festival in 2000.
Tom Haas adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol return the Mainstage with Chuck Goad as Scrooge, Nov. 14-Dec. 23. The world premiere of Sister Carrie, a play by Charles Smith adapted from Theodore Dreiser's first novel, plays the Mainstage Jan. 9-Feb. 2, 2002. "Sister Carrie" was Dreiser's 1900 ode to the siren call of the modern city, pitting the youthful Carrie Meeber against the challenges for single women with looks but no fortune.
The Color of Justice, by Cheryl L. Davis, is the story of a 9-year-old African American girl in Topeka, KS, in 1954 and her fight to attend a public school near her home. The play examines the landmark de-segregation case, Brown v. The Board of Education. It plays the Upperstage Jan. 30-March 3, 2002.
Yasmina Reza's Tony Award-winning comedy, Art, adapted by Christopher Hampton, plays the Mainstage Feb. 12 March 9, 2002.
John Pielmeier's Agnes of God is offered on the Mainstage March 20-April 13, 2002. The humane thriller concerns a strangled, newborn baby found in a convent and how Agnes, the mother of the child, has blocked out all memory of the birth, the murder, and even the conception.
A version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar geared for youth and first-time Shakespeare-goers plays the Upperstage April 3-May 12. 2002.
The season closes with Eugene O'Neill's highly idealized vision of his own New England boyhood, Ah, Wilderness!, April 24-May 19, 2002, on the Mainstage.
IRT is at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN. For information, call (317) 635-5252, or visit www.indianarep.com.
— By Kenneth Jones