As befits a theatre company that keeps its professional residence at Harvard University, American Repertory Theatre will offer a season featuring Shakespeare, Ibsen and Racine, though the company also has one (and possibly two) world premieres up its sleeve.
Here's the 1998-99, 20th anniversary season line-up for Cambridge, MA's American Repertory Theatre. Exact dates have not yet been set:
Christopher Durang's rarely-performed dark comedy, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, starts the season in October. Marcus Stern directs. Here's the way the press release describes it: "Boo is an alcoholic, Bette has dead babies, their in-laws are gibbering sociopaths, and their priest thinks he's a strip of fried bacon."
Phedre, Jean Racine's telling of the Greek tragedy, wherein the queen falls for her stepson, with cataclysmic results. Adapted by Paul Schmidt, Phedre will be directed in November by Liz Diamond.
The Merchant of Venice or Uncle Vanya. It's either Shakespeare or Chekhov for the second slot, with Andrei Serban staging either the Bard's controversial tragicomedy or the Russian's autumnal comedy/drama in early December. If it's ready in Jan. 1999, a new play by Don DeLillo will also take the stage. DeLillo's other works include The Dayroom and White Noise. Should the project not pan out, Joe Orton's dark comedy Loot will take its place.
Definitely set for Feb. 1999 is Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, about an architect driven to new heights, literally, by an admiring protegee. A.R.T. artistic director Robert Brustein co-directs with Kate Whoriskey.
A world premiere collaboration between author Robert Coover and director Bob McGrath arrives April 1999. A multi-media tribute to the art and cultural legacy of Charlie Chaplin, Charlie in the House of Rue will employ film, slides, voice samplings and music.
For wild comedy there's Larry Gelbart's Sly Fox, which updates Ben Jonson's Volpone, about an old miser conning all his neighbors out of their money, to the California Gold Rush. Performances start in early May 1999.
As founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Rep, Brustein has supervised more than 200 productions. He serves as director of the Loeb Drama Center, Professor of English at Harvard, and drama critic for The New Republic. These days, he's most celebrated for his public arguments with playwright August Wilson about multi-cultural casting.
For tickets and information on the American Repertory Theatre season, call their Info-Line at (617) 547-8300 or check out their website at http://www.amrep.org.
-- By David Lefkowitz