The Steppenwolf Theatre Company will begin its 2002-03 mainstage season in the 1930's and end at the close of World War I, with a couple of racially tinged modern dramas tossed in in between.
The season commences on Sept. 12 with a new revival of William Saroyan's cozy classic, The Time of Your Life—continued Steppenwolf's long tradition of unearthing hoary, big cast American chestnuts, such as Harvey, You Can't Take It With You and the current season's The Royal Family. Tina Landau will direct the play, which takes place in a waterfront bar patronized by the benevolent oddball Joe, who from his bar stool watches life pass by and sagely comments on the goings-on in his small world, as well as the world at large. The play was made into a movie starring James Cagney. Time will run through Nov. 3.
I Just Stopped by to See the Man, running Nov. 14-Jan. 12, 2003, will follow. Marion McClinton (Jitney, Breath, Boom) will direct this piece by Stephen Jeffreys, which follows an English rock band in search of legendary Delta blues singer Jesse Davidson. As the story goes, Davidson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his skills as a musician. But other stories say that Davidson is not dead at all. The plot is drawn from the well known rumors and folklore surrounding Robert Johnson, a guitarist who influenced the likes of Eric Clapton. Johnson's story has been the basis of several movies, including 1986's "Crossroads."
Breathe by Javon Johnson, which take the third slot of Jan. 30 March 23, 2003. Ron OJ Person directs the tale of two sons from different families and of different skin color, and the consequences they face after committing separate acts of violence.
The fifth and final slot, running July 10-Aug. 31, 2003, is reserved for Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour, which will have its premiere at South Coast Rep Nov. 5, 2002. The Violet Hour takes place in the small New York City office of John Seaverings Pace, a writer who, having made it through World War I, is ready to get on with the future. Unfortunately, he can't find his theatre tickets, and his decisions during the day will impact the lives of four others: his employee, two budding writers and his friend's fiance. Evan Yionoulis will direct. A fifth play, to run April 17-June 15, is yet to be selected.
—By Robert Simonson