Welcome to My Rash and Third are being staged as one evening. Each related play features Obie Award-winning actress Kathryn Grody.
"Wendy Wasserstein is beginning a new chapter in her playwriting with this production, and we are delighted to offer her an artistic home for this groundbreaking work," Theater J artistic director Ari Roth said in a statement. "I was immediately struck by the candor, the humor, and the frank confrontation with mortality I found in Welcome to My Rash and Third. Yes, there are the wonderful characterizations and sizzling dialogue one always finds in a Wendy Wasserstein play, but there something special and new going on here."
The world premiere at Theater J "is the culmination of a developmental process that has teamed Theater J with Arena Stage and the Kennedy Center," according to production notes.
Michael Barakiva directs a cast that also includes Janine Barris, Edward Boroevich and Arena Stage veteran Bill Grimmette.
In Welcome to My Rash, "Flora Berman (played by Kathryn Grody) is a fiction writer battling a battery of medical maladies. She forms a surprising friendship with her doctor, Varajan Kipling. As she endures a series of highly experimental treatments, her visits with her physician are interspersed with Demerol-induced dream sequences that offer a comic counterpoint to Flora's real life." Meanwhile, "Third features an old friend of Flora's (also played by Grody) and is companion piece to Welcome to My Rash written especially for Theater J. Laurie Jameson is a veteran professor at a private liberal arts college; Woodson Bull III (as in "the Third") is her conservative, wrestling-jock of a student. In a series of confrontations, the two clash over politics, Shakespeare, and campus culture. As Laurie fends off hot flashes as well a challenging relationship with her college age daughter, Third quickly emerges as an up-to date portrait of our times."
Wasserstein is best known for such plays as The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosenweig, Uncommon Women and Others and Isn’t it Romantic?
Kathryn Grody received Obie Awards for her performances in Caryl Churchill's Top Girls and Christopher Durang's The Marriage of Bette and Boo and has extensive stage credits on and Off-Broadway. A Mom's Life — a one-woman show which she also wrote — was popular at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater and toured across the country. She is married to actor Mandy Patinkin.
The Wasserstein plays are designed by James Kronzer (scenic), Susan Chiang (costume), Jason Arnold (lighting), Mark Anduss and Ryan Rumery (sound) and Dale Nadel (properties).
Theater J is the leading Jewish theatre in the nation's capital. "Dedicated to renewing the American-Jewish repertoire, it produces plays and musicals that provoke and entertain, celebrating the vitality and intensity of the Jewish Experience while addressing the shared concerns of the Washington community."
All performances take place in the Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theater at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th Street, NW (at Q Street). Tickets are $18-35 and are available by calling (800) 494 TIXS.
For more information visit www.theaterj.org.