Wilmington's Contemporary Stage Has All-Fugard Summer Season, June 8-July 23

News   Wilmington's Contemporary Stage Has All-Fugard Summer Season, June 8-July 23 Delaware native Sean Patrick Thomas, of the recent films "Save the Last Dance" and "Barbershop," will headline the first play of Contemporary Stage Company's 2006 summer season, devoted to South African playwright Athol Fugard.

Thomas will appear in The Island, conceived by Fugard with John Kani and Winston Ntshona, opposite CSC's 26-year-old producing artistic director Keith Powell, also a Wilmington native.

The season will conclude with the Delaware premiere of Fugard's newest play Exits and Entrances. Casting for the latter will be announced at a later date. Both works are two-character pieces.

CSC is the startup Equity troupe that performs several weeks in the summer, at The Baby Grand Theatre at The Grand Opera House in downtown Wilmington, DE.

This will be the company's third season. In its brief history, it has lured such luminaries as Lynn Redgrave, Keith David, Jasmine Guy and Richard Easton to Wilmington.

"Athol Fugard is one of my all-time favorite playwrights," Powell said in a statement. "It is an absolute honor that he would grant us the rights to Exits and Entrances ahead of many other more established theatre companies. In my mind, the best way to return this compliment is to devote our entire season to him. I see The Island as sort of a companion piece." Both plays explore the theme of how the theatre can change lives, Powell said.

In addition to the mainstage productions, CSC will present a reading series of Fugard's most popular works, including 'Master Harold'… and the boys and Valley Song. These readings will have an intimate wine and cheese reception, and will be offered free to subscribers.

The Island will run June 8-25, with the reading of 'Master Harold' on June 21. Exits and Entrances will run July 6-23, with the reading of Valley Song on July 19. Both productions will perform Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM. Both readings will perform at 7 PM.

A season entirely dedicated to one playwright is a departure for Contemporary Stage, which normally boasts titles from different writers.

"I have one rule for CSC: get people passionate about going to the theatre," Powell said. "Luckily, I'm afforded the opportunity to play outside of the rules; and if one playwright can keep my audience passionate all summer long, I'm going to devote my entire season to him."

Kent Paul (CSC's Collected Stories with Lynn Redgrave, and Restoring the Sun with Richard Easton) will direct both The Island and Exits and Entrances. His design team will also undertake both productions, with certain elements of the designs echoed in each play. Michael Schweikardt will design the sets, Matthew McCarthy will design lights, David Rigler will design costumes, Roger Rees will compose original score, Nick Rye will design sound, and Ha-Chi Yu will choreograph.

The brainchild of Powell, Contemporary Stage Company is a multicultural summer theatre company located in The Baby Grand Theater at The Grand Opera House in downtown Wilmington, DE. CSC's mission is to "produce and promote plays representing the full spectrum of many cultures, often colorblind casting where appropriate."

The Island is a "powerful tale about two political prisoners who put on a play that will give hope and inspiration to their fellow inmates. But can their friendship survive the rehearsals?"

Exits and Entrances "tells the true story of a life-changing friendship between an idealistic young playwright and a celebrated older actor. As one begins to find his artistic and political voice, the other is forced to confront the shadow of being forgotten."

Season subscriptions and single tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased by calling (800) 37-GRAND.

For more information, visit www.contemporarystage.org.