Kirk Douglas Theatre Books John Hurt, Jennifer Haley's Nether, Marco Ramirez's Royale, The Second City in 2012-13

By Kenneth Jones
07 Jun 2012

John Hurt
John Hurt

Center Theatre Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA, will host three world-premiere productions — Twist Your Dickens, The Nether and The Royale — in its 2012-13 season, artistic director Michael Ritchie announced on June 7.

An engagement of the Gate Theatre of Dublin's production of Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape starring John Hurt ("Midnight Express," "The Elephant Man") is also on the schedule, along with the "DouglasPlus" fringe programming of a Los Angeles version of the Off-Broadway work Radiate featuring Jomama Jones and an English-language production of the Radar L.A. 2011 festival play Neva, touching on the life of Anton Chekhov's widow.

The Nether won the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for playwright Jennifer Haley. The play was developed at the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and the Lark Play Development Center.

Here's the mainstage season at a glance:



Elephant Room
By Trey Lyford, Geoff Sobelle and Steve Cuiffo
With magicians Louie Magic, Daryl Hannah and Dennis Diamond
Directed by Paul Lazar
Aug. 22-Sept. 16

"Pure, unadulterated fun…transforming the space into a mystical place of wonder and amusement. Elephant Room was commissioned by Center Theatre Group and workshopped as Next Stop Amazingland in DouglasPlus in November 2009. By turns fresh, silly and profound, Elephant Room is set in a basement rec room where three semi-pro conjurers hang out and practice their tricks with varying competence. These self-deluded illusionists are brimming with childlike wonder and undeserved self-confidence, but there is something mysterious about their Elephant Room. Things are not as they seem."

Krapp's Last Tape
A Gate Theatre of London Production
By Samuel Beckett
Performed by John Hurt
Directed by Michael Colgan
Oct. 9-Nov. 4

"The great British actor John Hurt will appear in what will be the two-time Academy Award nominee's first appearance on a Los Angeles stage, [embodying] Beckett's searing meditation on the choices made in a lifetime. On his 69th birthday, Krapp continues his ritual of making a tape recording of his thoughts about the year just passed and listening to his taped thoughts on years gone by. For this birthday he chooses a tape made 30 years earlier, and with a mixture of regret and disgust, he hears his youthful voice, full of strength and bravado, talk about his aspirations and the woman he loved."

The Second City's
A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!
A World Premiere
By Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort
Nov. 24-Dec. 30

"A holiday party like no other, [this] world premiere serves the trademark humor, irreverence and originality of The Second City, in a creative collaboration with CTG. In addition to Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the fat, plucked goose and those glum ghosts, the famous Victorian streets will spring to life with scheming politicians, sunbathing Santas, shop-lifting celebrities and hilarious improvs, all performed by a talented group of Second City alums and an ever-changing stable of starry, drop-in special guests."

The Nether
A World Premiere
By Jennifer Haley
Directed by Neel Keller
March 19-April 14, 2013

"The moral complexity of the increasingly pervasive and addictive world of virtual reality is explored in the gripping new play. The Nether tantalizes with timely, thought-provoking questions about the growing sophistication of the digital realm, and the possibility that it will become a more fulfilling place to 'live' than the real world. [The play] is set in the not-too-distant future where a cyber detective investigates a highly interactive digital site in which taboo acts of secret desires are blurring the boundaries of right and wrong, and of virtual and real. The detective soon finds herself in a battle of wills with a charismatic suspect and wrestles with the question, is it a crime if the blood is just bits of computer code? This suspenseful police procedural ponders whether actions taken in the realm of fantasy have real-world consequences and whether being anonymous in a game means you can truly live for yourself and your deepest desires alone. The answers may reveal much more than we want to know about human nature."

The Royale
A World Premiere
By Marco Ramirez
Directed by Daniel Aukin
April 28-June 2, 2013
"A vivid depiction of a man fighting for his place in history. Set in the boxing world of the early 1900s, Jay 'The Sport' Jackson has talent and confidence and wants what he feels is owed to him: a shot at the championship. Even though blacks were not offered bouts with white boxers, Jay wants to be the first African American crowned undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, and is pushing hard to have that dream realized, no matter the consequences. The Royale is loosely inspired by the story of Jack Johnson, who was the first African American sports icon, and whose reign as the world heavyweight champion lasted from 1908 to 1915. Ramirez's potent story shows how the conviction of one athlete — his spirit of rebellion and his desire to be free to pursue his dreams, can have an impact on society far beyond the sport pages."

Here's the DouglasPlus season at a glance:

Jomama Jones in
Radiate
A Workshop Presentation
Conceived by Daniel Alexander Jones with Bobby Halvorson
Aug. 3-4

"Radiate is an intimate concert — part happening, part revival — in which the writer and performance artist Jomama Jones embodies a legendary soul singer on her American comeback tour. Jones performs songs from her CDs 'Lone Star,' 'Radiate' and the forthcoming 'Six Ways Home,' while sharing tales from her life-journey and her surprising observations of the America to which she has returned. For the DouglasPlus workshop, Jones will change the focus of the script to make it a Los Angeles concert version."

Neva
A Co-Production with South Coast Repertory and La Jolla Playhouse
Written and Directed by Guillermo Calderón
New English Language Translation by Andrea Thome
June 11-16, 2013

"Chile's Teatro en el Blanco's Spanish language production of Neva was one of the highlights of the Radar L.A. festival in June 2011. Neva takes place in 1905 in St. Petersburg where Anton Chekhov's widow, the actress Olga Knipper, is huddled with fellow actors in a dimly lit rehearsal room, while in the streets outside striking workers are being gunned down by the tsarist regime. In keeping with the setting of the play, Neva will be performed in the rehearsal room — Upstairs @ KDT — at the Kirk Douglas Theatre."

For season information, visit centertheatregroup.org.