New Dorian Gray Play, Set in 1980s, Will Premiere at MD's Round House

News   New Dorian Gray Play, Set in 1980s, Will Premiere at MD's Round House
Round House Theatre in Bethesda, MD, will stage the world premiere of The Picture of Dorian Gray, an adaptation of the Oscar Wilde novel by playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

The new work, commissioned by Round House, will launch the company's 2009-10 season Sept. 9–Oct. 4.

It was also announced that producing artistic director Blake Robinson's contract has been extended five years. Robison will direct The Picture of Dorian Gray. Aguirre-Sacasa is the prolific playwright whose Totally True Story, Good Boys and True, The Muckle Man and The Velvet Sky have been seen around the country.

According the Round House season notes, the new adaptation is set in London in 1988. In it, "a struggling artist paints a portrait of a handsome friend. Upon seeing it, Dorian strikes a Faustian bargain that allows his outward appearance to remain forever unchanged while the portrait reflects his true age and immorality. Plunging into a life of narcissism and depravity, he leaves those who love or befriend him broken or dead before realizing that he has also destroyed himself."

This adaptation — which contains adult situations and nudity — "updates the action, putting a provocative contemporary spin on Wilde's scandalous thriller about a man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty."

The new Round House season also includes two co-productions with peer theatres: the area premiere of 26 Miles by Pulitzer Prize finalist Quiara Alegría Hudes and directed by KJ Sanchez (produced with Two River Theater Company), and the area premiere of Aaron Posner's adaptation My Name Is Asher Lev, from the novel by Chaim Potok (produced with Delaware Theatre Company). Also on the schedule are the area premiere of Mark Brown's small-cast version of Jule Verne's Around the World in 80 Days directed by Nick Olcott; Look Out Below!, an evening of clown theatre with Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell; and Thomas Gibbons' Permanent Collection, directed by Timothy Douglas.

Also in 2009-10, Round House Theatre and the University of Maryland Department of Theatre will inaugurate a new partnership that brings students together with professional theatre artists. In spring 2010, the organizations will produce one "blended" production, bringing professional artists from Round House Theatre to work with students on Charles Mee's Hotel Cassiopia (directed by Robison). This production will debut at the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts and will then transfer to Round House's Silver Spring black box theatre for an extended summer run.

In reaction to the current economic crisis, Round House has, for the second year in a row, not raised its ticket prices. In response to the economy, Round House has reduced the price of 20 percent of its seats.

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Round House is currently staging the East Coast premiere of Melanie Marnich's comedy A Sleeping Country to June 21. Gregg Henry directs Brigid Cleary, Marcus Kyd, Susan Lynskey and Connan Morrissey.

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