Public Theater to Stage King Lear With Sam Waterston, Chinglish, February House in 2011-2012

News   Public Theater to Stage King Lear With Sam Waterston, Chinglish, February House in 2011-2012
Academy Award nominee Sam Waterston will tackle the role of King Lear during the Public Theater's 2011-2012 season. Also planned are David Henry Hwang's Chinglish and a new musical from Passing Strange collaborators Stew and Heidi Rodewald.
Sam Waterston
Sam Waterston Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The Public has also announced that the inaugural commission of its Musical Theater Initiative, led by Tony Award winner Ted Sperling, will be February House, a new musical by Gabriel Kahane and Seth Bockley. The work is set for development this summer as part of New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse season prior to its Off-Broadway bow in late spring 2012.

Monologist Mike Daisey will return to the Public with the New York premiere of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, running Oct. 11-Nov. 13. Jean-Michele Gregory directs the work about the Apple CEO.

Following will be Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear, with Waterston (Abe Lincoln in Illinois, "Law & Order," "The Killing Fields") in the title role. James Macdonald will helm the production that will run Oct. 18-Nov. 20.

After a run during the 2011 Under the Radar Festival, the Gob Squad, the German/British theatre collective, will return with Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good), playing Jan. 19-Feb. 5, 2012. "Gob Squad invites you to take the hand of the King of Pop himself, Andy Warhol, and take a trip back to the underground cinemas of New York City, back to where it all began," according to press notes. "Gob Squad's Kitchen reconstructs Warhol's films in the quest to illuminate the past for a new generation, reflecting on the nature of authenticity, the here and now, and the hidden depths beneath the shiny surfaces of modern life."

Barry Edelstein will stage the world premiere of Nathan Englander's The Twenty-Seventh Man, which is scheduled for Feb. 21-March 25, 2012. Englander adapted the play from his own short story. "A Soviet prison, 1952. Stalin’s secret police have rounded up 26 writers, the giants of Yiddish literature in Russia," according to the Public. "As judgment looms, a twenty-seventh suddenly appears: Pinchas Pelovits, unpublished and unknown. Baffled by his arrest, he and his cellmates wrestle with the mysteries of party loyalty and politics, culture and identity, and with what it means to write in troubled times. When they discover why the twenty-seventh man is among them, the writers come to realize that even in the face of tyranny, stories still have the power to transcend." The May/June 2012 slot will be dedicated to the premiere of February House by Kahane (music) and Bockley (book), with direction by Davis McCallum. The new musical is described thusly: "Visionary and flamboyant editor George Davis transforms a dilapidated Brooklyn boarding house into a bohemian commune for the leading lights of 1940s New York. Residents include novelist Carson McCullers, composer Benjamin Britten, poet W.H. Auden, and the infamous Gypsy Rose Lee. The luminaries of 7 Middagh Street form a tumultuous and remarkable makeshift family, and search for love, inspiration, and refuge from the looming war in Europe."

Also planned is the New York premiere of Tony Award winner Hwang's Chinglish, under the direction of Leigh Silverman. Dates of production will be announced shortly. The run is a co-production with Chicago's Goodman Theatre, where the play will debut this June.  The play concerns "Daniel, a Midwestern American businessman, [who ] travels to the provincial capital of Guiyang in the hope of landing a contract for his family firm, only to learn how much he doesn't understand. His translators are unreliable, his consultant may be a fraud, and he is captivated by Xu, a government official who may be trying to help him-- at least that's what he thinks she's saying."

The Public LAB season will include the world premiere of Richard Nelson's Sweet and Sad, which the playwright will also direct. Running Sept. 6-25, the cast will include Jon DeVries, Shuler Hensley, Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders and J. Smith-Cameron. The work is billed as the second in Nelson's dramatic series about American politics that began with last season's That Hopey Changey Thing. "Nelson continues the story of the Apples over Sunday lunch on September 11, 2011. His second in a series of plays about the immediate present and the ever-changing state of the nation, Sweet and Sad explores what the Apple family has lost since the attacks, and what they remember."

Public LAB Shakespeare productions include Love's Labor's Lost, directed by Karin Coonrod (Oct. 18-Nov. 18); and Titus Andronicus, directed by Michael Sexton and starring Jay O. Sanders (Nov. 29-Dec. 18).

The LAB will culminate with the world premiere of The Total Bent, a new musical project from Tony winner Stew and his Passing Strange collaborator Rodewald, running Feb. 14-March 4, 2012. Joanna Settle will direct the "new musical about a black gospel prodigy from down South and a white music producer from South London who meet in a recording studio just south of the Twilight Zone, as they both desperately seek their own versions of transcendence, salvation, and a hit record. Divine inspiration, fantastical visions, and one legendary music-producer father frame this electrifying new musical about the complicated space between the sacred and the profane."

For information on becoming a Public Theater member and subscriptions, phone (212) 967-7555 or visit PublicTheater. Single tickets will go on sale in late summer.

The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.

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