Sondheim, Guare, Lucas, Sher, Wolfe and Durang Set for Public Theater 2008-2009 Season

News   Sondheim, Guare, Lucas, Sher, Wolfe and Durang Set for Public Theater 2008-2009 Season
The 2008-2009 season at the Public Theater will include Stephen Sondheim's Bounce, the world premiere of John Guare's A Free Man of Color and a full production of Tracy Scott Wilson's The Good Negro.
From Left: Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def.
From Left: Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Former artistic directors George C. Wolfe and JoAnne Akalaitis will return to the Public in the new season that will also include Tony-nominated director Bartlett Sher, monologist Mike Daisey and a summer production of The Bacchae at the Delacorte featuring a score by Philip Glass.

As previously reported, the Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical Bounce will find a home at the Public Theater in early fall. While the Public has not confirmed dates for Bounce, a casting notice has stated that the production is slated to begin Oct. 28 and continue through Nov. 30, with a possible extension through Dec. 28. John Doyle will stage the anticipated New York premiere of the musical.

Also on the fall roster will be Mike Daisey's latest monologue on homeland security, If You See Something Say Something, at Joe's Pub.

The New York premiere of hip-hop theatre artist Danny Hoch's Taking Over will also debut in the fall at the Public. Tony Taccone directs the work that will "chronicle the current state of gentrification of New York City. Blazing through a fierce spectrum of New Yorkers, Danny gives voice to everyone from the developers evicting locals to make way for lofts, to the bar-hopping career hipsters who buy them, and those left in the wake of both."

After the New Year, Tony Award-winning director George C. Wolfe will direct John Guare's A Free Man of Color. Featuring Topdog/Underdog cast members Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright, Guare's play "re-creates the sexually progressive New Orleans of 1802 when the landscape of race was shifting and the Louisiana Purchase could complete America's unfinished maps. Featuring a host of historical characters including Napoleon, Josephine, Jefferson, Talleyrand and others (you name 'em, they're in it), A Free Man of Color is a racially charged re-telling of America's coming of age." The Public LAB production of Tracey Scott Wilson's The Good Negro will make its official Off-Broadway bow at the Public in the spring. Liesl Tommy again stages the production that "tears through the pages of history to uncover the human story at the heart of the 1960's American civil rights movement." The Good Negro is a co-production with the Dallas Theater Center.

Christopher Durang will offer some political humor to Public audiences in the spring with the world premiere of Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them. Durang's latest comedy "tells the story of a young woman suddenly in crisis: is her new husband, whom she married when drunk, a terrorist? Or just crazy? Or both? Is her father's hobby of butterfly collecting really a cover for his involvement in a shadow government? Why does her mother enjoy going to the theatre so much? Does she seek mental escape, or is she insane? Honing in on our private terrors both at home and abroad, Durang oddly relieves our fears in this black comedy for an era of yellow, orange, and red alerts."

The final offering at the Public's Lafayette hub will be the New York premiere of Craig Lucas' The Singing Forest. The spring production reunites Lucas with his Light in the Piazza director Bartlett Sher in a decade-spanning work that travels "from today's world of Starbucks, celebrity and therapy to Freud's inner circle in 1930's Vienna and to Paris at the end of WWII. It's the story of three generations of a family whose lives are intertwined despite the secrets that have torn them apart."

Summer arrives at the Public with a newly explored production of The Bacchae under the direction of JoAnne Akalaitis for Shakespeare in the Park. Philip Glass has composed the original choral score for the Delacorte staging of "Euripides' classic story about what happens when a government attempts to outlaw desire." Nicholas Ruddall has adapted the Euripides work.

The Public will announce the first Shakespeare in the Park engagement at a later date.

"Each of next season's remarkable theatre artists is working on the broadest canvas imaginable, dealing with the large issues that shape our public life. It will be a season about America — its present and its history," said Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis in a statement. "From the gentrification of Brooklyn in Danny Hoch's Taking Over, to the Department of Homeland Security in If You See Something Say Something, from America's transition from Republic to Empire in A Free Man of Color, to the crucible of the Civil Rights movement in The Good Negro, these artists are grappling with the heart of America.

"I am particularly proud to welcome back to The Public my two predecessors, JoAnne Akalaitis and George C. Wolfe," he continued. "One of The Public's great strengths is the continuity of its community of artists, and JoAnne and George are both an integral part of that community."

Casting and exact dates for all Public Theater 2008-2009 season productions will be announced in the future.

Renewal memberships for the Public season are currently available. For further information visit

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

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