Public Theater Season Includes Fun Home, Good Person of Szechwan, Richard Nelson's Apple Family Plays and More
By Adam Hetrick
Fun Home, the new musical by Tony Award nominees Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, will return as part of the Public Theater's 2013-14 season, which will also include the world premiere of Richard Nelson's Regular Singing, and the acclaimed Foundry production of Taylor Mac in The Good Person of Szechwan.
The Public will launch its season with The Wallace Shawn-André Gregory Project, a co-production with Theatre for a New Audience, which will include The Designated Mourner, starring Deborah Eisenberg, Larry Pine and Shawn (June 21-Aug. 25); and the American premiere of Grasses of a Thousand Colors, starring Julie Hagerty, Emily McDonnell, Shawn and Jennifer Tilly (Oct. 8-Nov. 10).
Monologist Mike Daisey (The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs) will return to the Public with a 29-performance theatrical event, All the Faces of the Moon (Sept. 5-Oct. 3). According to the Public, "Each evening works alone as a single episode, but together they tell a vast story that spans the globe and stretches across the 20th century to the present day and beyond, weaving together the secret history of the space race, notorious art forgeries, the angry ghosts of class and communism, and the still-beating heart of the military industrial complex. With hilarity and biting satire he will strive like Scheherazade to tell a story night after night, using our American empire as a backdrop to illuminate our moment here at the dawn of the corporate age. Audiences can be part of this epic experience as well as tune in online to experience the largest story ever attempted in the American theater."
The Public will also welcome back Elevator Repair Service for Arguendo (Sept. 10-Oct. 6). It is billed as "a playful riff on the 1991 Supreme Court case Barnes v. Glen Theatre. In this provocative case, a group of exotic dancers, citing the First Amendment, challenged a ban on public nudity. ERS stages the oral argument of the case verbatim with their signature theatricality, wit and physical precision. The production design features a breathtaking swirl of animated text projections by celebrated visual artist, Ben Rubin."
Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron's musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, which played a sold-out run as part of the Public Lab last season, will return with a full production this fall under the direction of Sam Gold (Oct. 1-Nov.3). Tony Award nominee Judy Kuhn (Passion) will star. According to the Public, "When her father dies unexpectedly, graphic novelist Alison dives deep into her past to tell the story of the volatile, brilliant, one-of-a-kind man whose temperament and secrets defined her family and her life. Moving between past and present, Alison relives her unique childhood playing at the family's Bechdel Funeral Home, her growing understanding of her own sexuality and the looming, unanswerable questions about her father’s hidden desires."
The imaginative new production of Bertolt Brecht's Good Person of Szechwan, which played La MaMa e.t.c. earlier this year under the direction of Lear deBessonet, will return with original cast members Taylor Mac, Annie Golden, David Turner, Lisa Kron and more (Oct. 18-Nov. 24). It features original live music by César Alvarez with The Lisps.
Following will be The Apple Family Plays: Scenes from Life in the Country, which includes the world premiere of Tony Award winner Richard Nelson's Regular Singing. The work is the final installment in the playwright's four-play series documenting a liberal family living in Rhinebeck, NY. All four plays, including That Hopey Changey Thing; Sweet and Sad; and Sorry; will be presented in repertory with members of the original cast (Oct. 22-Dec. 15).
Tarell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays) has penned a new adaptation of Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra which he will also direct, set in "18th century, sun-soaked Saint-Domingue on the eve of revolution" (Feb. 18-March 23, 2014).
Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks' Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), which was seen in an earlier developmental production at the Public Lab in 2009, will be staged as part of the 2014 Public Lab season under the direction of Jo Bonney (March 11-30, 2014). Here is a look at the plays: "Part 1 introduces us to Hero, a slave who must choose whether or not to join his master on the Confederate battlefield. In Part 2, a band of rebel soldiers test Hero's loyalty as the cannons approach. Part 3 finds Hero's loved ones anxiously awaiting his return."
The Public has also announced that it will produce the New York premiere of Ted Shen's musical A Second Chance, which will be staged by Jonathan Butterell (March 18-April 13, 2014). It has book, music and lyrics by Shen, whose foundation supports the development of new musicals at the Public and Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. The Public presented a Joe's Pub concert of the work in 2010, and the Signature premiered the musical in 2011. Read more about the previous production here.
According to the Public, "A Second Chance is the story of a recent widower and a divorcée who meet in mid-life. Presented with the overwhelming challenge of freeing themselves from their painful pasts, neither feels they deserve to find new love and happiness. Yet, unanticipated feelings awaken within them both, passionately drawing them together and leading them to uncover something they both least expected to find."
The final production of the season will be the New York premiere of the Civilians' The Great Immensity (April 8-27, 2014), written and directed by Steven Cosson and featuring music by Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Love's Labour's Lost). It is billed as "a continent-hopping thriller following a woman, Phyllis, as she pursues someone close to her who disappeared from a tropical island while on an assignment for a nature show. Through her search, Phyllis uncovers a mysterious plot surrounding the upcoming international climate summit in Auckland. As the days count down to the Auckland Summit, Phyllis must decipher the plan and possibly stop it in time."
The 10th annual Under the Radar Festival of new and emerging works, curated by Mark Russell and Meiyin Wang, will also return to the Public's Astor Place home (Jan. 8-19, 2014).
Memberships are currently available. Single tickets will go on sale later this year. For further information phone (212) 967-7555, or visit PublicTheater. The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.
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