Fort Worth's Stage West premieres new season packed with firsts
For its 39th season, Stage West is back to stacking its stages with regional and world premieres. Of the seven total plays (one more than last season), only one isn't brand-new to Dallas-Fort Worth audiences.
The first playwright(s) might sound familiar though: Aaron Posner was the scribe behind last season's excellent Stupid Fucking Bird, a modern riff on Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, and this year he's back with Life Sucks, which is "sort of adapted from Chekhov's Uncle Vanya." Director Emily Scott Banks is back for this regional premiere, which runs October 12-November 12, 2017.
Up next is the "season extra," which is offered at a discount to patrons who purchase season tickets before October 1. David Javervaum's An Act of God enjoyed two recent runs on Broadway, first starring The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons in 2015 and then, a year later, Will & Grace funnyman Sean Hayes. Here, B.J. Cleveland will play the Almighty Himself, who is ready to set the record straight and deliver a new and improved set of Commandments. Harry Parker will direct the play, which runs November 30-December 31, 2017.
DFW audiences will be the first to experience Erik Forrest Jackson's Like a Billion Likes, winner of Stage West's 2016 Southwest Playwriting Competition. It centers on a high school sophomore who's desperate to be noticed for something, anything. The world premiere runs January 18-February 4, 2018.
Lee Trull is once again keeping company with playwright Halley Feiffer, whose I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard he directed in early 2016 for Kitchen Dog Theater. This time he's helming Feiffer's new play about "laughing through pain," and it has an equally provocative and even longer title: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City. The regional premiere throws two unlikely people together when their cancer-stricken mothers become roommates in the hospital, and it will run March 8-April 1, 2018.
Recent Pulitzer Prize nominee Taylor Mac might be known mostly for performance art, but judy (Mac's preferred gender pronoun) also churned out this play about a soldier named Isaac who returns from war to find his family and home completely upended. Hir (pronounced "here") mixes realism and absurdity as Isaac struggles to reclaim structure while his once-timid mother tries to subvert the patriarchy, his sister transitions into his genderqueer brother, and his stroke-ridden father ignores it all while wearing clown makeup and a muumuu. The regional premiere runs May 17-June 17, 2018.
The lone play without a "premiere" designation is Don't Dress for Dinner, a French farce about marital treachery, mistaken identities, and madcap chaos. Marc Camoletti wrote the original script, with Robin Hawdon adapting it into English. Christie Vela directs here, with the play running July 12-August 12, 2018.
Closing out the season is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' controversial An Octoroon — controversial because the postmodern melodrama stipulates that the male actors use blackface/whiteface/redface while the female characters are portrayed by actresses that match the characters' race. Using Brechtian elements, Jacobs-Jenkins reframes Dion Boucicault's 1859 play The Octoroon, which is set on the Terrebonne Plantation immediately following the master's death. Akin Babatundé directs the "part period satire and part meta-theatrical middle finger" regional premiere, which runs August 30-September 30, 2018.
Season tickets go on sale June 22, and range in price from $135 to $175 with discounts for students, seniors, and teachers. Subscribers purchasing season passes prior to October 1 may purchase up to two tickets for An Act of God at $25 apiece. For more information, call Stage West at 817-784-9378.