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Arena Stage announces pre-Bway, world premiere of Grisham’s A Time to Kill & remaining 2010-2011 season


*** The previously announced production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
will be a presentation of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production starring
Tracy Letts and Amy Morton ***

(Washington, D.C.) Last Month, Arena Stage announced six productions and two major festivals that will inaugurate the company’s new venue the Mead Center for American Theater next year. In addition to those exciting projects, Artistic Director Molly Smith is pleased to complete the 2010/11, 60th anniversary season lineup with the inclusion of the pre-Broadway world premiere of A Time to Kill—an adaptation by Rupert Holmes of the acclaimed John Grisham novel presented by special arrangement with Daryl Roth—and Let Me Down Easy, conceived, written and performed by Anna Deavere Smith. Both productions will be staged in the Mead Center’s restored and remarkably intimate Kreeger Theater.
As previously announced, the Edward Albee Festival—featuring all 30 works from the great American playwright—will be anchored by full productions of At Home at the Zoo and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The latter will be a presentation of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production starring Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tracy Letts and Tony Award nominee Amy Morton.
“These three developments in our inaugural season demonstrate our commitment to presented works, visiting American companies and the development of new work,” shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. She continues:
§  “Let Me Down Easy is a stunning solo performance by Anna Deavere Smith, and it’s wonderful to welcome her back to Arena since she last performed in Fires in the Mirror in 1993/94. In this play she explores the human body—how it carries us, how it fails us and how it defines us. It is a dizzying tour of more than 30 characters, and it’s thrilling to experience her virtuosic performance and her voracious mind.”
§  “I’m thrilled that Arena is able to bring D.C. audiences the premiere production of A Time to Kill, and to support Tony Award-winning playwright Rupert Holmes in producing the first adaptation of a Grisham novel for the stage. Daryl Roth has a keen pulse on national talent and development of new work, and this production promises to be no exception.”
§  “Arena has a rare opportunity to showcase one of American theater’s most groundbreaking companies by bringing Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to D.C. Under the direction of Albee’s hand-picked Pam MacKinnon (Arena’s A Delicate Balance), there’s no question that this Chicago ensemble may bring the newly refinished Kreeger Theater down, with knock out performances by Tracy Letts and Amy Morton.”

The Complete 2010/11 Inaugural Season of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater:

Music by Richard Rodgers / Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed by Molly Smith
October 23 – December 26, 2010 / in the Fichandler
Directed by Arena’s own Molly Smith, Oklahoma!, the “great American musical” (The New York Times) comes to the home of American theater. Set at the turn of the 20th century, Oklahoma! tackles issues of class, culture and convergence between farmers and cowmen in this rugged frontier. Laurey, a lively girl who runs her aunt’s farm, is courted by two very different young men. Her journey to find the man of her dreams and the satisfaction of settling down with the right one mirrors the journey of the territory toward progress, community and eventual statehood. Hailed as “a masterpiece” (New York Post), this Tony Award-winning classic musical by famed theater duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II is “one of the landmarks of the 20th century theater” (Houston Chronicle).

Every Tongue Confess
Arena Stage commission and world premiere
By Marcus Gardley
November 9, 2010 – January 2, 2011 / in the Kogod Cradle

In the backwater town of Boligee, Alabama, the summer heat is rising higher, driving the townsfolk to distraction and conjuring the spirits of the past to walk the earth. Wrapped in the combustible music of a Deep South juke joint and the sweat-soaked gospel of a revivalist church tent, intergenerational stories of loss and redemption collide. Playwright Gardley blends ancient myth with magical realism, Biblical allegory with the local T.V. news to create a fiery theatrical furnace in which some will be saved, some will be purged and the truth cannot escape.

Let Me Down Easy
Conceived, written and performed by Anna Deavere Smith
Directed by Leonard Foglia
December 31, 2010 – February 13, 2011 / in the Kreeger
Called “the most exciting individual in American theatre” by Newsweek magazine, Anna Deavere Smith (Twilight: Los Angeles; The West Wing; Nurse Jackie) explores the power of the body, the price of health and the resilience of the spirit. Based on interviews with people such as a heavyweight boxer, a rodeo rider and even Lauren Hutton and Lance Armstrong, this “continually engaging and engrossing collection of testimonials” (The New York Times) was recently named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the top 10 productions of 2009. As a quick-witted, philosophical and compassionate look at current affairs, Let Me Down Easy “is a totally vital piece of theater, mixing a standup comic’s instincts with a great reporter’s keen eye…that is all Anna Deavere Smith’s own” (Variety).
The NEA New Play Development Program Festival
January 17 – 30, 2011 / in the Kogod Cradle
The American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage will feature presentations from the seven inaugural selections of the National Endowment for the Arts New Play Development Program (NEA NPDP). These readings will take place in the Kogod Cradle. The Institute was designed as a center for the research and development of effective practices, programs and processes for new play development in the American theater.

Outstanding New American Play Selections:
The Brother/Sister Plays by Tarell McCraney
World Premiere: April 24 – June 21, 2009, McCarter Theatre
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph
World Premiere: May 10 – June 7, 2009, Center Theatre Group

Distinguished Development Project Selections:
I’ve Never Been So Happy by Rude Mechanicals
Agnes Under the Big Top by Aditi Kapil, Lark Play Development Center
Happy End to Everything by Lloyd Suh, The Children’s Theatre Company
Detour/South Bronx by Claudia Rankine, The Foundry Theatre
Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven by Octavio Solis, California Shakespeare Theater

The Arabian Nights

Written and directed by Mary Zimmerman
Adapted from The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night
In association with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre and
Lookingglass Theatre Company
January 14 – February 20, 2011 / in the Fichandler
In ancient Baghdad, a courageous young girl postpones her execution by weaving magical tales for the troubled king. Genies and jesters, lovers and thieves spring to life from Scheherazade’s imagination—allowing her to win the king’s heart even as she secures her freedom. Tony Award-winning director and playwright Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses) celebrates the wonder of storytelling and the redemptive power of love in this “exhilarating, imaginative theatrical escape” (Variety) that Chicago magazine calls a “feast for the eyes and ears.”

The Edward Albee Festival
—Winner of three Pulitzer Prizes and three Tony Awards, including the 2005 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement, Edward Albee is our nation’s greatest living playwright. In a never-before salute to this American giant, all 30 of Albee’s works will either receive a full production or a public reading, utilizing every performance space within the Mead Center.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of
Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Part of the Edward Albee Festival
Directed by Pam MacKinnon
Starring Tony Award winner Tracy Letts and Tony Award nominee Amy Morton
February 25 – April 24, 2011 / in the Kreeger
You’re invited for drinks with George and Martha. As wickedly hilarious today as when it first shocked audiences, Virginia Woolf? is an ingeniously funny play that packs a helluva wallop. What starts as verbal sparring at an impromptu cocktail party, devolves into a no-holds-barred battle of wits and wills. With brilliant writing and some of the greatest characters ever created for the stage, Albee set a new standard for American theater with this sharp, vicious Molotov cocktail of a play.

Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo
Part of the Edward Albee Festival
February 18 – April 17, 2011 / in the Kogod Cradle
American master Edward Albee has outdone himself once again with a riveting new drama that expands on the one-act that launched his career 50 years ago, The Zoo Story. In this meticulous and nuanced look at the lives of three New Yorkers, an everyday conversation between a husband and wife takes an unexpected turn into dangerously personal territory. The revelations and confrontations catapult them from their delicately balanced world onto life-changing paths. With the intensity and honesty for which Albee is known, At Home at the Zoo reveals the cutting truth about the razor’s edge of our humanity.

By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
April 22 – June 5, 2011 / in the Fichandler
In war-torn Congo, Mama Nadi keeps the peace between customers on both sides of the civil war by serving everything from cold beers to warm beds. Inspired by interviews conducted in Africa, Ruined was the most honored play in 2009, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as Best Play awards from the Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Obie, New York Drama Critics’ Circle and Outer Critics Circle. This searing play is an engrossing and uncommonly human story told with humor and song, revealing the immeasurable loss and hopelessness of war, yet finding affirmation in life and hope.
A Time to Kill
A World Premiere Pre-Broadway Production
Adapted by Rupert Holmes / Based upon the novel by John Grisham
By special arrangement with Daryl Roth
May 6–June 19, 2011 / in the Kreeger
John Grisham’s stunning first novel comes to the stage in this world premiere adaptation by Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes. After an unspeakable crime is committed against his daughter, Carl Lee Hailey takes the law into his own hands. Now on trial for murder, Carl Lee’s only hope lies with two young, idealistic lawyers who are outmatched by a formidable district attorney and under attack from both sides of a racially divided city. A Time to Kill asks audiences to consider the true meaning of justice.

Subscription packages are now on sale and may be purchased by calling the Arena Stage Sales Office at 202-488-3300 or by visiting http://www.arenastage.org.
*Plays, artists and dates are subject to change.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Managing Director Edgar Dobie, Washington, D.C.-based Arena Stage is the largest theater in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights. Founded in 1950 by Zelda Fichandler, Thomas Fichandler and Edward Mangum, Arena Stage was one of the nation’s original resident theaters and has a distinguished record of leadership and innovation in the field. With the opening of the new Mead Center for American Theater in fall 2010, Arena Stage will be a leading center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater. Now in its sixth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 200,000. For more information please visit http://www.arenastage.org.



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