Denver Center Theatre Company announces 2012-13 schedule
Denver Center Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson has chosen his 2012-13 lineup. It contains some safe choices, some doubtless designed to appeal to high schoolers, the requisite Christmas show (not A Christmas Carol this time, but White Christmas), two scripts selected from this year's New Play Summit -- and amid all this, a couple of things that sound seriously intriguing.
"Ed, Downloaded," 2012 New Play Summit.
Israel Hicks died in 2010, but we imagine his ghost will be around for the first play of the season: August Wilson's Fences. The Denver Center is distinguished for having produced every one of Wilson's plays over the years, and Hicks was always at the helm, creating rich, multi-layered evenings that featured many of Denver's finest black actors.
The work of English playwright J.B. Priestley lost its luster in the 1950s, when the London stage was deluged with the raging of the so-called Angry Young Men, John Osborne chief among them. But Priestley is a fine playwright -- wistful, thoughtful and wise -- and it's time his work was revived. It will be fascinating to see how his When We Are Married resonates with a contemporary audience.
As for the two world premieres: Michael Mitnick's Ed, Downloaded is about a dying man whose happiest memories are saved by a futuristic outfit headed by his wife -- who is shocked when she sees what they actually are. The production will make full use of the Center's amazing video and tech capabilities. Grace, or the Art of Climbing was at a pretty embryonic stage at the time of the New Play Summit reading; presumably it will be tightened and polished for full performance. And it poses a couple of huge challenges: not only must the tech crew figure out how to simulate climbing, but the director will have to hire actors who can actually climb -- particularly the protagonist who, as the title implies, climbs high and also learns to fall.
We assume, though we don't yet know, that Thompson himself will direct Romeo and Juliet. His experience with Shakespeare is considerable, and he understands the language to the bone -- which means he makes both the dialogue and the story clear and absorbing for a modern audiences. He'll have to work hard, though, to match or surpass last summer's luminous Colorado Shakespeare Festival production.
Culture Clash wowed us last year with American Night:The Ballad of Juan Jose, a vital, crazy mix-up of history, politics, high jinks and bad puns, and we can't wait to see what they do with the famed and famously randy artist in A Weekend with Pablo Picasso.
To be honest, we know bupkus about Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities, except that playwright Baitz was an occasional writer for the West Wing, a producer on Brothers and Sisters, and has won some respectful recognition for his theater work.
Following is the full schedule from the Center: