The 2012-'13 season for Undermain Theatre has been announced, and at least one secret has been solved. The producers of Dallas' long-running alternative theater have reportedly been scouting for a location for one show on the season, because it requires more height then their basement space in Deep Ellum affords.
That show is the regional premiere of Irish playwright Enda Walsh's Penelope, which will happen in January 2013 (dates TBA) at the new Dallas City Performance Hall, in a 100-seat black box configuration. The soon-to-open performance space in the Dallas Arts District seats 750, so Undermain will achieve this intimate experience by putting the whole shebang, audience and all, on the stage. Penelope is a modern look at four men who visited Odyseus' wife while he was off on his famous voyage, and Walsh is one of the recent recipients of Southern Methodist University's Meadows Prize and will be in Dallas this year. The show is directed by SMU chair of theater Stan Wodjewodski, Jr.
The first show in the season is also taken from Homer, with the regional premiere of Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare's An Illiad, which had an acclaimed run off-Broadway in February. O'Hare is the Tony-winning actor (Take Me Out) who you might best now from his creepy TV turns in American Horror Story and True Blood, in which he plays the most evil and oldest of vampires, Russell Edgington.
Undermain's 29th season, which is dubbed "A Season of Myth," also brings back Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgensen in a show inspired by the biblical story of Isaac and Ishmael; and closes with a revival of August Strindberg's Ghost Sonata, one of the classic works of modern, avant-garde theater.
And although the titls haven't been announced yet, there will also be three selections in the Undermain Reads series a the Dallas Museum of Art.
Here's the season breakdown:
By Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare, adapted from Homer
Translation by Robert Fagles
Directed by Katherine Owens
Performed by Bruce DuBose and Paul Semrad
Sept. 29-Oct. 27, 2012 (previews Sept. 26-28)
"Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Achilles." Homer's Iliad, an account of the ten-year Trojan War, is one of the canonical texts of Western literature. In An Iliad, a radical new vision of this timeless tale, Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare have restored Homer's classic to a single wandering poet who recounts a story of three thousand years of human conflict and destruction. Artistic director Katherine Owens illuminates literature's most influential ancient classic through the art of myth and story. Bruce DuBose and Paul Semrad perform against this mythic landscape and reveal Homer's epic in words and music.
Burying Our Father: A Biblical Debacle
by Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgensen
November 1-17, 2012 (preview Oct. 31)
Renowned performing artists Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgensen return to the Undermain stage where they've brought other original collaborations, Monkey: the Quest to the west, Noh: Angels, Demons and Dreamers and Golden Buddha Beach to vivid life. In their latest fantastical tale Isaac and Ishmael meet to bury their father Abraham in the cave that has become one of the most revered and violently contested holy sites in history. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim versions of this ancient story interweave and collide as Fred and Laura perform all the roles in an outrageous mix-up of drama, comedy, music, dance, and light and shadow magic. Burying Our Father: A Biblical Debacle, is an irreverent, hilarious exploration of the similarities and differences between the Abrahamic religions and the impact of these beliefs on family, society, and history.
Directed by Stan Wojewodski, Jr.
Dates in January, 2013 TBA at the new Dallas City Performance Hall
Tony Award-winner for the hit Irish musical Once, Enda Walsh is also the 2012-2013 recipient of the SMU Meadows Prize. In his latest comic drama, Penelope, Walsh shows us four modern men confined by Homeric legend. He borrows from the story of Penelope, who tricked her suitors for 20 years as she awaited the return of her husband, Odysseus. In Walsh's lusty take, the suitors have dwindled to four men of different ages, battling one another to woo the beautiful Penelope. They dwell at the bottom of a drained swimming pool on their beloved's estate, complete with barbecue, rolling bar, stereo, and CCTV camera. As Penelope appears on an upper level to listen to their entreaties they each step forward to make their final attempt to win her heart. Described by Michael Billington of The Guardian as a "a wild, crazy, word-drunk piece that intoxicates and baffles", Penelope is a fierce and funny examination of male competition.
Enda Walsh is a playwright and screenwriter who won the Tony award for best book of a musical for the current Broadway hit Once. In 2007 and 2008 Enda won Fringe First Awards at two consecutive Edinburgh Festivals for his plays The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom. He won both the George Devine Award and the Stewart Parker Award in 1997 with his play Disco Pigs. His work in film include his 2008 biopic, Hunger, the story of the final days of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands which won a host of awards, including the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It was nominated for seven BIFAs (including Best Screenplay), six British Film and Television Awards (including Best Screenplay and Best Independent Film), and BAFTA's Outstanding British Film Award 2009. He has since adapted his stage play, Chatroom, for the big screen.
The Ghost Sonata
by August Strindberg
Directed by Patrick Kelly
April 13-May 11 (previews April 10-12)
In August Strindberg's haunting chamber-mystery, a young man is enlisted by a mesmerizing stranger to enter a haunted house on a beautiful Sunday morning and rescue a young woman trapped within. Inside he encounters a world of vampires, mummies and ghosts, a family imprisoned in a legacy of greed, duplicity and manipulation. Compelled to free the mesmerizing young beauty, he confronts the demons with the destructive force of truth. Swedish master August Strindberg's savage dream play shook the foundations of modern theatre when it debuted a century ago and remains one of the most influential experimental dramas of all time.
For more on the season and to inquire about subscriptions, visit www.undermain.org or call 214-747-5515.