Fort Worth — The 36th season for Stage West has been announced, and it's a good one. It is great to see that half of the six plays on the mainstage season are by women.
It begins with a playwright Stage West returns to often, Alan Ayckbourn, and then moves into the previously announced co-production with WaterTower Theatre in Addison, Nell Benjamin's The Explorer's Club. Fort Worth will get that recent off-Broadway show first.
2015 brings two more regional premieres of off-Broadway hits, Madeleine George's The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence (see a video interview with George above) and Anne Washburn/Michael Friedman's Mr. Burns, a post-electric play. Between those are two Tarrant County premieres, John Logan's Red, about artist Mark Rothko (here's hoping they partner with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for related events); and Christopher Durang's Tony-winning Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Those two premiered in the area at Dallas Theater Center (2013) and Uptown Players (2014), respectively.
FYI, Stage West closes its current season with the upcoming production of Durang's classic Beyond Therapy, so it'll be fun to see examples of his early and recent work within a year.
Also, Stage West plans to make use of the Studio Theatre it opened in April 2013 when Jerry Russell reprised Clarence Darrow, his last performance before his death in September 2013. The only show booked for the Studio Space so far is Thomas Ward's International Falls, a terrific work about a stand-up comedian on tour that premiered in 2012 at WaterTower's Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. Ward was a Baylor University professor who has returned to North Texas after two years in Minnesota.
Here's the complete line-up, with descriptions and subscription info at the bottom.
by Alan Ayckbourn
October 16 – November 16
From a long-time Stage West favorite, one of the great modern playwrights. Delia and Ernest are the parents of Trevor, who is married to Susannah, but used to date Jan, who is now married to Nick. So when Kate and Malcolm invite the two young couples over for a housewarming party, the stage is set for hysteria and heartbreak. Four Couples, three bedrooms—what could possibly go wrong? Antics arise in this contemporary comedy about the uproarious and touching paths we tread when relationships begin to unravel.
The Explorers Club
by Nell Benjamin
November 28 – January 4
Co-production with WaterTower Theatre
A new madcap comedy from Tony-nominated Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde). London, 1879. The prestigious Explorers Club is in crisis: their acting president wants to admit a woman—and their current bartender is terrible! True, this female candidate is brilliant, beautiful, and has discovered a legendary Lost City, but the decision to let in a woman could shake the very foundation of the British Empire, and how does one make such a decision without a decent drink? Grab your safety goggles for some very mad science, featuring deadly cobras, irate Irishmen, and the occasional airship!
The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence
by Madeleine George
February 19 – March 22
Watson: trusty sidekick to Sherlock Holmes; loyal engineer who built Bell’s first telephone; unstoppable super-computer which became the reigning Jeopardy! champ; amiable techno-dweeb who, in the present day, is just looking for love. These four faithful companions become one in this brilliantly witty, time-jumping play. It’s a loving tribute (and cautionary tale) dedicated to the people—and machines—upon which we all depend, and to the strength of our connections to one another.
by John Logan
April 9 – May 10
Abstract expressionist Mark Rothko has taken on an assistant to aid him in creating the largest commission in the history of modern art. As the two study and learn each other, tensions mount, and when the assistant begins to challenge the ideas of his mentor, Rothko is faced with the possibility that his crowning achievement may also become his downfall. With crackling wit and profound depth, this tight, provocative piece is a searing look into the disquieting depths of an artist’s ambition and vulnerability. Nominated for 7 Olivier Awards and winner of 6 Tony Awards in 2010, including Best New Play.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
by Christopher Durang
June 4 – July 12
Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play. Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live on the farmhouse estate where they grew up, resigned to their lot and the daily routine of coffee and prophecies from their maid. When their glamorous movie-star sister Masha shows up with her new boy-toy Spike and a bit of bad news, a Chekhovian wind blows through the orchard out back, and a weekend of rivalry, regret, and raucousness begins.
Mr. Burns, a post-electric play
by Anne Washburn
Score by Michael Friedman, Lyrics by Anne Washburn
August 6 – September 13
The electrical grid has fallen, and society has crumbled. On a dangerous, electric-less night, a mismatched group of strangers gathers around an isolated campfire, trying to recall an episode of The Simpsons. Then we move forward seven years, to a rehearsal for a theatre troupe which performs their version of that same episode, and then seventy-five years later, and a totally different performance. A paean to live theatre, and to the resilience of Bart Simpson through the ages, Mr. Burns is an animated exploration of how the pop culture of one era might evolve into the mythology of another.
There will also be performances in the Studio Theatre during the season, including Thomas Ward's play International Falls, which will run Feb. 26-March 15.
Season tickets range in price from $140 to $160, with discounts for students, seniors, and teachers, and those purchased by September 30 will receive a gift certificate to the Ol’ Vic Café.
For more information, call Stage West at 817-784-9378. Tickets may also be purchased online now at www.stagewest.org/season-tickets.