Fort Worth — The 2016 season for Fort Worth's Circle Theatre, its 35th, has been announced. Circle is one of the theaters that uses a calendar-year season (rather than the fall-to-summer model), and is known for focusing on second, third or fourth productions by playwrights who are well-known in various regions of the country. For season 35, Circle, which was founded by Rose Pearson and Bill Newbery (pictured on the cover), returns to playwrights it introduced to North Texas audiences and keeps coming back to, notably Michael Hollinger, Tom Dudzick and Bruce Graham. Circle's season-closing production of Funnyman will be its seventh play by Graham, who has to be the theater's most-produced playwright. The plays by Hollinger and Dudzick will mark number five for each of those writers.
The season opens with Circle's fourth work by Joe DiPietro, Clever Little Lies, which is currently running off-Broadway in a production starring Marlo Thomas. The fifth writer on the season is the terrific Lauren Gunderson. Circle is the only North Texas theater that has fully staged her work, starting with the funny Exit, Pursued by a Bear in 2013 and the Steinberg Award-winning I and You in 2015. The 2016 title is The Taming, which is inspired by The Taming of the Shrew. It's her third play inspired by Shakespeare—Bear was, of course, a riff on The Winter's Tale; and Toil and Trouble was inspired by Macbeth.
Here's Circle's complete season, with descriptions and dates. Ticket info follows:
Clever Little Lies
by Joe DiPietro
Directed by Steven Pounders
January 28 - March 5
Previews: January 28, 29, and 30 (matinee)
Opening Night: January 30
Currently playing off-Broadway, Clever Little Lies is a story about love and marriage… for better… and for worse. It follows what happens when family secrets and lies are revealed over the course of an evening. Circle’s audiences had the opportunity to enjoy three previous shows by Mr. DiPietro, including the hit musical, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (2001), Over the River and Through the Woods (2002), and The Kiss at City Hall (2003).
Under the Skin
by Michael Hollinger
Directed by Alan Shorter
April 28 - May 21
Previews: April 28, 29, 30 (matinee)
Opening Night: April 30
Full of the clever and intricate dialogue that makes his work remarkable and popular, Michael Hollinger’s Under the Skin is the second show in Circle Theatre’s anniversary season. This funny and moving new play asks the question: what does it really mean to give a part of yourself to someone else? Previous Circle productions by Mr. Hollinger include: Incorruptible (2009), Opus (2010), Ghost-Writer (2012), and Hope & Gravity (2014).
Don't Talk to the Actors
by Tom Dudzick
Directed by Harry Parker
June 16 - July 16
Previews: June 16, 17, and 18th (matinee)
Opening Night: June 18
North Texas Premiere
The season’s third play is Tom Dudzick’s backstage comedy, Don’t Talk to the Actors. A budding playwright’s dreams are swept away into a theatrical nightmare when his play is optioned for Broadway. Mr. Dudzick’s semi-autobiographical tale is bound to be another fan favorite at Circle, like his previous productions: Over the Tavern (2005), The Last Mass at St. Casimir's (2007), Hail Mary! (2009), and Miracle on South Division Street (2013).
by Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Robin Armstrong
August 18 - September 17
Previews August 18, 19, and 20th (matinee)
Opening Night: August 20
North Texas Premiere
Next in the season is The Taming, Lauren Gunderson’s all-female “power-play.” This raucous political comedy will have both parties laughing in the aisles. Hilarity ensues when two political opposites wake up and discover themselves locked in a hotel room with a beauty queen. Following her past Circle productions of Exit, Pursued by a Bear (2013) and I and You (2015), The Taming brings to the stage the startling humor and rich roles for women that Ms. Gunderson skillfully creates.
by Bruce Graham
Directed by Krista Scott
October 20 - November 19
Previews: October 20, 21, 22nd (matinee)
Opening Night: October 22
Bruce Graham’s play, Funnyman, wraps up the year. Comedy is serious business to Chick Sherman. However, a lifetime of private and professional struggle rises to the surface, cracking the polished persona of the world's favorite "funny man." This will be Mr. Graham’s seventh script produced at Circle. Previous productions include Desperate Affection (2003), Moon Over the Brewery (2004), According to Goldman (2007), Dex and Julie Sittin’ in a Tree (2008), Something Intangible (2010), and Stella and Lou (2014).
Since 1981, Circle has produced quality theatre by professional playwrights. In addition to supporting emerging playwrights, Circle has created an annual high school playwriting project. The project, which began in 1996, will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 8th). Area students will submit their 10-minute plays for a chance to receive prizes, scholarships, and a public reading on Circle’s stage.
By dedicating this year’s anniversary season to some of our “discovered” playwrights and encouraging young writers, Circle continues its mission to support contemporary theatre.
Individual ticket prices are $20-$38. Preview performance tickets are $15-$20 for plays.
Circle Theatre's box office is open from Noon to 5pm, Tuesday through Friday, and one hour before show times. Call 817.877.3040 for further information and reservations, or visit CircleTheatre.com to buy gift cards and tickets online.