Fort Worth — In keeping with the direction that Dana Schultes has been chartering since she took over leadership of Stage West three years ago, the stalwart Fort Worth theater’s new season—its 40th—is chock-full of challenging regional premieres, even if many of them are adapted from or inspired by plays and/or novels—or real history—that are older. Much older in some cases.
Of the eight titles (two are season extras) announced Sunday at SW's fabulous event M.A.D.E., only Tom Mula’s Dickens-inspired Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol has been presented in the area before (Stage West did a few years back, with Emily Scott Banks in the one-person show). This play is also the only one on the season that was written before our current decade.
Unlike recent seasons, there is not a world premiere, nor is there a title by a woman. Two of the playwrights are African-American, though (Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Carlyle Brown).
Jacob-Jenkins, whose play An Octoroon will be done by Stage West to close its current season in a few months, is represented again with his Pulitzer-nominated Everybody, a riff on the 15th-century mystery play Everyman. Brown’s play is Are You Now or Have You Ever Been, is inspired by Langston Hughes’ appearance before the House Un-American Committee in the 1950s.
The season kicks off with A Doll’s House, Part 2, written by Lucas Hnath and seen on Broadway last year, an inspired “sequel” to Ibsen’s classic A Doll’s House. Interestingly, this will overlap with WaterTower Theatre’s season opener of A Doll’s House (adapted by Joanie Schultz), and also with Undermain Theatre’s production of Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea. (I see some cross-promotion opportunities happening there.)
Also on the season: Lungs by Duncan Macmillan (author of Every Brilliant Thing, currently at Circle Theatre); Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of Florian Zeller’s The Father (seen on Broadway in 2014 with Frank Langella; David Coffee stars at Stage West); Jeffrey Hatcher’s 2017 Holmes and Watson (the inspiration is obvious); and the musical First Date in a co-production with Theatre TCU.
Below is the full season, with dates, descriptions and ticketing info:
A Doll’s House, Part 2
by Lucas Hnath
October 25-November 25, 2018
In 1879, Nora Helmer walked out the door, leaving her husband and children and societal constraints behind her, instantly propelling world drama into the modern age. Now, 15 years later, there is a knock at that same door [needs comma here] as the squirrel returns to her cage with an incredibly awkward favor to ask. In this bitingly funny and fascinating sequel to Ibsen’s revolutionary masterpiece, sparks fly and the past and present collide in a taut theatrical showdown. Behind every door is a possibility, and behind every ending is a new beginning.
Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol
by Tom Mula
December 6-23, 2018
Condemned to a shackled eternity, Jacob Marley’s spirit is given one chance to change his fate and escape his eternal chains – by returning to the world he scorned one Christmas Eve night to redeem his old business partner, Scrooge. So begins a journey of laughter and terror, redemption and renewal, during which Scrooge’s heart is indeed opened, but not before Marley – in this irreverent, funny, and moving tale – discovers his own in this delightful twist on the iconic Dickens classic.
by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
December 27, 2018-January 27, 2019
Everybody has come to the end of life, and so begins the revelatory and mysterious journey towards what lies beyond. As relationships, memories, and senses fade away, Everybody is left to travel down the road that leads to the bittersweet truth that we all eventually must face. In this modern, comedic, and heartfelt riff on the iconic medieval morality play, fate decides the roles by lottery each night, so - as is true in life - Everybody could be anybody. And in the end, when it’s your time to go, what will you leave behind and what will you take with you?
Are You Now or Have You Ever Been
by Carlyle Brown
February 14-March 10
On the eve of his appearance before the Senate Permanent-Sub-Committee on Investigations on Un-American Activities led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, American writer Langston Hughes fitfully attempts to compose a poem. As accusations whirl, censorships abound, and freedoms are called into question, this inspired-by-true-events lyrical drama not only examines the tense yet necessary relationship between art and politics, but also the emotional and deeply personal connection between the artist and his craft in the face of oppressive power.
by Florian Zeller, translated by Christopher Hampton
April 4-27, 2019
Starring David Coffee
You can’t fool 80-year-old André - he’s a man of his own mind. But there’s definitely something fishy going on. He’s a retired tap dancer living with his daughter and her husband, and…or, no wait, is he a retired engineer whose daughter is visiting from London? And who are those people who keep turning up in his flat, and where does his furniture keep disappearing to, and why is he still in his pajamas? No, something’s going on, and if he can just find his watch, he’ll get to the bottom of it.
Holmes and Watson
By Jeffrey Hatcher
May 30-June 30, 2019
Three years after the mysterious death of beloved master sleuth Sherlock Holmes, his loyal assistant Dr. John H. Watson is summoned to a remote asylum on a rocky island to investigate three inmates who all claim to be the late detective Holmes. In this riveting and stirring new puzzler, the trusty Watson is drawn into a web of intrigue, suspicion, murder, and surprise that finally reveals what really happened that fateful day between Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis, Professor Moriarty.
by Duncan Macmillan
July 25-August 18, 2018
The world is getting hotter, there’s unrest overseas - actually, the seas themselves aren’t very calm either - and in an IKEA, a man suggests to his partner that they should have a child. What if it grows up to solve the world’s problems? What if it becomes a mass murderer? What about its carbon footprint? They leave with nothing they went in for, but come out with a full set of self-assembly dilemmas that they spend a life cycle trying to construct. They want to have a child for the right reasons. But what are the right reasons?
Book by Austin Winsberg, Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner
A co-production with Theatre TCU
September 12 – October 13, 2019
When tightly-wound Aaron is set up with laid-back Casey on a blind date, a casual drink turns into an uproarious high-stakes dinner. As the date unfolds, this mismatched pair's inner critics take on a life of their own, as other patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes, and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers, and potential conversational land mines. The result is a gleefully awkward evening, as these two romantics try to turn a dating disaster into something special before the check arrives.
Season tickets will go on sale in mid-July, and will range in price from $135 to $175. Subscribers purchasing season passes prior to October 1 may purchase up to 2 tickets for the season extras at a discount.
For more information, call Stage West at (817) 784-9378. Tickets will be available mid-July online at www.stagewest.org.