Theatrical Outfit has announced the four new shows scheduled for its 2022-2023 mainstage season, including several premieres with Atlanta connections. All of the productions are aimed at starting local “conversations that matter,” according to theater officials.
“This season is full of transformational ideas that will change the game for Theatrical Outfit,” artistic director Matt Torney said. From a mainstage season involving several collaborations to new community engagement, artist residencies and play commissions, “we want to put all of the best ideas we developed during the shutdown into practice,” he added. “We want to offer TO as a home for artists right in the heart of our city and to catalyze all of our work to start important conversations in our community.”
The mainstage schedule:
- Flex: This Candrice Jones play kicks off the season, running September 7 to October 7, in a co-world premiere with TheatreSquared. The script debuted in Atlanta as part of Theatrical Outfit’s Downtown Dialogues reading series in 2020. The play is about a high school basketball team and the strength of the young, Southern Black women who comprise it.
- The White Chip: While the Balzer Theater closes for renovation of its lobby space to install a full bar and larger gathering area, Theatrical Outfit and Dad’s Garage will run a co-production of this play on the Dad’s Garage stage, January 25 to February 19, 2023. The play is an autobiographical comedy written by Dad’s co-founder Sean Daniels, and it will star former Theatrical Outfit Artistic Director Tom Key. The play, which focuses on alcoholism and recovery, will follow that staging with a two-week community tour to connect with people struggling with addiction and the local organizations that serve them.
- Tiny Beautiful Things: This Atlanta premiere, adapted by My Big Fat Greek Wedding writer Nia Vardalos from the book by Cheryl Strayed, will run on the reopened Balzer stage, March 29 to April 23, 2023. This comedy is about Strayed’s time as an advice columnist, expressing the healing power of empathy. It is one of the top-produced plays in the country.
- The Humans: This one-act play by Stephen Karam won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play during its Broadway run. Its Atlanta premiere will be directed by Torney. The play, which runs May 31 to June 25, involves a wild and tense family Thanksgiving celebration; it was recently developed into a movie.
In addition to the renovation and the mainstage season announcement, Theatrical Outfit also announced that it has commissioned a hip-hop musical, Young John Lewis, exploring the congressman’s early days as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. The music is being written by Eugene H. Russell IV, featuring lyrics from playwright Psalmayene 24.
Theatrical Outfit also announced the Made in Atlanta New Play Lab, a series of new play workshops. It said a second commission, to be detailed later, is in the works.
Beyond that, the Graham Martin Unexpected Play Festival will return, and a partnership with Boys & Girls Club of Atlanta to create a six-week theater boot camp for kids will begin in July, developed by associate artistic director Addae Moon.
TO CELEBRATE BROWN IS NOT A QUESTION
Atlanta Shakespeare Company will host a special ticketed event called Our Tony Brown Throw Down! at 12:30 p.m. April 23 at Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse to honor the retirement of its senior company member, director and education programs manager. Food and drink, speeches and slide shows as well as a few surprises are promised. Tickets are $15.
Brown joined the company in 1993 and has appeared in more than 3,400 performances in 175-plus productions at the Tavern.
PLAY-READING PROJECT LAUNCHES
A new artistic endeavor was announced last week: the Untethered Theatre Project, which will stage three play readings at Spalding Nix Fine Art as part of its launch.
Developed by actor-director-casting agent Clifton Guterman, ArtsATL executive director Patti Siegel and actors Jeff Hathcoat and Courtney Moors-Hornick, the project’s mission is “to create storytelling opportunities for actors not yet firmly established locally by matching them with dynamic scripts, smart directors and veteran castmates.”
- J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, the 1945 thriller about an English upper-crust family implicated in a woman’s death, will be the first reading May 16 at 7 p.m., directed by Amelia Fischer. Tickets are available here.
- Guterman will direct the second reading, A Great Wilderness by Samuel D. Hunter, July 18. Set in the present day at a gay conversion camp for teens in Idaho, the play centers upon the aging man who runs the camp as he prepares to retire.
- Cynthia D. Barker, who currently stars in The Light at Horizon Theatre, will direct the final reading, Thirst by C.A. Johnson, September 19. Set in a war-torn future, it involves two women struggling to raise their son peacefully in isolated Southern woods. The wives are called to action against a local tyrant when a water supply does not arrive.
The selected plays focus on issues of class, race, privilege, sexuality and societal accountability. They promote human connection. The project founders say the urgency of these stories prompted their action in the wake of the pandemic.
GO BEHIND THE SCENES WITH HENSONS
The Center for Puppetry Arts will host its second annual online fundraiser Call to Auction, May 3-5, and bidders will have the opportunity to win virtual and in-person conversations with members of Jim Henson’s family and other Muppet puppeteers. It is a silent auction featuring items at every price range to encourage widespread participation.
Among the available items:
- A Zoom meet-and-greet with Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company and an executive producer of the new Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal streaming TV series.
- A Zoom meet-and-greet with Brian Henson, chairman of the board of The Jim Henson Company.
- An in-person tour of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in New York, conducted by Jim Henson Foundation president Cheryl Henson.
- A walking tour of New York landmarks significant to Jim Henson, conducted by Heather Henson, founder of IBEX Puppetry and a Jim Henson Company board member.
- A Zoom meet-and-greet with a Fraggle and a Fraggle Rock prize pack.
- Zoom conversations with puppeteers Dave Goelz, Fran Brill and puppet designer Bonnie Erickson.