UPDATED WITH VIDEO:
Last night at the Armory, the city's biggest theater company revealed its lineup for the coming year. As usual, the season will kick off with a classic American musical: This time it's Oklahoma with an all black cast, inspired by the 50-some black towns that sprang up in the state after the Civil War (and, presumably, the recent "nontraditional" production at D.C.'s Arena Stage).
Next up is The Real Americans, a smash hit from the Bay Area in which performer Dan Hoyle recounts the lessons of a road trip through rural middle America. A Christmas Story and The Santaland Diaries are back for the holidays, then January begins with the world premiere of The North Plan, a political farce by Jason Wells.
Artistic Director Chris Coleman will direct his own scaled-down adaptation of Cymbeline, Shakespeare's worst play, with five actors and a piano in February. It sounds a lot like Fiasco Theater's recent production. Then it's Red, John Logan's reportedly very good play about the artist Mark Rothko. Portland Art Museum will have a concurrent exhibit of Rothko's work.
The season's requisite spring literary adaptation is a new staging of Anna Karenina by Kevin McKeon, who wrote last season's Snow Falling on Cedars. The social issues drama slot is occupied by Frank Higgins' Black Pearl Sings, which sounds lovely, and the season will close with a "live theatrical event" combining Allen Ginsberg poems with Doors songs and choreography by Cirque du Soleil's Debra Brown.
You can read the press release for yourself below.
OH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SEASON!
Portland Center Stage announces 2011-2012 Season
February 28, 2011- Take an illuminating road trip through the American heartland, survive the chaos of a somehow hilarious revolution, look inside the creative genius of one America’s greatest visual artists and re-imagine one of Shakespeare’s most fantastical tales with Portland Center Stage’s 2011/2012 season.
It all begins with an iconic musical from one of the most legendary teams in theater history and ends in a mind-bending musical event blending two of the most incendiary voices of the mid-twentieth century.
Are you ready for the ride?
Without Further Ado, Portland Center Stage is Pleased to Announce the 2011-2012 Season Lineup:
Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs
Original dances by Agnes de Mille
September 20 – October 30, 2011
“Things are changing. The country is changing. Gotta change with it.”
Those words express familiar sentiments often heard these days, but are spoken in this case not by a politician of 2010, but by Curly, the cowboy who takes the notion of change and wrestles it to the ground in Oklahoma! Part charming love story, part stirring retelling of American history, and many parts beloved songs, stunning dance, and often darkly shaded humor, Oklahoma is the show that made its own history. This first collaboration by what became the legendary team of Rodgers and Hammerstein was a milestone in the development of American musical theater for its fusion of song, story and dance. It also created box office history, setting new records in its day, and is an enduring hit today, with new productions in New York and Washington DC once again breaking records in recent history.
The Real Americans
By Dan Hoyle
Ellyn Bye Studio
September 6 – November 6, 2011
"Imagine a society with no beer," a veteran back from Iraq tells Dan Hoyle in Wisconsin. "I'd start blowing up stuff too."
Frequently described as an actor/journalist, Dan Hoyle has focused his form of "theater journalism" in this new piece on a months-long road trip to some of the not-on-the-coasts parts of the U.S. The idea, he says, was to get outside the "latte liberal bubble," find out what people in rural America are thinking and savor some small-town cafe pie. Beneath the masterful humor that Hoyle brings to the piece—as he takes on the personas of the many people he encountered—a rich texture of human connections asserts itself. It surfaces in stories of unemployment and in the frenetic form of a Dominican from New York he meets on the road; it gathers heart-wrenching impact in a Vietnam vet's reflections on the kids coming back from Iraq and one of his San Francisco friends' concern for her sister in Alabama. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that The Real Americans should be seen in and outside every liberal bubble in this country, and that Hoyle “displays a gift for mime and vocal mimicry that recalls solo artists John Leguizamo, Sarah Jones or Lily Tomlin.”
A Christmas Story
By Phil Grecian
Based on the motion picture written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown & Bob Clark
November 22 to December 24, 2010
“Wacky and wistful, and fresh as a fir.” – San Jose Mercury News
The only thing little Ralph Parker hopes to find under the tree is a Daisy Brand Red Ryder BB rifle. He doesn’t simply want it - he’s consumed with an aching desire for it. Looming in the way, however, are alleyway bullies, major awards, freezing flagpoles, unsympathetic authorities and a certain horrifying Macy’s Santa. Based upon the classic motion picture, this play is a holiday treat everyone can enjoy—that is, until someone shoots their eye out.
Special Holiday Offering
A special engagement offered outside subscription packages.
The Santaland Diaries
by David Sedaris
adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
Ellyn Bye Studio
November 29 – December 31, 2011
Based on the true chronicles of David Sedaris’ experience as Crumpet the Elf in Macy’s Santaland display, this cult classic riffs on a few of Sedaris’ truly odd encounters with his fellow man during the height of the holiday crunch. NPR humorist and best-selling author of When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers.
The North Plan
By Jason Wells
January 10 – February 5, 2012
After a ruthless cabal seizes power in Washington, Carlton Berg, a bureaucrat for the State Department, runs off with the new regime’s top secret Enemies List. Unfortunately for Carlton, the chase has come to an end in a police station in the Ozark town of Lodus. With a pair of DHS agents on the way, Carlton’s last chance is in the people around him: an unsympathetic police chief, an ambivalent administrative assistant, and fellow prisoner Tanya Shepke, motor-mouthed recidivist and alcohol enthusiast, who appears to have an attention-deficit disorder and thinks Skynyrd should be on the new money. Let the revolution begin. The North Plan was an audience favorite at JAW 2009.
Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline
A new adaptation by Chris Coleman
Ellyn Bye Studio
January 31 – April 8, 2012
Based on legends about early Celtic kings, Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare’s most fantastical creations—familiar Shakespearean themes of jealousy and innocence wronged are joined with divine intervention from the gods. A lovely princess, an evil queen, a misguided king and a thoroughly rotten clown inhabit this fairy tale-like story of life, and love, renewed. One of Shakespeare’s charming romances, this production of Cymbeline marks two firsts—our first production of the Bard in the Ellyn Bye Studio, and the first production of this fresh adaptation (calling for five actors and a pianist) by Artistic Director Chris Coleman.
By John Logan
February 21 – March 18, 2012
An intense bio-drama of the renowned modern artist (and Oregon-raised) Mark Rothko, Red earned critical laurels in its New York run last season. Set in the 1950s, when Rothko was commissioned to create a series of large pieces of art for the new Four Seasons Restaurant, Red tackles big questions about art—what it takes to create it, and where it belongs in our world. But perhaps more importantly, the play invites us to experience a legendary artist through the lens of the assistant brought on to help him with a project Rothko is not so sure he can accept completing. The New York Times described it as “a portrait of an angry and brilliant mind that asks you to feel the shape and texture of thoughts…as much as any stage work I can think of, Red captures the dynamic relationship between an artist and his creations.” PCS and the Portland Art Museum are working together to celebrate Rothko during the run of this production.
Adapted from Tolstoy by Kevin McKeon
April 3 – 29, 2012
Tolstoy’s classic story of love and marriage in Imperial Russia comes to our Main Stage in a new adaptation by Kevin McKeon, adaptor of Snow Falling on Cedars. This tragic love story has been called by some the greatest novel ever written—it certainly has one of the most famous first lines: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” When Anna’s husband refuses to release her from their marriage to pursue her love for Count Vronsky, the wheels are set in motion for the ultimate sacrifice. Anna Karenina isn't concerned with observing the minutiae of social etiquette, like Jane Austen, nor with righting social injustices, like Dickens. It's about uncontrollable passions, and emotional and sexual betrayal, set against one of the most romantic periods of world history.
Black Pearl Sings!
By Frank Higgins
Ellyn Bye Studio
April 24 – June 17, 2012
In 1935 Texas, Susannah, an academic and song collector for the Library of Congress, visits a high-security prison where she meets Pearl, an African-American woman imprisoned for murder who longs to leave prison and find her lost daughter. Hoping to record the treasure trove of spirituals and folk songs that only Pearl knows—and make her reputation on the discoveries—Susannah bargains for Pearl’s parole and arranges for several public performances. The two women soon find themselves walking a delicate line between exposure and exploitation. Featuring beautiful a cappella renditions of little-known African-American folk songs, Black Pearl Sings! chronicles a powerful story about being a woman in a man’s world, being black in a white world, and fighting for one’s soul in a world where anyone can be a commodity.
Conceived by Randy Johnson
May 22 – June 24, 2012
Featuring the music of The Doors and the literary works of Allen Ginsberg
A world premiere “live theatrical event” showcasing two of the most brilliant and controversial artists of the second half of the 20th century. Poet Ginsburg’s work was a source of inspiration to Jim Morrison, storied lead singer of The Doors. This theatrical representation of how the incendiary voice of the Beats in the 1950s influenced the music of the man who invited us to light my fire in the 1960s promises to take us all on a trip to one of the most unbounded and mind-expanding times in our culture’s history. Adding to the excitement of the artistic team for this new work – Debra Brown, who has been the principal choreographer for Cirque du Soleil since 1987.
Season subscriptions open for sale on March 1. Season tickets start at $63.60 (for the 3 show Studio Preview Series) and include special pricing for 30 and under. Evening performances in both the Main Stage and the Studio begin at 7:30 pm, with weekday matinees at noon and weekend matinees at 2 pm.
Portland Center Stage inspires our community by bringing stories to life in unexpected ways. Established in 1988 as a branch of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, PCS became an independent theater in 1994 and has been under the leadership of Artistic Director Chris Coleman since May 2000. The company presents a blend of classic, contemporary and original productions in a conscious effort to appeal to the eclectic palate of theatergoers in Portland. PCS also offers a variety of education and outreach programs for curious minds from six to 106.
THE GERDING THEATER AT THE ARMORY houses a 599-seat Main Stage and a 200-seat black box Studio. It was the first building on the National Register of Historic Places, and the first performing arts venue, to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification. The Gerding Theater at the Armory opened to the public on Oct. 1, 2006. The capital campaign to fund the renovation of this hub for community artistic activity continues.