iTheatre Collaborative Creative Director
15th Season Highlights
Our 15th Season is pretty exciting. We have four very hot, very new plays; two of which just recently closed in New York in June. We start with The Effect by Lucy Prebble; a funny and poignant play about two patients in a clinical trial for a new anti-depressant drug. The two patients fall in love, but is it really love or just the drugs talking?
Next up, Building the Wall, looks into the future at what might happen if campaign rhetoric is made policy. Building the Wall has been in a rolling premiere all across the country, and iTheatre is very pleased to be bringing this incredibly current play to Phoenix.
Next, we present A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney by Lucas Hnath. Walt, the king of the Magic Kingdom, has written a movie about his death and he wants to read it to you with the help of his daughter and his brother, Roy. This is a funny, no-holds barred look into the dark side of the creator of Mickey Mouse.
Finally, we close the season with the political comedy/drama, Church & State by Jason Odell Williams. A southern Republican Senator, up for re-election, is having second thoughts about God and guns, in the wake of a local school shooting.Church & State asks if there is any room for truth and honesty in our current politics or will it just get you killed—at the polls?
Dark Comedy "Velocity" Arrives
The Velocity of Autumn is a dark comedy about Alexandra, an artist of 80 year who barricades herself in her Brooklyn Brownstone apartment and refuses to come out or let anyone in. Surrounding herself with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the block, it’s a showdown with her family over where to place her as she becomes less independent. Her estranged son Chris returns after 20 years, crawls through Alexandra’s second story window only to face the dilemma’s that families are facing every day.
The Velocity of Autumn exposes the frustrations of realizing how one’s sense of individuality leaves us as our body and minds grow older. I want to give the audience a powerful look at aging. A sense that we are not in this alone and as we gradually lose our individuality we still hold who we are inside, our soul and our passion to fight till the end. I dedicate this play to my mom who struggled with dementia, and to my family who stood by her as she gradually lost her individuality.
Presenting "Hostages" and Other Plays
What do you do when the lead actress in your upcoming show decides one beautiful day to go to a Farmer’s Market, slips on a gravel walkway, breaks her foot in three places, has surgery a week later, and is told by her doctor to not put weight on the foot for at least four months? Well, if you’re this Artistic Director, and that actress is Judy Rollings, and the show is Velocity of Autumn, you postpone the show.
So first of all, announcing the first show of our 2016/2017 Season at iTheatre Collaborative…Velocity of Autumn by Eric Coble starring Judy Rollings and Brad Bond! More on the rest of the season to come.
Second announcement, opening May 20th are three one-acts by Arab-American playwright Yussef El Guindi. We are calling the evening "Hostages" & other plays. I have known Yussef since around 1988, when he was teaching playwrighting at Duke University, and I was just a bright-eyed undergrad. The play of his I saw was "Hostages," and obviously, I never forgot about it. Since then, Yussef has gone on to become an accomplished playwright, and I have gone on to start a little theatre company. And the intervening years have been fruitful and productive for both of us.
Hostages is a play about two men, taken hostage, somewhere in the Middle East. It is a play not so much about politics or world affairs, but what it is like to be a hostage, the mental aspect of the ordeal. The other two plays are both monologues. "The Birds Flew In" is about an Arab-American mother whose son has been killed in the Middle East while in the U.S. Army serving his new country. The grief stricken mother is trying to bury her son and come to terms with what his death means to her. The final play, "The Tyrant," imagines if a recently deposed and arrested dictator was given the opportunity to speak to an American audience. What does his side of the story sound like?
Please join us May 20-29 for Hostages & other plays by Yussef El Guindi presented by iTheatre Collaborative.
We're a Resident Theatre Company!
Resident Company. This is something we have been waiting and working toward for many years. Proof of the old adage, "Good things come to those who wait." Well, we have been waiting thirteen years!
You may ask what does this mean for iTheatre? In terms of our work, the kind of theater we do will not be changing. We will still perform on the Kax Stage utilizing the best local artists possible. If you saw "Passing Strange" which just closed or "Grounded" at the beginning of this season, we will still be doing work of that caliber and quality. What it does mean for us is a new level of stature and presence both at the Herberger and within our community. No longer will we be "the best kept secret in Phoenix."
So, raise a glass to iTheatre Collaborative (the next time you have a glass in hand) and drink a toast to the Herberger’s newest Resident Company.
More Performances for Cabaret
First of all, “Grounded.” What a ride! Thank you to everyone who came. Critical and popular success. Incredible! Thank you Caitlin Newman, the star of the show. Thank you for sharing your talent. (She will also be sharing her talents with us at Christmas. Shhhhh ... you didn’t hear that from me).
Ok, now the bad news. For several years now we have received a general operating support grant from the City of Phoenix. This season we are not receiving that grant. Oh well. We could wring our collective hands and cry, “Poor us!” We’re not that kind of theater company. This is a business, after all. So, you lose a $5K grant (which, for us, is typically the budget for a show), we have to drop a show. Out of the five we were planning to produce this season, we decided that “Port Authority,” our next scheduled play, would be the one we are dropping from the season. I hope you hadn’t bought tickets yet. My apologies if you had (to make up for it, I’ll come cook you dinner).
Now the good news. We are adding one more performance of the ever-popular Christmas Cabaret. Monday, December 14th at 8pm. It’s a little awkward on a Monday, but it is certainly better than a sharp, pointy stick in the eye. Oh, by the way, the title of the show is “That’s Christmas to Me.”
"Port Authority" is Canceled
Is it me or did July just whip past?
August and we are rapidly approaching the opening show of our 13th season. That show, "Grounded," is already in rehearsal. Caitlin Newman is playing the Pilot in this one-woman show. Caitlin literally just moved to the Valley from New York. We hope you will welcome her to Phoenix by coming to see this gripping, contemporary play opening August 21st.
Next up, in October, will be...well, I’m not sure. We have "Port Authority," a play I’ve wanted to do for some time. Or there is a play by one of the best Arab-American playwrights writing today and also an old friend and professor from my college days at Duke. His name is Yussef El Guindi. The play is "Hostages" which is about two Westerners taken hostage somewhere in the Middle East. It is a play about the mental trauma of being a hostage.
Both are great plays. I thought since "Grounded" is about the mental aspects of our military drone program, "Hostages" would be nice companion piece. Yussef is very excited about our producing it (not surprising, since he wrote it), but I am waiting on word from his agent to finalize the agreement. Then, I’ll pull the plug on "Port Authority." Well, actually, I’ll probably put it back in my back pocket. Probably should do an entire season of those plays that are back there; my back pocket is getting pretty full.
Coming Soon: "Grounded"
Well, it’s July. It’s hot. And we’re waiting for the next haboob to hit. For us at iTheatre, we are hunkered down in the iTC Command Center planning Season #13. Yes, you read that right, our 13th Season. And what a dozy of a season.
First off, we scored “Grounded.” This play just closed at The Public starring Anne Hathaway, and rumors are that it may move to Broadway. But not before iTheatre has a crack at it. This play is a one-woman show about an Air Force fighter pilot who has a baby. When she returns from leave, she is grounded by the Air Force and stationed in a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas flying Predator drones in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a harrowing examination of our country’s drone program and the real costs of war. I wish I could tell you who the one-woman is, but we have auditions on July 13th. So check back in a couple of weeks.
I was drawn to this show mostly because of the subject matter. Our drone program is drawing more and more attention and it is not all good. While the idea of a drone going into combat instead of a human, sounds like a good idea, there is still a human being "driving" that drone. And in war there is always a price to be paid. Also, this play is beautifully written (by George Brant) and is more poetry than prose.
Next up, for this spot will be the second show in our season. Currently it is “Port Authority,” but that might be changing. How’s that for a teaser?