Theater notes: Pandemic shifts schedules; a boost for scripts

While some Atlanta theater companies appear to be getting back to normal as they cue up their fall seasons, pandemic-related show postponements and cancellations from the 2021-22 season are still a factor for other troupes.

Take, for instance, Actor’s Express’ situation. The West Midtown company debuts the Dominique Morisseau drama “Sunset Baby,” which it had planned to stage this past April-May, on Sept. 24 for a run through Oct. 16. In essence, Actor’s Express will be opening the final show of its 2021-22 season just as companies such as the Alliance Theatre and Theatrical Outfit are launching their 2022-23 seasons.

Meanwhile, even with fall officially arriving later this month, Synchronicity Theatre only recently announced the first half of its 25th anniversary season, promising that an “Act 2″ announcement will follow later this autumn; and Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company has yet to make public its 2022-23 lineup.

Nor has Horizon Theatre, which over the holiday weekend announced a late change for the final show of its delayed season that launched in January. Instead of “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” Horizon will premiere “Designing Women, the Play,” an Atlanta-set update by the creator of the 1980s-1990s hit TV show, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. The run is Sept. 30-Nov. 6.

So, given the schedule changes and delays that persist, it was not surprising when Actor’s Express announced last week that it had reworked its previously announced 35th season schedule. It was to have opened in early November with a world premiere of “Oh, To Be Pure Again.” Instead, due to what the company termed “ongoing calendar and production challenges due to Covid-19,” the season will start in February 2023 with “Urinetown.”

Credit: Courtesy of Public Theater

Credit: Courtesy of Public Theater

“From the first shutdown to our recent shorter-term shutdown in January of this year, we have both reacted to and anticipated conditions that have complicated our busy production calendar,” Actor’s Express Artistic Director Freddie Ashley explained in the announcement. “Making this change now allows us to spend a few dedicated months positioning ourselves strategically and financially to kick off the season confident and refreshed.”

Here’s how the reworked Actor’s Express 2023 schedule rolls out:

  • “Urinetown,” Feb. 2-19. The Tony Award-winning musical comedy is about what happens in the not-so-distant-future when a 20-year drought has depleted the land of water, and citizens are forced to pay a corrupt megacorporation for the “privilege to pee.” This fires up a ragtag group of rebels. A co-production with Oglethorpe University Theatre.
  • “Oh, To Be Pure Again,” March 2-26. The world premiere of playwright Kira Rockwell’s examination of faith and rebellion at a fundamentalist church camp in Texas. An idealistic young counselor works to shepherd the campers in the girls’ cabin through a delicate phase of self-discovery, only to be confronted with challenges to her own faith.
  • “Prayer for the French Republic,” April 20-May 14. Following five generations of a French Jewish family, Joshua Harmon’s (”Bad Jews,” “Skintight”) drama is a sweeping look at history, home and the effects of an ancient hatred. Atlanta premiere.
  • “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train,” June 8-July 2. In Pulitzer-winner Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play, a frightened young inmate at Riker’s Island confronts complex issues of faith when he crosses paths with a charismatic serial killer, a sadistic guard and a jaded public defender.
  • “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” July 20-Aug. 19. “Internationally ignored” rock singer Hedwig searches the world for stardom and love. This all-new production is Actor’s Express’ third incarnation of the cult hit musical.
  • “cullud wattah,” Sept. 21-Oct. 15. Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s Afro-surrealist play, a hit at New York’s Public Theater, hits the stage with its story of a family of women facing conflicting choices amidst the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Working Title Playwrights honorees

Working Title Playwrights, which recently became Theatrical Outfit’s first company in residence, has awarded Ethel Woolson Lab prizes to four playwrights. The series provides nearly 30 hours of developmental workshops that culminate in rehearsed, staged readings for the public. Each playwright is partnered with a support team of artists designed for the needs of the playwrights and their plays.

The winning playwrights and their winning projects are Quinn Xavier Hernandez, “Spicy White” (being staged Dec. 4); Quintin Humphrey, “No Kissing” (Dec. 18); Lee Osorio, “A Third Way” (Jan. 29); and Mary Lynn Owen, “Salvage” (March 2023). Read more on each play here.


Credit: ArtsATL

Credit: ArtsATL

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