The fall theatre season is off to a quick start with the Kitchen Theatre, Cornell’s Dept of Performing and Media Arts (PMA), the Cherry Arts Collective and Opera Ithaca all opening shows this month.
First up the Kitchen’s season opens with a celebrated piece from Britain, ‘The Children’ by Lucy Kirkwood. In the wake of a nuclear disaster two scientists have retired to the coast, going back to the land. Then an old colleague appears. The Kitchen calls it “A gripping and thought-provoking story about the messes we make of our lives and our planet, and how we attempt to clean them up.” Ithaca College faculty Susannah Berryman and Dean Robinson play the couple, and the always electric Margarett Perry returns after a couple of years away to direct. Sept. 8–29. (kitchentheatre.org)
PMA brings ‘The Wolves’ by Sarah DeLappe to Ithaca, an area premiere of this popular piece in which teenage girls face themselves, their desires, their fears as members of a soccer squad. “Focused also on the toughness of its characters, the play engages and upends our preconceived notions about girlhood and femininity,” according to PMA. Directing is Beth Milles, who is dynamic with physical theater work. Sept. 26–28 only. (pma.cornell.edu)
The Cherry brings us another premiere English translation of a show, this time by Québecois playwright David Paquet. “’The Shoe’ is an emotionally profound and very funny work about the world of an unusual young boy named Benoît and the adults who care for him,” according to the Cherry. The show features Emma Bowers and Godfrey Simmons. Performances run Sept. 26-29 and Oct. 3-6. (thecherry.org)
October sees Ithaca College, one of the nation’s leading pre-professional undergraduate conservatory programs, kick off a fascinating season, opening with a play by the brilliant young African-American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a MacArthur fellow (“the genius award”). Cynthia Henderson helms ‘Everybody,’ the playwright’s reworking of the classic medieval English play ‘Everyman.’ This Pulitzer finalist is a “radical retelling [that] creates a button-pushing, meta-theatrical experience for the audience. Delving into the discovery of body image, race, friendship and social responsibilities.” (Oct. 1–11)
Mid-October IC features Ibsen’s powerhouse drama ‘Hedda Gabler,’ directed by Austin Bunn. (Oct. 11–26).
The tail-end of October brings the fall musical, ‘Sister Act,’ directed by Courtney Young (who helmed a terrific ‘Wonderful Town’ previously.) Songs by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. Seats always go fast for Ithaca College’s musicals. (Ithaca.edu/mainstage)
Over at PMA, the graduate student run 10-minute play festival explores the theme of Energy in the intimate Black Box. (Oct 3-5). And Oct. 24 brings a reading of ‘Virtual Landscapes’ by Aoise Stratford and Toby Ault, “multimedia piece, currently in development, which uses video footage, live actors, and ongoing climate science research to take visitors on a tour through time.”
The Kitchen throws us another regional premiere in October: ‘The Two Kids that Blow Shit Up,” by Carla Ching. “Diana and Max meet as kids, the day their parents start having an affair. During their parents’ tumultuous on-and-off relationship over more than two decades, Max and Diana are perpetually forced together and become the most unlikely of friends.” (Oct. 20–Nov. 3).
The Cherry launches a mini-festival of solo plays for women actors from Oct. 25–Nov. 5 entitled ‘Listen to Her.’ Norm Johnson directs Kathleen Mulligan as Emily Dickinson in ‘The Belle of Amherst.’ Elizabeth Mozer performs her solo piece ‘The Asylum Project’ about the lives of “patients at the now-deserted psychiatric hospital in Binghamton known as ‘The Castle.’” Jennifer Herzog performs in ‘The Saint,’ the Cherry’s third staging of an English translation of Santiago Loza, under the direction of Amina Omari.
PMA kicks off November with a brand-new musical, written by Madeleine Gray and directed by Ilana Wallenstein ‘21. In ‘There for You,’ Anne is recently single, pregnant and off her meds; then she meets Katie. Nov 7–9.
The proscenium stage at PMA will be the site of a long-gestating play about climate change in collaboration with Ithaca’s Civic Ensemble. “The Next Storm” is being written by Thom Dunn, while Civic’s Godfrey Simmons directs. Nov. 15–16 and 22–23.
House of Ithaqua continues their dedication to challenging and spooky theatre by staging Caryl Churchill’s ‘The Skriker.’ Churchill is one of the world’s leading playwrights, and no two plays of hers are the same. Artistic Director A.J. Sage will helm the piece. “A shape-shifting fairy seeks love and revenge from humanity by stalking two young mothers, adopting various personas as she attempts to seduce them into The Underworld.” Barbara Geary plays the Skriker with an ensemble cast of nearly 20 actors. It’s basically an urban horror-fantasy for the stage. ‘The Skriker’ plays at the Cherry Artspace Nov. 15–17 and 21-23. (houseofithaqua.com)
Back to the Kitchen: M. Bevin O’Gara brings her vision to the Pulitzer-winning classic ‘Proof’ by David Auburn. A famous mathmetician’s daughter fights to be believed as the author of a stunning mathematical proof. Nov. 23–Dec. 15.
December brings ‘The Antigone Project,’ a collaborative work by five leading women playwrights who re-imagine the great Sophocles tragedy. They place Antigone in “a beach, a caverned rock, a general’s office, a vacant road, the underworld.” Written by Tanya Barfield, Karen Hartman, Lynn Nottage, Chiori Miyagawa, and Caridad Savich. Susannah Berryman directs. (Dec. 3–8)
At Cornell you can take in the annual Mini Locally Grown Dance Festival (Dec. 5–7).
And would it be December without Dickens’ ‘The Christmas Carol?’ The Hangar Theatre brings back Aoise Stratford’s adaptation, staged by Artistic Director Michael Barakiva, for a third airing. Lots of local actors, including an alternating cast of local youth. Dec. 8–22. (hangartheatre.org)