Theatre Company 2019/20 Season

2019-20 Theatre Company season: New stories, new storytellers

New voices will be fully heard in innovative season that includes a return to repertory for both parts of A Doll’s House

The DCPA Theatre Company’s performing spaces may be a bit smaller next year, but Artistic Director Chris Coleman promises a season that will be big in creative scope.

Coleman announced a 41st season this morning that was crafted by creativity and circumstance. It boasts an innovative, eight-play lineup led by the unprecedented pairing of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 masterpiece A Doll’s House with Lucas Hnath’s newly imagined sequel, A Doll’s House, Part 2, to be presented in repertory in the same theatre.

2019-20 Theatre Company writers 800

Top row, from left: Paula Vogel, Tarell Alvin McCraney and Dael Orlandersmith. Bottom row: Bonnie Metzgar, Lucas Hnath and Tony Meneses.

The Theatre Company is the producing regional theatre arm of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. And the second full season under Coleman’s leadership brings with it a peculiar logistical challenge: The company’s flagship Stage Theatre, which typically hosts its most expansive creative undertakings, is undergoing a complete rebuild and will re-open in late 2020 as The Marvin and Judi Wolf Theatre. In the meantime, the Theatre Company will perform in the smaller Space, Ricketson and Jones theatres for a season of uncommonly up-close theatrical experiences.

“It has been inspiring to envision and create a season of significant theatrical events in our more intimate spaces as we approach this year without The Stage Theatre,” said Coleman. “Throughout the season, you’ll see Tony-winning plays, classics, Shakespeare and incredible new plays from playwrights changing the American theatre.”

The season kicks off on August 30 with Paula Vogel’s 2017 Tony Award-winning Indecent, which revisits an incendiary 1923 Broadway drama and the artists who risked their lives to perform it. In all, the season will feature eight productions including two world premieres from the 2019 Colorado New Play Summit — Tony Meneses’ near-future political drama twenty50 and Bonnie Metzgar’s time-traveling ghost story You Lost Me.

The eyes of the national theatre world are sure to be on Coleman’s repertory stagings of A Doll’s House (the original and Part 2), which no other theatre company has ever attempted together. “Audiences will have the opportunity to attend one or both, allowing them to see how the characters evolve from one play to the next,” Coleman said. “This is going to be really, really fun.”

While both productions will alternate performances, Coleman said the major roles in each play will be played by different actors, in part to allow for expanded casting opportunities.

Starting Tuesday: A daily, deeper dive into 2019-20 season

Coleman says he never crafts a season to fit a pre-determined theme, but his 2019-20 lineup reveals at least one major commonality: He’s helping a greater variety of storytellers to be heard.

“The season is filled with plays about people who exist in the world but whose stories are not often told on American stages,” Coleman said. “For example, you have lesbian Jewish women in Indecent; a Mexican American immigrant running for Congress in twenty50; a full spectrum of voices speaking up in response to the Ferguson riots in Dael Orlandersmith’s Until the Flood; and you have a young, gay black man coming into his own in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy.”

When Coleman first saw Choir Boy in New York, he thought, “I haven’t seen this story on stage before.” It was an invitation into somebody’s journey to express himself, and I think it’s a beautiful way to end the season.”

Orlandersmith, a leading American actress, poet and playwright, will perform her solo play Until the Flood herself. It is believed that will be only the fifth solo mainstage production in the Theatre Company’s history – and only the second by a female actor.

“I think that I and many of the people on our team are interested in plays that feel like they have something to say today,” Coleman said. “I look forward to the conversations each of these productions will open up with the Denver community.”

For Colorado New Play Summit fans who saw the concert reading of Neyla Pekarek and Karen Hartman’s developing Colorado-based musical Rattlesnake Kate, Coleman took the unusually bold step of announcing that the Theatre Company is fully committed to its future life. “We’re devoted to getting Rattlesnake Kate ready for a production down the road,” Coleman said.

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

2019-20 DCPA Theatre Company season at a glance:

  • August 30-October 6: Indecent (Space Theatre)
  • September 6-November 24: A Doll’s House and A Doll’s House, Part 2 in repertory (Ricketson Theatre)
  • November 15-December 22: Twelfth Night (Space Theatre)
  • January 17-February 23, 2020: You Lost Me (Ricketson Theatre)
  • January 31-March 1, 2020: twenty50 (Space Theatre)
  • March 20-May 3, 2020: Until the Flood (Jones Theatre)
  • April 10-May 10, 2020: Choir Boy (Space Theatre)

The 2019-20 plays at a glance:

(Descriptions provided by DCPA Theatre Company)

  • By Paula Vogel
  • Directed by Nancy Keystone
  • Choreography by Dominique Kelley (choreographer of 2018’s Oklahoma!)
  • August 30-October 6, 2019 (Opens September 5)
  • Space Theatre
  • At a glance: Pulitzer-winning playwright Paula Vogel tells the emotional true story of Sholem Asch’s groundbreaking 1906 play, God of Vengeance, and the passionate artists who risked everything to share it. Many European productions of the provocative Yiddish story were highly successful in the early 1900s – even with a same-sex romance at its center. But when its Broadway debut was deemed “indecent,” it begged the question of who gets to decide what is considered art and what deserves to be censored. Follow the explosive tale through scandals, war and rewrites as a defiant, dedicated few refused to let it be silenced. Celebrate the Tony Award-winning play “that deeply touches so much rich emotion about history and the theater, anti-Semitism, homophobia, censorship, world wars, red-baiting and, oh, yes, joyful human passion” (Newsday). Evoking the Jewish experience through traditional songs and dancing, this stirring production will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the art and experiences we often take for granted.

A Doll’s House and A Doll’s House, Part 2 (performed in repertory)

A Doll’s House:

  • By Henrik Ibsen; Adapted by Frank McGuinness
  • Directed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman
  • September 6-November 24, 2019 (Opens September 21)
  • Ricketson Theatre
  • At a glance: Nora’s life is a picture-perfect portrait, complete with a doting husband, gleeful children and the small pleasures of her 1870s Norwegian home. But underneath her wide-eyed demeanor lies a deceit that she fears will tear her family apart. As the consequences stack up to reveal deeper flaws in her relationship, she slams the door on her marriage to assert her independence in this heart-wrenching and gripping production.

A Doll’s House, Part 2:

  • By Lucas Hnath
  • Directed by Rose Riordan
  • September 6-November 24, 2019 (Opens September 21)
  • Ricketson Theatre
  • At a glance: Fifteen years later, Nora’s unexpected return cuts through the subtext to confront her decisions head-on in this Tony-nominated, contemporary sequel. Asking for favors instead of forgiveness, the proudly independent woman demands help from the family she left behind. But as she hilariously roasts the society she has shunned, her husband and children get their long-awaited chance to stand their ground. “Smart, funny and utterly engrossing” (The New York Times), this piece snappily filters the still-prevalent pressures of motherhood and self-fulfillment through a modern perspective.

Twelfth Night
  • By William Shakespeare
  • Directed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman
  • Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa is composing the music
  • November 15-December 22 (Opens November 22)
  • Space Theatre
  • At a glance: Hilarious hijinks. Unrequited love. Gender-bending disguises. The struggle is real in this Shakespearean comedy, where the clumsiness of romance is on display in every way. Separated from her twin brother after a shipwreck in Illyria, Viola disguises herself as a man to work in the local household of Duke Orsino. The closer they become, the more Viola gets acquainted with Orsino’s crush, the beautiful noblewoman Olivia. Much to their dismay (and to your delight), the trio is inevitably thrust into a love triangle of mistaken identity and wanton foolishness. Overflowing with quick wit and titillating trysts, this standout play by The Bard is sure to please with its captivating characters and one of his most dynamic heroines.

You Lost Me (world premiere)
  • By Bonnie Metzgar
  • Directed by Margot Bordelon
  • January 17-February 23, 2020 (Opens January 24)
  • Ricketson Theatre
  • At a glance: In 1828, 17-year-old Ann Harvey helped save 160 Irish people from a wreck off Newfoundland’s Shipwreck Coast, making her an instant hero. Almost 200 years later, the Harvey family homestead has become the Shipwreck Inn, where present-day proprietress Ann Harvey attempts to leave her own mark (and get some new customers) with a tourist blog. Her nephew Joe-L, on the other hand, would do anything to leave his hometown and start a new life somewhere else. Freely flow through time as unexpected guests and echoes of the past leave their indelible mark on the people that hold vigil along their remote and rocky shore. A memory house for all those lost at sea, this Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Festival finalist is a poetic, wistful and bright new drama that reminds us that every moment holds the opportunity to change everything.

Summit Spotlight: Bonnie Metzgar on the timeless search for safe harbor

twenty50 (world premiere)
  • By Tony Meneses
  • Directed by Henry Godinez
  • January 31-March 1, 2020 (Opens February 7)
  • Space Theatre
  • At a glance: In the year 2050, Andres Salazar is running for office. By this time, Latinx people have been assimilated into the majority of the United States, but race issues are far from resolved. In this tricky political environment, Andres must decide whether identifying himself as a Mexican American will help or hinder him on Election Day, and whether losing some of his own identity is worth the potential social benefits. When a mysterious stranger appears at their house, Andres’ family rallies around him to save his imperiled campaign in this insightful drama from rising playwright Tony Meneses, who was called “a distinctive voice worthy of attention” by the New Jersey Star Ledger. On the brink of our upcoming presidential election, this suspenseful thriller peels back the façade of campaign-trail craziness to reveal how power and shifting identity blur our truths with those of the greater whole.

Summit Spotlight: Tony Meneses imagines an America where Latinx people are absorbed into whiteness

Until the Flood
  • Written by and starring Dael Orlandersmith
  • Directed by Neel Keller
  • March 20-May 3, 2020 (Opens March 27)
  • Jones Theatre
  • At a glance: After the death of Michael Brown shook the nation to its core, Pulitzer Prize finalist and Obie Award winner Dael Orlandersmith set out to explore the social unrest in Ferguson, Missouri that followed. Using hundreds of interviews she conducted herself, Orlandersmith created eight fictional characters to represent the broad spectrum of perspectives that continue to define the city and our country at large. Discover Orlandersmith  she’s been called “one of the country’s top talents for solo performance” by Time Out Chicago as she embodies people from all sides of the controversy in this mesmerizing, fluidly poetic piece. Go on a gripping, emotional journey and see first-hand “the potential of art to reach across cultural boundaries and bring us all closer together.” (TheaterMania).

Choir Boy
  • By Tarell Alvin McCraney
  • Directed by Timothy Douglas
  • April 10-May 10, 2020 (Opens April 17)
  • Space Theatre
  • At a glance: Pharus doesn’t fit in at The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys. Despite embodying the strong, ethical morals the school seeks to ingrain in its black students, being gay has made him an outsider within its hallowed halls. But this year, his talent and perseverance have paid off with a chance to lead the prestigious choir, a position where he may finally shake the dogged bullying by his fellow classmates. Featuring gorgeous gospel music, you’ll want to raise your voice and cheer as one student boldly stands up to the traditions that seek to silence his voice. This soaring coming-of-age musical drama was the Broadway debut of Oscar-winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (“Moonlight”), whose deeply human storytelling illuminates the chaotic collision of masculinity, tradition and self-discovery on the path to adulthood.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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