Surviving with Loudon and other news as PlayMakers Opens 13/14 Season

Loudon Wainwright III and image of Loudon Wainwright Jr., in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s world premiere production of SURVIVING TWIN, written & performed by Loudon Wainwright III, and directed by PlayMakers Producing Artistic Director Joseph Haj. Sept. 4-8, 2013. Photo: Jon Gardiner.

Loudon Wainwright III and image of Loudon Wainwright Jr., in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s world premiere production of SURVIVING TWIN, written & performed by Loudon Wainwright III, and directed by PlayMakers Producing Artistic Director Joseph Haj. Playing in the Kenan Theatre of the UNC Center for Dramatic Art  Sept. 4-8, 2013. Photo: Andrea Akin.

“Storytelling lies at the heart of both theatre and song, and this basic human need fuels our appreciation for both art forms and their forms of artifice. PlayMakers Repertory Company  has opened its 2013/14 season with a PRC2 production of an interesting experiment including sung stories by singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright, III. In Surviving Twin, which is directed by Joseph Haj, Wainwright examines the relationship between fathers and sons, or, more precisely, his relationship with his father and, to a lesser degree, with his own son. The family lines branch to other generations, but this remains a very personal story. The audience must do its own work to raise its content to the universal plane. Some may find it heavy lifting.”

PUBLISHED ON WWW.CVNC.ORG, 9/5/2013. READ MY FULL REVIEW HERE.

Life with and without father: Loudon Wainwright III in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s world premiere production of his show SURVIVING TWIN. Sept. 4-8, 2013. Photo: Jon Gardiner.

Life with and without father: Loudon Wainwright III in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s world premiere production of his show SURVIVING TWIN. Sept. 4-8, 2013. Photo: Andrea Akin.

Like all of the PRC2 productions, SURVIVING TWIN runs for only a few days. But coming up soon after on the main stage in the Paul Green Theater is one not to miss if you can help it. September 18 PlayMakers will open THE MOUNTAINTOP, by Katori Hall (b. Memphis, TN, 1981). Set in Memphis’ Lorraine Motel on April 3, 1968, Hall’s play examines Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last night on earth. The play premiered in London in 2009, and won the Olivier Award for Best New Play. It had successful run on Broadway, and is now being produced around the country. For PlayMakers, it will be directed by Raelle Myrick-Hodges, who gave us such a beautiful production of RAISIN IN THE SUN last season. Whether you can remember the stunning blow of April 4, 1968, or like Hall were not yet born, this is a play to help you, me and us with our own history. It will run in the Paul Green Theater through October 6.

To double its impact and share its costs, PlayMakers is co-producing THE MOUNTAINTOP with Triad Stage. The Greensboro performances will take place October 20-November 10 in The Pyrle Theater, 232 S. Elm Street–very near the site of the early lunch-counter sit-ins against segregation. This kind of artistic cooperation will allow more arts organizations to live long and prosper. Viva PRC! (and RIP North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, which bit the dust mid-season this summer, all alone in High Point).

If you need any more evidence that PlayMakers is our theatrical powerhouse, take a look at these new grants. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has just awarded PRC a cool quarter-million dollars to continue its incubation program, in which theatre ensembles from elsewhere develop works during annual residencies at UNC. Win-win-win.

The National Endowment for the Arts is chipping in $45,000 to support PRC’s season finale in April, 2014. The company will perform Stephen Sondheim’s musical ASSASSINS. You just gotta love the nerve of these folks, starting the season just before one assassination and wrapping it up–in this day and age!–with one with the tagline: “When You’ve Got a Gun Everybody Pays Attention.” All hats off for Joe Haj, please.

The NEA has also awarded PlayMakers yet another grant ($25,000) from its “Shakespeare for a New Generation” program, to support this season’s production of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST, which will run in rotating repertory with Mary Zimmerman’s modern version of the classical METAMORPHOSES by Ovid, November 2-December 8. Both will have water on the stage…but will this TEMPEST drown out memories of the extraordinary 2004  swan-song version by Shakespeare & Originals that featured powerful performances by Tom Marriott as Prospero and Jordan Smith as Caliban, along with beautiful work by Jay O’Berski, Cheryl Chamblee and a host of others? Only one way to find out.

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