World premiere, real-life stories and dreams highlight Syracuse Stage’s 2008-09 season
World premiere, real-life stories and dreams highlight Syracuse Stage’s 2008-09 seasonApril 14, 2008Patrick Finlonstagepr@syr.edu
Timothy Bond, producing artistic director, has announced the 36th season at Syracuse Stage. “What a privilege it is for me to welcome you to a new season, our first together,” says Bond. “I am pleased to introduce some of the wonderful artists with whom I have worked in the past and with whom we will share the fun and excitement of the upcoming season.”
Looking over his selections, Bond is struck by two outstanding points: “First, all the plays are about real people and real stories. Some you know and some you’ll enjoy getting to know. Second, in its own way, each play is about dreams — dreams realized, dreams deferred and dreams denied — and it is in the common pursuit of dreams that we find resonance and unity in the season.”
The 2008-09 season, set to begin on Sept. 9, is sponsored by Time Warner Cable and The Post-Standard.
Syracuse Stage’s 2008-09 Season:
August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”Directed by Timothy BondSept. 9-Oct. 4A young horn player with a pocket full of songs and a head full of dreams longs to place his name among the giants of the blues, legends of the likes of Ma Rainey, for whom he is a session sideman. Ma has pushed the boundaries, struggling with shady producers and battling prejudice to become a successful recording artist and the Mother of the Blues. Now, in a single day of making music, making jokes and making deals, the young horn player succumbs to the harsh realities of unjustly thwarted aspirations and the self-destructive consequences of misdirected anger and violence. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is the landmark, contemporary classic that marked August Wilson’s entry into his monumental 10-play chronicle of African-American life in the 20th century.
“Don’t Look Back: Stories from the Salt City”Conceived and directed by Ping ChongOct. 14-Nov. 2 World PremiereA powerful exploration of the changing face of Syracuse through an interview-based theater work, “Don’t Look Back” presents the first-hand narratives of citizens of Syracuse — both recent arrivals and longstanding residents — who are in some way living outside the dominant culture. Created by theatrical innovator Ping Chong and constructed as a chamber piece of storytelling, the performance features real people telling their personal experiences of creating cultural identity out of rich and complex histories. Chong continues the compelling work he has done throughout the United States exploring the divergent lives that make up our communities.
“Godspell” Conceived and originally directed by John-Michael TebelakMusic and new lyrics by Stephen SchwartzDirected by Rajendra Ramoon MaharajChoreographed by SU Drama professor Anthony SalatinoNov. 25-Dec. 28This energetic musical based on the gospel of St. Matthew is a celebration of worldwide community, filled with popular hit songs and irresistible good will. A groundbreaking musical in its time, this colorful update features world dance-inspired choreography and multimedia projections.
“The Santaland Diaries”By David SedarisAdapted for the stage by Joe MantelloDirected by James EdmondsonDec. 2-Jan. 4For those who like a little jeer with their Christmas cheer, humorist David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries” is a gem of a lump of coal. Meet Crumpet, a 33-year-old starving artist turned Macy’s elf. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but you wouldn’t know it from the bad Santas, naughty elves, cranky kids and pushy parents who test Crumpet’s last elfin nerve as he struggles to remain sane and perky amid the absurdity of the holiday season.
“Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins”By Stephen TemperleyDirected by Serge SeidenJan. 27-Feb. 15Suppose there was a woman of substantial means who fancied herself an opera singer despite an appalling lack of talent. Suppose she hired an accompanist, rehearsed and put on a series of concerts. Then suppose, instead of being booed off the stage or truthfully criticized, she became a kind of cult figure and people chose to attend her recitals in order to laugh at her without her knowing, in essence turning her into a running joke. Suppose she even followed this wild dream all the way to a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall. “Souvenir” is based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins who, along with her longtime and presumably long-suffering accompanist, performed a series of famed recitals in the 1930s and ’40s.
“Up”By Bridget CarpenterDirected by Penny MetropulosFeb. 25-March 15Once upon a time, Walter Griffin attached 42 weather balloons to a lawn chair and soared 16,000 feet into the wild blue yonder. Mission accomplished. Dream fulfilled. What could he see of his life in such rarified air? What was left of the vision when he touched down on the ground? Bridget Carpenter is a young American playwright on the rise, and in this contemporary parable, based on the true story of Larry Walters, she dares us to consider what it is in the human spirit that makes us want to soar beyond the realm of reason.
“The Diary of Anne Frank”By Frances Goodrich and Albert HackettNewly adapted by Wendy KesselmanDirected by Timothy BondMarch 31-May 3A young girl, alive to everything around her and awakening within her, with hopes and dreams of the life she may one day lead with friends and family, confides to her diary the secrets of her heart. That diary, as we all know, becomes one of the lasting documents of the 20th century, a testament not to the horrors we know so well, but to the indomitability of the human spirit. With information gleaned from previously withheld portions of the diary and additional survivor accounts, we glimpse this remarkable young woman with greater clarity and deeper understanding of the fullness of her life.
“Crowns”By Regina TaylorAdapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig MarberryDirected and choreographed by Patdro HarrisMay 13-June 7Get ready for some soul-stirring, funny and powerful stories, stories from the church elders, stories with “hattitude,” enough to set the choir singing. That’s “hattitude,” as in hat, as in Crown, as in the elegant cranial adornment favored by certain elegant church-going ladies of the South. Sing about it, dance about it, boast about it, even dream about it, a Crown is a joyous expression of culture and tradition, and as we find in this rollicking celebratory play, tradition and culture can be just the balm to salve the wounded soul.
- Sunday Discussions: Hundreds of patrons enjoy the Sunday Discussion series immediately following the Sunday 7 p.m. performance of each play. This is a comfortable forum where questions from patrons are answered by members of the cast and Stage staff.
- Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures: Held in the Sutton Pavilion at Syracuse Stage, the Lunchtime Lectures offer a free and informative talk about each play, starting at 1 p.m. before Wednesday matinee performances. A box lunch is available (for a fee) at 12:30 p.m. and can be ordered in advance.
- Welch Allyn Signed Interpreted Performances: For every production there is a Tuesday evening performance that is signed for hearing impaired audience members.
Syracuse Stage is Central New York’s premier professional theatre. Founded as a not-for-profit theater in 1974 by Arthur Storch, it has produced more than 220 plays in 35 seasons, including numerous world and American premieres. Each season upwards of 90,000 patrons enjoy an exciting mix of comedies, dramas and musicals featuring the finest professional theatre artists. In addition, Syracuse Stage maintains a vital educational outreach program that annually serves more than 30,000 students from 24 counties.
Syracuse Stage is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT). In addition to ticket sales, Syracuse Stage performances are made possible by funds from Syracuse University, the Central New York Community Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, Onondaga County, and corporate and individual donors.