Festival Playhouse’s 60th anniversary season: Systems as Old as Time
Next year’s theme is going to be titled “Systems as Old as Time,” and will be focused on the harmful or oppressive systems that have held us back and how we fight against them. We want to recognize those that came before us, as well as the ways we persevere today. We want to highlight the ways that joy, laughter, and solidarity can still exist and thrive in spite of these systems.
We will open up the season in the fall with Playhouse Creatures by April De Angelis, directed by Ren Pruis. Set in 1669, it focuses on five women who were some of the first English actresses to appear on stage after Puritan suppression. It explores the lives of these trailblazers and their fight for power and agency in a patriarchal society.
Our second show, produced in the winter, will be Dutchman by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), directed by Anthony Hamilton. It is an emotionally charged and highly symbolic version of the Adam and Eve story, wherein a naive bourgeois Black man is murdered by an insane and calculating white seductress, who is coldly preparing for her next victim as the curtain comes down. The emotionally taut, intellectual verbal fencing between Clay (a Black Adam) and Lula (a white Eve) spirals irrevocably to the symbolic act of violence that will apparently repeat itself over and over again. Jones/Baraka’s play is one of mythical proportions, a ritual drama that has a sociological purpose: to galvanize his audience into revolutionary action.
The third show is going to be Be More Chill, directed by Dr. Quincy Thomas! It’s a rock sci-fi musical about growing up, high school, and what we will do to get what we want – and it was actually written by our very own alum Joe Tracz. He is updating the play for licensing just for us, so we will be the first college to produce the show, and he is extremely thrilled that we will be premiering it. Also, in very exciting but tentative news, we may have a special guest – Joe himself – dropping in at some point throughout the year to help welcome in our season. Additionally, we have award-winning Justin Thomas, k’01, joining us as our scenic designer.
And, in exciting news, we will be adding a fourth play to our season, in collaboration with an award-winning local equity theatre! In Spring of 2024, Farmers Alley Theatre will produce School of Rock on the Festival Playhouse stage. There will be opportunities for students to work on this production in a paid capacity along with Equity performers and stage managers.
So, we hope that you all are excited about next year’s season and want to get involved, because there will be many opportunities for anyone who’s interested in being a part of this fantastic season!