Actor’s Express’ 30th anniversary season will feature Lucas Hnath’s epic The Christians, both chapters of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America, two world premieres and the return of co-founder and longtime artistic director Chris Coleman.
“The new season reflects our commitment to work that speaks to the needs, desires and issues facing our community and our world,” artistic director Freddie Ashley said in the statement. “We seized the opportunity to drill down and examine the values we feel need to be protected and celebrated. We believe this season will entertain, enlighten, provoke and — most importantly — offer the opportunity for audiences to lean in together.”
Coleman will return in March 2018 for a one-weekend-only concert version of The Harvey Milk Show. AE staged the musical in 1992 with Coleman in the title role. Milk was the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco, serving on the board of supervisors for 11 months before his assassination on Nov. 27, 1978. He was 48.
Coleman co-founded AE in 1988 and led the theater until 2000, when he moved to Oregon and became artistic director at Portland Center Stage, where he still works.
Fan favorite Libby Whittemore returns with cabaret shows this December and in May 2018 for her ninth AE season, and the company will present its third annual Threshold New Play Festival (dates to be announced).
Season subscriptions are on sale HERE or at 404.607.7469. Single tickets go on sale May 13.
Here’s a closer look at the mainstage season, in chronological order:
The Christians. SEPT. 16-OCT. 15. This stunningly original play by Lucas Hnath (the “h” is silent), debuted at the 2014 Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Ky., and ran at off-Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons in fall 2015. The drama, which features a battle for the hearts, minds and souls of congregants at a megachurch, is an unflinching look at faith in America and its power to unite or divide. The piece is performed with a live choir. The New York Times made it a critic’s pick, with Christopher Isherwood writing: “This terrific play about the mystery of faith by Lucas Hnath — one of the freshest playwriting voices to emerge in the past five years — is mesmerizing.” The New York Post called it “deeply affecting” and “emotionally devastating.” Ashley directs.
Cardboard Piano. NOV. 11-DEC. 3. World premiere. Hansol Jung’s new drama, a standout at the 2016 Humana Festival, takes place on New Year’s Eve in 1999. In a remote northern Ugandan village, two girls sneak into the local church to hold a makeshift wedding for themselves. When their reverie is interrupted by a boy soldier running from war, they’re flung into events that will forever change them. Karen Robinson, a Kennesaw State University professor, directs.
Angels in America. JAN. 13-FEB. 11, 2018. AE takes on both parts of Tony Kushner’s game-changing saga — Part One: Millennium Approaches and Part Two: Perestroika — running them in repertory. Sex, religion and politics collide with history in these landmark theater pieces, set at the start of the AIDS epidemic. The two-part masterwork, subtitled A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, debuted on Broadway in 1993. Ashley and Martin Damien Wilkins will direct. This season Wilkins is directing Suzan-Lori Parks’ Father Comes Home From the Wars (Part 1, 2 & 3) in May and June.
The Flower Room. APRIL 21-MAY 13, 2018. World premiere. Atlanta playwright Daryl Lisa Fazio’s comedy was part of AE’s 2016 Threshold Festival of New Plays. Ingrid is an uptight academic who researches sexual behavior in primitive cultures while remaining completely closed off from her own sexual self. When she loses her university job, she writes erotica to pay the bills — unleashing her own journey of sexual discovery. Frequent AE collaborator Melissa Foulger will direct. Fazio’s comic drama Split in Three has its world premiere this spring (May 4-28) at Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville.
AE also plans to stage an “exciting Broadway musical” (June 16-July 29, 2018) but says it can’t announce the title yet.
The company performs in its own space in the King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW.