RENOVATION NECESSITATES ‘AUDACIOUS EXPERIMENT’ — 12 SHOWS AT 13 VENUES OVER 17 MONTHS, INCLUDING ‘SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE,’ ‘HAND TO GOD,’ ‘CANDIDE’ AND THE RETURN OF ‘NATIVE GUARD.’ WHEE!

 

THE ALLIANCE THEATRE goes on the road in 2017/18 — as its Woodruff Center home is renovated — doing 12 shows in 13 locations from the Southwest Arts Center to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre to the Atlanta History Center.

Susan V. Booth
Susan V. Booth

The season features three world premieres, one regional premiere and such familiar faces/names as Richard Garner, Jiréh Breon Holder, David Catlin, Natasha Tretheway, Shakespeare and Pearl Cleage.

It all begins in June with the family show Dancing Granny, written by this year’s Alliance/Kendeda winner Jiréh Breon Holder (the superb Too Heavy for Your Pocket), and ends in September/October 2018 with A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The new Alliance Theatre is expected to debut in October 2018.

Meanwhile, the new season’s venues include:

  • Actor’s Express, in the King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW.
  • Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE.
  • Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW.
  • Atlanta Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE.
  • Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta (inside I-75 & I-285).
  • Conant Performing Arts Center, at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road NE.
  • Dad’s Garage Theatre Company, 569 Ezzard St. SE.
  • Galloway School, 215 W. Wieuca Road NW.
  • Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road.
  • Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center, 3181 Rainbow Drive, Decatur.
  • Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE.
  • Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road SW.
  • Spelman College, 350 Spelman Lane.

“We have a once-in-an-organizational-lifetime opportunity to truly be Atlanta’s theater,” artistic director Susan V. Booth said in  a statement. “For 48 years, metro Atlanta has supported us by making the trip to our front door. It seemed like we had the opportunity to return the favor.”

Season tickets are on sale now.  Single tickets go on sale in July. Details HERE.

In chronological order, the Alliance’s 49th season looks like this:

 Jiréh Breon Holder
Jiréh Breon Holder

Dancing Granny. JUNE 10-18 | JUNE 24-JULY 2 | JULY 8-16. This world premiere with music, based on the Newbery Medal-winning book by Ashley Bryan, visits three venues — the Conant Performing Arts Center, the Galloway School and Spelman College. Ananse, the clever spider of African folklore, tries to trick Granny into dancing away from her garden so he can take her vegetables. Staged in conjunction with the High Museum of Art exhibition Painter and Poet: The Wonderful World of Ashley BryanLeora Morris, the Alliance Yale directing fellow, directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Richard Garner
Richard Garner

Shakespeare in Love. AUG. 30-SEPT. 24. Conant Performing Arts Center. Longtime Georgia Shakespeare leader Richard Garner directs this play based on the 1998 film that won seven Academy Awards including best picture. Young Will Shakespeare has writer’s block. The deadline for his new play approaches, and he needs inspiration. Enter Viola, his greatest admirer. As with much of Shakespeare, expect mistaken identity, ruthless scheming and backstage theatrics. Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. Music by Paddy Cunneen. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Crossing Delancey. OCT. 7-NOV. 18. Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. Susan Sandler’s play inspired the 1988 movie with Amy Irving and Peter Riegert. Izzy is a beautiful, intelligent, single young woman. Her 80-year-old Bubbie is determined to see her granddaughter marry before she dies. So Bubbie gives Cupid a little nudge. Morris again directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Hand to God. OCT. 20-NOV. 12. Regional premiere. The New York Times describes this contemporary, Tony Award-nominated puppet comedy as “darkly delightful.” Robert Askins’ script is the most-produced play in American regional theater this season. After the death of his father, the meek Jason finds an outlet for his anxiety at the Christian Puppet Ministry. His complicated relationships with the town pastor, the school bully, the girl next door and his mother are thrown into upheaval when his puppet takes on a personality all its own. Produced in association with Dad’s Garage. Marc Masterson, artistic director of South Coast Rep in Orange County, Calif., directs. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Alice Between. NOV. 12-19. World premiere. Rich Auditorium at the Woodruff Arts Center. Atlanta playwright Neeley Gossett’s update of the Alice in Wonderland stories finds Alice on her first day as a seventh-grader in a new middle school, a world full of strange and wondrous incongruities — much like life itself feels for many her age. The Alliance’s Rosemary Newcott directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A Christmas Carol. DEC. 8-24. Scrooge’s ghosts and counting house move to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for the 2017 holiday season. It’s your last chance to see this musical, multicultural telling by David H. Bell. He’s writing a new version to ring in the Alliance’s new mainstage in 2018. Newcott directs, as she has for a goodly number of years. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Neal A. Ghant in the 2014 staging of "Native Guard." Photo: Greg Mooney
Neal A. Ghant in the 2014 staging of “Native Guard.” Photo: Greg Mooney

Native Guard. JAN. 13-FEB. 4, 2018. Atlanta History Center. Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection is staged amid the History Center’s Civil War collection. Native Guard played to sold-out Hertz Stage audiences during its 2014 world premiere run at the Alliance. The script juxtaposes Trethewey’s deeply personal experiences as a child of a then-illegal marriage in 1960s Mississippi (African-America mother, Caucasian father), with the experience of a soldier in the Native Guard, the first African-American Union troop in the Civil War  charged with guarding white Confederate captives. Trethewey, a former U.S. poet laureate who has been directing the writing program at Emory University, joins the faculty at Northwestern University in 2017/18. Booth again directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

The Jungle Book. FEB. 8-MARCH 4, 2018. Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center. Newcott directs this family-friendly adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling story about Mowgli, a boy abandoned in the jungle, his animal friends — Baloo the bear, Bagheera the black panther and Akela the old wolf — and the struggles he faces. Details HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Sobler
Alix Sobler

Sheltered. MARCH 1-25, 2018. Actor’s Express. World premiere. The winner of the 2018 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition. Alix Sobler‘s suspense story, based on true events, takes place in 1939 as World War II breaks out in Europe. Two ordinary Philadelphians make an extraordinary decision. As millions of Jews try to escape Germany, Helen and Leonard Kirsch plan a trip into Nazi-occupied territory — to bring 50 children to safety in the United States. Sobler is an M.F.A. candidate at Columbia University. Kimberly Senior, a freelance director based in New York City, directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Pearl Cleage
Pearl Cleage

Hospice  |  Pointing at the Moon. MARCH 23-APRIL 15. World premiere. Southwest Arts Center. Pearl Cleage, the Alliance’s playwright-in-residence, returns to the stage with two one-acts. Follow Jenny Anderson as she deals with unresolved questions from her past and works to ensure freedom for the future. In Hospice, she confronts the approaching death of her estranged mother. Her story continues some 30 years later in Pointing at the Moon, which takes place immediately after the 2016 presidential election. Jenny, now a respected scholar and literary critic, is reluctantly drawn into the swirl of political and cultural changes and must choose between her comfortable life and her deeply held beliefs. Hospice, which premiered in 1983, won five AUDELCO awards for achievement off-Broadway; Pointing at the Moon is a world premiere. The cast includes Atlanta-based actors Terry Burrell (Ethel, Cinderella and Fella) and Tinashe Kinjese (Disgraced, Blues for an Alabama Sky). Timothy Douglas, a New York-based director, actor, writer and educator, directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Candide. MAY 9-20, 2018. Symphony Hall. The Alliance’s only big musical of the season is this 1956 gem by Leonard Bernstein, done as a staged concert in partnership with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The high jinks, adapted from Voltaire’s satirical 18th-century novel, follow the naïve Candide. Separated from his beloved, he journeys around the world to find her while fiercely retaining his mentor’s belief that “this is the best of all possible worlds.” With a cast of actors, the ASO and the ASO Chorus. Booth directs, with the ASO’s Robert Spano as music director. The Alliance staged Candide in its 1987/88 season and, if memory serves, Tom Key (now of Theatrical Outfit), played the mentor Dr. Pangloss. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

A Midsummer Night’s DreamSEPT. 5-OCT. 21, 2018. Outdoors at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Two couples deal with love and all its complications — confusion, jealousy and passion — in this Shakespeare comedy. On their way to happily-ever-after, they must deal with a band of actors, wood sprites, elves, a botched love potion and the wedding of a king. David Catlin of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company (Moby Dick, Lookingglass Alice) directs. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

The 2017/18 season is “an audacious experiment,” says Booth. “We believe the Alliance is more than a building. We want to play everywhere.”

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About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s editor, is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

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