The season features nine productions that explore the gamut of human emotions and experiences showcased in comedies both classic and new.
PlayMakers Repertory Company in UNC’s College of Arts & Sciences announces its 2020-2021 season, “All Too Human: The Art of Comedy.” The season features nine productions that explore the gamut of human experience showcased in comedies both classic and new.
The PlayMakers mainstage season will feature a tribe of loving, zany Southern belles, a buddy-cop adventure that crackles with hope and humor amidst the fall of the Soviet Union, a George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, a story of one woman’s drastic fall down the social ladder and her fabulous self-reinvention, the Bard’s most famous pastoral comedy, and the heartwarming tale of a young girl and the community of family, teachers and friends who help her achieve her heart’s desire. The PRC2 Kenan Stage also brings three uniquely distinct, fresh perspectives on the comedic form, chosen to continue pushing the boundaries of what PlayMakers believes “theater” to be.
“We need to laugh right now. We need the humor, the pathos, the emotional catharsis and that ultimate, uncontainable exuberance that comes from watching a great comedic play in the company of others,” said Vivienne Benesch, PlayMakers’ producing artistic director. “I’m very conscious of the state of the world today, and I believe in the healing quality of good stories well-told, of stories that use laughter as a portal to deeper understanding, that transport us while they make our own corner of the world just a bit brighter.
“This year, PlayMakers continues its commitment to introducing our audiences to the future heavyweights of the American theater, like Lauren Yee, a young Asian American playwright whose plays are packing houses all over the country, and the dynamic duo of Tony Award-nominee Bryce Pinkham and PlayMakers’ favorite Zack Fine. We are also continuing the tradition of reimagining the classics to make them feel fresh and relevant today, with a fast-paced Shakespearean adaptation and a truly charming holiday show for the whole family. In exploring the art of comedy, I hope that our community bands together just a little tighter as they share in some amazing, quality theatrical storytelling.”
Along with a host of engagement and education events programmed around each of the nine productions, PlayMakers will present its first sensory friendly performance, with the goal of welcoming audiences with sensory sensitivities, autism spectrum disorders or other disabilities. For details, visit www.playmakersrep.org/sensory.
Subscription packages are available for purchase now and renewing subscribers can secure their current seats for the new season through May 1. Single tickets go on sale June 8. Call (919) 962-7529 or visit www.playmakersrep.org for information.
2020-2021 MAINSTAGE PRODUCTIONS:
“Steel Magnolias” by Robert Harling, Sept. 9 to 27
The mainstage season opens with a fabulous group of gossipy Southern ladies in the small-town beauty parlor where they have a standing Saturday appointment. As the women of Chinquapin Nachitoches, Louisiana, make their way over life’s many hurdles together, they spar, laugh, cry and comfort each other in a way that only the best of friends can.
“Mother Russia” by Lauren Yee, Oct. 14 to Nov. 1
In this East Coast premiere comedy, we meet Euvgeny and Dmitri, young Russian comrades trying to find their way after the fall of the Soviet Union. As they stumble along, they learn to embrace freedom of choice (how do you choose toothpaste from the dozens of options when you’ve lived with just one your entire life?), competition (in love and business) and what it means to be Russian when their whole world has changed.
“You Can’t Take It With You” by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, Nov. 18 to Dec. 6
Kaufman and Hart produced some of the most iconic American comedies in history, including this Pulitzer Prize-winner about the eccentric Grandpa Vanderhof and his even more eccentric family, the Sycamores. They proudly march to the beat of their own drum, collecting snakes, building fireworks in the basement and writing plays that never get published. This madcap, idealistic comedy reminds us that living life to the fullest means doing what makes you happiest.
“Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine” by Lynn Nottage, Jan. 20 to Feb. 7
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage brings us a satirical tale that follows successful African American publicist Undine, as she stumbles down the New York City social ladder after her husband steals her hard-earned fortune. Broke and now pregnant, Undine is forced to return to her childhood home in the projects, where she must come to terms with the life she left behind, in order to forge a new one.
“As You Like It” by William Shakespeare, Feb. 24 to Mar. 14
Exiled from the confines of Court, Duke Senior and his daughter Rosalind separately seek refuge in the Forest of Arden. What follows is the bard’s delicious, fast-paced romp featuring feuding brothers, jesters, shepherds, ingenious gender swapping and the search for true love.
“Akeelah and The Bee” by Cheryl L. West, Mar. 31 to Apr. 18
The 2020-2021 mainstage season closes with the smart, heartwarming tale of an independent 11-year-old girl who is determined to get from the Chicago projects all the way to the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The obstacles seem insurmountable, until the whole community begins to rally behind her with flash cards and cheers.
2020-2021 PRC2 KENAN STAGE PRODUCTIONS:
To Be Announced, Aug. 19 to 23
“Dignity, Always Dignity” by Bryce Pinkham and Zack Fine Jan. 6 to 10
Prepare to be swept away by Tony-nominated Broadway star Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) and PlayMakers favorite Zack Fine (Bewilderness, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), as they bring us a post-apocalyptic cabaret featuring a castaway, his tap shoes, his cellphone, a baby grand piano and some snacks. Stranded alone on an island, Bryce passes the time attempting to perform the entirety of Singin’ in the Rain all by himself, determined to “make ’em laugh” all the way to the end.
Laughing Matters Apr. 28 to May 2
The PRC2 series closes with a celebration of comedy in the Triangle, featuring three different programs of the best in local standup, improvisation and storytelling.
All performances will be presented in the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art in Chapel Hill. Mainstage productions will be in the Paul Green Theatre; PRC2 shows will be in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre.
For information about PlayMakers’ 2020-2021 season, visit www.playmakersrep.org or call (919) 962-7529.