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The repertory company’s season lineup explores challenging topics through adaptations and comedy.

The outside of the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, home of PlayMakers (Huthphoto)

The 2023-24 PlayMakers Repertory Company season, which kicked off Sept. 6, is filled with comedies and fresh interpretations of popular stories.

This season’s plays include William Goldman’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “Misery,” Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” James Ijames’ “Fat Ham,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” set in North Carolina, and the world premiere of Bekah Brunstetter’s “The Game,” directed by Vivienne Benesch, PlayMakers’ producing artistic director.

The focus on comedy was intentional as PlayMakers expects to see more people return to the theater after the COVID-19 pandemic mostly paused performances for some time, said Jeffrey Meanza, PlayMakers’ associate artistic director.

“We wanted it to be richly entertaining because something that we’ve discovered as we’ve been coming back is that people really want to laugh,” Meanza said. “We can still deal with important and challenging topics, but we can do it through the lens of comedy.”

The four adaptations in this season’s lineup offer a mix of entertaining productions and exciting new takes on well-known works.

“One of the points of adaptations,” said Meanza, “is that while they have their source material, they become something brand new.”

Read more about the stories that PlayMakers is bringing to the stage this year:


Sept. 6-24

When tough-as-nails sandwich shop owner Clyde offers her formerly incarcerated kitchen staff a shot at redemption, they find purpose and inspiration in their shared quest to create the perfect sandwich. This sweet and savory comedy serves up the story of ordinary people with extraordinary dreams.


Oct. 11-31

In this nail-biting cat-and-mouse-game, adapted by William Goldman from the Stephen King novel, a successful romance author is rescued and captured by his No. 1 fan and faces with a life-threatening request to rewrite his new novel.

“Much Ado about Nothing”

Nov. 15-Dec. 3

Beatrice and Benedick bicker all the time. But their friends see a budding romance and decide to play Cupid. Hijinks, heartbreak and hilarity ensue. PlayMakers offers a fresh look at Shakespeare’s classic tale of wit and whispers.

“Fat Ham”

Jan. 31-Feb. 18

James Ijames from Bessemer City, North Carolina, won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for this interpretation of “Hamlet.” His story offers a fresh take on Shakespeare’s play, containing similar narrative elements and plot structure while centering the story on a queer Black man at a Southern backyard family cookout. Pass the napkins because things are about to get messy.

“Murder on the Orient Express”

March 6-24

A luxurious train ride comes to a halt when a passenger is found dead. With a murderer on the loose, the passengers of the Orient Express must band together before the body count goes up. Based on a well-known story that has been made into many films, this adaptation by Ken Ludwig offers exciting new stylistic elements in a highly theatrical retelling of the classic Agatha Christie novel.

“The Game”

April 10-28

Bekah Brunsetter, a North Carolinian author and Carolina graduate, sets this contemporary retelling of the Greek comedy “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes in the modern-day South. Brunsetter incorporates original elements in the story, replacing the Peloponnesian War setting with “a massively engrossing online game that’s wreaking havoc on the lives of couples everywhere.” This hilarious and heartfelt world premiere brings technology and community together in the most unexpected ways.

By Ethan Quinn, University Communications

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