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City Theatre announces 2016-17 season of new voices, comedy, unlikely heroes

 


City Theatre Artistic Director Tracy Brigden has announced the full lineup for 2016-2017, the South Side company’s 42nd Season.

All six productions in the season are Pittsburgh premieres, including one world premiere, and continue City Theatre’s dedication to gender parity and diversity on its stages. The season, which begins September 24, includes three plays by contemporary female writers and three by playwrights of color.

“I am thrilled to announce the six plays of our 42nd season. It will be a year of exceptional storytelling by incredibly talented playwrights. The characters they’ve created are wholly unique and intensely human—they leap off the page, hurtling from side-splitting hilarity to heartbreaking loss to unstoppable tenacity,” said Ms. Brigden.

“As artistic director, I take pride in choosing a season that showcases the diversity and depth of the world we live in today. We strive to be a leader in the field in terms of gender parity and inclusivity and this season is no different. We are proud to be at the forefront of conversations surrounding equity in the arts.

“We are opening our season with Robert Askins’ Hand to God, a dark comedy featuring a notoriously foul-mouthed puppet. The smash-hit Off-Broadway production rolled onto Broadway last year with great fanfare, and we’re one of the first regional theaters to produce it.

“Our season continues with a poetic and truly one-of-a-kind play, Feeding the Dragon, written and performed by Sharon Washington. She starred at City in the unforgettable String of Pearls in 2003. Sharon is truly a voice and talent to be reckoned with. In the tradition of Daniel Beaty’s Through the Night and Tami Dixon’s South Side Stories, Sharon will embody a multitude of characters in this tour-de-force biographical play.”

In January, City Theatre will present The Royale, by the Marco Ramirez. Those who couldn’t help but binge on Orange Is the New Black or Daredevil this year on Netflix have Marco to thank. In The Royale, he tackles ambition and race in this gripping new play, inspired by the turn-of-the-century boxer, Jack Johnson.

Jessica Dickey’s play, The Guard, is a captivating new work that is going to take everyone on a journey from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art back in time to some crucial moments in art history.

Wild with Happy isn’t a typical play about letting go. This fierce and funny comedy will take audiences on a wild ride from the funeral home to Disney World, of all places. Playwright Colman Domingo has an imagination that knows no bounds. It will be directed by Artistic Producer Reginald L. Douglas in his official City Theatre directorial debut.

“Finally, we are closing our season with a story that feels so alive, so raw, so truly American, that it can only be written by a hot new playwright like Martyna Majok,” Ms. Brigden said. “Ironbound is about a down-on-her-luck Polish immigrant woman who is determined to make her own path in life, despite the circumstances – and relationships – that have set her back. It’s told in beautiful detail, with profound bursts of humor, heart, and hope. Ironbound is a quintessential City Theatre play.”

The City Theatre 2016-2017 Season includes:

Hand To God by Robert Askins, September 24 – October 16, on the Main Stage.

In a church basement in a little town in Texas, something evil is afoot. Or, well — at hand. The youth group has a monster in its ranks: a rogue puppet named Tyrone. He’s hijacked the hand of timid teen Jason and there’s nothing his classmates, his mother, or the pastor can do to exorcise this foul-mouthed demon. Hand to God is a thrill ride of a comedy about good and evil, sex and sin, faith, and the filthy mind of one twisted sock puppet. Don’t miss the Pittsburgh premiere of the uproarious Tony Award® nominated Broadway hit The New York Times calls “Flat out hilarious.”

Feeding the Dragon written and performed by Sharon Washington, October 22 – November 20, in the Hamburg Studio.

Award-winning stage and screen actress Sharon Washington (String of Pearls) returns to City Theatre for her world premiere playwriting debut in this heartfelt coming-of-age story. Deep in the bowels of the New York Public Library lies the dragon: a monstrous coal furnace that Sharon’s father, the live-in custodian, must feed every night. A moving investigation of family secrets, forgiveness, and the power of language, Feeding the Dragon explores Sharon’s life growing up in the library and the fire she never allowed to fade.

The Royale by Marco Ramirez, January 21 – February 12, 2017 on the Main Stage.

Jay “The Sport” Jackson is a legend in the making. He has his eyes set on becoming the heavyweight champion of the world, but the Jim Crow reality of 1905 America might just be his fiercest opponent yet. This thrilling drama by Marco Ramirez (Daredevil, Orange is the New Black) goes ringside for the fight of the century. Inspired by the true story of trail-blazing boxer Jack Johnson, The Royale follows one man’s quest for victory against all odds.

The Guard by Jessica Dickey, March 11 – April 2, 2017 on the Main Stage.

A museum guard, Rembrandt, and Homer all walk into a play… by City Theatre favorite, Jessica Dickey (Charles Ives Take me Home, The Amish Project). When dedicated museum guard Henry dares to truly connect with the paintings he proudly protects, he sets into motion a time-bending journey where art intersects with life. Drawing inspiration from Rembrandt’s “Aristotle with a Bust of Homer,” this poignantly funny play explores the idea of “carpe diem” in (and at) any age, and takes audiences on a spellbinding theatrical exploration of the power of human connection.

Wild with Happy by Colman Domingo, April 8 – May 7, 2017 in the Hamburg Studio.

When struggling actor Gil returns home to bury his mother, he learns what a funny thing grief can be. Gil searches for a way to send her off in style, while his outrageous (and overbearing) Aunt Glo, hilarious best friend Mo, and an intriguing new-age funeral director do their best to derail his plans. Overflowing with love and laughter, this bright new comedy by Fear the Walking Dead star, Colman Domingo, will transport audiences from the church to the Magic Kingdom, with a whole lotta fabulous in between. 

Ironbound by Martyna Majok, May 13 – June 4, 2017 on the Main Stage.

So much of Darja’s life has been spent waiting: for love, for her break in life, and for the bus she relies on to get to and from cleaning jobs in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Hailed as “vivid, perceptive and quietly gripping” by the New York Times, Ironbound is a riveting portrait of an independent Polish immigrant on her search for the American Dream. This gritty new play by rising star Martyna Majok explores life on the economic margins and the hope that sustains us all.

Tickets are available on-site at the City Theatre Box Office, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203; By phone at 412.431.CITY (2489); and online beginning June 1 at CityTheatreCompany.org.

 

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