Mary Beth Fisher and Jefferson Mays in "Dear Elizabeth" at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2012. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Theatre Nova 2016 Season to Include 4 World Premieres and 3 Michigan Premieres

The theatre’s sophomore season will showcase four Michigan playwrights.

ANN ARBOR, MICH.: Theatre Nova has announced its 2016 season, the company’s second, featuring four world premieres and three Michigan premieres. All seven plays will be in the Yellow Barn Performance Space in downtown Ann Arbor.

“Theatre Nova’s first season was such a high for us, with box office hits, and more critical acclaim than we ever dreamed of, that we had to work long and hard to put together a season two that would match, or top, it,” artistic director Carla Milarch said in a statement.

Kicking off the season is the Michigan premiere of Lee Blessing’s Chesapeake (Feb. 5–28). The one-man play stars Sebastian Gerstner and is inspired by Republican senator Jesse Helms’s 1989 campaign against the National Endowment for the Arts for its support of artists engaged in “anti-Christian bigotry.”

Following will be the world premiere of Irrational (April 22–May 15), a rock musical by David Wells and R. MacKenzie Lewis, both from Ann Arbor. Irrational is set in Ancient Greece and depicts Pythagoras a rock star.

Next is the world premiere of Katherine (May 20–June 12), a one-woman play by Michigan-based playwright Kim Carney. The feminist comedy depicts five generations of mothers and daughters telling their stories, with monologues covering more than 100 years from 1905 to 2017.

The third world premiere is Spin (June 17–July 10), by Emilio Rodriguez of Michigan. This hip-hop musical is set in a  homeless shelter for LGBTQIA teens.

Next will be the Michigan premiere of Dear Elizabeth (Sept. 2–25) by Sarah Ruhl. Starring Milarch as poet Elizabeth Bishop, Dear Elizabeth uses more than 400 letters to tell the story of Bishop and poet Robert Lowell’s 30-year platonic love affair.

Following will be the Michigan premiere of Daniel Beaty’s Mr. Joy (Sept. 30–Oct. 23). Mr. Joy depicts a Harlem community shaken by the attack of a Chinese immigrant and owner of a local shoe repair shop.

The final production, and fourth world premiere, will be Sugar Plum Panto (Nov. 25–Dec. 23), a devised piece by the Theatre Nova ensemble featuring music by Lewis. In this twist on The Nutcracker, young Clara’s Christmas dreams are visited by an eclectic cast of characters, including the traditional British pantomime character Panto Dame, who entertains her and saves her from the Mouse King.

Founded in 2014, Theatre Nova brings new plays and new voices to itsperformance space in a yellow barn. The company champions Michigan playwrights, and offers a “pay-what-you-can” deal for every performance.

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