LOS ANGELES: Center Theatre Group has announced its 50th season in the Mark Taper Forum. Among the five plays announced for the 2017-18 new season are new plays by David Henry Hwang, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Rajiv Joseph, a belated L.A. debut for Quiara Alegria Hudes’s 2012 Pulitzer winner Water by the Spoonful, and a revival of Luis Valdez’s historic Zoot Suit. As a bonus, a special immersive event on the streets of Los Angeles will be included.
“Theatre has always created an extraordinary connection between artists and audiences,” said artistic director Michael Ritchie in a statement. “Nowhere is that more clear than in the uniquely intimate space of the Mark Taper Forum. Over the past 50 years the Taper has been a place to explore diverse perspectives, experience new ideas and be entertained by amazing storytellers. This theatre has sparked countless conversations, and as I look at our upcoming season and many seasons to come, I know it will spark a million more.”
The year begins with a revival of Zoot Suit (Jan. 31–March 12, 2017), which had its world premiere at the Taper in 1978, which commissioned and developed it. Presented in association with El Teatro Campesino, the Latino company founded by Valdez, the opening night of Zoot Suit is February 12. Valdez will return to direct a cast 25 actors, singers, and dancers in retelling the story of the infamous 1942 Sleepy Lagoon murder in Los Angeles and the subsequent zoot suit “riots,” with music by Lalo Guerrero.
Next is a bonus production to be staged outside the Taper, Remote L.A. (March 12–April 2, 2017). The German company Rimini Protokoll (concept, script, and direction by Stefan Kaegi, codirection by Jörg Karrenbauer) will invite a group of 50 people to venture out into Los Angeles on a guided audio tour, revealing a “secret Los Angeles” along the way.
Back on the mainstage is the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s Archduke (April 18–May 30, 2017), directed by Giovanna Sardelli. As the title suggests, the subject is the Serbian nationalism-inspired assassination of Archduke Ferdinand that sparked World War I in 1914.
Head of Passes by Tarell Alvin McCraney follows (Sept. 13–Oct. 22, 2017), with Phylicia Rashad reprising her performance and Tina Landau her direction from this year’s Public Theater production. This family drama, about a birthday party for a Southern matriarch beset by floods and calamity, is inspired by the Book of Job.
Next is the L.A. premiere of Quiara Alegria Hudes’s Water by the Spoonful (Jan. 31–Mar. 11, 2018), directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. This Pulitzer-winning drama follows four lonely, damaged recovering addicts as they form a bond in a chat room and struggle to welcome the struggles of a newcomer, an Iraq War veteran wracked by tragedies from both the war and the homefront.
Soft Power reunites David Henry Hwang with his director for Broadway’s Chinglish, Leigh Silverman. This world premiere play, which runs April 4–May 13, 2018, bends time and genre as it shifts forward from the present to 150 years in the future, adding a musical score along the way. Inspired by the West’s often ridiculously inauthentic portrayals of Asia, Soft Power is a CTG commission.
Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, programming seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.