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Bobby Bermea in "Exiles" by Carlos Lacámara at Artists Repertory Theatre. (Photo by Owen Carey)

Artists Repertory Theatre Announces 2015-16 Season of New Plays

The slate includes Theresa Rebeck, Heidi Schreck and Terrence McNally, plus a world premiere musical set partly in Cuba, featuring the music of Tiempo Libre.

PORTLAND, ORE.: Artists Repertory Theatre has announced its 2015–16 season. Featuring eight productions, the season will capitalize on increasing relations between the U.S. and Cuba with a world premiere musical about the island nation.

“Interestingly, a theme has emerged as I looked at these spectacularly bold and theatrically diverse plays together,” said artistic director Dámaso Rodriguez in a statement. “Every single story presents us with characters facing, and ultimately emerging through, life’s obstacles. From challenges of immense or even fantastical proportions to deep, internal hindrances they may not yet understand. How will the grace and beauty of these very human characters come to light?”

First up is the Portland premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s The Understudy (Sept.8–Oct. 4), in which an understudy, starring in a fictional Kafka play on Broadway, must work with a stage manager whose life he ruined years ago.

Next is the world premiere of Cuba Libre (Oct. 3–Nov. 8), a musical with a book by Cuban playwright Carlos Lacámara and music by the Grammy-nominated band Tiempo Libre. The play, set in America and Cuba, is about a man caught between the two countries. Rodriguez directs, with choreography by Maijia Garcia. Artists Rep presented Lacámara’s play Exiles earlier this season.

Broomstick (Oct. 27-Nov. 22) by John Biguenet is next, in its Northwest premiere. This fairy tale-esque one-woman show is about an Appalachian witch who tells her life story; Vana O’Brien plays the witch.

Following will be William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker (Dec. 8–Jan. 3, 2016), the classic story of Helen Keller’s triumph over her blindness and deafness with the help of her visionary teacher, Annie Sullivan.

Then comes the Northwest premiere of Terrance McNally’s Mothers and Sons (Feb. 9–March 6, 2016), about a meeting between a woman and her late son’s former partner, now married and with a son of his own.

Up next is the Portland premiere of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 (March 8–April 3, 2016). The play follows a group of actors trying to devise a theatre piece about the first colonial genocide of the 20th century.

Heidi Schreck’s Grand Concourse (May 3–29, 2016) is next, in its West Coast premiere. Set in a soup kitchen in the Bronx, the play follows what happens when a new volunteer, a rainbow-haired college dropout, shakes up the status quo.

Closing out the season is Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer-winning play The Skin of Our Teeth (May 17–June 12, 2016), which tells the history of humanity through the the story of one American family.

Founded in 1982, Artists Repertory Theatre is the longest-running professional theatre company in Portland.

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