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"Murder on the Orient Express" by Ken Ludwig, at McCarter Theatre Center in 2017.

McCarter Announces ‘Signature Emily’ Season for 2019-20

The series marking Emily Mann’s final season as artistic leader will include world premieres by Rachel Bonds and Nathan Alan Davis.

PRINCETON, N.J.: McCarter Theatre Center has revealed the full lineup for “Signature Emily,” its upcoming season and homage to departing artistic director and resident playwright Emily Mann, who will leave the post after three decades at the helm.

“It is by listening that we can change—and change others,” said Mann in a statement. “The theatre is live; it’s about the connection between the audience and what’s on the stage; it’s a forum to take on big conversations. I never want to play it safe. I want to put on unforgettable theatre, real works of art, and that is risky. This season celebrates the rewards of taking risks through a collection of life-affirming stories and experiences that I hope will fill audiences with energy, hope and joy.”

The season will open with one of Mann’s own works, Gloria: A Life (Sept. 6-Oct. 6), about renowned feminist and activist Gloria Steinem. The co-production with Cambridge, Mass.’s American Repertory Theater features direction by Diane Paulus and will be re-staged for McCarter by Mann.

Following will be Lookingglass Theatre Company of Chicago’s staging of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Oct. 15-Nov. 3). This innovation on the famous Gothic novel is written by David Catlin, who will also direct the production.

David Thompson’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol (Dec. 10-29) by Charles Dickens will be next. In addition to a professional cast, the production will feature members of the greater Princeton community. Adam Immerwahr will direct.

The new year will kick off with the world premiere of Rachel Bonds’s Goodnight Nobody (Jan. 10-Feb. 9, 2020), a McCarter commission directed by Tyne Rafaeli. The play, which follows a group of friends who try to stay connected as their paths diverge, explores the transition into adulthood and new motherhood.

The season will continue with Sleuth (March 10-29) by Anthony Shaffer. Immerwahr will direct this parody of Agatha Christie thrillers such as The Mousetrap and Murder on the Orient Express.

The last production of the “Signature Emily” season will be the world premiere of The Refuge Plays (May 8-June 7), produced in association with the Public Theater of New York City. Written by Nathan Alan Davis, the trilogy of plays centers around four generations of an eccentric, mystically inclined Black family as they carve out an existence in a Southern Illinois forest. Patricia McGregor will direct.

“As we discover in our community and education work, theatre can, in fact, save lives,” Mann said in a statement. “All our stories have value; when we tell our stories to each other, we can be transformed. Theatre is not a luxury—it’s essential to the health of the soul. The work we do helps people find their voices and understand their neighbors. We all become better citizens. In this final season at McCarter, this is a message I want to impart.”

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