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Odyssey Theatre Ensemble's 1969 cast of "The Serpent," to be revived this season, in front of the company's first location on Hollywood Boulevard. (Courtesy of Odyssey Theatre Ensemble)

Odyssey Announces ‘Circa ’69!’ 2019-20 Season

In honor of its 50th Anniversary, the West L.A. company will present works by Fornés, Orton, and others that premiered around the time the troupe was established.

LOS ANGELES: Odyssey Theatre Ensemble has announced its 2019-20 season, dubbed “Circa ’69!” and featuring works that debuted around the company’s founding year, in honor of the organization’s 50th anniversary and artistic director Ron Sossi, who has been with the troupe since it was launched. In the announcement, the Odyssey named the first five shows of the 10-production slate.

The season will begin with Loot by Joe Orton (June 8-Aug. 10), directed by Bart DeLorenzo. Orton’s play, which was first performed in the playwright’s native England in 1965, is a satirical piece about a bank robbery and death that the company calls “Orton’s tour de force of bad taste, taboos, and high farce.”

Next up will be Maria Irene Fornés’s Fefu and her Friends (Aug. 3-Sept. 29), helmed by Denise Blasor. The 1977 play, set in 1930s New England, is considered a landmark work of feminist drama, and the Odyssey describes it as a “splendidly surreal comedy-drama.” The production will be staged throughout the West Los Angeles organization’s three-venue complex.

Following will be the 1967 musical In Circles, adapted by composer Al Carmines from A Circular Play by Gertrude Stein (Sept. 7-Oct. 27), directed by David Schweizer. The avant-garde show offers songs and dances in a number of genres and bases its narrative-less structure on Stein’s original 1920 work.

Taking a break from the late-’60s theme, the Odyssey will present Before, the most recent work from Irish writer/performer Pat Kinevane (Nov. 14-Dec. 8).

Kicking off 2020 will be a reimagined version of the troupe’s 1969 West Coast premiere of Jean-Claude van Itallie’s experimental play The Serpent (March 7-April 26), the season’s only work previously seen on the Odyssey’s stages. A half century after its first production there, artistic director Ron Sossi will again direct the piece.

The season will continue with A Day in the Death of Joe Egg by Peter Nichols (April 18-June 7), directed by Robin Larsen. The 1967 play, Nichols’s most widely-known work, is, in the company’s words, “an incisive, wonderfully theatrical examination of the private language of a marriage and the ways that it enriches and destroys.”

The remaining five productions of the Odyssey’s season will be announced at a later date.

Established by Sossi in 1969 to show that experimental theatre could be popular and financially solvent while maintaining uncompromising artistic standards, the Odyssey says the group “continues to explore, produce, and present works on the forefront of contemporary theatre art.”

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