From the lobby of its home at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company announced its 45th Anniversary Season last night. Producing Artistic Director Paige Price and Managing Director Emily Zeck announced PTC’s slate for 2019-2020, their second producing season at the helm of the theatre. The duo has assembled a line-up of plays that continue the theatre’s commitment to seek stories that center around women. This season will feature three Philadelphia premieres of works that have been well received Off-Broadway and across the country. The season opens with Adam Bock’s raucous, funny and unexpectedly touching A Small Fire, running from October 18-November 10. The season continues with Chelsea Marcantel’s Everything is Wonderful, a two-time Kilroys List Honorable Mention.This bruising story of rage and absolution within an Amish community runs February 14-March 8. Marcantel, whose adaptation of St. Joan is currently playing at Delaware Theatre Center is one of the new cohort of Kilroys. The season closes with 2017 Pulitzer Finalist The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe. This 2016 Kilroys List pick runs March 27-April 19. Subscriptions will be on sale soon and will be available at the box office, online at philatheatreco.org or by phone at 215-985-0420.
The season announcement featured a performance from the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, a new resident company. Under the lead of Director Joseph Buches, the chorus sang This is Me from The Greatest Showman and Put A Little Love In Your Heart. The theatre also touted the robust number of rentals in its space. Organizations who have rented space at PTC and the Suzanne Roberts Theatre include: Koresh Dance Company, The Savoy Company, Epic Church, Universal Studios, Comcast Corporation, HBO, Philadelphia Eagles, Opera Philadelphia, School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, WHYY, World Affairs Council, Philly Improv Theater, Center City Proprietors Association, Vynamic, Year Up, Khalil Munir, YCCA (Young Children’s Center for the Arts), DataArts, Miss Liberia in the US Pageant, DCNS Dance Intensive, Theatre Philadelphia, Harmony for Peace Foundation, Amigos de Jesus, The Fanatics (Sports Marketing), Brad Baker Productions, Contempra Dance Theatre, The Lady Hoofers, University of Pennsylvania, Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, Actor’s Equity Association, International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY), PlayPenn, Brad Baker Productions, Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, and 11th Hour Theatre Company.
“As Emily and I have gotten to know the community, it has been great to embrace other organizations by giving them access to rentals in our beautiful theatre. We have been thrilled to have big entertainment companies in our building along with some rising arts organization in the community. Keeping this space as busy as possible also gives us the chance to really know our community,” said Price.
Of the season, Price said, “We continue to build upon last year’s mission to seek relatable stories that center around women. Even if magical, surprising things happen to them, the characters in each play this upcoming season are so individual – and there are no heroes or heroines. Everyone is flawed in some way, and the sum of their parts will make audience really want spend time with, as they try to figure these characters out. There is less focus on anything political. We are really delving into families of all kinds,” said Price.
A Small Fire
By Adam Bock
October 18-November 10, 2019
Opening Night: October 23, 2019
“The play is…raucous, funny and unexpectedly touching, as we are made intimate witnesses to a frank demonstration of how much of life, of love and of happiness remain within reach even when so much appears to be lost.” –The New York Times
Adam Bock’s meticulously crafted A Small Fire follows John and Emily Bridges, a long-married couple whose happy, middle-class lives are upended when Emily falls victim to a mysterious disease. As her senses are slowly stripped away – smell, taste, sight – Emily resolves to remain engaged with her community, relying on John to help her run her company and experience her daughter Jenny’s wedding. But her stoic outlook reaches a breaking point when the disease steals her hearing, leaving her with nothing but touch to communicate with the world. Suddenly, she is completely dependant on the husband whose endless devotions she had always taken for granted. A Small Fire was featured in PTC’s first See and Be Scene.
“I’ve been wanting to produce Adam Bock’s A Small Fire since I saw the premiere in 2011,” said Price. “The play is a portrait of a woman who is used to running things – her construction business, her employees, her husband, her daughter. Her relationship to being in control is acutely tested when she suddenly and mysteriously starts losing her senses. We watch her as she faces her sudden vulnerability and watch her learn to relate to her family in a new way and try to regain her equilibrium. It’s like watching someone go through the five stages of grief – for themself…it’s a fascinating and quietly, sublimely moving play. Her disease drives the action, but the play is about the complex, evolving nature of love.”
About The Playwright
Adam Bock’s plays include Phaedra (Shotgun Players), A Small Fire (Playwrights Horizons, Drama Desk nomination), book for We Have Always Lived in the Castle, with music by Todd Almond (Yale Rep), The Flowers (About Face Theatre), The Receptionist (MTC, 2008 Outer Critics nomination, Best Plays of 2007-2008, The Evidence Room with Megan Mullally), The Drunken City (Playwrights Horizons, 2008 Outer Critics nomination), The Thugs (Soho Rep, 2007 OBIE Award for Playwriting), The Shaker Chair (2005 Humana Festival), Swimming In The Shallows (Shotgun Players, Second Stage Uptown, 2000 BATCC Award, Clauder Prize), Five Flights (Encore Theatre and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 2002 Glickman Award, ACTA nomination, Osborn nomination), Marcy Comes Home, and The Typographer’s Dream (Encore Theatre/Shotgun Players). Bock is the resident playwright at Encore Theatre, and a Shotgun Players Artistic Associate. He is an NEA grantee, a three-time resident at Yaddo, a former member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, a NYTW Usual Suspect, and a TDF Open Doors mentor. Bock’s plays are published by Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, and Playscripts, Inc. He is a proud member of New Dramatists.
Everything is Wonderful
By Chelsea Marcantel
Directed by Noah Himmelstein
February 14, 2020-March 8 2020
Opening Night: February 19, 2020
“… good theater at its best. What seems a simple tragedy on the surface, is a story of dimension and depth. It entertains and challenges the audience to confront their ideas of acceptance, forgiveness and redemption.” — BroadwayWorld.Com
When an Amish couple’s two sons are killed in a car accident, the family struggles to maintain their faith and cling to their way of life. In an act of unfathomable forgiveness, they take in Eric, the wayward young driver of the car. But Eric’s mistake cracks open the family’s dark history, and brings back their eldest daughter, excommunicated five years earlier. Miri finds her family in shambles, the man who killed her brothers living in the barn, and the man who drove her away intent upon marrying her younger sister. Without a way forward, this insular community must seek to heal the deep wounds of the past, forcing everyone into a new kind of reckoning. PTC has already brought director Noah Himmelstein on board to direct this production, following his well reviewed production at the Everyman Theatre in Baltimore.
“Chelsea Marcantel’s Everything Is Wonderful is very new to the theatrical canon, so I’m thrilled we get to bring it to Philly so soon,” said Price. “It is a play that burns really slow. It forces the audience to breathe, to listen, and get comfortable in the silence and sometimes cryptic and repressed dialogue. But, it does that to set them up for catharsis. A lot of plays today have very ambiguous endings. This one does not.”
About the Playwright
Chelsea Marcantel is an LA-based writer, director, and collaborator. Reared by Cajuns in southwest Louisiana, she has lived and made theatre among the tribes of the Midwest, Appalachia, the Mid-Atlantic, and now the West Coast. In 2016, she completed a Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Fellowship at The Juilliard School. Her plays, which have been produced across the US and Canada, include Airness, Everything is Wonderful, Tiny Houses, Ladyish, and Devour. She is currently a member of the inaugural Writers’ Room playwrights’ unit at Geffen Playhouse. She is currently has commissions for new work at San Francisco Playhouse and Delaware Theatre Company. She has taught at Virginia Intermont College and Emory & Henry College. As a writer, Marcantel is extremely interested in humans as small-group primates, and what happens when the rules and value systems of our chosen groups cease to serve us. She is an avid self-producer, an enthusiastic member of The Writers Guild of America and The Dramatists Guild, and now part of The Kilroys. Everything is Wonderful is a two-time Kilroy’s List honorable mention work.
2015 Kilroys List Pick
By Sarah DeLappe
Directed by Nell Bang-Jensen
March 27-April 19, 2020
Opening Night: April 1, 2020
“The scary, exhilarating brightness of raw adolescence emanates from every scene of this uncannily assured first play by Sarah DeLappe.” – The New York Times
In Sarah DeLappe’s Pultizer Prize finalist debut play, audiences meet the members of a girls’ indoor soccer team as they warm up. From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, the team navigates big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vim and vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. A portrait of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for nine American girls who just want to score some goals. This work earned Lortel and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Play/Emerging Playwright. It was a 2015 pick of the Kilroys List. Kilroys@PTC was started during the current season. PTC has made a commitment to produce one work from the list each season. PTC’s first Kilroys pick was How To Catch Creation by Christina Anderson.
“The Wolves is our Kilroy play, but what’s lovely about this play is that it features a crew of young women who are wildly entertaining. The structure of The Wolves is unique;it’s dialogue is funny and disjointed – like teenagers can be – the truths that are revealed and the surprise event that occurs at the end are shattering,” said Price. “ It’s a deceptively fun play, and lands a huge punch that makes you realize how quickly and completely life can change.”
About the Playwright
Sarah DeLappe’s play The Wolves (Pulitzer Prize finalist; Lortel, Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Play/Emerging Playwright; Relentless Award, Sky Cooper New American Play Prize; Susan Smith Blackburn and Yale Prize finalist) premiered at The Playwrights Realm, following an engagement with New York Stage and Film, and development with Clubbed Thumb. Upcoming production at Lincoln Center Theater. Fellowships and developmental support include The MacDowell Colony, The Ground Floor, LCT3 Playwright in Residence, Ars Nova Play Group, Page One Fellowship at The Playwrights Realm, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Sitka Fellows Program. DeLappe has an MFA from Brooklyn College.
Price finished, “I was also looking for moments of triumph this season. That word kept banging around in my head – finding the light at the end of something dark, finding redemption, forgiveness, peace, or acceptance — the little personal arcs that make life bearable. I was also looking for acts of kindness. There are tiny, tiny moments in each play where acts of kindness literally made me weep. The plays are forcefully gentle, not obvious.”
ABOUT PHILADELPHIA THEATRE COMPANY
Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) is a leading regional theater company that produces, develops, and presents entertaining and imaginative contemporary theater focused on the American experience. PTC balances its Philadelphia roots with a national point of view that combines a taste for adventure with a dedication to new American plays and musicals.
Founded in 1974, PTC has presented 143 world and Philadelphia premieres. More than 50 percent of PTC’s world premieres have moved on to New York and other major cities, helping to earn Philadelphia a national reputation as a hub for new play development. PTC has received more than 180 nominations and 53 awards from the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. In 2007, PTC was instrumental in expanding Philadelphia’s thriving cultural corridor by opening the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on the Avenue of the Arts.