DORSET – The 44th season of the Dorset Theater Festival will feature new commissions from Theresa Rebeck and Chisa Hutchinson in her inaugural StageFree Audio Plays series, as well as performances of “Laughing Wild” by Christopher Durang, the world premiere of “Queen of the Night” of travis tate and a workshop of “Scarecrow” by Heidi Armbruster live on stage at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester.
The 2021 comeback season kicks off with StageFree Audio Plays, a new series written for a totally sound experience. The Festival commissioned award-winning authors Rebeck and Hutchinson to lead the series. The first podcast, “Redeemed” by Hutchinson, will debut just before the start of the Live Outdoor Festival season at SVAC.
MAIN STAGE PRODUCTIONS
The Festival is building an outdoor stage that will host the main stage productions under the stars throughout July and August. “The Vermont landscape will be the backdrop for the theater this year, and the stage will be a true outdoor experience for audiences and performers,” said Dina Janis, Artistic Director.
The outdoor season will begin with the hilarious 1980s comedy “Laughing Wild” by Christopher Durang, whom the New Yorker called “one of the funniest men in the world.” The three-part play features a man and woman struggling to cope with life in modern America. Over the course of two monologues and a chance encounter inside a dream, the characters face everything from the supermarket to nuclear waste to their own frenzied psyche.
Directed by Festival resident artist Jade King Carroll, “Laughing Wild” will feature Dan Butler (“Frasier”), who appeared in the Festival hit “Slow Food” in 2019 and five-time Festival performer and winner of the Drama Desk Award 2020 Mary Bacon, and runs July 9-31.
Next will be the world premiere of “Queen of the Night,” written by Travis Tate, a queer black playwright, poet and performer from Austin, Texas. In “Queen of the Night,” the recently divorced Stephen and his millennial son Ty embarked on a camping trip to their former playground in Southeast Texas. As an important family event approaches, father and son try to survive in the woods, and each other, braving bears and reckoning with the wilderness of their past. Despite weak cell signals and elevated emotions, the two characters do their best to connect in this timely, enlightening, and entertaining room.
“Travis’s play is an honest, poetic family comedy. We are so proud that our audience is the first to experience this fun and beautiful piece in person, ”said Janis. The Dorset Theater Festival, in partnership with Aye Defy in New York City, produced a week-long virtual workshop on the play in early spring. “It’s been a tough year, but being able to work with Travis on the development of this piece and now produce a world premiere on an under the stars camping trip makes it look like things are about to change,” said Janis. “Queen of the Night” will run from August 10 to September 4.
In addition to the main stage productions, the Festival will host a two-week development residency of “Scarecrow” by Heidi Armbruster (“Mrs. Christie”, 2019), directed by Dina Janis, with morning readings starting July 14. Will the bulls chase her from the property or will she garden in oblivion? “Scarecrow” is a woman’s look at the last 33 days of her father’s life. A New York City actress lands on her family’s dairy farm to regain her composure. But will she ever be able to make enough meatloaf to feel useful again now that her most important person is no longer on the planet? A look at loss and survival, resilience and renewal, and the Hallmark films.
Major Dorset Theater Festival productions will kick off at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting July 9 at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester. “Scarecrow” will have matinee performances on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays July 14, 17, 18, 24, 25 and 28.
The Festival will offer on-demand streaming versions of both main stage pieces, which will also be available as an option for customers who cannot reschedule if they miss a performance due to weather conditions.
The Dorset season will also feature special performances and lectures for the public, as well as the amenities of the SVAC campus, including art galleries, walking trails and the new curATE Café. “We are delighted to be working with all of our arts partners in the region, especially the Manchester Music Festival and our hosts, the Southern Vermont Arts Center, to build a vibrant and safe campus for our community to experience the arts and culture while summer. a long time, ”Janis said.
The public will find things noticeably different this year, including contactless and paperless ticketing, a digital poster, social distancing and mandatory face masks. “We’re facing a whole new world this season, literally creating theater from scratch. Pandemic, weather – a lot of things are going to be new challenges, but we are thrilled and hope our audience is thrilled to join us on this adventure, ”said Janis.
In order to bring audiences together for live performances, the Dorset Theater Festival will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Vermont Department of Health, but in some cases they must also adhere to more stringent guidelines set by artists’ unions. professionals.
“Safety will be the top priority for our artists and staff, and for the public,” said Janis, who said the Festival had worked with the Actors ‘Equity Association and other artists’ unions to develop a plan to security. So far, the Festival has been granted permission to begin rehearsals in June for the first live production of the year, “Laughing Wild”. “Every day we learn something new, or we wait for updated advice,” Janis said, “but we believe in community, and if we can do it safely, there is an immediate need to bring our community together this summer. ”
Tickets for the outdoor season are expected to go on sale in June at dorsettheatrefestival.org.
The outdoor main stage season is sponsored by Church Street Hospitality, a premier collection of Vermont inns, restaurants and celebration venues, including the all-new curATE Cafe at SVAC.
AUDIO GAMES WITHOUT STAGE
Launched in June for free on all major podcast platforms, the StageFree Audio Plays series will build on the Festival’s mission to support artists and make new pieces accessible to a wider audience. Dorset commissioned playwrights Chisa Hutchinson and Theresa Rebeck to write the first two plays in the series. As the Festival’s resident playwright and “the most produced Broadway female playwright of our time,” Rebeck has developed more than eight new plays with the Festival. In addition to currently writing for a new Showtime series, Hutchinson’s audio piece, “Proof of Love,” was on Audible’s Top 5 List.
The series’ first audio piece, “Redeemed” by Hutchison, is conducted by Dorset Theater Festival resident artist Jade King Carroll and stars award-winning theater actress Vanessa Kai (CW’s “Kung Fu”) and theater and film actor Michael Esper (“Nurse Jackie”, “Person of Interest”, Broadway).
In “Redeemed” writes the convicted murderer who killed Claire Yiang’s brother nine years ago by begging her to visit him in prison. When Claire arrives, the killer claims he’s a changed man – thanks to the help of his brother’s ghost. Now she must decide if her brother’s murderer is capable of redeeming himself or if he is just trying to impress the parole board. A fascinating exploration of inner terrorism, “Redeemed” is a chilling and surprising audio drama.
The second audio piece in the series, Theresa Rebeck’s “Nightwatch,” a fictional true crime podcast, will debut later in 2021.
Dorset StageFree audio pieces are funded in part by the Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation.
Support for the 44th season of the Dorset Theater Festival is provided by the Rodgers Family Foundation, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts and members of the Dorset Theater Festival World Premiere Circle.