2015-16 Season Announcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2015

MARIN THEATRE COMPANY ANNOUNCES
2015-16 MAINSTAGE SEASON

Features six productions of bold new plays, including the
West Coast premieres of The Oldest Boy by Sarah Ruhl and
Anne Boleyn by Howard Brenton,
Bay Area premieres The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar and
My Mañana Comes by Elizabeth Irwin,
world premiere of Swimmers by Rachel Bonds, and the
continuation of MTC’s award-winning exploration of
August Wilson’s Century Cycle
with Gem of the Ocean

MILL VALLEY, CA—Today, Marin Theatre Company’s artistic director Jasson Minadakis and managing director Michael Barker announced the 49-year-old professional nonprofit theater’s 2015-16 season. Featuring six bold new plays for its intimate 231-seat mainstage Boyer Theatre, the program includes:

  • West Coast premiere of The Oldest Boy by Sarah Ruhl in September
  • Bay Area premiere My Mañana Comes by Elizabeth Irwin in November
  • continuation of August Wilson’s Century Cycle with Gem of the Ocean in January
  • world premiere of Swimmers by Rachel Bonds in March
  • West Coast premiere Anne Boleyn by Howard Brenton in April
  • Bay Area premiere The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar in June

In MTC’s upcoming season, all evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. Located in Mill Valley just minutes off the highway near great restaurants (and free parking), Marin Theatre Company is the Bay Area’s destination for bold new plays.

“I am delighted to announce our audacious 2015-16 season that will introduce the Bay Area to five extraordinary new plays by some of today’s most innovative and adventuresome playwrights,” said Minadakis. “We will also continue our award-winning exploration of August Wilson’s Century Cycle with Gem of the Ocean, the visually arresting, deeply allegorical start to his ten-play masterpiece. It is a great honor for us to open our 49th season with the second production and West Coast premiere of Sarah Ruhl's newest play The Oldest Boy. We’ll also stage the Bay Area premieres of two Lucille Lortel Award-nominated plays – My Mañana Comes by Elizabeth Irwin and The Invisible Hand by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar. The 2015-16 season also includes two epic plays with casts of ten or more actors – the world premiere of Rachel Bonds’s intimate Swimmers and the West Coast premiere of Howard Brenton’s revisionist history Anne Boleyn. I am excited for the conversations these truly original and compelling stories spark with audiences.”

MTC opens its 2015-16 season in September with the West Coast premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s The Oldest Boy. When two Tibetan Buddhist monks unexpectedly appear on an American woman’s doorstep, she invites them into her home assuming that they are there to see her husband, a Tibetan immigrant and respected chef. However, with the revelation that they are there to see her toddler, who may be a reincarnated lama, the woman is faced with a mother’s greatest fantasy and worst nightmare – her child may be preternaturally special, but she may be separated from him far too soon. “An emotional tsunami,” this “extraordinary story from a singular voice in American theater” (The Hollywood Reporter) stirringly probes the bonds of parents and children, teachers and students, through magic realism and Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies. “Extremely imaginative and hypnotically beautiful,” The Oldest Boy is “a soothing mystical vision” (Variety).

This will be the second production of The Oldest Boy, which premiered off Broadway at the Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in November 2014. The play was a recipient of Theatre Communications Group’s 2014 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, which funds extra time in the development and rehearsal of promising new plays. A recipient of the 2004 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, a 2006 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship and the 2008 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for Playwright in Mid-Career, Sarah Ruhl “aspires to reclaim the audience’s atrophied imagination… Her plays are bold. Her nonlinear form of realism is full of astonishments, surprises and mysteries” (The New Yorker). Ruhl’s work has been frequently produced in the Bay Area including Late: A Cowboy Song in 2015 and Eurydice in 2013 at Custom Made Theatre Co.; an adaptation of the Virginia Woolf novel Orlando in 2013 by TheatreFIRST; Dear Elizabeth in 2013, an adapation of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters in 2011, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) in 2009 and Eurydice in 2004 at Berkeley Rep; Passion Play in 2011 by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley; and Dead Man's Cell Phone in 2009 at SF Playhouse.

The season continues in October and November with the Bay Area premiere of the Elizabeth Irwin’s My Mañana Comes, which the Off-Broadway League nominated for the 2015 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. This compelling character study with a political edge follows four busboys in an uptown restaurant as they each dream of modest futures: to become a homeowner, to give a daughter a better future, to become an EMT and to have a new start in a new country. When the slow summer season leads to pay cuts and jeopardizes their plans, their dignity and their camaraderie, they learn the hard way that every dream comes with a price tag. “Fast, funny, lived-in… this wistful (but not sugarcoated) portrait of four rich, layered characters” (Time Out New York) “leaves us with a surprisingly complex taste of the American Dream” (Theatermania).

My Mañana Comes premiered off Broadway at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater in September 2014 as a Playwright Realm’s Page One Production. Workshopped at Marin Theatre Company in April 2015, the play will receive its second production at San Diego Rep earlier in October, before MTC’s production. A former New York City public school teacher, Elizabeth Irwin is the 2014-15 Page One Resident Playwright at Playwrights Realm, where she previously was a 2013-14 Writing Fellow, and is a member of the Public Theater’s 2015 Emerging Writer’s Group.

In January and February, MTC continues its award-winning exploration of the August Wilson’s Century Cycle – his decade-by-decade exploration of the black experience in 20th century America – with the 1900s entry Gem of the Ocean. Departing from his lyrical naturalism in favor of magical realism and allegory, this is “a fitting prologue for a series of plays that looks at the struggles of African Americans to find a spiritual and material release from – and communion with – the past” (Washington Post). When Citizen Barlow barges into the Pittsburgh home of the 285-year-old mystic Aunt Ester to have his soul washed and his past forgiven, he sets into motion a journey both spiritual and personal that few have ever undertaken. “August Wilson’s crowning achievement” (The Seattle Times), Gem of the Ocean has “a core message that transcends race, time and culture: To truly know ourselves, we must understand where we’ve come from; only then can we begin to move forward in freedom.” (Los Angeles Times). This play is “August Wilson at the top of his form [and] a touchstone for everything else he has written” (The New York Times).

Gem of the Ocean premiered in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre in April 2003 and had subsequent runs in Los Angeles at the Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum in July 2003 and in Boston at the Huntington Theatre Company in September 2004 before opening on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in December 2004. Five months after the playwright passed at age 60, Gem of the Ocean received its regional premiere at A.C.T. in San Francisco in March 2006. Some Bay Area audiences may also have seen the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production in Ashland in 2007. The recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony Award, a Laurence Olivier Award and the National Humanities Medal, August Wilson is often cited as one of America’s greatest dramatists and was an outspoken leader in American regional and commercial theater, particularly known for promoting and mentoring black theater artists. MTC previously produced his Century Cycle plays Fences (1950s) in 2014, which won the inaugural Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding Production, and Seven Guitars (1940s) in 2011, which won the San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle Outstanding Achievement in Theatre Award for Ensemble.

The world premiere of Rachel Bonds’s Swimmers follows in March. When apocalyptic billboards interrupt the mundanity of the morning commute and the inbox opens to emails warning of coyotes loose in the parking lot, there’s no escaping that it’s going to be a strange day at the office. With subtle sensitivity and compassion, this gentle drama explores the relationships we often take most for granted – those with our co-workers, the people we spend the most time with, but know little about. Featuring a large ensemble cast of 11 characters, this naturalistic new play travels floor-by-floor, from basement to roof, through an office building, finding flashes of universal relevance and gentle wisdom in quiet observations of the everyday.

Swimmers will mark the Bay Area debut of playwright Rachel Bonds. This play notably appeared at the top of “THE LIST,” which was developed by L.A.-based Kilroys to highlight the most recommended female-authored plays that are either unproduced or have had only one professional production. Bonds’s career has been meteoric – winning the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award in 2013, receiving two high-profile premieres in 2014 at Studio Theatre in Washington DC (The Wolfe Twins) and South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa (Five Mile Lake), and gaining prominent commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club/Ars Nova’s Writer’s Room and Atlantic Theater Company, both in New York City. Bonds has been compared to canonical playwright Anton Chekhov by the Los Angeles Times because “her writing is a gift for actors,” and to recent Pultizer Prize-winner Annie Baker by The Washington Post because she “allows a tale to breathe and find its own unique path.”

In April and May, Howard Brenton’s sexy, smart revisionist history Anne Boleyn receives its West Coast premiere and second American production. In this “shrewd, funny, drop-dead inventive [and] captivating new play” (The Telegraph), the worlds of the Tudors and the Stuarts intertwine around the woman who was maligned for centuries as “the whore who changed England.” In 1530, King Henry VIII finds more than love when he courts the beautiful Lady Anne Boleyn. Her incendiary Protestant religious ideas inspire the English Reformation and founding of Church of England. In 1600, her ghost looms large over King James’s effort to unite the English people, deeply divided along religious lines, by writing a definitive English-language version of the Bible. While he created one of the greatest literary achievements of all time, his efforts at unification would ultimately fail, leading to the overthrow of his successor Charles I and the erosion of the monarchy’s power to what it is today. An “easingly intelligent, ticklishly enjoyable, rollicking good drama,” Anne Boleyn is “a big, bold and generous evening” (The Guardian).

Commissioned by Shakespeare’s Globe in London, Anne Boleyn premiered at the Globe in July 2010 and won Best New Play at the 2011 What’s On Stage Awards. The play was so popular that it was revived the following year, as well as in 2012 for an eight-venue tour of England and Scotland that was jointly produced by the Globe and English Touring Theatre. The large-cast ensemble drama received its US premiere at the Gamm Theatre in Rhode Island in Janury 2013 and has also been performed in New Zealand at the Meteor Theatre in October 2014. With a nearly 50-year-long career in English theater, playwright Howard Brenton has written dozens of plays and enjoyed close relationships the Royal National Theatre and, more recently, the Globe. “Writer Howard Brenton has been a living hit for Shakespeare’s Globe, writing history plays with a verve and revisionist wit surely inspired by the big man himself” (Time Out London).

Marin Theatre Company’s 49th Season ends in June, with the Bay Area premiere of The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar, “a gripping clash of cultures [that is] so suspenseful that you may find yourself watching through your fingers” (New York Daily News). Nick was in the wrong car at the wrong time. Kidnapped off the streets of Pakistan, the midlevel American banker waits for a ransom that will never come. To gain his release, he must raise $10 million on his own by teaching his captors how to play the stock market. “A taut, gripping thriller that is so much more than the sum of its parts” (The Seattle Times), The Invisible Hand confounds expectations – “the play is not a captive narrative about pain and torture but a scary (and dreadfully funny) treatise on the universality of human greed” (Variety).

The Invisible Hand premiered at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis in 2012. Playwright Ayad Akhtar pulled the play for substantial rewrites after two events occurred in 2013. First, a subsequent production was delayed indefinitely because the US State Department denied the work visa applications submitted by Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon, for a Pakistani actor. Second, Akhtar’s Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The new version of the play was staged by ACT Theatre in Seattle in September 2014, followed by an off-Broadway production at New York Theater Workshop in December 2014, which the Off-Broadway League nominated for the 2015 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. A Pakistani American raised in Milwaukee in a non-practicing Muslim household, Akhtar is “a man of many talents and daring insights. As an actor, screenwriter, novelist and playwright, he challenges Americans to question their assumptions about race and religion” (The Washington Post).

“We’re extraordinarily proud of the plays in our upcoming season and how they reflect the company's commitment to new work,” said Margot Melcon, Marin Theatre Company’s director of new play development. “The diverse talents and stories we’re able to program is just the tip of the iceberg of what is out there. With so many different voices to hear from, this is such an exciting time to be programming a season. Our biggest challenge is in finding balance – in voice, theatrical style and the possibilities presented in the wide range of creative artists we’re able to work with.”

In MTC’s 2015-16 season, all six plays are recommended for youth aged 13 and up. For younger children and families, MTC will produce its third annual Theater Series for Young Audiences during the 2015-16 season. This series will be announced in June.

Six-play full-season subscriptions and four and six-ticket flex packages are on sale now. Subscription packages offer savings off single ticket prices, exclusive benefits and personalized customer service. Season subscriptions are available for $120-$300 and include free ticket exchanges, lost ticket replacement and priority seating. For more information about subscriptions, visit marintheatre.org or contact MTC’s Box Office, (415) 388-5208. Single tickets go on sale in July.

CALENDAR

September 10 – October 4, 2015
The Oldest Boy | West Coast Premiere
By Sarah Ruhl
Opening Night: Tuesday, September 15, at 7:30 p.m.

October 29 – November 22, 2015
My Mañana Comes
| Bay Area Premiere
By Elizabeth Irwin
Opening Night: Tuesday, November 3, at 7:30 p.m.

January 14 – February 7, 2016|
Gem of the Ocean
| Century Cycle: 1900s
By August Wilson
Opening Night: Tuesday, January 19, at 7:30 p.m.

March 3 – 27, 2016
Swimmers
| World Premiere
By Rachel Bonds
Opening Night: Saturday, March 12, at 7:30 p.m.

April 14 – May 8, 2016
Anne Boleyn
| West Coast Premiere
By Howard Brenton
Opening Night: Tuesday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m.

June 2 – 26, 2016
The Invisible Hand
| Bay Area Premiere
By Ayad Akhtar
Opening Night: Tuesday, June 7, at 7:30 p.m.

All productions performed in MTC’s Boyer Theatre, located at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley. Programming and scheduling are subject to change.

ABOUT MTC
Founded in 1966, Marin Theatre Company is the Bay Area’s premier mid-sized theater and the leading professional theater in the North Bay. We produce a six-show season of bold new plays in our 231-seat main stage theater, as well as a family friendly Theater Series for Young Audiences in our 99-seat studio theater. We are committed to the development and production of new plays by American playwrights, with a comprehensive New Play Program that includes premiere productions, two nationally recognized annual playwriting awards, readings and workshops by the nation’s best emerging playwrights and membership in the National New Play Network. Our numerous education programs serve more than 8,500 students from over 40 Bay Area schools each year. MTC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

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