enthusiastically present to you our 2002-2003 season of Richmond
region premieres that I believe reflects the intentions above
and both responds to and exemplifies the values and concerns many
of you told me were important to you during nine months of conversations
and public community dialogues. I have written about these matters
all season long in my "Our Journey Ahead" series published
throughout our 2001-2002 season playbills (October
2001 | November 2001
| January 2002 | February
2002 | March
Next season's stories and theatrical
experiences can be characterized by variety, recognizable human
situations, laughs, poignant human connection, love, compelling
ideas, fun, avenues for being transported out of yourself, inclusiveness
and opportunities to be emotionally moved in many ways. Although
the play titles may be unfamiliar to you, youre going to
have a great time! And while youre being entertained, you'll
also have things to contemplate. I trust that through it all,
you'll feel alive, connected and energized.
We begin in mid-July with our
13th Annual New Voices for the Theater Festival of Student Works.
Ten winning High School playwrights from across the state will
present their new and exciting works-in-progress in staged readings
directed and performed by a company of eight winning High School
actors and theater professionals. If youve ever wondered
what today's youth are saying and thinking about, you'll find
out in our New Voices for the Theater. Its free and open
to the public July 19th and 20th.
Returning in late July/early August
will be one of Richmond's favorite divas, Julie Johnson. In an
all new show developed expressly for TheatreVirginia and entitled,
Julie Johnson in Concert: from Nashville to Broadway, Julie will
sing her way into your hearts with popular country tunes, Broadway
show stoppers and other favorites of hers. Get ready to revel
joyfully in sheer entertaining musical delight!
Next comes an inter-generational
dramatic tale laced with humor, Tamer of Horses, William Mastrosimone's
valentine to the life saving work teachers do by compassionately
giving second chances and salvaging lives through the transforming
liberating power of literacy. Its a captivating heartfelt
story about seeking fulfillment and getting a new start in life.
Expect to see public symposia on literacy accompany this play.
During the year-end holiday season,
snap your fingers, tap your toes and sing along as we celebrate
Americas musical heritage with the happy, sassy new musical
revue, Beguiled Again: The Songs of Rodgers & Hart. Dazzling
dancing and timeless melodies from the Richard Rodgers songbook
composed during his long career in radio, the movies and the Broadway
musical stage will awaken yearnings and set dreams aflame in the
hearts of all. And did I mention the strip tease?
Following our musical comes a
powerfully moving story that champions the values of personal
loyalty and love between friends. Lane Nishikawa and Victor Talmadge's
The Gate of Heaven chronicles a decades long search for acceptance
and a sense of home by a former Japanese-American U.S. army soldier
and the Dachau camp survivor whom he rescued. This is highly theatrical
storytelling at its best, rooted in Jewish and Japanese-American
culture but reverberating with universal resonance. It is told
using techniques from traditional Japanese theater. Youll
laugh, youll cry, you'll never forget.
Moises Kaufman's breathtaking
theatrical collage, The Laramie Project, takes place in Laramie,
Wyoming, an "Our Town" coming to terms with its collective
humanity as a result of a catalyzing event of life-shifting proportions.
It could be any town U.S.A. Its timely and urgent exploration
of tolerance and inclusiveness as well as its unique storytelling
approach (eight actors play over sixty roles - all of them real
people) made it the second most produced American play last season.
Our production will involve the use of multi-media, adding exciting
technological dimensions to our storytelling. Accompanying the
play will be theme-related public symposia.
Laughter rules the day in Ramona King's Robin Hood-like comic
folk tale, Steal Away, set in 1930s gangster-era Chicago.
Black churchwomen doing the Lord's work through unorthodox means?
This incongruous mix of a good cause, self-determination, out-of-the-box
resourcefulness and a bank heist is irresistible fun you won't
want to miss!
We also offer new initiatives
in our new season to help make you feel special:
* free weekly facilitated "Folk
Talk" post-performance discussions after every Thursday evening
and Sunday matinee performance;
* the launching of our "New Horizons Project"special
Tuesday night presentations of alternative artistic programming
and play readings
* "Mondays with Benny"free interactive discussions
and show n tells about each upcoming play conducted
by yours truly on the Monday prior to every production's first
* season subscriptions for
* 3pm Sunday matinees to allow for long winded preachers, time
for lunch between church and the show, and time to spend with
your family on Sunday nights
In the forward looking spirit
of creating, uniting and healing community, offering food for
the soul, crossing borders, bridging divides and galvanizing communal
dialoguing through the rejuvenating reinvention of TheatreVirginia,
my season-long "Our Journey Ahead" series comes full
circle. I am calling youall of youto enter the world's
oldest storytelling ritual. Let theater hold a central place in
your emotional and intellectual life. Why? Because we offer great
times for our times!
We are central Virginia's pre-eminent
professional house of storytelling...the new TheatreVirginia.
So real, you feel it! Please keep coming to the theaterany
theater. And bring your friends, cuz its always more
fun sharing the things you like with the folks you like.
All Our Relations,
Benny Sato Ambush
Producing Artistic Director
May 6, 2002