Season Choices

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{Header image “The Thrill Of The West End” taken by Andy Bird, and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, via Flickr.}

On the first Stage Savvy podcast, Jen Morris and I debated the pros and cons of a theatre producing new work versus old chestnuts. This got me thinking about season choices. So, on Tuesday’s blog post, I posted an article I wrote for the January 2005 issue of KC Stage about that topic. Re-reading it six years later, there’s not much I’d change about the article except for expanding on it, hence this post.

For a theatre, the season is part of what makes the organization unique. While each show should showcase your organization’s mission, to continue my cooking spaghetti metaphor I started in the “Being Well-Seasoned” item, a full season is also a careful balancing of the ingredients. After all, if you add too much oregano, it becomes overpowering.

While having a theme season every year would probably get old (and difficult) after a while, there are a few ideas I keep in my head as I dream about the time when I can start my own theatre (Night Star Productions, as those who were lucky enough to catch the script-in-hand radio shows we did at the Alcott in the summer of 2010).

Just a small range of the plays I have in my collection. Photo by Angie Fiedler Sutton.

There is, as I’ve stated verbally in the past, the idea from The Community Theater Handbook: A Complete Guide to Organizing and Running a Community Theater (copyright 2003) of something old, something new, something ‘borrowed’, something ‘blue’ — with something old being either something more historical like Wilde or Shaw or something the organization has done in the past; something new either be a new work or something new to the organization; something borrowed being a show like The Odd Couple (Female Version), West Side Story (‘borrowing’ the story of Romeo & Juliet) or an adapted work; and something blue being your more edgy, ‘adult’ type show. I know that Rich (my husband) wants our first ‘something old’ to be Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, while I want our first ‘something blue’ to be P.S. Your Cat is Dead by James Kirkwood, Jr. The other two I haven’t quite settled on (and of course, the ‘something new’ may change by the time I actually am able to start my own theatre), although Rich has an idea for the ‘something borrowed’ I don’t want to mention just yet.

I also have the “Hamlet” season: Hamlet (of course) by William Shakespeare, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnick, and Fortinbras by Lee Blessing. (By the way, any theatre that wants to do the “Hamlet” season after reading this, all I ask is that my blog gets a mention in the season program notes.)

Then there’s the alternate Shakespeare season, with Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate, the above mentioned West Side Story (or the Rogers and Hart’s The Boys from Syracuse, although I’m not as familiar with that one), The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) from the Reduced Shakespeare Company (which could feasibly fit in my “Hamlet” season as well, as act II is all about that play), and the play version of Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters. (If you have other ‘alternate Shakespeare’ titles, please feel free to post in comments.)

So, now onto you — are there three or four shows that seem to fit a particular theme that you can think of? Does a theatre that has a theme season appeal to you, or does it seem too much like a gimmick? Comment away.

  • Mark Cofta

    I’ve long dreamed of a Hamlet season too … there’s a Charles Ludlam mystery-comedy, Stage Blood, that concerns Hamlet. Fortinbras is a must! I directed a production (with Stoppard’s 15-Minute Hamlet as a curtain-raiser)many years ago.
    For the alternate Shakespeare season, check out Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth, which includes the 15-minute Hamlet. You get both plays in one wacky evening!

    • Actually, David Tate Hastings (Feb spotlight) mentioned Stoppard’s ‘Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth’, and I had never heard of it (shame, shame!). It’s on my list of plays to read. I’ll have to add “Stage Blood” as well.