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Studio, Planning a Power-Packed Year

Matters of Control, Authority at Issue In 2005-06 Lineup

By Jane Horwitz
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page C05

Studio Theatre's upcoming season is heavy with plays recently showcased in New York that "have to do with power," says Artistic Director Joy Zinoman. The 2005-2006 roster also includes an unprecedented number of works by female writers and two with "huge women's roles," says Zinoman.

The season opener, "A Number" by British playwright Caryl Churchill, explores the meaning and morality of cloning through the relationship of a father to his son and clones of the son. Ted van Griethuysen and Tom Story will co-star; Zinoman will direct. (Specific dates were not given but it will run in September-October.)

Tom Story, left, and Ted van Griethuysen, here in Studio's 2001 production of "The Invention of Love," will team up again for "A Number" next season. (Carol Pratt -- Studio Theatre)

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The docudrama "Guantanamo" (November-December), conceived in London by Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo, is, Zinoman says, "about the lack of due process" for five British citizens held at Guantanamo Bay by the U.S. military. Studio literary manager Serge Seiden will direct.

Studio's Neil LaBute festival starts with "Fat Pig" (January-February 2006), about the social pressure on a guy who dates an overweight woman. Paul Mullins will direct. LaBute's new "Autobahn," a series of seven playlets set in the front seat of a car, will have its world premiere by Studio's Secondstage, a young professional non-Equity troupe. It will also present readings of LaBute's short stories in January.

The 1960s play "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (March-April 2006), adapted by Jay Presson Allen from Muriel Spark's novel, will star Sarah Marshall, who played another formidable teacher in "Miss Margarida's Way" at Studio. Zinoman will direct.

The subscription season will close with the musical "Caroline, or Change" (May-June 2006), written by Tony Kushner ("Angels in America") and composed by Jeanine Tesori, about a Jewish boy in Louisiana and his relationship with the family's African American maid. Greg Ganakas will direct.

Offered as a non-subscription "special event" in October will be "Hilda," by French-Senegalese writer Marie Ndiaye (translated by Erika Rundle), about a Frenchwoman and her servant. Carey Perloff, artistic director of the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, will direct.

Another special event, "Charlie Victor Romeo," based on recordings of cockpit conversations during flight emergencies, is scheduled for June 2006.

In addition to the LaBute pieces, Secondstage will do two British plays: "Frozen" (March 2006), by Bryony Lavery, a drama about a criminal confronted by his victim's relatives; and "Mojo" (July-August 2006), by Jezz Butterworth, a comedy about 1950s underground rock-and-roll in London.

'Big River' Gets Different Voice

To play Huck Finn in "Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" at Ford's Theatre, Christopher B. Corrigan took a semester off from his freshman year at Gallaudet University and stepped down as president of the class of 2008.

It's the 18-year-old Corrigan's first professional stage experience. He says, with cast member and American Sign Language coach Elizabeth Greene interpreting, "I've always acted, mostly in school shows," including "Little Shop of Horrors" at Maryland School for the Deaf. "Big River," he adds, "is a big leap for me."

With songs by Roger Miller and script by William Hauptman (based, of course, on Mark Twain's novel), the 1985 musical has been reimagined with both deaf and hearing actors by the Los Angeles-based Deaf West Theatre. It ran on Broadway and one company is on tour while the production at Ford's continues through June 4.

Corrigan "speaks" in American Sign Language as Huck, while hearing actor Bill O'Brien, as Twain, says Huck's lines.

"The greatest challenge is for everybody to work together," Corrigan says. "I have to make sure that all of what I'm doing onstage is understood. So I have to really express very clearly and because I can't hear, I have to watch very carefully."

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