"Doggs Hamlet Cahoot's Macbeth," directed by expatriate American Ed Berman, founder of the British American Repertory Company (BARC), includes a 12-minute, burlesque version of "Hamlet," September 3 to September 30 at the Terrace.
"Emigres," by Slawomir Mrozek, is a two-character play on the nature of freedom, set in an unnamed city. Two one-act plays by the same Polish author, "The Enchanted Night" and "The Police," were performed at Arena in 1969. April 25 to June 8 in the Kreeger, at Arena Stage.
The Moscow Art Theater. Chekhov's "Ivanov" and another play (as yet undivulged) will be performed by the company that continues to pay artistic homage to Stanislavky, its turn-of-the-century leader. In Russian, with simultaneous translations. May 5 to 25 in the Terrace. History on Parade
From Puritan Massachusetts to the Little Big Horn, from Buckingham Palace to the white waste of Antarctica, the Washington theatergoer can make an epic (if occasionally somewhat fanciful) tour of world history this year.
Two unusually adventurous-sounding historical works will take up the careers of Robert Falcon Scott and George Armstrong Custer, frontiersmen who ignored the odds but failed to buck them. ("Custer" will be the Folger Theatre Group's first offering at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, whose existence, more than any other single factor, accounts for the unusual range of the coming season's plays).
"Terra Nova," by Ted Tally, was produced simultaneously by Los Angeles's Mark Taper Forum and Anchorage's Alaska Repertory Theater last winter. Gordon Davidson, the Mark Taper Forum's artistic director, will again direct the play, which concerns Scott's and Roald Amundsen's race to the South Pole in 1910-11. January 21 to February 23 at the Eisenhower.
"Custer," by Robert E. Ingham, will star Tom Blair (repeating his role in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater's production of the play last year), and will be directed by the Folger's Louis W. Scheeder, who promises dazzling visual and musical effects. October 22 to November 18 at the Terrace.
"St. Joan of the Stockyards," written by Bertolt Brecht in 1932, moved Joan to Chicago (Brecht was uncommonly fond of Chicago), renamed her "Joan Dark," enrolled her in the Salvation Army and embroiled her in a cutthroat war between mercenary meat-packing moguls and stockyard workers. Pneumonia, instead of fire, finally did her in. The adaptation will be by Richard Nelson, who translated Moliere's "Don Juan" for Arena Stage last spring. May 16 to June 22 in the Arena.
"Goodly Creatures" by William Gibson, author of "The Miracle Worker," "Two for the Seesaw" and "Golda," is a portrait of Anne Hutchinson, a 17th-century religious sealot tried for her Satanio influence over a group of Massachusetts ministers, thenbanished to Rhode Island and, after founding a new religious colony there, killed by Indians. This will be a first try-out for the play. January 24, to February 18 at The Roundhouse Theatre, Silver Spring.
"Elizabeth I," by Paul Foster, is a broad, risque account of Queen Elizabeth as a woman trying to pursue peace over the objections (and sometimes dead bodies) of her male advisors and enemies. Directed by Liviu Ciulei for the Acting Company, a national touring group that will spend three weeks here in October. October 2 to October 7 at the Terrace Theater. Life Stories
In the wake of the '60s, playwrights, like everyone else, have discovered old-fashioned virtues -- including the virtue of an appealing character facing identifiable, but private, problems.
Early in 1980, two major London imports will take us inside the minds of complicated women, and we will be invited to penetrate Arthur Miller's stream-of-consciousness in a revival of "After the Fall."
"Plenty," by David Hare, is the story, told in flashbacks, of an Englishwoman's 20-year struggle to recapture the drama of her adventures in the French resistance during World War Two. The play was a major success in London last year, and from 12 American theaters bidding to present its American premiere, Hare chose Arena Stage and director David Chambers, April 4 to May 11 in the Arena;
"Love Letters on Blue Paper," by Arnold Wesker, concerns a woman who writes letters to her bedridden husband. It was the first major success in years for its author, a working-class playwright of the John Osborne generation who made a name for himself in the '50s and '60s with such works as "Chips With Everything." February 4 to March 23 at the Folger.
"The Elephant Man," by Bernard Pomerance, won last year's Tony Award for Best Play. It was based on the career of John Merrick, a grossly deformed Englishman rescued from a traveling sideshow in 1886 to become, with a chartibable surgeon's help, a figure in London society. Philip Anglim, the young Yale graduate who is playing Merrick on Broadway without eccentric makeup or effects (as the play prescribes), will be in the Washington cast, too. (The producers of the play, incidentally, have sued Mel Brooks over his planned use of the same title for a movie using the same historical material.) February 25, to April 7 at the Eisenhower.
"Da," by Hugh Leonard, is an unequivocally autobiographical look back at a childhood dominated by an eternally effervescent Irish father, who continues to hang around, post-mortem, as an interfering apparition. Barnard Hughes, the Broadway "Da," will also be the Washington "Da." (Olney Theater, which has produced seven Leonard plays in all, staged the American premiers of "Da" in 1973, a fact unacknowledged when the play swept the 1977-78 Tony Awards.) April 15 to May 11 at the Eisenhower.
"The Shadow Box," by Catholic University alumnus Michael Cristofer, is one of the rash of recent plays about people confronting death -- in this case, three cancer victims in a hospice. The play won a Pulitzer Prize and has been widely produced, but this will be its Washington premiers (possibly using cast members from the Boston production directed by Richard Chamberlain). October 5 to October 28 at Ford's.
"After the Fall," by Arthur Miller, was a gossip-monger's delight when it surfaced in 1964. Its lawyer hero, Quentin, seemed to be a variation on Miller himself, and Quentin's second wife Maggie (a beautiful pop-singer-turned-pill-popper) seemed to be a variation on Miller's second wife, Marilyn Monroe. Under the direction of Arena Stage's founder Zelda Fichandler, the play will travel to the Hong Kong International Arts Festival before opening here in Washington. February 22 to March 30 in the Arena. Shakespeare, Bernstein & Co.
Although Tom Stoppard is getting competitive, William Shakespeare, as usual, will be the most produced playwright on Washington stages this season. And that's not counting a major revival of "West Side Story," or two plays, the 18th-century "Wild Oats" and the 20th-century "Dogg's Hamlet Cahoot's Macbeth" (by the competitor himself), that involve Shakespearean actors and performances.
"Macbeth" will kick off the Folger Theatre Group's season at its home base on Capitol Hill.Mikel Lambert, who staged "The Merry Wives of Windsor" for the Folger last year, will direct. Sam Tsoutsouvas will play Macbeth and Glynis Bell his lady. October 1 to November 18 at the Folger.
"A Winter's Tale," directed by David Chambers. October 5 to November 11 in the Arena.
"Twelfth Night." April 7 to May 25 at the Folger.
"The Taming of the Shrew." June 9 to July 27 at the Folger.
"West Side Story," with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents (turning the Montagues and Capulets into the Puerto Rican Sharks and the Anglo Jets), was produced by Roger L. Stevens and directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins when it first appeared in September 1957. The revival, again sponsored by Stevens and staged by Robbins, will be an effort to recreate the original with yet another cast of unknowns. Sondheim has belittled some of his own lyrics for the show ("Somewhere" and "One Hand, One Heart," for example), but is not expected to do any rewriting. January 1, to February 3 at the Opera House.
"The White Devils," by John Webster, is reported to be an ultra-modern, ultra-kinky version of the Jacobean tragedy, with visual allusions to punk rock and the Manson Murders. Directed by Acting Company artistic director Michael Kahn. October 17 to October 20 at the Terrace.
"Wild Oats," by John O'Keeffe, was first produced by playwright/manager Richard Brinsley Sheridan in 1791, then largely forgotten until the Royal Shakespeare Co. uncovered it in 1975. The play chronicles the adventures of Jack Rover, a traveling Shakespearean actor. December 3 to January 20 at the Folger. Between the Wars
The theatrical frivolity of America in the 1920s and '30s remains so appealing that producers are digging deeper and deeper into the trunk of artifacts. Will they uncover a lost masterpiece? Who can say? But there is a strong possibility that they will uncover Edith Bunker.
"Daisy Mayme," by George Kelly, is a 1926 comedy that hopes to make up for its obscurity with the familiar face and voice of star Jean Stapleton, playing an energetic woman who helps rescue a man from grasping relatives November 19 to December 15 at the Eisenhower.
"Broadway," by George Abbott and Philip Dunning, is an unmistakeably 1920s' tale of backstage romance (with music), directed by Gerald Gutierrez for the Acting Company. October 9 to 15 at the Terrace,
"Swing," with a book by Conn Fleming and a score by Robert Waldman and Alfred Uhry (who did "The Robber Bridegroom), will be the first big-band musical -- and why not? Mar 4 to Mar 23 at the Opera House.
"You Can't Take It With You," by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, took zaniness to new extremes for 1936. It will be directed by Arena literary manager Douglas C. Wager, and will head for Hong Kong, along with "After the Fall," following its run here. December 14 to January in the Kreeger. Drawing Room (And Kitchen) Comedy
In the world of high comedy, there are two startling bulletins.
Roger L. Stevens and Joseph Papp agree about something. They both think Tina Howe is funny. They have already decided to co-produce her play, "The Art of Dining," and they have talked about sponsoring a second Howe work called "Museum."
The other news is that Tom Stoppard has decided to add plot to his store of tricks, and has written a play with a strong Noel Coward flavor to it. But if that isn't good enough for you, authentic Noel Coward will be available for the holiday season. T"Night and Day" is the Cowardly Stoppard, Like Evelyn Waugh's "Scoop," it involves English journalists covering an African civil war, and it stars Maggie Smith as the troubled wife of a copper magnate. Besides ordinary dialogue, Smith's character speaks her unverbalized thoughts, which the audience can hear and her fellow characters can't; the script does not explain how the actress is to establish the difference. October 8 to November 17 at the Eisenhower.
"Design for Living," by Noel Coward, is the immortal romantic-triangle comedy. November 23 to December 30 in the Arena.
"The Kingfisher," by William Douglas-Home, brings Rex Harrison and Claudette Colbert together as old (once young) lovers. With George Rose. February 18 to March 15 at the National.
"The Art of Dining," by Tina Howe, portrays a food-crazed couple in and out of the kitchen. December 17 to January 19 at the Eisenhower. Minstrel Shows, Musicals And Miscellany
Folk tales and fantasies are showing renewed vigor -- perhaps for their double-barreled appeal to the "family audience" and to the general impulse to plumb our ethnic heritages.
But there are two "adult" musicals on the agenda, too, including "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," the show whose posters (inviting theatergoers to "Come to the Whorehouse") were banned from New York City's buses. The producers are probably hoping Washington will be equally foolish.
"Daddy Goddness," with book by Shauneille Perry and Ron Miller, lyrics by Miller and music by Ken Hirsch (based on the play by Richard Wright), is a folk tale with Ted (The Wiz) Ross as a drunk successfully promoted as a messiah. TV star Clifton Davis and singer Freda Payne also star. September 11 to October 7 at the National.
"More from Story Theater," conceived and directed by Paul Sills, is a follow-up to the original "Story Theater" (based on Grimm's fairy tales), using new material but the same techniques. "Story Theater" has had some 25,000 worldwide productions, according to Bufman. The new cast includes Richard Libertini, Regina Bass, Richard Schaaal and Hamilton Camp, who has contributed music, too. September 7 to October 6 at the Eisenhower.
"Your Arms Too Short to Box With God," a gospel musical drawn from the Book of St. Matthew, was adapted by Vinnette Carroll with songs by Alex Bradford and Micki Grant. It has been a two-time tenant at Ford's Theater. September 11 to 23 at the Warner.
"Teibele and Her Demon," by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Eve Friedman from a story by Singer, concerns a young woman in 19th-century Poland, apparently abandoned by her husband, and the wandering conjurer who seduces her by pretending to be the devil. The production will be largely the same as its premiere at Minnesota's Guthrie Theater last year, with director Stephen Kanee and stars Laura Esterman and F. Murray Abraham. October 19 to December 2 in the Kreeger.
"Eubie," the music of Eubie Blake. April (dates undertermined) at the Warner.
"Will Rogers' USA." James Whitmore back for a fourth time as the poet laureate of corn, commemorating his 100th birthday (also to be marked with the issuance of a stamp). October 30 to November 25 at Ford's.
"A Christmas Carol," an undesignated adaptation of the Dickens' novelette. November 29 to December 30 at Ford's.
"Side by Side by Sondheim," a revue of songs by Stephen Sondheim, with Hermione Gingold and companions. January 4, to February 3 at Ford's.
"The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," with music and lyrics by Carol Hall, and book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson. Alexis Smith will play the Madam, a part that won a Tony Award for Carlin Glynn on Broadway. January 22 to March 2 at the Warner.
"I Love My Wife," with music by Cy Coleman and book and lyrics by Michael Stewart, from a play by Luis Rego. The Smothers Brothers as wife-swappers. November 26 to December 14 at the Warner.
THEATER IN Washington will take a sharp turn away from stars, nostalgia and the Broadway pipeline this season, led by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which has often been more of a lagger than a leader.
The only out-and-out, storm-the-box-office stars on the 1979-80 agenda are Maggie Smith, Jean Stapleton, Rex Harrison, Claudette Colbert and the Smothers Brothers. Otherwise, the stars will be playwrights -- and, with the huge exception of Tom Stoppard, mostly young and obscure playwrights at that.
Counting the just-departed "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour," three Stoppard works will be performed here this fall, and another may follow in the spring. But Stoppard's presence exceeds his influence; while the "Bounced Czech," as he likes to call himself, has developed a fondness for public issues and political plays lately, younger playwrights are rejecting that genre in droves.
Instead, as we get our first look at the work of Americans Bernard Pomerance, Tina Howe, Ted Tally, Robert E. Ingham, Michael Cristofer and Paul Foster (and our second look at the work of England's David Hare and Poland's Slawomir Mrozek), what we will see is a rash of historical plays -- a favorite form since the passing of Absurdism's heyday -- and, in a more recent trend, narrowly focused dramas of private lives (frequently utilizing flashbacks and similar time-spanning devices).
Three notable Broadway hand-me-downs will be passed along to Washington audiences -- "The Elephant Man," "Da" and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." But Washington theater magnates seem, more than ever, to be scouting for material on London's West End, and in resident theaters across the United States, rather than in our big neighbor to the north.
One large-scale black musical -- an adaptation of Richard Wright's "Daddy Goodness" -- will open here next month on its way to Broadway. Otherwise, to judge from the new productions announced to date, the tempest of all-black shows may have calmed. And neither the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage nor the Folger Theatre Group has shown any fresh interest in black playwrights, audiences, actors or subject matter. So Washington theater will continue to appear segregated by race and geography, with black shows (mostly return engagements, so far) confined to the National and Warner Theaters in old downtown.
As for musical comedy, the trend toward regurgitation of old works and old eras continues. Apart from "Daddy Goodness," set in the South of the 1950s, the only spanking new musical bound for Washington is "Swing," which deals with the big-band era of America just before World War Two.
Here is a general overview of the coming season, broken down -- often arbitrarily -- into themes and trends. The Iron Curtain
The plight of political dissidents in Eastern Europe has fired Tom Stoppard's dramatic engines. His "EGBDF" was set in a Soviet mental ward, and the second half of "Dogg's Hamlet Cahoot's Macbeth" involves a group of Chech actors trying to perform "Macbeth" under close official scrutiny.
Arena Stage, meanwhile, has invited its perennial Romanian exchange student, Liviu Ciulei, to direct the American premiere of a new Polish play. And because Joseph Papp is sending "A Chorus Line" to the Soviet Union, we will get a spring visit from the Moscow Art Theater in return.