Arena Stage is considering 13 plays for next season, including an original script commissioned for its company and new plays by John Guare, Edward Bond and Roger Cornish.
For classics, producing director Zelda Fichandler and associate producing director Douglas C. Wager are looking at "She Stoops to Conquer," "The Taming of the Shrew" and "The Wild Duck." For modern classics, Tennessee Williams' "Summer and Smoke" and Bertolt Brecht's "The Good Person of Szechwan" (once known as "The Good Woman of Szechwan") are being considered. A new musical in the mold of the wildly successful "Animal Crackers" of a few seasons ago is also a possibility: "Going Hollywood," based on George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's "Once in a Lifetime," about three vaudevillians trying to make it big in Lalaland.
Christopher Durang's "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You," which last year caused a big stir in St. Louis, is also on the list, along with Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party." Louise Page, the young British writer whose "Real Estate" was performed this year, may be represented again with "Golden Girls," a play about women's professional sports that has been staged in London.
The new Guare play is "Women and Water," part of the Nantucket cycle that began with "Lydie Breeze" -- she "embarks upon her hopeful search for a new Utopia amidst the human chaos of the American Civil War," according to the blurb. Bond's "Restoration" mixes current politics with 18th-century comedy, and Cornish's "A Class 'C' Trial in Yokohama" is set in 1948 Japan. Originally scheduled for this season but replaced by "Execution of Justice," it is about a Japanese military doctor on trial for war crimes.
Olney Theater has also announced its summer season, which is beginning earlier this year than ever, April 30, thanks to a revival of last year's hit "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" and the addition of heating facilities to the converted barn.
The season contains all American plays, also a first, and three by women. "The Foreigner," by one-time Harlequin Dinner Theatre actor Larry Shue, follows the preseason run of "Shoes." It has been a big hit off-Broadway, where Shue is playing the lead role, a British man who is so boring that his mortally ill wife leaves him for the final weeks of her life. It is, says managing director Bill Graham, "a weird farce."
Next comes "Painting Churches" by Tina Howe, and then "The Miss Firecracker Contest," Beth Henley's latest. The final show will be a new version of the musical "Baby," by David Shire, Richard Maltby and Sybille Pearson, which had a moderate run on Broadway a few seasons back. This version is "smaller," Graham says.
Another first for Olney: Graham is directing the revival of "Shoes," his first show for the summer playhouse. He can do it thanks to an increase in theater staff and a few physical restorations that will make his managerial role easier.