Agnes of God
by John Pielmeier
Feb. 20-24 & Feb. 28-Mar. 3
Summoned to a convent, Dr. Martha Livingstone, a court-appointed psychiatrist, is charged with assessing the sanity of a novice accused of murdering her newborn. Miriam Ruth, the Mother Superior, determinedly keeps young Agnes from the doctor, further arousing Livingstone’s suspicions. Who killed the infant, and who fathered the tiny victim? Livingstone’s questions force all three women to re-examine the meaning of faith and the power of love, leading to a dramatic, compelling climax.
"Riveting, powerful, electrifying drama [...] the dialogue crackles."
- New York Daily News
"Outstanding play [that] [...] deals intelligently with questions of religion and psychology."
- The New York Times
"Unquestionably blindingly theatrical [...] cleverly executed blood and guts evening in the theatre."
- New York Post
by Lauren Gunderson
Mar. 27-31, April 4-7, & 11-14
In this Wilmington premier, four beautiful, badass women lose their heads in this irreverent, sassy “hold on to your seat” comedy set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, former queen (and fan of ribbons) Marie Antoinette, and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle hang out, murder Marat, and try to beat back the extremist insanity in 1793 Paris. This grand and dream-tweaked comedy is about violence and legacy, art and activism, feminism and terrorism, compatriots and chosen sisters, and how we actually go about changing the world. It's a true story. Or total fiction. Or a play about a play. Or a raucous resurrection…that ends in a song and a scaffold.
“It’s simply a brilliant script…”
“…in this sparkling work, politics is very, very funny. [Gunderson] knows it’s tricky to present entertaining, yet socially driven art, but she does so without losing the rhythm and forward momentum of her characters…These are hilarious and lovable women trapped in a history…”
“…an astoundingly accomplished show…a cause for rejoice…Ingeniously conceived and delivered.”
The Explorers Club
by Nell Benjamin
April 24-28, May 2-5, & 9-12
Also making its first appearance in Wilmington, this Monty Pythonesque play is set in London, 1879. The prestigious Explorers Club is in crisis: their acting president wants to admit a woman, and their bartender is terrible. True, this female candidate is brilliant, beautiful, and has discovered a legendary Lost City, but the decision to let in a woman could shake the very foundation of the British Empire, and how do you make such a decision without a decent drink? Grab your safety goggles for some very mad science involving deadly cobras, irate Irishmen and the occasional airship.
"You don't have to be British to lose your composure and howl with laughter…a witty spoof of all those bold Victorian adventurers who ravaged foreign lands and annihilated indigenous cultures in the name of science."
"The jokes come barreling fast and furious…but, like most farces, the effect is cumulative. By the time all the various comic strands start weaving together in the second act, the silliness has gotten contagious."
"In her hijinks-happy cocktail THE EXPLORERS CLUB, Nell Benjamin follows this recipe: To a starchy bunch of science geeks bemoaning the worst barkeep in London, add a plucky adventurer and her discovery, a trouble-making tribesman. Then shake, stir, serve in an eye-catching vessel, and brace for laughter."
—NY Daily News.
How I Learned What I Learned
By August Wilson
May 22-26, 30-June 2, & 6-9
From Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson comes a one-man show that chronicles his life as a Black artist in the Hill District in Pittsburgh. From stories about his first jobs to his first loves and his experiences with racism, Wilson recounts his life from his roots to the completion of The American Century Cycle. “How I Learned What I Learned” gives an inside look into one of the most celebrated playwriting voices of the twentieth century.
"A clear portrait of the striving young writer emerges."
- The New York Times
"Wilson’s pride, humor, eloquence, anger, storytelling gifts, and general eagerness to soak up experience: It’s all there."
- The Boston Globe
"Complex and surprisingly funny [...] a crowd-pleasing 100 minutes in the company of a wonderful writer."
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Don’t be surprised if you find yourself stunned into silence as well. Wilson’s words have a way of doing that."
- Entertainment Weekly
Circle Mirror Transformation
by Annie Baker
July 17-21, 25-28 & Aug. 1-4
Presented for the first time in Wilmington as well! Marty, an acting teacher, holds an "Adult Creative Drama" class at the local community center. Her students include a recently divorced carpenter, a reserved high school junior, a former actress and Marty's husband. Marty takes her "students" through various acting exercises, where they act like trees, beds and baseball gloves. Through these harmless games, hearts are quietly torn apart, and tiny wars of epic proportions are waged and won. In one exercise, they act as one another and tell their life stories. As a possible romance begins, each of the group slowly reveal themselves. A beautifully crafted diorama, a petri dish in which we see, with hilarious detail and clarity, the antic sadness of a motley quintet.
"Annie Baker's play is an absolute feast. CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION is the kind of unheralded gem that sends people into the streets babbling and bright-eyed with the desire to spread the word.”
"…orchestrated with a subtlety and unfailing naturalness that make the play's small revelations disarming and unexpected. The characterizations display a miniaturist attention to detail that goes down to the bone…Baker is never blind to their weaknesses and faults, yet regards them all with a warm, empathetic eye."
"Smartly, sneakily, Baker gives us the rare theater centric play that's not self-obsessed. [CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION] is about real people exploring their lives through tiny leaps of faith and creativity."
"Reverberates with seduction and sorrow…the play's final scene is devastatingly gentle."
Men on Boats
by Jaclyn Backhaus
Aug. 14-18, 22-25, & 29-Sept. 1
Another Wilmington debut. Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. MEN ON BOATS is the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River. This astounding play casts all women to portray these intrepid conquerors of nature, in a wonderful blend of comedy, adventure, history and movement. An exhilarating take on the first official U.S. government-sponsored passage through the Grand Canyon, told through a brand new lens, as well as an exploration of how we look at history, and who we allow to tell it.
“…off-the-canyon-walls funny…” —Variety.
“…marvelously destabilizing both as history and theater. The stalwartness and selfishness of the adventurers—their cockiness and cluelessness—become biting satire when sent up by women." —New York Magazine.
“…you will surely want to spend time with the hearty title characters of MEN ON BOATS…[a] rollicking history pageant… makes canny use of the obvious distance between performers and their roles to help bridge the distance between then and now…The tone is comic, but never cute or camp. And ultimately, you feel, the play respects its bold if fallible pioneers, in all their natural bravery and fearfulness.”
—The New York Times.
by Jessica Blank & Erik Jensen
Sept. 11-15, 19-22, & 26-29
Also an inaugural Wilmington production. Culled from interviews, letters, transcripts, case files and the public record, THE EXONERATED tells the true stories of six wrongfully convicted survivors of death row in their own words. Among others, we are introduced to Kerry, a sensitive Texan brutalized on death row for twenty-two years before being exonerated by DNA evidence; we meet Gary, a Midwestern organic farmer condemned for the murder of his own parents and later exonerated when two motorcycle-gang members confess. Robert, an African-American horse groomer who spent seven years on death row for the murder of a white woman before evidence emerges that the victim was found clutching hair from a Caucasian attacker. And we meet Delbert, a poet who serves as the play's center, convicted of a rape/murder in the Deep South of the 1970s and later freed when evidence surfaced showing that he was not even in the town when the crime occurred. Moving between first-person monologues and scenes set in courtrooms and prisons, the six interwoven stories paint a picture of an American criminal justice system gone horribly wrong—and of six brave souls who persevered to survive it. Winner 2003 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards.
"The #1 play of the year…intense and deeply affecting…"
"Riveting. Simple, honest storytelling that demands reflection."
"Artful and moving…pays tribute to the resilience of human hearts and minds."
—The New Yorker.
"Hard-hitting, powerful, and socially relevant."