Fall Arts: Act Your Age!
While summer is largely the doldrums for performance, in autumn, productions clutter up the scene like leaves falling off trees. This overview is the merest sliver of what's coming. These listings naturally favor institutions, because they're the ones who have publicity departments working this far in advance; the most exciting stuff could (and probably will) appear out of nowhere, and be by someone you've never heard of. But while you're waiting for the unexpected, here's some theater and dance that comes with a promising pedigree:
In the Penal Colony--A Contemporary Theatre, opening Aug 31.
Some people are sick to death of the whirling, repetitive melodies of composer Philip Glass--I still think the old dog's got a few tricks left in him. Adapting this great but static Kafka story seems unlikely and perverse, but that's exactly why it might be worth checking out.
Pride and Prejudice--Book-It, opening Sept 8.
If there's one novelist who deserves to have her prose spoken aloud, it's Jane Austen, who has one of the smartest, funniest, and pithiest writing styles in the history of the English language.
Transformations & Other Tales--Theater Schmeater, opening Sept 15.
September's snooty literary adaptations are rounded out by this theatricalization of Anne Sexton's brittle and caustic poetry. The Schmee has been growing more and more adventurous since the arrival of artistic director Sheila Daniels; this is a prime opportunity to check out her directorial chops.
Also opening in September:
The Weir by Conor McPherson at Intiman
ATF: A Burlesque--Annex Theatre, opening Oct 6.
As Annex's incoming artistic director, it's awkward for me to plug an Annex show--but the selling point here is maverick director Tom Wisely, whose infrequent but vigorous work includes the spare chamber opera of Cold Water Waltz at the Speakeasy and spectacular rock musical The Tooth of Crime at New City.
Hedda Gabbler--Printer's Devil Theatre, opening Oct 12.
I personally think the Printer's Devil crew are wasting their substantial talents exploring the same classics that a million other groups do, but Heidi Schreck was truly remarkable in their strong production of The Seagull; maybe her performance in the title role of Ibsen's classic Hedda Gabbler will change my mind.
In Spite of Wishing and Wanting--Wim Vandekeybus/Ultima Vez at On the Boards, opening Oct 19.
Most of you are probably all aquiver about the return of the Wooster Group in November, but this new piece from Belgian director Wim Vandekeybus and his troupe Ultima Vez has me on pins and needles; both of their previous appearances at On the Boards were outright thrilling. This exploration of dream logic looks to be every bit as mind-bogglingly imaginative.
Imagined Landscapes--Consolidated Works, opening Oct 20.
The powers-that-be at ConWorks say they're cooking up something exciting that uses Gulliver's Travels and Alice in Wonderland as a springboard for some experimental blah, blah, blah. Four smartypants local directors are said to be involved. Let's hope it's better than the recent TV miniseries based on the same material.
aeros--UW World Music and Theater series, opening Oct 20.
This acrobatic movement spectacular features 15 members of the Romanian Gymnastics Team (including four Olympic medal winners), and was commissioned by the hair-care line Elastesse di Pantene to expresstheir "hair language." I have to see this show.
Also opening in October:
Ghetto by Joshua Sobol at Seattle Public Theatre
The Odyssey by Mary Zimmerman at the Seattle Rep
Seattle International Butoh Festival--On the Boards, Nov 2-12.
More Butoh than you can shake a stick at. Butoh dancers and choreographers from all over the world (including several from Japan, this esoteric art form's point of origin), all caked in white and many of them moving veeeerrrrrrry sllllloooooowwwwlllly.
Expressions of the Spirit--UMO at ArtsWest Theatre, opening Nov 9.
UMO brings back their critically praised adaptation of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales. Live music, masks, puppetry, and their own crazed physical theater combine to tell some dark and bloody stories.
September September--33 Fainting Spells at the Moore, opening Nov 10.
Dance duo Dayna Hanson and Gaelen Hanson (no relation) fuse awkward movements, uncomfortable characterizations, and odd props into a jagged, oblique, yet emotionally rich whole. I laughed more at the first act of Maria the Storm Cloud than anything else in a long time (well, other than Toy Story 2), and even now I'm not sure what made me laugh.
New Patagonia--Seattle Repertory Theatre, opening Nov 13.
For the first time in my memory, the Rep is producing a new play by a local playwright who isn't Steven Dietz or August Wilson. And Elizabeth Heffron deserves it; this play about a Henry Miller/Ken Kesey figure watching his counterculture visions collapse around him is a striking piece of work.
Also opening in November:
Miss Minidoka, 1943 by Gary Iwamoto from ReAct
Reverse Psychology by Charles Ludlam at the Empty Space
December is a wasteland of pandering holiday crap, including:
Beyond Kindness: The Holiday Edition by Matt Smith at On the Boards
Black Nativity by Langston Hughes at Intiman
Christmas at the Johnson's based on a play by Alexander Vvedensky, from Theater Under the Influence
Dina Martina Christmas Extravaganza at On the Boards
The Ebeneezer Cycle: God Help Us, Everyone at Annex Theatre
Owen Meany's Christmas Pageant at Book-It