A RAISIN IN THE SUN Seattle Rep does Lorraine Hansberry’s classic michael Brosilow

Watching a lot of theater and dance—like I get to do for my job—gives you a front-row seat to Seattle's collective unconscious. Patterns begin to emerge, and from the comfort of your velvet chair, you can begin to diagnose our anxieties, joys, pains, and pleasures. In the last year of reviewing theater and dance for The Stranger, I noticed a teddy bear figuring prominently in the final scenes of two radically different plays, more than three productions involving straight-up incest, and at least five actors drinking a full glass of water onstage. What does that say about our city? Seattle was really thirsty for its Daddy last year.

When you attend a play or a dance, you're engaging in an ancient tradition. You're back at the fire pit, a real human being watching other real human beings evoke whole ideas with a gesture, complex emotions with a glance. It's a communal activity that brings us closer together, and something deep within us, something that goes all the way back to the caves, really needs it. But we're also acquisition hounds who love a gimmick.

Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer: Jan 13-Feb 14 at Bagley Wright Theatre
Part theater, part revival, and all power, this one-woman show will have your head nodding and hands clapping!

To that end, I have created a bingo card, another communal activity that brings us together. Watch a bunch of theater/dance this season and you will likely see all of these things at one point in time. First person who gets a verified bingo gets to be my theater/dance date to a show of their choosing in the spring season. E-mail me: rsmith@thestranger.com.

If you watched a bunch of theater/dance last season, you likely saw a lot of Romeo and Juliet (there were an obscene four different versions of Romeo and Juliet last year—FOUR!). You likely also saw a lot of work exploring race, gender, and sexuality. Given the more exciting shows this season, it looks like we're far from done thinking about that stuff. There's a lot, and a lot of it looks very good, but here's what I'm personally looking forward to the most.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

Sept 23–Oct 10

12th Avenue Arts

This Washington Ensemble Theatre production will be the West Coast premiere of the play, which is supposed to be a powerful, absurd-funny, polyvocal, multimedia-y, fiercely feminist call for revolt. Revolt draws its title from a Julia Kristeva book about "revolt" as a mode of being (hi, grad school) and also highlights the way language shapes our perceptions and expectations of women.

A Raisin in the Sun

Sept 30–Oct 30

Seattle Repertory Theatre

michael Brosilow

A Raisin in the Sun is one of the earliest examples of black realism on the American stage. Housing discrimination, race, class, family, the complexities of right action in America, all of it wrapped up in one of the greatest plays ever written.

Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White

Through Oct 2

Jones Playhouse

Stranger Genius Valerie Curtis-Newton told me over the phone that she would "crawl across glass" to produce this Alice Childress play about an interracial relationship in the Jim Crow South. Back in 2013, Curtis-Newton directed Childress's Trouble in Mind, which Brendan Kiley raved about in his review for The Stranger. Directing this one will mean that, over the course of her career, Curtis-Newton will have directed all of Childress's plays. How are you not going to be there to witness that?

zoe | juniper: Clear and Sweet

Oct 20–Oct 23

On the Boards

Y'all know what sacred harp singing is? Backcountry hymns. The kind of congregational music an Alabama boy hears when he's walking toward the light. What you have is a big choir singing four-part harmonies, and they're singing loud, simple music. Stranger Genius Award winners zoe | juniper will use this music's democratic ethos and raw power as inspiration and atmosphere for this piece. Southern Protestant surrealism mixed with visceral dance? Deal.

Markeith Wiley: It's Not Too Late

Nov 16–Nov 20

On the Boards

A talk show starring choreographer/dancer Markeith Wiley? I like it. Wiley's funny, light on his feet, and not afraid to bring it down for a moment, or go there, or say that. Press materials claim the show will include a live band, a bunch of local guests, stand-up comedy, theater, and dance. Organizers dropped Paul Mooney's name in the press release, so expect searing and hilarious commentary on matters of race, politics, and art. Maybe this will be what Brett Hamil's "Seattle Process" is to local politics, but for the arts? That'd be cool. Or maybe it will be like something we've never seen before? That would also be cool.

Disney's The Little Mermaid

Nov 23–Dec 31

5th Avenue Theatre

SHA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA DON'T BE SHY YOU GOT TO—KEES DEE GYRL (WHOA WHOA!). Yeah, I'm going to be an insufferable audience member for this one.


Dec 2–Jan 1

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Directed by May Adrales and produced in association with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Qui Nguyen's geeky, formally adventurous, energetic love story centers on the lives of two Vietnamese immigrants as they travel around the US, learning the language and navigating the complexities of refugee camps. Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty says the play won him over with its innovative use of music and language, but also "with its simple honesty."