Female playwrights, new works highlight IU Theatre's 2020-21 season

Upcoming season also features performances of students' original choreography and plays

montage of 9 poster images to be used to promote IU Theatre's 2020-21 season
IU Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance's 2020-21 season includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Sweat," Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," contemporary dance concerts and student-created works. Season artwork by Reuben Lucas

Survival in tough economic times, murder, heroic journeys, historic disasters and unrequited love will be brought to the stage during the 2020-21 season by the Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance.

Linda Pisano, chair of the department in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the season reflects the world's continually changing landscape by tackling difficult but important subject matter. And this season, more women's voices are being raised.

"We are featuring five female playwrights on our mainstage season, which is unprecedented in our department's history and signals the representation of more varied voices and perspectives on our stages going forward," Pisano said.

She said the season also features innovative research and creative activity by the department's students and faculty.

"We will be introducing three new fabulous faculty in choreography to our season in contemporary dance and musical theater," Pisano said. "Our senior contemporary dance students will present their original choreography in our always-anticipated spring dance concert, 'New Moves.' We also look forward to original works by our MFA playwrights during our 'At First Sight' festival."

The 2020-21 season is:

  • "Sweat"

    Who: Written by Lynn Nottage.

    When: Sept. 25 and 26 and Sept. 29 to Oct. 3.

    Where: Wells-Metz Theatre.

    What: Filled with warm humor and tremendous heart, "Sweat" tells the story of a group of friends who've spent their lives working together on the factory floor. Set in Reading, Pennsylvania, where Nottage spent 2 1/2 years interviewing residents, this Pulitzer Prize-winning play examines how far community bonds can stretch when economic foundations crumble and livelihoods are threatened.

  • "Titanic"

    Who: Music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, book by Peter Stone.

    When: Oct. 23 and 24 and Oct. 27 to 31.

    Where: Ruth N. Halls Theatre.

    What: In the final hour of April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg, and 1,517 individuals lost their lives. Based on real people aboard the ill-fated ship, "Titanic The Musical" is a stunning and stirring production focusing on the hopes and aspirations of the ship's crew and passengers, their adventures and dreams cut short.

  • "Bonnets: How Ladies of Good Breeding Are Induced to Murder"

    Who: Written by Jen Silverman.

    When: Nov. 13 and 14 and Nov. 17 to 21.

    Where: Wells-Metz Theatre.

    What: A group of women in bonnets confronts legacies of violence and power with unexpected and hilarious results. Driven by agency rather than victimhood, the women show us how ladies of good breeding might be induced to murder. This fierce, funny, feminist new play subverts historic illustrations of well-behaved women. "Bonnets" was commissioned by the Big Ten Consortium as part of a series of new plays by and about women for production by professional and academic theaters around the country.

  • "Twelfth Night"

    Who: Written by William Shakespeare.

    When: Dec. 4 and 5, Dec. 8 to 12.

    Where: Ruth N. Halls Theatre.

    What: Twins Viola and Sebastian have been shipwrecked off the coast of an unfamiliar land. Viola, disguised as Cesario, falls in love with Orsino, who dotes on Olivia, who falls for Cesario but is idolized by Malvolio. In Shakespeare's beloved tale of mistaken identity and unrequited love, characters traverse the contradictory landscapes of romance, where anything proves possible.

  • "The 2021 Winter Faculty Dance Concert"

    When: Feb. 5 to 7.

    Where: Ruth N. Halls Theatre.

    What: Music and dance unite in an evening of provocative choreography and performance. Faculty, students and guest artists investigate the connections between body and sound in contemporary dance through the complexity of human expression.

  • "A New Play Festival: At First Sight"

    When: Feb. 19 and 20 and Feb. 23 to 27.

    Where: Wells-Metz Theatre.

    What: Now in its ninth year, "At First Sight" will feature two new plays by MFA playwrights Christin Eve Cato and Jayne Deely. The festival will culminate in a full day of new works, including scenes by undergraduate writers and a staged reading of a new play by a first-year MFA playwright.

  • "Homer's The Odyssey"

    Who: Written by Mary Zimmerman.

    When: March 26 and 27 and March 30 to April 3.

    Where: Wells-Metz Theatre.

    What: Odysseus, on his way home from war, encounters myriad forces fixed on keeping him from returning to his family. Back in Ithaca, his wife Penelope, plagued by suitors, promises to remarry as soon as she has finished her husband's shroud -- which she unravels every night. Adaptor Mary Zimmerman brings this story of adventure to life with whimsy and spectacle, weaving her trademark spell on Homer's classic tale of a long journey home.

  • "Assassins"

    Who: Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by John Weidman.

    When: April 16 and 17 and April 20 to 24.

    Where: Ruth N. Halls Theatre.

    What: A journey through the dark side of the American dream, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Tony-winning musical "Assassins" explores the lives of nine individuals who either killed or tried to kill one of the presidents of the United States. From John Wilkes Booth to Sara Jane Moore and beyond, the stories of these individuals intersect in unexpected ways, creating a powerful yet unnervingly funny look at our nation's most notorious assassins pursuing a twisted American dream.

  • "Senior Capstone Showcase: New Moves"

    Who: Choreographed by BFA Contemporary Dance Class of 2021.

    When: April 30 and May 1.

    Where: Wells-Metz Theatre.

    What: IU Contemporary Dance presents "New Moves," a concert of choreographic capstone projects created by the BFA Class of 2021. With performance and production by IU theater and dance majors and guest artist works, seniors will share a varied and innovative evening of concert dance performance.

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