'Zoot Suit,' revival of landmark play about L.A. riots, leads Mark Taper Forum 2017-18 season

To mark its 50th season at the Mark Taper Forum, Center Theatre Group and its artistic director Michael Ritchie announced on Tuesday a 2017-18 season that includes one Pulitzer-winning drama, two world premieres by noted playwrights and the timely revival of one homegrown, groundbreaking theatrical event. 

That revival would be “Zoot Suit,” writer-director Luis Valdez’s song-filled exploration of the lives of Mexican Americans in 1940s Los Angeles — the sometimes fragile bonds of family and friendship, the injustices and indignities that come with racism, and the attempt to assimilate yet retain a sense of ethnic identity, all while being marginalized as a stranger in a not-strange land.

Inspired by the infamous Sleepy Lagoon murder trial and the so-called Zoot Suit riots, Valdez’s show was first mounted at the Taper in 1978. “Zoot Suit” was a hit, running for nearly a year. It’s often credited as later becoming the first show to represent Chicano culture on Broadway.

It will return in a production once again helmed by Valdez and co-presented by Center Theatre Group and Valdez’s acclaimed El Teatro Campesino. It is scheduled to run from Feb. 12, 2017 to March 12 of that year.

Also in the Taper’s 2017-18 season:

“Remote L.A.” (March 14-April 2, 2017 ): The international theater collective Rimini Protokoll will put audience members through their paces as the group sends them off the beaten path in this immersive, multiple-site, audio-enhanced guided tour of L.A.

“Archduke” (April 30-May 28, 2017): Three young Serbian men in 1914 Belgrade find they have roles to play in events that will ultimately set World War I in motion. The darkly comic fable is a world premiere commissioned by CTG from “Guards at the Taj” and “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” playwright Rajiv Joseph.

“Head of Passes” (Sept. 24-Oct. 22, 2017): Tony winner Phylicia Rashad (“A Raisin in the Sun”) graces the Taper stage in a new Southern-set, biblically informed drama about family and faith from MacArthur fellowship recipient Tarell Alvin McCraney (“The Brothers Size,” “In the Red and Brown Water”). 

“Water by the Spoonful” (Feb. 11-March 11, 2018): Four recovering addicts connect in an online chat room while a troubled Iraq war veteran tries to readjust to civilian life in Quiara Alegria Hudes’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. 

“Soft Power” (April 15-May 13, 2018): Tony winner David Henry Hwang (“M. Butterfly”) riffs on a possible shift in relations between a rising China and the rest of the world in the decades to come in this world-premiere musical fable.


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