SCR Schedules Something Old, Something New

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South Coast Repertory has announced its 28th season lineup, an 11-play slate that includes a Harold Pinter revival, titles by Shakespeare and Shaw, and four world premieres, two commissioned by the theater.

SCR’s 507-seat Mainstage will open Sept. 6 with George Bernard Shaw’s “Heartbreak House.” The 161-seat Second Stage will open Sept. 20 with Donald Margulies’ new play, “Sight Unseen.”

The Mainstage roster also includes the world premiere of Richard Greenberg’s “The Extra Man,” Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” Phillip Barry’s “The Philadelphia Story,” the world premiere of Barbara Field’s “Boundary Waters” and a sixth play to be announced.


In addition to “Sight Unseen,” the Second Stage will offer Pinter’s “The Caretaker,” the world premiere of Jon Bastian’s “Noah Johnson Had a Whore,” a play about con artists that took second prize at SCR’s recent California Play Festival, John Gray and Eric Peterson’s “Billy Bishop Goes to War,” and a play to be announced.

David Emmes, SCR producing artistic director and co-founder, says the slate reflects SCR’s ongoing goal to present plays that are “relevant and topical,” whether they are from emerging playwrights or the masters.

Several of this season’s choices, he adds, were also “partly inspired by some of the artists we’ve worked with before.” As Emmes notes, “Twelfth Night” will be directed by David Chambers, director of the 1991 SCR production “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and 1990’s “Search and Destroy,” while “The Philadelphia Story” will be directed by Warner Shook, who helmed this season’s SCR production, “You Can’t Take It With You.”

The 1991-92 season:


* “Heartbreak House” (Sept. 6-Oct. 6)--Shaw’s look at marriage, money and morality, and a young woman whose life changes course after she goes to live in a “very Bohemian” household. SCR artistic director/co-founder Martin Benson directs.

* “The Extra Man” (Oct. 25-Nov. 24)--Developed by SCR’s NewSCRipts division, Richard Greenberg’s comedy of guilt and redemption centers on a man who is a seemingly perfect friend. (Greenberg wrote the 1988 Broadway play “Eastern Standard.”) Michael Engler will direct.

* “Twelfth Night” (Jan. 10-Feb. 9)--Shakespeare’s comedy about mistaken identities and misplaced affections. David Chambers returns to direct.


* “The Philadelphia Story” (Feb. 28-March 29)--Phillip Barry’s 1939 drawing-room comedy, about the impending wedding of socialite Tracy Lord. Directed by SCR returnee Warner Shook.

* “Boundary Waters” (April 10-May 10)--A group of theoretical physicists meet on desolate tundra to study the migration of snowy owls--and wind up learning more about the human animal. Marks the world premiere of a script by Barbara Field, who was briefly in residence during the current SCR season. Martin Benson directs.

* A sixth yet-to-be-announced play (May 29-June 28) will be directed by David Emmes.


* “Sight Unseen” (Sept. 20-Oct. 20)--Commissioned by SCR, and developed through in-house readings, Donald Margulies’ play involves an American artist who has been deemed the art world’s latest visionary--yet he is uncertain about his own identity and place in the world. Directors for all but one of the Second Stage productions have not been set.

* “The Caretaker” (Oct. 25-Nov. 24)--Pinter’s 1960 drama was first produced by SCR in 1966. This revival joins others throughout the United States and Britain marking the playwright/poet’s 60th birthday.

* “Noah Johnson Had a Whore” (Jan. 24-Feb. 23)--A black comedy, with touches of Grand Guignol, about a former conjurer-turned-mortician named Jeremiah Bentonville who scours the Civil War battlefields for body parts. Assisting him: a black man named Noah Johnson. Written by Cal Fest winner Jon Bastian, this four-actor play will star Jonathan McMurtry as Jeremiah. A resident member of the Old Globe Company, McMurtry previously starred in SCR’s “Breaking the Code.” Martin Benson will direct.

* “Billy Bishop Goes to War” (March 13-April 12)--The comic misadventures of “the worst student in the history of Canada’s Royal Military College,” who enlists in the army in World War I--to become the Empire’s most decorated aviator. Ben Halley Jr. will star as Billy. John Gray and Eric Peterson’s two-character play with music was first performed in 1980.


* Still to be announced is a play to run April 24-May 24.

Season subscriptions to Mainstage productions range from $84 to $186; discount previews will be offered a week before the regular run begins. Second Stage season tickets range from $75 to $139, with discount preview shows three days before the regular run opens. Information: (714) 957-4033.