Center Theatre Group on Wednesday will announce the 2018-19 seasons for the Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre, whose lineups will include work by Tracy Letts, Lynn Nottage, Luis Valdez and Lucas Hnath.
Also among the shows set for the two venues by artistic director Michael Ritchie: Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days,” with actress Dianne Wiest reviving her critically lauded performance as Winnie.
At the Mark Taper Forum in downtown L.A., the season will kick off Sept. 5 with Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sweat,” directed by Lisa Peterson. The play comes to L.A. fresh off a Broadway run where it garnered raves for its story of a blue-collar Pennsylvania town in the fallout of the 2008 economic crash. Times critic Charles McNulty wrote that the play “roils with anger and frustration, but these feelings are put in the service of a public good: fostering solidarity where polarization has grown most extreme.”
Next at the Taper is “Valley of the Heart,” written and directed by Valdez, the Chicano writer and activist behind “Zoot Suit,” the 1979 play he recently revived at the Taper to great acclaim. In “Valley of the Heart,” Valdez once again excavates difficult history, this time at the beginning of World War II as two immigrant families — one Mexican, one Japanese — struggle to support their American-born families on farmland they share.
Pulitzer and Tony Award winner Letts (“August: Osage County”) brings to the Taper his new play “Linda Vista,” directed by Dexter Bullard. It follows the tragicomic story of a man in the midst of a midlife crisis as the support beams of his existence (marriage, job, home) crumble.
The fourth production in the Taper lineup will be “Lackawanna Blues,” written, performed and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. In the one-man play, which premiered in 2001, Santiago-Hudson assumes more than 20 characters in small-town life along the shores of Lake Erie.
The Taper will close its season with Oscar winner Wiest in “Happy Days.” She starred in a Yale Repertory Theatre run in 2016 and an off-Broadway production in 2017. Wiest has called the show “Hamlet” for women and revels in its tale of a woman who remains optimistic as her life edges toward oblivion.
At the Kirk Douglas in Culver City, Center Theatre Group will present a world premiere by Hnath, “From the Words and Writings of Dana H.” Hnath was nominated for a Tony last year for “A Doll’s House: Part 2,” which earned Laurie Metcalf Broadway’s highest honor and which McNulty called “one of the year’s best plays.”
“Dana H.” finds Hnath plumbing the biography of his mother, who feared for her life during five months being held captive by a mentally ill ex-convict. The play is based on the story as told by Hnath’s mother, edited and staged by Hnath and directed by Les Waters.
Details for the Taper and Kirk Douglas seasons:
Mark Taper Forum
“Sweat,” by Lynn Nottage, directed by Lisa Peterson, previews starting Aug. 29, opening night Sept. 5
“Valley of the Heart,” written and directed by Luis Valdez, previews starting Oct. 30, opening night Nov. 7
“Linda Vista,” by Tracy Letts, directed by Dexter Bullard, previews starting Jan. 9, opening night Jan. 16
“Lackawanna Blues,” written, performed and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, previews starting March 5, opening night March 13
“Happy Days,” by Samuel Beckett, directed by James Bundy, previews starting May 15, opening night May 22, 2019
Kirk Douglas Theatre
“School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play,” by Jocelyn Bioh, directed by Rebecca Taichman, previews starting Sept. 2, opening night Sept. 8
“Quack,” world premiere by Eliza Clark, directed by Neel Keller, previews start Oct. 21, opening night Oct. 28
“Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theater,” three plays from L.A.’s 99-seat seat (or smaller) theaters, March 7 to April 28, 2019
“From the Words and Writings of Dana H.,” world premiere by Lucas Hnath, directed by Les Waters, previews starting May 26, opening night June 2, 2019