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CurtainUp/DC/ New & Noteworthy, March 5, 2014
Beginning March 11, 2014, the Kennedy Center is hosting a three-week International Theater Festival. World Stages as it is called includes short runs of plays from twenty world-renowned theaters such as Theatre des Bouffes du Nord from France, the Nalaga'at Theater Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble from Israel, the Handspring Puppet Company from South Africa with the Old Vic from England and last but not least the Williamstown Theatre Festival from the U.S. Also on the schedule are staged readings by Sabab Theatre of Kuwait and England and an Iraqi/Canadian duo's play Fallujah. On March 23, a panel discussion and director's forum is on the schedule. For more details about the festival, visit www.kennedy-center.org/worldstages.
The Festival — innovative and daring — is in stark contrast to the Kennedy Center's just announced 2014-2015 season. The roster reeks of déja vu: Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and The Book of Mormon. Fortunately, there is one new musical premiering, The Little Dancer, with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, music by Stephen Flaherty, direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. The subject is the dancer who posed for painter Edgar Degas. (The National Gallery of Art in Washington has several Degas paintings and sculptures.)
Premiering at Arena Stage in late March, 2014 is a play by Lawrence Wright, titled Camp David, and in June, a new dance piece, Healing Wars, by Liz Lerman, a dance legend, MacArthur Genius awardee and much-admired Washingtonian. Eric Coble's The Velocity of Autumn, directed by Arena Stage's Artistic Director Molly Smith, with Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella opens on Broadway at the Booth in April, 2014. Its Washington/Arena run last Fall was greeted with muted enthusiasm.
Theater J's Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival will premier at the end of March, the English version of Israel's playwright Motti Lerner's The Admission, a look at the Israel/Palestinian conflict in very personal and human terms.
Woolly Mammoth, which has a long history of presenting new plays will this spring present Roger Guenveur Smith's solo show Rodney King and reprieve its huge hit Stupid F--cking Bird, an irreverent take on Chekhov's The Seagull which is nominated for 8 Helen Hayes Awards.
Speaking of the Helen Hayes Awards … April 21, 2014 is the date. For a complete list of nominees, here's the link: theatrewashington.org/hh-awards-nominees/2014.
A Pulitzer Prize winner in 2012, an Olivier award winner in 2010, and the Critics' 2012 Award for Best New Play (Water by the Spoonful, Cock, Beats respectively) should make for an interesting Spring at Studio Theatre.
The musical version of Beaches is currently at Signature Theatre, a well-received premier. The next new musical to grace Signature's stage will be Cloak and Dagger, with book, music and lyrics by Ed Dixon; Eric Schaefer directs. It opens in June.
Playwright/actor/director and Artistic Director of Baltimore's Center Stage, Kwame Kwei-Armah, has just re-upped for four more years.
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