DORSET >> Building upon their continued reputation as a theatre where audiences can expect the unexpected, Dorset Theatre Festival's 2016 summer season will feature a historic collaboration with Vermont's Weston Playhouse and Northern Stage, a World Premiere by acclaimed playwright Theresa Rebeck, a Regional Premiere by award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl, and an exciting revival of Broadway's recent Tony Award-winner "Lady Day" at Emerson's Bar and Grill, featuring the life and music of jazz-icon Billie Holiday.
The Norman Conquests: Table Manners, by Alan Ayckbourn
June 16-July 2
In a historic collaboration with Vermont's Weston Playhouse and Northern Stage, DTF will present "Table Manners," the second play in Alan Ayckbourn's acclaimed comic trilogy, "The Norman Conquests." All three companies will share a cast and creative team. Dorset Theatre Festival's production will be helmed by renowned director Evan Yionoulis, known to regional audiences for her recent revival of "Hapgood" at Williamstown Theatre Festival.
The trilogy is both wildly comic and poignant, as the complex relationships amongst six characters are examined. All three plays are set during the sexual revolution of the 1970s and take place over the same weekend at an English country estate. Each play takes place in a different part of the house with Dorset Theatre Festival's "Table Manners" taking place in the dining room. A statewide event, audiences will be able to purchase discounted tickets for all three productions and take advantage of special dining packages in each location. Unique "Talk Back" events for audiences will feature the artistic directors, designers, and actors speaking about their exciting collaboration across all three productions.
Dear Elizabeth, by Sarah Ruhl
Regional premiere, July 8-23
Dorset Theatre Festival is excited to produce "Dear Elizabeth" by Sarah Ruhl, one of the most renowned playwrights of her generation. "Dear Elizabeth" chronicles the remarkable thirty-year friendship between two of the most celebrated and honored American poets of the 20th century: Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. With postmarks from Maine to Key West, and as far away as London and South America, "Dear Elizabeth" is a lyrical and moving portrait of two lives that unfold in letters. A recent hit Off-Broadway at The Women's Project, the production will be helmed by director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, known to regional audiences for her acclaimed work on DTF's productions of Red starring Tim Daly, and The Scene by Theresa Rebeck. The production will feature a rotating cast of Broadway actors.
"The Way of the World," by Theresa Rebeck
World Premiere, July 28-Aug. 13
In July, the Festival continues its commitment to developing new plays with a World Premiere of "The Way of the World" by Theresa Rebeck. "The Way of the World" is a contemporary retelling of the sardonic masterpiece by William Congreve. Set in the demimonde of the hyper-rich Hamptons, it follows the story of a good-hearted heiress who has become prey to the attentions of an amoral party boy. After he callowly seduces her aunt, making the older woman a figure of public ridicule, their romance is dead in the water. But his insistence on winning back the moneyed heroine fuels the summer's gossip in the land of the one-percent. Can love emerge in a world where love means nothing? While embracing a language that is completely of the moment, the play faithfully revels in Congreve's gimlet-eyed questions about society. Theresa Rebeck herself will helm the production, bringing with her a star-studded cast.
Theresa Rebeck is an acclaimed playwright who's New York productions include "Seminar" starring the late Alan Rickman and "Dead Accounts" starring Katie Holmes. Most recently she is known for her hit NBC TV series "Smash." Rebeck was named one of the "150 Fearless Women in the World" by Newsweek.
Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, By Lanie Robertson
Aug. 18-Sept. 3
Fresh from a Tony Award-winning revival on Broadway, award-winning playwright Lanie Robertson recreates this vivid look into the life and times of jazz great Billie Holiday. The time is 1959. The place is a seedy bar in Philadelphia. The audience is about to witness one of Billie's last performances, given four months before her death. More than a dozen musical numbers are interlaced with salty, often humorous, reminiscences, revealing a riveting portrait of the lady and her music. Dorset Theatre Festival's production will be helmed by Artistic Director Dina Janis. Dina Janis enthuses, "This play is a searing portrait of a woman whose art was triumphant. It brings me back to my own roots, the world of jazz, as both of my parents were jazz players who spent a lot of time in small jazz clubs or on the road. With the help of an amazing design team, I hope to turn the Playhouse Theatre itself into a jazz club, with table seating on the stage and in the house. Up close and personal!"
New Play Reading Series
Continuing its commitment to developing new plays, Dorset Theatre Festival will present three works as part of the New Play Reading Series throughout the summer at the Playhouse. Featuring both young and seasoned playwrights, the reading series offers audiences an in-depth look into the early creative process of making a play come to life. All readings feature opportunities to speak with the playwright, director, and cast after the reading.
Subscriptions and Flex Passes are on sale March 1, offering the best seats, the best prices, and the best perks. Buy early and save big in March only. March Madness ticketing packages offer discounts up to 39 percent off of single ticket prices. The Box Office is open Monday thru Thursday from 1-4 p.m. and can be reached by calling (802) 867-2223.
About Dorset Theatre Festival
Founded in 1976, the Dorset Theatre Festival creates bold and innovative theatre that engages a diverse, multi-generational community, enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring its audience through the celebration of great plays produced with the highest degree of artistry. DTF seeks authentic voices in presenting thought-provoking productions drawn from the contemporary and classic canon, striving to redefine the American theatrical landscape through the development of new plays, new audiences and new artists, all working together to produce theatre that matters.
Every summer, Dorset Theatre Festival welcomes patrons at The Playhouse, an intimate theatre built from two pre-revolutionary barns. From June through September, the organization produces five main stage productions with some of this country's most talented playwrights, actors, and directors. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dina Janis, the Festival is changing the landscape of regional theatre. Bold and innovative, Dorset Theatre Festival is garnering accolades for its commitment to new play development. The organization is proud to encourage a new generation of playwrights to test their voices and launch plays that go on to national acclaim. Dorset Theatre Festival also mounts regional premieres of Tony Award-winning plays to bring the best of Off Broadway to Vermont.
The Dorset Theatre Festival leadership believes in the power of the shared intimate experience that theatre provides. The audience becomes like family, and by inviting them in, they are given a sense of ownership in what is built, together. DTF wants to serve as a catalyst for ongoing, meaningful discussion and engagement within its audiences and community, beginning conversations that enhance lives and foster personal growth.