Friday, April 21, 2006

Huntington Season Announced
Subscribe! - For One Reason

Though there are still two more plays to be announced, I would say that people should look to possibly subscribing to the Huntington Theatre Company next season.

They announced their season yesterday and let's hope they can keep what they have on the schedule. Two world premieres, the crowning play of a late master, a big star in Checkov masterpiece would seem like reasons, right? Well, not quite. Subscribing can be expensive and I will be honest when saying that in the season they have outlined so far I have only one singular reason. It may be unexpected. Let's do the rundown and see if you can guess.

First up is the obligatory Radio Golf, August Wilson's final play in his ten play cycle of the African American experience. Radio Golf made its premiere at Yale Rep last year and comes on the heels of Gem of the Ocean at the Huntington two years ago. Being overwhelmed by August Wilson's poetry is always a joy, but this is not the reason.

Theresa Rebeck is getting much love lately, but praise for her touched off a little torrent against the Times reviewer Charles Isherwood from the ever-growing ranks of the theatre blogosphere. Her Mauritus, which has received a few readings, will be premiered. I am not huge fan of Rebeck, but I will say that an evening spent with her plays is never unenjoyable, just sometimes unfulfilling. But this is not the reason to subscribe.

Noah Haidle is the It-Boy that Adam Rapp, (despite his Pulitzer Nomination,) probably wishes that he was. Haidle's Mr. Marmalade, (a play about a little girl creating an imaginary husband who came complete with workaholism, misogyny, and a personal assistant,) was celebrated by many. The blogger Playgoer has an interesting minority report here. Haidle will be presenting his play Persephone in a World Premiere. Great news for the Hungtington to be nabbing a World Premiere of a rising talent, but this is not the reason to subscribe.

The Cherry Orchard opens with Kate Burton and Nicholas Martin teaming up, a la Hedda Gabler a few years ago. It will be interesting to see Martin bring his comic touch to Checkov's play, but this is not the reason.

My reason for encouraging subscription? It is based on the selection of one play in particular.

The most interesting play listed in their future season is David Rabe's claustrophobic masterpiece of violence and war, Streamers. This drama, set in the stateside barracks during the Vietnam era is one of my favorite plays. A group of regular cadre soldiers live a pretty normal military life, although with the ever-present fear of being deployed to the war. Into their midst, like some coiled snake, enters a transient soldier. Dumb, scared, dangerous and heading for deployment to the front lines, this outsider creeps eerily into their ordered life and constantly builds the threat of explosive violence.

Rabe's masterstroke though is the insertion of two older, drunk veterans who have come out the other side of war, and provide in beautiful and lyrical fashion the plays titular metaphor of parachute that does not open.

With its frank sexuality and physical nature, it seems an odd choice for the Huntington. ( I am not complaining though.) This play, if done correctly, is the real deal and the perfect play for our times. The only difference being that we are not sending all of our kids to the machine of war. The reason I am suggesting that your subscribe, (if you care about the health of the theatre, and if you care about tragedy and drama, and if you believe in theatre's importance,) is because people are not going to like this play. It is depressing , subversive and uncomfortable. It deals with race, sexuality and violence. It is bloody and taut. The Huntington needs your support because people are not going to like this play. It is not a play you choose because you think people will like it. It is a play you choose because you think people should see it.

Good for Nicholas Martin, the Huntington, and the rest of the crew making decisions there. When you subscribe, tell them you are subscribing because they chose Streamers.

On a wider note, it is interesting that we have to reach back to Rabe for this commentary. The World Premieres we get are about stamp collectors, art scams, and sculptors. Back in another day Rabe was writing Streamers and Sticks and Bones, and Shephard was writing Operation Sidewinder.

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