(CHESTER, Mass.) – Chester Theatre Company (CTC) will present a themed season of plays, called Uncommon Love Stories, from July 5 to August 26, 2012, featuring variations on the theme of love in works by Rajiv Joseph, Elizabeth Egloff, Arlene Hutton and Dipika Guha.
“There’s a saying in the theater trade that all plays are love stories,” according to CTC artistic director Byam Stevens, “and our twenty-third season will bear that saying out. But, there’s a twist – these aren’t your usual love stories. You won’t find a conventional romantic comedy among them.”
The season opens on July 5 with the New England premiere of Animals Out of Paper by Rajiv Joseph, author of the hit play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which starred Robin Williams in its Broadway run. This wise and richly layered comedy tells the story of Ilana, a world-renowned origami artist. When the play opens, her life is in disarray – she’s going through a divorce, her dog has run away and she hasn’t answered her phone in two months. Then her intercom buzzes. It’s Andy, a fan, a high school teacher who counts his blessings. Literally. Andy soon introduces Suresh, an iPod addict and origami prodigy, into Ilana’s life, and the plot folds really get complicated. The New York Times called Animals Out of Paper “Pitch-perfect… alternately wrenching and funny.”
The Swan (July 18-29), a mysterious and comic variation on the Leda and the Swan myth, will offer a complete change of pace. Elizabeth Egloff‘s play, awarded the prestigious Kesselring Prize for its premiere production at New York’s Public Theatre, recounts the adventures of Dora Hand. Dora lives by herself on the Nebraska prairie – she’s gone through three husbands and now seems destined to play the lonely mistress to her married milkman, Kevin – until a swan crashes into her living room window. Strangely, to all outward appearances, the swan seems to be a charismatic and child-like man who quickly learns the ropes: speech, dressing, checkers, beer and love for his new mistress. Daniel Elihu Kramer, director of CTC’s 2011 production of The Turn of the Screw, will direct.
The New England premiere of Running by Arlene Hutton, author of the CTC hit The Nibroc Trilogy, will open August 1 and run through August 12. Hutton brings her trademark gift for the natural ebb and flow of dialogue to a modern New York story. It’s the eve of the New York Marathon, and Stephen, preparing for his first race, needs a good night’s sleep. His wife is in London on business and he has the apartment to himself, until Emily, his wife’s ex-roommate, shows up unexpectedly in the wee hours of the morning. Their late night conversation becomes late night confessions and connections in this witty dramatic comedy that was a hit at the New York Fringe Festival.
The 2012 season will conclude with the Western Massachusetts regional premiere of The Betrothed by Dipika Guha. Guha, a recent graduate of Yale Drama School, is an exciting young playwright who has had fellowships at Yale, Harvard and Brown. The Betrothed, her delightful adventure in magic realism, opens as Simon’s flight crosses the Atlantic to the Old Country, where he imagines the beautiful woman waiting for him. Betrothed from birth, he has waited thirty long years to meet his beloved. Upon arrival, his fantasy is derailed by old crones, morally ambiguous clergymen, deceitful babies, and barnyard animals. Simon must navigate a world where murder, ghostly possession, and rampant cuckoldry wreak havoc with his sense of reality. Directed by Byam Stevens, the production runs August 15-26.
Chester Theatre Company, a professional theater company located in the foothills of the Berkshires, produces 4-5 plays each summer and fall, performed by top-flight actors, directors and designers from across the country. Under the leadership of artistic director Byam Stevens, CTC has earned a reputation for producing the best in contemporary theatre – seventeen CTC productions have gone on to Off Broadway, regional, national, and international engagements in the last 15 years.