Everyman Theatre will split its 2012-2013 season between two venues, but a common thread unifies the plays — all are Baltimore premieres.
There will be six works in all, up from the usual five. The lineup includes recent works by such notable playwrights as Tracy Letts, David Margulies, Suzan Lori-Parks and Yasmina Reza, as well as adaptations by Tom Stoppard and Thornton Wilder.
But the biggest news next season is the company's relocation to Fayette Street, around the corner from the Hippodrome in an area that is fast becoming a viable arts district on the city's west side.
Everyman Theatre will inaugurate its new home in January with Letts' "August: Osage County," the riveting 2008 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama about a decidedly dysfunctional Oklahoma family with many a secret.
"I haven't been as excited about a play on Broadway in years, and I am thrilled to present it here," said Everyman's founding artistic director, Vincent Lancisi. "There will be a lot of our resident company members in the cast. And we will finally have a proscenium, so we're going to build a three-story set for the play."
That proscenium is one of many assets the new theater will provide the company, which since 1994 has been located in a low-ceilinged building on North Charles Street with limited options for set design.
As creative as the company has been working around those limitations, the freedom of a traditional stage with abundant fly space makes a much wider level of scenic possibilities for Everyman.
There will be room for a larger audience to experience those possibilities. Seating capacity will rise from 170 at the Charles Street location to 256 on Fayette. And unlike the present Everyman facility, no pillars will get in the way of any of those seats.
The Fayette venue, which started out in 1911 as a vaudeville house called the Empire Theatre, underwent several uses over the decades, including a parking garage. The gutted interior is being gradually transformed into a multiple-floor facility.
"The building has good bones, according to the contractors," Lancisi said.
In addition to the main performance area, there is a large, soundproof rehearsal space on the floor above the main stage that will eventually be turned into a 150-seat black-box theater.
The second floor also has room for offices and classrooms. On the third floor will be more offices. There's also a large room with a 30-foot ceiling that will be used for rehearsals after the black-box theater opens below.
Back on the main level, a lobby is being created that will provide more room and atmosphere than the Charles Street site.
"The lobby will be decorated with textured wallpaper depicting past set designs," Lancisi said. "This way, we're sort of bringing the old theater with us. And we'll have a bar, not just a concession stand."
Meanwhile, audiences at the Charles Street location can drink in two plays before the move across town, staring in late August with a production of Margulies' "Time Stands Still," which had an acclaimed run on Broadway in 2010.
The plot concerns a photographer who has been badly wounded covering the war in Iraq, and her boyfriend, a journalist who experienced his own crisis in that war.
"It's about their life when they are not on the front," Lancisi said, "and the costs of being involved in the documenting of war. Everyman has done two other David Margulies plays. I think this might be his best."
The final work slated for the Charles Street theater is "Heroes," Tom Stoppard's translation of the 2003 French hit "Le Vent des Peupliers," a comedy by Gerald Sibleyras, opening in October. The setting is an old-soldiers' home, where three World War I veterans contemplate old times and the lure of women, and scheme for fresh adventures.
After the run of "August: Osage County," the rest of the first season in the new theater continues with "God of Carnage," the 2009 best play Tony-winner by Yasmina Reza. The hard-hitting comedy, opening in March 2013, brings two seemingly sensible, upper-bracket New York couples together to discuss a playground incident involving their kids.
A production of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner for drama, "Topdog/Underdog" by Suzan Lori-Parks, will open in April 2013. It's a provocative work focusing on two African-American brothers — Lincoln, who has a job in a shooting arcade impersonating the 16th president; and Booth, whose goal is to master a card con game.
Wrapping up Everyman's 2012-2013 season will be "The Beaux' Stratagem," a Restoration comedy from 1707 by George Farquhar about two gentlemen in need of money and women who can provide it.
Everyman will present an adaptation of the work started by American playwright Thornton Wilder, who left the project unfinished at the time of his death. Ken Ludwig was engaged by Wilder's estate to complete that adaptation, which premiered at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington in 2006.
"Wilder felt the play should have been a top-tier comedy like 'School for Scandal,'" Lancisi said. "He thought the plot just needed a few adjustments. It's very, very funny."
The deadline for current Everyman Theatre subscribers to renew is May 11. New subscriptions go on sale May 16.
"It has been a wild ride trying to pick the plays," Lancisi said. "It's the broadest scope we've ever done. It's great to have that many famous plays in Baltimore, and all premieres. And the ones in Fayette Street will show the artistic capabilities of our new space. I really think it's the most exciting season in my 21 years."
Everyman's season at a glance
To be performed at current Everyman Theatre, 1727 N. Charles St.:
Aug. 29 to Oct. 7: "Time Stands Still," a drama by David Margulies
Oct. 24 to Dec. 2: "Heroes," a comedy translated by Tom Stoppard from Gerald Sibleyras' "Le Vent des Peupliers"
To be performed at the new Everyman Theatre, 315 W. Fayette St.:
Jan. 16 to Feb. 15: "August: Osage County," a tragicomedy by Tracy Letts
March 13 to April 7: "God of Carnage," a dark comedy by Yasmina Reza
April 24 to May 19: "Topdog/Underdog," a drama by Suzan Lori-Parks
June 5 to June 30: ""The Beaux' Stratagem," a comedy by George Farquhar, adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig
For more information, call 410-752-2208 or go to everymantheatre.org.