Taye Diggs’ megawatt smile will be seen in Baltimore this fall. But the Broadway star and former cast member of TV’s “Empire” will be behind the curtain for a change.
Diggs will make his directorial debut in “Thoughts of a Colored Man,” by Keenan Scott II, a new work described in a Baltimore Center Stage news release as a blend of poetic language, music and dance that “goes beyond the rhythms of the basketball court and the boisterousness of the barbershop” to explore the experience of a community of men over the course of a single day.
“Thoughts of a Colored Man” will run Oct. 10 through Nov. 10 and is among the highlights of the upcoming 2019-20 season, which was announced Thursday by the troupe’s new artistic director, Stephanie Ybarra. Scott’s drama is being co-produced by Syracuse Stage, which will mount the play first.
“This season is rooted in theater’s roots,” Ybarra said in the release.
“By employing quintessential storytelling traditions, we’ll take a collective adventure of the imagination, starting the year with one of the most pressing conversations of our time and ending the year back where theater began — with the ancient Greeks.”
Baltimore Center Stage has done a good job presenting diverse plays and hiring a diverse staff for more than 30 years.
In addition to “Colored Men,” Center Stage’s other five main stage shows for the 2019-20 season will be:
» “Miss You Like Hell,” Sept. 12 through Oct. 13. This show about a mother-daughter relationship has a script by Quiara Alegria Hudes (best known for writing the book for the Tony Award-winning “In the Heights”). The music and lyrics were written by Erin McKeown.
» “Men on Boats” by Jaclyn Backhaus, Nov. 29 through Dec. 22. Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. The play is described as “a subversive retelling” of an 1869 expedition undertaken by a one-armed captain, John Powell.
Previous productions have cast performers who are female or gender non conforming as the explorers, who in real life were men. Backhaus has said she adapted the story because she realized she was writing a play with characters she could not perform herself.
» “Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally,” Jan. 23, 2020 through Feb. 16, 2020. Playwright Noah Diaz sets the characters from the 1950s-era children’s books as a modern-day dysfunctional family. As the release sums it up: “See Richard go. See Dick cry. See Sally sign. See Jane struggle after a lifetime in her brother’s shadow.”
» “Where We Stand,” March 19, 2020 through April 12, 2020 by the actress and playwright Donnetta Lavinia Grays. This new work is one of three scripts winnowed from nearly 500 applications that will go through an intensive development process in late spring at Indiana’s New Harmony Project conference.
» “The Bacchae” by Euripides, April 30, 2020 through May 24, 2020. This production is described by Center Stage as “not your English teacher’s Greek tragedy,” and as “the greatest party in recorded history.” (This is the play that notoriously includes a scene of frenzied woman tearing apart cattle with their bare hands.)