Everyman Theatre announces 2019-20 season and new festival with focus on women

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The third part of Maryland playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings’ autobiographical trilogy, 'Queens Girl: Black in the Green Mountains,' will premiere at Everyman Theatre in 2020.

If you’re hanging around Everyman Theatre this summer, you might hear the gritty growl of a buzzsaw or the dull thump of hammers. Those are the sounds a theater company makes when it expands.

Everyman Theatre announced Friday that it is building a second stage that will allow it to mount a record eight productions during its 2019-20 season. The new, 210-seat theater on the second floor will be the home of the troupe’s inaugural New Voices Festival of contemporary works.


“We’re growing at a time when a lot of other companies are ratcheting down,” said Vincent Lancisi, the troupe’s founding artistic director. “As a regional theater company, we want to provide our audience opportunities to hear contemporary voices alongside revivals of classics. They shouldn’t have to travel to New York to explore new work.”

The second-floor theater is being converted from the company’s existing rehearsal space and will have a modified thrust stage that looks a bit like an upside-down “Y,” with seats on three sides of the performers. Subscribers can purchase ticket packages for the five plays staged in the 253-seat downstairs theater, for the three-work New Voices Festival, or for all eight shows.


All three plays in the festival’s debut season are written by women.

“We’re in the golden age of female playwrights,” Lancisi said. “I’ve worked in the theater for 30 years and I have never before seen such a vibrant pool of new voices.”

Subscription prices range from $75 for preview performances to the three plays in the New Voices Festival to $414 for premium seats on Friday and Saturday evenings for all eight shows. In addition to price reductions for seniors, adults younger than 40 and first-time subscribers, Everyman also is offering a new money-saving incentive next season. Subscribers who sign up to see plays in the first two weeks of the run will pay roughly 10 percent less than subscribers who prefer to see shows in the third and fourth weeks.

”Word of mouth is the biggest reason people come to see our shows,” Lancisi said.

Next season’s offerings include:


“Proof” Sept. 3, 2019 to Oct. 16, 2019. Everyman’s 2004 production of David Auburn’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning meditation on mathematical genius, madness and family relationships was the company’s biggest hit to date. Ensemble member Megan Anderson originally portrayed the title role of the depressed, gifted Catherine; she’ll return in the new staging to play that character’s older sister, Claire.

“Radio Golf,” Oct. 15-Nov. 17, 2019. Lancisi made plans to mount playwright August Wilson’s “Radio Golf” long before Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh resigned following the controversy over her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s book series as revealed in the Sun. But the topic matter — a successful real estate developer is determined to do whatever it takes to become Pittsburgh’s first black mayor — is eerily prescient.


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“Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,” Dec. 3, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020. This is the troupe’s big “get” for next season, as theater companies from coast to coast vied for the rights to mount the second production of playwright Ken Ludwig’s stage adaptation of Christie’s masterpiece. (Connecticut’s Hartford Stage mounted the world premiere.) The holiday mystery will include the recreation of a train on stage, period costumes, mustache wax — and the incomparable detective character, Hercules Poirot.

Be Here Now, Jan. 21, 2020 to Feb. 16, 2020. Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer’s existential mediation was a hit in Everyman’s Salon series of staged readings. Bari, a middle-aged professor of nihilism, has always been a glass-almost-empty kind of person. Then a series of headaches result in euphoric visions. Are they the result of a spiritual awakening or of a brain tumor, and what should she do about it?

“Awake and Sing!” May 26, 2020 to June 28, 2020. During his lifetime, the playwright Clifford Odets was regarded as an equal of such stage luminaries as Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill, but after his death in 1963 his socially relevant dramas fell out of fashion. That began to change around 2006 with a series of acclaimed revivals marking the 100th anniversary of his birth. “Awake and Sing!” tells the story of a Jewish immigrant family in the Bronx struggling to survive the Great Depression.

Upstairs — New Voices Festival

Queens Girl: Black in the Green Mountains,” March 3, 2020 to April 12, 2020. Lancisi commissioned the world premiere of the third part of Maryland playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings’ autobiographical trilogy. Jacqueline Marie Butler bids farewell to her parents in war-torn Nigeria and enrolls as a college freshman at Bennington College in frigid Vermont as the Vietnam War rages and the Kent State killings ignite college campuses. Ensemble member Dawn Ursula depicts more than a dozen different characters in this one-actor show.

“Berta, Berta” March 17, 2020 to April 26, 2020. Playwright Angelica Cheri’s drama was inspired by a prison chain gang song and was the standout hit at last year’s Contemporary American Theatre Festival in West Virginia. A man covered in blood shows up at the doorstep of his long-lost love in Mississippi in 1920, his freedom hanging in the balance. “If Tennessee Williams were a black woman, this is the play he might have written,” Lancisi said.


“Cry It Out,” March 31, 2020 to May 3, 2020. This fast-paced, tartly comic look at the travails of new mothers coping with dirty diapers, 2 a.m. feedings and the Mommy Track was penned by Molly Smith Metzler, who has written for such cable television hits as “Shameless” and ‘”Orange is the New Black.” Sample line of dialogue: “I was talking to my breast pump like he’s Wilson in ‘Cast Away.’ ”

For the record

A previous version of this story incorrectly gave the end date for 'Cry It Out.' The play will end May 3, 2020.