Two Pulitzer Prize-winning plays and an evergreen Oscar Wilde comedy are among the offerings scheduled for Everyman Theatre's 2018-2019 season.
The company will also give the first staging in repertory of "Queens Girl in the World" and "Queens Girl in Africa," semi-autobiographical works by Washington-based playwright and American University theater professor Caleen Sinnette Jennings.
These works chronicle the adventures of an African-American girl coming of age in 1960s New York and, in the sequel, traveling to Nigeria after the assassination of Malcolm X.
"Queens Girl in the World" premiered in 2015 at Theatre J in Washington as part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival, starring Everyman resident ensemble member Dawn Ursula, who will repeat the role next season. "Queens Girl in Africa" premiered at this year's festival in January at Mosaic Theater Company starring Erika Rose, who will perform in the Everyman production.
The plays "blew me away," says Everyman artistic director Vincent Lancisi. "Caleen is an incredible writer. I knew I had to do them here, and I didn't want to wait."
That urge led to the idea of putting on productions of both pieces to run concurrently in repertory in May and June 2019.
"I'm incredibly excited and impressed by the painstaking way Vinny has put this together," Jennings says. "The plays are semi-autobiographical. Everything that happens to [the central] character happened to me. Some other characters are conflated. The years 1962 to 1968 were awesomely turbulent for this country."
The double production will increase Everyman's season from the usual six plays to seven.
Launching the season in September will be Brian Friel's Tony Award winner "Dancing at Lughnasa," directed by Amber Paige. Set in an Irish village in the 1930s, this memory play about unmarried sisters and the faint promise of love is full of "three-dimentional, unique people," Lancisi says.
Opening in October will be the local premiere of the Pulitzer-winning "Sweat" by Lynn Nottage, a look at disillusionment and economic struggles within a working-class community in Reading, Pa.
"It could easily have been set in Baltimore," says Lancisi, who will direct the production.
During the holiday season, the company will offer a revival of Wilde's brilliant farce "The Importance of Being Earnest," directed by Rep Stage producing artistic director Joseph W. Ritsch. The staging will find Everyman resident ensemble member Bruce Randolph Nelson donning drag to portray the imperious Lady Bracknell.
Nelson and resident ensemble colleague Deborah Hazlett will star in "Everything Is Wonderful" by Chelsea Marcantel, opening in late January 2019, directed by Noah Himmelstein. The work looks at Amish parents coping with the loss of children killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, who unexpectedly arrives asking to be forgiven.
Lancisi will direct another Pulitzer winner, "Dinner With Friends," by Donald Margulies, opening in March 2019. "It's about two couples discovering things about each other, the kind of play we love at Everyman," Lancisi says. The cast will include company regulars Beth Hylton and Megan Anderson.
"What a neat collection of stories we have about identity next season," Anderson says. "They ask the question we are always asking — who we are and how we fit in. Every single play, whether fun or dramatic or ironic, pushes that question in an exciting way."