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Center Stage season to include wide variety of playwrights


Two premieres by American playwrights -- one a Baltimore native -- as well as classics by Moliere, Shakespeare and Ibsen will be included in the 1991-1992 Center Stage season, Irene Lewis, acting artistic director, announced yesterday.

Heading the premieres will be Center Stage's first full production by a Baltimore-born playwright -- Paula Vogel, currently on the faculty of Brown University. Aptly titled "The Baltimore Waltz," the play focuses on a sister and brother facing the AIDS crisis.

The other premiere is "Police Boys," a drama set in an inner-city police precinct, by Minneapolis playwright Marion Isaac McClinton. Both will be presented in the Pearlstone Theater during re:Discovery, the theater's repertory series, which has been on hold during the current season.

The season's classical offerings include "The Misanthrope," Moliere's examination of a man who abjures hypocrisy; Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll House," which the theater also produced 21 years ago; and a Shakespearean comedy or romance to be selected from among those that have not had previous Center Stage productions. Among the possibilities are "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "As You Like It," "Pericles" and "The Winter's Tale."

Two more recent scripts complete the seven-play lineup. "The Queen and the Rebels," a play about revolution, will be Center Stage's first production by the important modern Italian dramatist, Ugo Betti. And, though the rights are pending, the theater hopes to produce Athol Fugard's latest play, "My Children! My Africa!" The story of two idealistic students and a teacher committed to bringing about change through education, the play would be Center Stage's third by this acclaimed South African playwright.

Reached in New York, Ms. Lewis said of the seven selections, "I wanted a wide variety of voices in terms of writers, so I wound up with an Italian voice, two Americans, a Norwegian, a South African, an English and a French."

Referring to the two premieres, she said, "I did want to include new American plays. I felt strongly about that. I chose the two best plays that I felt came our way." And while no specific attempt was made to choose a Baltimore writer, Ms. Lewis said she was "doubly thrilled" about the inclusion of Ms. Vogel.

Ms. Lewis added that she will probably direct the Shakespeare, the Moliere and the Betti, which is expected to open the season in September. Running order and play dates for the other shows have yet to be announced.

In addition, except for re:Discovery, the theater has not said which plays will be staged in which venue. "I am trying to do some of the bigger plays upstairs [in the new Head Theater] just so that the audience gets to experience the space in the widest variety of forms," Ms. Lewis said. "I would love to do the Shakespeare upstairs."

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