Upcoming season at the Central Square Theater scenes ‘Ada,’ ‘Alma,’ Afong and ‘Angels,’ Part I


Debra Wise, right, in Lauren Gunderson’s “The Half-Life of Marie Curie” last year at the Central Square Theater. Wise, who has resigned from the Underground Railway theater company, will direct a play by Gunderson in September. She is accompanied by Lee Mikeska Gardner. (Photo: Nile Scott Studios)

The next season at the Central Square Theater has been announced, continuing the theater’s focus on themes of science and diversity. The four-play season will be the first without co-founder Debra Wise as artistic director of the Underground Railway theater company, which shares the stage with the Nora theater company, who said diversity was a reason for her departure.

His decision grew out of a 2020 virtual conference in which hundreds of artists were trying “to understand how American theater could, in response to the murder of George Floyd, catalyze positive change,” Wise said in an e-mail. -mail Monday. “I realized that I could progress by stepping down, helping to facilitate a more diverse approach [Central Square Theater] management team.”

Wise founded Underground Railway in 1978, naming it after a militant ideal and trying to live it. “In 1984, to understand the Sanctuary movement, we joined a caravan of Central American refugees (“Sanctuary: The Spirit of Harriet Tubman”). In 1989, we allied with the homeless (“Home Is Where”). In 1992, we collaborated with indigenous artists to deconstruct the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of Christopher Columbus (“Les folies de Christophe Colomb”). In 1994, we interviewed environmental justice activists from Albuquerque to New Orleans (“InTOXICating”),” Wise recalled in the email. Wise, who is white, said now “is a good time to sow new possibilities.”

The theater, which opened in 2008, brought together two Cambridge-based touring companies with MIT, which owns the 450 Massachusetts Ave. property, for an $8 million renovation. A fourth player was the Catalyst [email protected], created to be at the intersection of science and the arts, which will produce the first production of the upcoming season.

Lee Mikeska Gardner remains Artistic Director of Nora and Catherine Carr Kelly remains Executive Director. Wise is “pleased to continue to be a part of Central Square Theater for at least one more season” as program director for Catalyst – “our science theater work has been a particular passion,” she said – and will lead his show for the season as a contributing artist.

The 2022-2023 slate at the Central Square Theater includes:

“Ada and the Engine” by Lauren Gunderson, directed by Wise, from September 22 to October 23 as a production of the Catalyst [email protected] The play is set in 1830, during Britain’s Industrial Revolution, with 17-year-old Ada Byron Lovelace – author of the first computer program and daughter of Lord Byron – who begins a tumultuous collaboration with Charles Babbage, salon entertainer and inventor of the first computer. Theater Mirror critic Jamie Wilkinson was unimpressed last season with Gunderson’s ‘The Half-Life of Marie Curie’, which starred Wise but was directed by Bryn Boice. This production has been in the works since at least early 2020, including a reproduction of Babbage’s computer by prop maker Dick Rubinstein.

“The Chinese Lady” by Lloyd Suh, from Nov. 10 to Dec. 12. She spent the better part of two decades thinking of herself as an ambassador for life in her native China before disappearing from the public eye in 1850. “I had to figure out why she was forgotten,” Suh ​​told Stage Right Secrets. “Many of the reasons for his abandonment still stand.” Books and articles have recently explored Moy’s story; Suh’s play was commissioned by the Ma-Yi Theater Co., which premiered it at St. Germain Stage in Pittsfield in 2018, where it recently completed another series.

“Alma” by Benjamin Benne, from February 23 to March 26. This season’s only contemporary play – set in 2016 – asks who owns the American Dream by featuring the story of undocumented Alma and her American-born daughter, Angel, who once shared wishes for perfect SAT scores that would earn her a spot at the University of California, Davis. As Angel turns 17 and on the eve of this test, Donald Trump’s election as president sheds a different light on Angel’s plans. The night the play takes place “certainly felt like a heightened moment with Trump in power, but the thing is, it wasn’t good before and it sure wasn’t good after,” Benne told the Los Angeles Times in March.

“Angels in America: A Gay Fantasy on National Themes – Part 1: Millennium Approaches” by Tony Kushner, directed by Eric Tucker, from April 20 to May 21 in co-production with Bedlam. Bedlam art director Tucker has a stripped-down approach to casting and directing, and that’s already half of Kushner’s epic take on life in Ronald Reagan’s America (and beyond). in the mid-1980s, as the AIDS crisis raged. Kushner’s work, however, won a Pulitzer and Tony Prize for Best Play, and it’s hard to go wrong with Bedlam; Tucker’s “My Fair Lady” was a highlight of 2019, according to Mike Hoban of the Theater Mirror, and Wilkinson found Tucker’s “The Crucible” later that year to be “a very beautiful production with dizzying heights”. .

The Central Square Theater gala to be held Thursday at University Park Commons will honor Wise as well as Natalie Kuldell, founder and executive director of the BioBuilder Educational Foundation. The information is here.


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