Just as the 2010-11 theater season is about to kick off, Know Theatre of Cincinnati has shared plans for its 13th season. They'll offer four mainstage productions (there were five in 2009-10), the eighth annual Cincy Fringe Festival and a new family of programs dubbed the "Jackson Street Market." The season begins in earnest after Know hosts MidPoint Music Festival showcases Sept. 23-25. —-
The first production will be Skin Tight (Oct. 9-30) by New Zealand playwright Gary Henderson. Directed by Drew Fracher, the production will star local actress Beth Harris and visiting actor Jens Rasmussen in a story about a couple who engage in a theatrical dance of their union through an exhilarating feast of fighting, lovemaking and tenderness, exploring the ecstasy and pain of a passionate love affair.
For the holidays, Know will present A Wrinkle in Time (Nov. 27-Dec. 26), adapted by John Glore from the book by Madeline L’Engle. The stage version of the popular children’s story will be produced in collaboration with Minneapolis-based Four Humors Theatre, a high-profile, three-year participant in the Cincy Fringe Festival. Four Humors’ Jason Ballweber, who directed last December’s Sideways Stories from Wayside School, returns to stage this show.
Know Theatre’s third mainstage production (planned for January-February 2011) will be announced shortly. I'm told they're working on several options, one of which is a musical and another is a straight play with a large cast.
The mainstage season will conclude with The Dragon (April 2-May 7, 2011), a co-production with Madcap Puppet Theatre, adapted by Cincinnati playwright and actor Alison Vodnoy from Eugene Schwarz’s original 1943 play of the same name. The production will be staged by Irina Niculescu, a puppet theatre director from the University of Quebec in Montreal; the set, lighting, puppets, makeup and costumes will be designed by Andrew Hungerford, with sound design by Doug Borntrager. Two characters in the play, Lancelot and The Dragon, are played by live actors; the remainder are puppets built at Madcap Puppet Theatre.
Know is also launching an innovative family of programs, collectively called the “Jackson Street Market,” intended to build and retain our local artist community. The program will seek to provide more opportunities for artistic entrepreneurs to leverage Know Theatre’s resources on their behalf and to build on the strengths of Cincinnati’s artistic community by creating a space where artists can experiment and play with new ideas.
Anticipated activities include a resource-sharing Web site, a lab program led by dance/performance troupe Pones Inc. and Know artists focused on collaborative projects, workshops from groups like Artemis Exchange using Know’s Underground bar facility as a regular venue, a playwriting group that meets monthly, and an artist exchange program that will partner with directors, actors and designers from other cities.
Know’s Eric Vosmeier, recently named the theater’s producing artistic director (he's been the interim artistic and business manager of Know since the departure a year ago of Know founder Jay Kalagayan and former artistic director Jason Bruffy), says, “The specifics of the Jackson Street Market programs are being worked out. We’re tinkering with new ideas. Individual components will rotate in and out of the program, and each season the specifics might change or adapt to the participants and needs of the local artist community.”
My observation: This is really a work in progress, but it has potential to generate some real creativity well beyond that of the typical theater company that simply produces shows.
Know Theatre has taken the lead locally in inventive theater. Its 2010-11 season demonstrates its commitment to pushing the boundaries.
[FYI, Know hosts the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for local theater, organized and sponsored by CityBeat, on Sunday, Aug. 29. Get more info here.]