Trinity Rep announces new season with plays focusing on relationships

Curt Columbus is artistic director at Trinity Repertory Company. [The Providence Journal / Bob Thayer]
Curt Columbus is artistic director at Trinity Repertory Company. [The Providence Journal / Bob Thayer]

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Programming a new season for the Trinity Repertory Company is like planning the menu for a dinner party, said artistic director Curt Columbus — you can’t serve the same thing for every course. So there needs to be a balance of comedy and drama, new and old.

And if Columbus has planned correctly, this will be a party with lots of conversation about how we relate to each other as neighbors, family, workers and community. “The last year and a half has been so divisive. I think you ignore that at your peril,” he said.

The new season, beginning Sept. 28, includes a new comedy commissioned by Trinity and set in Providence during World War II, Shakespeare’s “Othello,” and the musical “Ragtime.” And, of course, it wouldn’t be Trinity without “A Christmas Carol,” this time with Joe Wilson Jr. as Ebenezer Scrooge.

The season kicks off with a pairing of two plays, “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller and “Skeleton Crew” by Dominique Morisseau, which looks at four factory workers in 2008 Detroit. The two plays, performed from Sept. 28 to Nov. 26, use the same sets, the same actors, and are united under the title “The American Dream, Then and Now.”

The Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” in its 40th anniversary production, will run from Nov. 9 to Dec. 31.

“Into the Breeches!” by George Brant, is a brand-new comedy at Trinity from Jan. 25 to Feb. 25, 2018. It’s set in Providence, 1942, at the fictional Oberon Play House. All the men are off to war, so the women set out to produce an all-female version of Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” taking on roles they would not have in peacetime.

“It’s so funny, it’s ridiculous,” Columbus said.

More Shakespeare follows, namely “Othello,” from Feb. 15 to March 18, 2018. And it’s not so funny. Columbus said the play is short on pomp and circumstance in order to focus on the essentials: jealousy, power, what it means to be a nation in a protracted war.

From April 5 to May 6, 2018, Trinity presents a contemporary “comedy of good intentions and bad manners” by Karen Zacarias called “Native Gardens,” in which neighbors agree to remove the ugly chain-link fence separating their yards and replace it with a more elegant wood fence. “We’re talking a lot about fences these days,” Columbus said.

The season closes with a musical “Ragtime,” from April 26 to May 27. Based on the E.L. Doctorow novel and directed by Columbus, it traces the intersecting lives of an upper-middle class white mother, a Jewish immigrant and an African-American musician.

“It has great music,” Columbus said. “But it’s also included because of the Doctorow novel. I think of it as part of a Trinity tradition of presenting classic American literature.”

Subscriptions to the 2017-18 are available now. For information call (401) 351-4242.

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