The Public Theater Announces Its 2009-2010 Slate

Every spring, we here at Voice receive a stream of press releases from local theaters and theater groups announcing their play lineups for the coming season. They’re quite the tease, these schedules, always promising more artistically than they ever really deliver. With that in mind, though, we can’t help but be impressed by next year’s Public Theater roster, announced yesterday. While the theater season is not exactly a competition, artistic director Oskar Eustis’s Public is looking like 2009-2010’s winner.

The Public’s fall will kick off with Peter Sellars directing Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz in Othello, a show likely to be one of the hottest tickets in town. Might it be doing battle with a Broadway transfer of Theatre for a New Audience’s version, starring John Douglas Thompson, who just won an Obie for his performance? Stay tuned on that one. The Public moves Cyprus a few blocks west for this outing, mounting the play at NYU’s Skirball Center, running September 12 through October 4.

Iago and friends will be followed by the latest from Tarell Alvin McCraney, of The Brothers Size and Wig Out! fame. His Bayou-set trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays Part 1 & Part 2 will run October 21 to December 13. The play grouping features two new works, as well as a reprise of The Brothers Size.

McCraney will be joined in the Public’s halls by avant-impresario Richard Foreman, who returns to the Public with his play Idiot Savant, which will star Willem Dafoe. It’s Dafoe’s Public debut, and the first Foreman production at the Public since he directed Suzan-Lori Parks’s Venus in 1996. The piece runs from October 27 to December 13, a fine, autumnal time to make your own head a sledgehammer.

As Foreman is finishing up, monologuist Mike Daisey will get a chance to rant again, with his solo piece The Last Cargo Cult, about “a remote South Pacific island whose inhabitants worship America at the base of a constantly erupting volcano.” (Specific December dates still to be announced.) And speaking of Suzan-Lori Parks (no relation, sadly), in March the Pulitzer-winner and Public fave offers up Snake, a Sam Shepard-sounding story of a battling family in South Texas. The Public Lab series will live again, and January sees the return of Under the Radar. Mark Russell’s ever-enterprising performance festival has become an annual must-see; happily, the rest of the Public’s new season promises to keep the theater fully on the radar throughout 2009-2010.

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