Two geniuses, dancing gangsters and a plate of sardines are headed to the Guthrie Theater in 2018-19.
The season announced Wednesday includes plays by Lynn Nottage and Mary Zimmerman, both recipients of MacArthur Foundation “genius grants.” Nottage’s “Floyd’s,” which was commissioned by the Guthrie and shares a character with the play that won her last year’s Pulitzer Prize, “Sweat,” will have its world premiere in July 2019. Directed by her frequent collaborator Kate Whoriskey, “Floyd’s” is set at a diner where ex-con cooks learn to create the perfect sandwich.
Long in development, the play joined the season quite recently, said Guthrie artistic director Joseph Haj: “It was in the first weekend of December, in our third workshop of the piece, that we thought, ‘Oh. It’s ready to go. We should do it now.’ ”
Zimmerman, a visual stylist whose “The White Snake” was at the Guthrie in 2014, returns in April 2019 with her best-known work, “Metamorphoses.” Based on fables from the Roman poet Ovid and set around an onstage swimming pool, it won her a directing Tony when it played on Broadway in 2002.
During his two seasons here, Haj has only directed on the thrust stage, and only Shakespeare plays or musicals. He’s stepping away from all that with his own adaptation of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” first staged for PlayMakers Repertory in 2006. “I wanted something leaner and more muscular and that kept on the story, without giving away the poetry and romance,” says Haj, who is eager to take his first crack at the Guthrie’s proscenium stage, “a space I adore.”
Another iconic outsider is at the center of Barbara Field’s “Playing With Fire,” which kicks off the season in September and marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein.” Set at the Arctic Circle, the drama imagines what would happen if Dr. Frankenstein and his monster tried to figure out where everything went south.
Things go south from the get-go in the farce “Noises Off,” which just ended a run at Artistry and will make its Guthrie debut in October. The comedy checks in on the company of a doomed play, where lines are fluffed, relationships are severed and a plate of sardines keeps disappearing.
The season includes a fourth female playwright: Lauren Yee, making her Guthrie debut with “The Great Leap,” a basketball-themed comedy set in Beijing in 1989.
The annual summer musical is “Guys and Dolls,” in which gangsters in love sing musical masterpieces including “Luck Be a Lady.”
Season subscriptions feature these seven plays plus a Shakespeare to be named later. Directors have not been announced for “Guys and Dolls” and four other shows.
“In some cases, we have offers out to directors who are wrestling with their calendars, so they don’t know yet if they’ll be available,” Haj said. “In a couple cases, we knew we wanted to program the show but we didn’t know who we wanted to reach out to.”
Haj has directed two shows in each of his previous seasons, but says, “There are so many [directors’] voices I want here at the Guthrie that I’m really comfortable making one play next year, if it comes down to that.”
Season subscriptions will be available starting May 21 at 612-225-6238 or guthrie theater.org. Also returning to the theater, but not part of the season package, is the annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” which again will be directed by Lauren Keating.