The Guthrie Theater announced a 2017-18 season Thursday mixing old and new plays that speak to social unease, truth-telling and moral courage in the face of fear.
The lineup includes the regional premiere of “Familiar,” a Twin Cities-set play by Danai Gurira, the celebrated writer and performer (“The Walking Dead”) who graduated from Macalester College. It centers on an integrated American-Zimbabwean family confronting questions of assimilation and roots because of a wedding (March 10-April 14, 2018).
The season includes one world premiere: a new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” by novelist and playwright Kia Corthron.
The drama, about a truth-teller who is declared untrustworthy by a demagogue, will be staged by British director Lyndsey Turner, perhaps best known for her Benedict Cumberbatch-starring production of “Hamlet” (April 28-June 3, 2018).
For the first time, the Guthrie will stage a work by Lillian Hellman, the late playwright and screenwriter (“The Little Foxes”) who was one of the best-known female writers for the stage. Her 1941 play “Watch on the Rhine” orbits an anti-Nazi resistance fighter and a Nazi sympathizer in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 30 — Nov. 5).
Hellman’s play will be a companion piece to an escapist comedy that premiered the same year, Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” last staged at the Guthrie two decades ago by the theater’s former director, Joe Dowling (Nov. 25-Jan. 14, 2018).
“We understand that we have to be a lot of things to a lot of people, with some measure of classical work mixed with contemporary, drama and comedy,” Dowling’s successor, artistic director Joe Haj, said Thursday in an interview.
“But we don’t do it willy-nilly. We have curatorial patterns that speak beautifully to our moment.”
The season includes 10 mainstage plays, eight of which were announced Thursday. (The other two, including the Guthrie’s big summer musical, will be revealed April 17.) The season kicks off with “Romeo and Juliet,” which Haj will direct for the first time (Sept. 9-Oct. 28). Crispin Whittell’s adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” will return Nov. 14-Dec. 30.
Also on the roster is “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” adapted from the 1967 Oscar-winning racially themed comic drama by August Wilson’s former dramaturge Todd Kreidler (April 7-May 27, 2018).
“The Legend of Georgia McBride,” Matthew Lopez’s show about an Elvis impersonator who turns to drag for a spark, closes out the mainstage lineup (July 14-Aug. 26, 2018).
“This is a thrilling, extraordinary season,” said Haj. “It allows us to hold a mirror up to society and address timely questions about ourselves and our world.”
Season subscriptions, ranging from $90-$630, go on sale May 19, with single tickets available at various later dates. For more information, go to guthrietheater.org or call 612-225-6238.