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Off Broadway Fall Preview

By: Mark Blankenship
Date: Aug 31, 2009


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By Mark Blankenship

New York's Off Broadway companies are a crucial part of the city's theatre scene. These are the troupes that bring us the next great actor, the hottest rising playwright, and the fresh new look at the classic play.

Here's a sample of the shows in the fall Off Broadway season, covering everything from solo pieces to Shakespeare revivals. For the stories behind these productions (and many others), keep your eye on

(This list is alphabetized by company name)

(1) Atlantic Theatre Company

Keep Your Pantheon  and School by David Mamet
(Beginning September 9)

This could well be the season of Mamet. Along with two Broadway productions, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright enjoys two premieres at the Atlantic, which has supported his work since its debut season in 1985.

Keep Your Pantheon, a farce about an acting troupe in ancient Rome, is a full-length play, and it will be joined by School, a short comedy about environmentalism.

(2) Epic Theatre Ensemble

Mahida's Extra Key to Heaven
(Beginning  September 16)

Russell Davis' poetic comedy follows an American man and an Iranian woman who are unexpectedly thrown together on a small island.

(3) Keen Company

Such Things Only Happen in Books (an evening of short plays by Thornton Wilder)
(Beginning  October 6)

Known for reviving little-seen American classics, Keen Company will launch its tenth season with the New York professional premieres of five short plays by Thornton Wilder.

(4) Lincoln Center Theatre

(Beginning September 10)

Playing at Lincoln Center's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, Broke-ology is a drama about two brothers who are faced with difficult questions about family loyalty after their father becomes ill. Playwright Nathan Louis Jackson, a student at the Julliard School, makes his New York debut.

(5) Manhattan Theatre Club

(Beginning October 15)

Lynn Redgrave writes and stars in this play about a promising woman whose potential is smothered by societal mores. Inspired by Redgrave's own need to connect with her grandmother, Nightingale will appear at City Center.

(6) MCC Theater

Still Life
(Beginning September 16)

Dominic Chianese (The Sopranos), Sarah Paulson (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), and Adriane Lenox (Doubt on Broadway) star in the story of a photographer who's rescued from a downward spiral when she starts a whirlwind relationship.

(7) New York Theatre Workshop

(Beginning September 1)

Following their Off Broadway hit The Exonerated, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen's interview-based play investigates Iraqis who flee to Jordan for safety.

(8) Playwrights Horizons

Circle Mirror Transformation
(Beginning September 24)

Lauded new playwright Annie Baker (Body Awareness) charts the tiny wars in a community center drama class.

(9) Primary Stages

The Night Watcher
(Beginning September 22)

Charlayne Woodard writes and performs this solo piece about the many children she has mentored in her life.

(10) The Public Theatre

(Beginning September 12)

A co-production with LAByrinth Theatre Company, this production, directed by celebrated Brit Peter Sellars, radically reimagines Shakespeare's drama of jealousy and murder. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as Iago.

(11) Roundabout Theatre

The Understudy
(Begins October 1)

Julie White (The Little Dog Laughed), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Raising the Bar), and Justin Kirk (Weeds) star in Theresa Rebeck's acidly satirical look at the underbelly of the acting world.

(12) Second Stage Theatre

Let Me Down Easy
(Beginning September 15)

Anna Deavere Smith uses her famed journalistic precision to embody wide array of people she interviewed about life in the American healthcare system.

(13) Signature Theatre Company

The Orhpans' Home Cycle, Part I 
(Beginning  November 5)

Subtitled "The Story of a Childhood," this production kicks off the Signature's season-long commitment to Horton Foote's nine-play opus, which is loosely based on his own childhood. Part I features the plays Roots in a Parched Ground, Convicts, and Lily Dale.

(14) Vineyard Theatre

A Boy and His Soul
(Beginning September 9)

Colman Domingo (Passing Strange) dips into his family history and his lifelong connection to music for this autobiographical solo piece about coming of age in the 1970s.
Mark Blankenship