photo by Moonloop Photography
We tell ourselves stories in order to live.— Joan Didion
As City Theater Company anticipates our upcoming 29th season, the second in our resident partnership with The Delaware Contemporary, we have gone through the usual exercise of asking ourselves what stories we want to tell right here in Wilmington.
Choosing a season is rarely an easy task. Artistically, there are practical matters in any story, even if they happen off the page, outside of the main action —can we secure rights, what will these productions cost, who will help us pay the actors and the directors and the designers, do we have the team in place to pull any of these possibilities off?
COVID-19 is still with us — it has never left us — how does that continue to impact our performers and our patrons?
What stories will we choose to tell that reflect the chaos and confusion of the past few years the political, the personal, the public, the private — and what stories do our audiences want to hear from us?
CTC’s story began in a bar, presenting short plays in a nod to the great tradition (as old as the art of theater itself) of pub performances. We went on to be housed in various venues around the city as we expanded our repertoire over the ensuing years.
We did a lot of stuff that no one was doing, and dared to do a lot of stuff no one even knew they wanted to do. We’ve done opera and Shakespeare; comedies so dark people walked out; rock shows so banging that people came back for more; little-known Off-Broadway pieces and several world premieres of brand-new works by local playwrights. We hosted a long-running, 10-Minute Play Festival every summer that gave up-and-coming writers a chance to see their work performed live. We’ve had several iterations of improv troupes. We have taken many big Broadway musicals and reimaged them in intimate spaces. And like so many of our peers, we did a whole season on Zoom that was a mash-up of a lot of these things.
Listening to you, I get the music … from you, I get the story— Pete Townshend
For 2022-23, we looked at a lot of options, grappled with a lot of challenges, and thought a lot about what stories we could tell that might reflect both the world we inhabit now and the one we have inherited. We asked, what stories are CTC’s raison d’être —the ones that uncover what has been inhumed, the ones that unmask inhibitions, the ones inherent to whom we are and were and want to be as a voice in American theater for the 21st century?
Here’s what we came up with:
December: The Who’s "Tommy,'' the rock and roll story of a pinball wizard brought to life by rock royalty’s Pete Townshend in music and lyrics, with a book by Townshend and Des McAnuff.
February: "The Year of Magical Thinking,'' a one-woman story of traversing the universal universe of grief, adapted as a play by the incomparable Joan Didion from her best-selling memoir.
April: "Assassins,'' a deeply unsettling yet entertaining view of the story of four wannabe and five actual killers of U.S. presidents, weaving the late Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics with a book by John Weidman.
May: "The Tax Free Comedy Festival,'' two nights where the stories of stand-up comedians, musicians, and improv teams converge.
And throughout the season, beginning in September: CTC’s Fearless Improv team literally MAKES UP STORIES ON THE SPOT at monthly shows, and local playwrights and authors let us speak their stories in a series of staged readings to workshop new pieces.
Someone tell the story - Someone sing the song - Story's pretty strong— Stephen Sondheim
We all tell ourselves stories in order to live. That’s what theater is. And we invite you to live in these stories, ones that embrace our past and our present and our future, right along with us this season at City Theater Company.