Tennessee Rep offers up daring season

When the Tennessee Repertory Theatre announced its 2007-2008 season, it boldly reaffirmed its commitment of producing thought-provoking live theatre. With an eclectic group of plays that promises to touch on political issues and evoke deep emotions, it seems evident that Rep audiences won’t be leaving the theatre humming a ditty from Cats.

Instead, they’ll leave deep in thought and bathed in intense emotion…which is exactly the way Tennessee Rep Producing Director Rene Copeland wants it.

“As theatre artists, what we long for--what we work so hard for--is to create something that makes our audiences FEEL something--joy, terror, laughter, heartache, whatever--and the shows for the 2007-2008 season have the potential to really connect with audiences that way,” explains Copeland.

“I can say with complete confidence that there's not a single show on the season that won't have huge effect on the audience members, and as a director I look forward to making that happen.”

Such edgy and smart drama has become the benchmark for Tennessee Rep, which was formed in 1985. The Middle Tennessee theatre company truly boasts a local product, featuring local actors as well as sets designed and constructed and costumes sewn right here in Nashville. In all, Tennessee Rep will produce five plays this year in what assuredly the most daring and exciting that the Music City has seen in years, if not ever.

“We have THREE Tony Award-winners for Best Play, one nominee for the Pulitzer for Drama, and last year's Pulitzer award winner. We have an adaptation of a screenplay ingeniously done, that brings to the stage one of America's best-loved stories, and we have an adaptation by one of America's acknowledged comic geniuses, Steve Martin, who has established himself not only as a performer but a respected writer of plays and screenplays,” says Copeland.

When asked about the selection process for the 2007-2008 season, Copeland responded:

“Each of our selections is brilliantly written; each meets the highest standards of quality theatre; and each has been embraced by regional theatres all over the country due to the quality and integrity and sheer entertainment value of each piece.”

Copeland continues, “Choosing a season for a mission-driven non-profit theatre is actually an artistic process. While we have to balance the art we are interested in producing with the practical necessity of selling tickets--and we do--our initial impulse is always about choosing work that we think is worthy to present to our community, work that will have something to say to our community, and work that we believe our particular group of theatre artists can really connect with and will be able to do in a special way.”

“For a season, you look around for plays of quality, that you feel connected to in one way or another and think about what shows balance well against each other in your goal of presenting a slate of productions that have variety and impact, and that for us, bring to Nashville the best of what's happening in regional theatres nationwide.

“If you choose well, you end up with an appealing combination of shows for audiences that also provide an appealing set of artistic challenges for your theatre company. I think this upcoming season more than satisfies that goal.”

Satisfies that goal indeed… with some witches, a goat and underpants.

From Arthur Miller’s classic 1953 Tony Award-winner for Best Play The Crucible to The Underpants, an adaptation by Steve Martin (Yes, THAT Steve Martin) of the original play by Carl Sternheim, “the Rep” comes through on its promises to deliver theatre that matters… theatre that is truly “alive”… theatre that lives and breathes.

Copeland summarizes, “That moment when the audience gasps, or laughs, or cries, or holds their breath with anticipation… that's what I look forward to as a director.

“And I think what's really exciting about the upcoming season for Tennessee Rep is that every show has the potential to knock your socks off.”

A look at the full season:

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
October 4 - 13 at TPAC’s Polk Theatre
Directed by Rene Copeland

An American classic with political undertones that still reverberate, this gripping story of Puritan New England and the infamous 1692 Salem witch trials reminds us that courageous individuals are needed in all times and places to stand up against the fear induced by political and religious intolerance.

It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play adapted by Joe Landry from the film directed by Frank Capra
November 29 – December 22 at TPAC’s Johnson Theatre
Directed by David Alford

The time is Christmas Eve 1946 at station WBFR, where five talented radio players bring you all the characters (yes, all of them) in It's a Wonderful Life, plus commercials, sound effects, and music—a great way to experience anew the powerful story of George Bailey, "the richest man in town."

The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia? By Edward Albee
January 31 – February 16 at TPAC’s Johnson Theatre
Directed by Rene Copeland

For every theater-goer who is a fan of contemporary drama, Edward Albee slams realism and absurdity together in his uniquely witty, sharp, and earthy way; a happily-married, accomplished, educated man at the peak of a successful architectural career falls genuinely in love with a goat he calls Sylvia! As provocative as it is creative, The Goat has stunned audiences and critics alike.

Doubt by John Patrick Shanley
March 13 – 29 at TPAC’S Johnson Theatre
Directed by Rene Copeland

This spellbinding Pulitzer Prize-winning play is set in a Catholic grammar school in 1964. Sister Aloysius, the indefatigable school principal, comes to question the moral character of the more progressive spiritual leader, Father Flynn. Once her doubts are set in motion, an explosive cat-and-mouse game ensues.

The Underpants adapted by Steve Martin from the original play by Carl Sternheim
May 1 – 17 at TPAC’s Polk Theatre
Directed by Lane Davies

This rollicking farce told with the wacky sensibility of Steve Martin is set in 1910 is about a pretty young woman who accidentally loses her underpants while watching a parade to the dismay of her stuffy bureaucrat husband. Martin hysterically comments on our celebrity-mad culture with its 15-minutes-of-fame syndrome.

The Tennessee Repertory Theatre’s 2007-2008 season is made possible through partnerships with the HCA Foundation on behalf of HCA/TriStar, the Ingram Charities Fund, and American Airlines. For more information on the Tennessee Repertory Theatre and for ticketing information, please visit www.tennesseerep.org.

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