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April is the cruelest month, the poet wrote, but not so for Seattle theatergoers this season. An eclectic assortment of noteworthy contemporary plays is on offer.

A Civil War drama, a Kafka classic and a performance piece in the buff are some of the works having their debut Seattle productions:

‘The Whipping Man’

“I’ve always been fascinated by those moments that the history books skip over, the valleys between the peaks of historical events,” said writer Matthew Lopez, about his prizewinning play “The Whipping Man.”

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The big events alluded to here: the Civil War, the emancipation of slaves and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Lopez’s script probes the profound impact of these historical markers on a wounded Confederate soldier returning from war and two former slaves, as the three celebrate a harsh but meaningful Passover together.

A success Off Broadway and nationally, “Whipping Man” contains graphic and mature material, and is advised for patrons 16 and older. Scott Nolte directs the Taproot Theatre version, featuring esteemed local actor William Hall Jr. as well as Ryan Childers and Tyler Trerise.

Friday-April 27 at Taproot Theatre, Seattle (206-781-9707 or

‘Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them’

A common teens’ dream: no adults bossing them around. But in this seriocomedy by A. Rey Pamatmat, two motherless siblings largely abandoned by their father have a tough row to hoe, while secretly maintaining their own household in the rural Midwest.

A budding gay romance, intrusive grown-ups and an unfortunate incident with a pellet gun are challenges faced by precocious Edith and her brother Kenny. The Seattle Public Theater will also host post-show forums with the cast and crew along with representatives from the Filipino community of Seattle and young writers from Edmonds’ Scriber Lake High School, who have shared their own personal struggles in the book, “We Are Absolutely Not Okay: Fourteen Stories By Teenagers Who are Picking Up the Pieces.”

Friday-April 21 at Seattle Public Theater, Seattle (206-524-1300 or

‘The Trial’

Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella, about an Everyman charged with and prosecuted for an unspecified crime by an unseen, all-powerful and cruelly enigmatic justice system, is a nightmare fantasy that has resonated through every decade of the past century.

Bringing “The Trial” to life in our own age of Guantánamo and the War on Terror is New Century Theatre Company’s latest project. This dramatization by Kenneth Albers is being atmospherically staged by John Langs at the Satori Lab, within the Inscape Arts Building — a former government-immigration station and detention center, no less.

April 5-28 at Inscape Arts, 815 Seattle Blvd. S., Seattle. Tickets are limited, reservations advised (

‘Untitled Feminist Show’

Without words, or clothing, six performers band together in this daring new work devised by acclaimed Young Jean Lee, Korea-born and raised in Pullman. The piece is described as “a hilarious and disorienting exploration of feminism and gender fluidity” which reveals “ the space between how we identify ourselves and what we could become if unhampered by cultural norms.”

Lee is a theatrical provocateur who addresses big topics with ironic bluntness, by embracing and subverting conventional wisdom. This is a return visit by her troupe to On the Boards, which earlier presented Lee’s idiosyncratic take on racial dynamics, “The Shipment.”

Thursday-April 7 at On the Boards, Seattle (206-217-9888 or

Misha Berson:

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