Intiman Theatre’s 2015 summer-fall festival will include a new play inspired by the 2008 Gay Softball World Series in Seattle.
Tennessee Williams and Lillian Hellman dramas, a raucous romp about growing up gay and black, and a new play about reverse bigotry and softball are on the 2015 agenda for Intiman Theatre.
According to artistic director Andrew Russell, the box office and critical success of Intiman’s 2014 version of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” is allowing the company to expand its annual summer festival to include more fall productions and ancillary activities.
The season opens in July with a rare staging of Williams’ “Orpheus Descending,” a sexually charged 1957 tragedy about a repressed, racist Southern town’s response to the arrival of a magnetic young drifter. Directed by Ryan Purcell with actors from his emerging ensemble The Williams Project, it will run July 10-Aug. 2 at 12th Avenue Arts.
The other three plays deal with gay issues. First up: “John Baxter Is a Switch Hitter,” a world-premiere work by Intiman’s Russell and Ana Brown, staged by Rosa Joshi at Seattle Center’s Cornish Playhouse (Aug. 18-Sept. 27). It is inspired by an actual controversy at the 2008 Gay Softball World Series in Seattle, when a participating team was accused of having too many heterosexual players on its roster.
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Hellman’s classic 1934 work about lies and homophobia, “The Children’s Hour,” will run Sept. 9-27, in alternating repertory with “John Baxter Is a Switch Hitter.” Sheila Daniels directs the initially controversial tale of two teachers whom a student accuses of being lesbians.
Also upcoming is the Seattle debut of Robert O’Hara’s Off Broadway hit “Bootycandy,” a freewheeling satire about African-American attitudes toward homosexuality. Staged by Malika Oyetimein, it will run Sept. 17-Oct. 3 in the Cornish Playhouse Studio.
Russell says the festival’s theme this year is “The Hunt Is On,” which refers to how a community treats “the different and marginalized” in their midst.
The response to “Angels in America,” he reflects, proves that “the more we lean into our socially progressive mission, the more successful we are with audiences.”
Since Intiman’s near demise in 2011, the reconstituted, smaller-scale company has gradually regained financial footing as a summer-fall festival that lives within its means, says Russell. (The 2015 budget is $1.3 million, up from $1 million in 2012.)
Intiman also has been able to expand its small staff and to schedule larger-cast shows with more professional, Equity union actors. A sizable debt still lingers from the previous era, however. Details about that, and potential new funding of significant impact, will be revealed later.
Russell is bullish on Intiman’s future. “People are starting to understand and appreciate our mission, and I feel that a new Intiman is emerging.”
More information is at intiman.org.