IRT’s new season

March 7, 2008
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Yesterday the Indiana Repertory Theatre announced its 2008/2009 season and while it’s clearly too soon to pass any judgments – or make accurate predictions – I have to admit that the optimist and the pessimist in me had a field day debating the list:

“Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” adapted by Steven Dietz, based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle

Pessimist: Here’s the first indication that this is a schedule that looks like it cares as much about student audiences as it does about adult theatergoers.

Optimist: Stage mysteries can be fun — and best left in the hands of a fully professional company. You don’t want your local dentist playing Watson. Plus, Dietz is a respected playwright.

“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

Pessimist: Once again, the Bard cut down to 90 minutes. (Yes, I realize that’s part of the initiative that helps fund this production. I’m talking as an adult audience member.)

Optimist: When was the last professional “Macbeth” production we’ve seen in these parts?

“Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol” adapted by Tom Haas

Pessimist: Again.

Optimist: Why mess with a good thing?

“This Wonderful Life” written by Steve Murray, conceived by Mark Setlock

Optimist: An original take on a 20th century classic. Why not?

Pessimist: Isn’t the season a little heavy on adaptations?

“Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird,” adapted by Christopher Sergel

Pessimist: The IRT already did the show. OK, it was about a decade ago, but still.

Optimist: You’ve seen the film more than once, why not the play? Besides, there’s not just a new crop of kids, but also lots of adults who missed it the first time around. And the previous production was a memorable one.

“Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment” adapted by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus

Pessimist: Yet another adaptation. Are there no original plays to choose from anymore?

Optimist: This version wowed audiences in previous productions. And are you really going to pretend that you’ve read the book?

“Interpreting William” by James Still

Optimist: This is a warts-and-all original that doesn’t hide the dark side of William Conner’s interesting life.

Pessimist: Isn’t there this Prairie up in Hamilton County where we can learn everything we want to about Conner?

“Crowns” by Regina Taylor, adapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry

Pessimist: The Phoenix Theatre did this one already, in 2004.

Optimist: The IRT has more resources. And wider reach.

“Rabbit Hole” by David Lindsay-Abaire

Optimist: It’s an Indiana premiere of a critically acclaimed new play. And “Doubt” proved that there’s an audience for thought-provoking work such as this.

Pessimist: Ah, at last, an original drama … that was done at regional theaters across the country last season.

“The Ladies Man” by Georges Feydeau, freely translated and adapted from “Taillieur Pour Dames”

Optimist: Who doesn’t like an expertly played farce — especially one that’s unfamiliar to most audiences?

Pessimist: Frankly, I’m tired of being pessimistic. Who doesn’t like a good, expertly played farce? Here’s hoping.

Your thoughts?
  • One question- One comment

    For the Sherlock piece- why is it a bad thing to appeal to both student and adult audiences? Aren't student audiences the theatregoers of the future?

    Comment- I believe INTERPRETTING WILLIAM is an original play, not an adaptation.
  • Karen,
    Re: William--I've edited the text to correct. Thanks for clarifying.
    Re: Sherlock--I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. My pessimistic side just wonders if the schedule doesn't tip too heavily in that direction.
  • I think today's students are less than interested in Sherlock. I am looking forward to the show, though.
  • If anyone can have a hope of making a character like Holmes fresh and appealing, it's someone like Dietz. His adaptation of Dracula is wild.

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