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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Monday, Sep. 14, 2015 5 years ago

Urbanite Theatre announces 2015-2016 season

Urbanite's second season will include U.S. and regional premieres of four adventurous and challenging theatrical works: "Freak," "Lungs," "Stupid F#*%ing Bird" and "The Drowning Girls."
by: Nick Reichert Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Urbanite Theatre arrived on the Sarasota theatrical scene earlier this year in April. It seemed uncertain whether a brand new theater company could survive in a competitive arts and culture town like Sarasota with a wealth of regional, professional and community theater offerings. But after a summer presenting new and challenging plays (all either U.S. or regional premieres) and selling out and sometimes extending the runs of each production, the Urbanite's future looks as bright as ever.  

The company's second season continues the theater's mantra of presenting new works by international playwrights that focus on the social, political and emotional themes of contemporary society. The 2015-2016 is no different with four plays exploring sexuality and identity, becoming parents, misogyny and domestic abuse, and even the theater itself. The season includes "Freak" by Anna Jordan; "Lungs" by Duncan Macmillan; "Stupid F#*%ing Bird" by Aaron Posner; and "The Drowning Girls" by Beth Graham, Daniela Vlaskalic and Charlie Tomlinson. 

"I'm proud of the variety and style we have here for our second season," says Brendan Ragan, co-founding artistic director. "We're really stretching ourselves theatrically to exercise the art form of theater in a variety of ways. We wanted to challenge our audience quite a bit this year but also find plays that are accessible, relatable and exciting, which isn't always easy."

Co-founding artistic directors Brendan Ragan and Summer Wallace disrupted the Sarasota summer arts season with challenging productions of new works. They hope to continue the young theater's tradition of artistic provocation in season two.

Freak by Anna Jordan (Oct. 23 - Nov. 15): After the smash success of the Urbanite Theatre's inaugural show of Jordan's "Chicken Shop," which was a United States premiere, the Urbanite is collaborating with the British playwright on another American premiere: "Freak." The play focuses on the dual stories of Leah and Georgie. Leah, 15, is discovering her sexuality and on the cusp of entering adulthood and dating. Georgie, who is in her 30s, has just lost her job and has to enter the adult entertainment industry to make ends meet. While Georgie travels down a path into this dark industry, Leah has to deal with her first sexual experience with her popular boyfriend. Just as in "Chicken Shop," Jordan asks the audience at what cost should one pay for power and sex?

Lungs by Duncan Macmillan (Dec. 4 - Jan. 3): A departure for the Urbanite, "Lungs" is a minimalist drama that isn't created by the standard three-wall living room drama but with exact movement, acting and lighting and sound effect cues. The story surrounds a millennial couple who are deliberating on whether or not they should have a child and start a family. However, the anxiety of the modern age is at a precipice and terrorism, global warming, pollution and political arrest run rampant. So the couple must decide what the right reasons are for having a child in their ravaged time. What will break first: their relationship or the planet?

Stupid F#*%ing Bird by Aaron Posner (Feb. 12 - March 13): The season's comedy, "Stupid F#*%ing Bird" takes the story of Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull," one of the bedrocks of the modern theater, and flips it upside down. Ostensibly following the same plot and themes of generational conflict and the pursuits of art and love, the play is an irreverent remix and parody of Chekhov's masterpiece while examining the often ridiculous conventions and traditions of the theater itself. According to Ragan, it's a brutal roast of 'The Seagull' and the world of theater. 

The Drowning Girls by Beth Graham, Daniela Vlaskalic and Charlie Tomlinson (April 22 - May 22): Closing the season is a heartbreaking dramatization of the true life women who were posthumously called the "Brides in the Bath." Based on real life murders in early 20th century England, Bessie, Alice and Margaret each tell their own stories on how they each met, fell in love with, married and eventually were murdered by one man: George Joseph Smith. Addressing the modern day impacts of misogyny and domestic abuse, the play recreates the women's final moments of their respective lives. 

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