After a year of “transition” following a COVID-mandated hiatus, Gamm Theater Artistic Director Tony Estrella was eager to craft a season that would speak to audiences eager for live performance.
“I was thinking about why people come to see live art — they want political relevance and to engage in real storytelling,” Estrella said in announcing the company’s 2022-23 season. “There is a power in the theatricality and being in the room. We’ve abstracted ourselves a lot and we don’t look each other in the eye.
“Theatre brings to life the complexity of humanity and helps people open up to each other.”
To do so, Estrella turned to “bold and compelling” pieces for the six-show season, including:
“Describe the Night” in September and October
Obie Prize-winning Rajiv Joseph’s play covers 90 years of Russian history, moving between 1920, 1989 and 2010 to trace the stories of eight men and women bound by mystery and conspiracy. Estrella says the play is “theatrically wild and funny” because of the way it embraces realism and employs “crazy flights of fancy” to blur the story.
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“It’s relevant to where we are right now. It’s important, it goes to the heart of why we’re here,” Estrella says. we manipulate the truth and see the reality.”
“Sweat” in November and December
In her Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Lynn Nottage explores life in a working-class industrial town in Pennsylvania where layoffs spark tension between friends struggling to survive.
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“By tearing the community apart from their jobs, she shows how people lose their sense of self because of their sense of worth. It tribalizes us,” Estrella says.
“It’s a wonderful life” for a limited run in December
The 1940s-style radio play returns to The Gamm with familiar characters from Frank Capra’s classic holiday movie and live sound effects to tell the heartwarming story of a man who discovers his true worth through a Christmas miracle .
“Healer of Faith” in January and February 2023
Irish playwright Brian Friel examines the stories of a traveling healer and how his memory of a tragic event conflicts with the memory of his wife and steward. Estrella calls it “a statement of why we engage art.”
“My favorite line,” he adds, “is when the healer says, ‘When I stood before a man, put my hands on him, and saw him become whole in my presence. They were nights of exultation, of consumption — no, not that I do good, that I relieve, that I spread joy — good God, no — nothing to do with that; but because the questions that undermined my life then became meaningless, and I knew during those few hours that I had become whole in myself and perfect in myself.
“Leave the one on the right in” in March 2023
Adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne from a Swedish horror thriller by John Ajvide Linqvist, it “embraces fables and myths,” including vampires, Estrella says. In an apartment complex on the outskirts of town, a lonely teenager befriends a new neighbor who only comes out at night. The coming-of-age love story tackles the concept of power and powerlessness.
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“It’s scary and moving and it will transform you,” he says. “It brings us to the edge and keeps us there, which is the power of live theater.”
Another strange setting, this time in the shadow of a nuclear power plant, is conjured up by playwright Lucy Kirkwood for its protagonists, a pair of retired physicists from the plant. After a nuclear disaster, their quiet existence is shaken by the appearance of a friend with a life-changing request.
“It’s a matter of love and friendship. Then the mystery around their relationship deepens – is it a love triangle? Estelle said. “There is a deeper mystery related to what is happening in the world and our responsibility to our children.”
Five-game subscription packages go on sale April 18 and include $10 off unlimited tickets to “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Single tickets will be available from August.
The Gamm Theater is located at 1245 Jefferson Blvd. at Warwick. For more information, visit gammtheatre.org or call (401) 723-4266.