WASHINGTON — The upcoming season in D.C. is shaping up as a real tragedy — a Greek tragedy. Three prominent Washington theaters are planning energetic new adaptations of Greek classics as part of a season peppered with old and new works.
In August, Arena Stage offers a new compilation of Greek texts by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides called “Agamemnon and His Daughters.” It will be staged by Arena artistic director Molly Smith.
The Shakespeare Theater opens its five-play season with “Oedipus,” an adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus cycle staged by a.d. Michael Kahn. Avery Brooks will play the title role.
The Studio Theater will present a new adaptation of Aeschylus’ “Prometheus” to be staged by its artistic director, Joy Zinoman. Slated for March as part of Studio’s “Extreme Theater” season (its 24th), the production will include a 20-woman chorus in a new version of the traditional first act, penned by novelist and playwright Sophy Burnham. Act two will be Burnham’s own creation of the trilogy’s two lost parts.
Not to be outdone, Woolly Mammoth Theater will mount Charles L. Mee’s over-the-top comedy, “Big Love,” a radical adaptation of Aeschylus’ “The Supplicant Maidens.” Woolly’s a.d. Howard Schalwitz will direct.
Other season highlights include Arena Stage’s world premiere of “Polk County,” a folk musical written by Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston that was recently discovered in the bowels of the Library of Congress, where it had languished for nearly 60 years. Kyle Donnelly will direct. Arena also will mount John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” John Glore’s “On the Jump,” Sam Shepard’s “True West” and Eugene O’Neill’s “A Moon for the Misbegotten.”
Arlington, Va.’s Signature Theater will include three premieres next season. They include a musical called “Outlaws,” based on the life of Billy the Kid. It offers music by Alastair King and Perry Liu, with book by Liu and Joe Calarco. It will be directed by Calarco, Signature’s artistic associate. The theater also will mount the American preem of “Zander’s Boat,” by Scottish playwright Grace Barnes, and its own commission, “The Diaries,” by John Strand, underwritten by the Sallee Charitable Trust. Its season also will include the musical “Grand Hotel” and the rock musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Other highlights here next season include the Round House Theater’s production of “Shakespeare, Moses and Joe Papp,” a new play by D.C. scribe Ernest Joselovitz that chronicles the battles of Papp and Robert Moses. Woolly Mammoth Theater’s season also will include the world preem of the new comedy “Spain” by Jim Knable as well as the debut of “Tommy J & Sally” by Mark Medoff. The latter will be one of three productions Woolly will co-produce with D.C.’s Theater J.