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Taper Sets Rajiv Joseph, David Henry Hwang World Premieres

The world premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s “Archduke” will help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2017-18.

Joseph’s dark comedy “explores the short journey from individual hardship to public harm as personal desperation is cultivated into an act with international significance and a few average men spark World War I,” according to a statement from CTG. The play opens April 30 and runs through May 28.

“Drawing on Rajiv’s signature dark comedy and ability to draw parallels between current and historical events, this new work offers a fascinatingly personal look at the path to terrorism,” said Michael Ritchie, artistic director of Center Theatre Group.

The other world premiere is David Henry Hwang’s “Soft Power” (running April 15 through May 13, 2018), which closes the Taper’s season. “Seeing shows at the Taper as a young man helped launch David’s journey toward a life in the theater,” Ritchie said. “Now he is one of the most important voices in American theater and the ideal playwright to send the Mark Taper Forum into its next half century.”

The upcoming season at the Taper will feature five plays that “represent the past, present and future of the theater,” plus a special performance set to take place on the streets of L.A.

The season opens with Luis Valdez’s “Zoot Suit” (pictured), which was originally commissioned and performed by Center Theatre Group in 1978. The play then went on to become the first Chicano play to grace the Broadway stage. “Zoot Suit” runs Feb. 12 through March 12.

Other stagings include Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Head of Passes” starring Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad (Sept. 24 through Oct. 22, 2017); and “Water by the Spoonful” by Quiara Alegría Hudes (Feb. 11 through March 11, 2018).

Additionally Rimini Protokoll and Stefan Kaegi’s “Remote L.A.” takes the audience on an audio tour of Los Angeles in which they also become the performers  (March 14 through April 2, 2018).

“Theater has always created an extraordinary connection between artists and audiences,” Ritchie said. “Nowhere is that more clear than in the uniquely intimate space of the Mark Taper Forum.”

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