Powerhouse Theater’s 30th Season at Vassar College | Theater | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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Powerhouse Theater’s 30th Season at Vassar College 

Generating Creative Current

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The 2013 production of “Brooklynite” - © VASSAR & NEW YORK STAGE AND FILM / BUCK LEWIS
  • © Vassar & New York Stage and Film / Buck Lewis
  • The 2013 production of “Brooklynite”

The Babylon Line

By Richard Greenberg; directed by Terry Kinney

Performances June 26–July 6

The story for "The Babylon Line" arose less from Richard Greenberg's artistic influences than from an aesthetic quandary fundamental to his identity as a storyteller: an attraction to and skepticism toward tidy narratives. "I'm very attracted to a highly formalized form of storytelling," Greenberg confesses. "I love Agatha Christie, you know, something where all the pieces fit. But I don't believe those stories. I enjoy them, but I don't believe them. I'm always trying to balance the pleasure I take in almost algebraic storytelling with my sense that what's real doesn't fit into it. So I'm always looking for a form that can be both in some way elegant and also account for the sprawl."

As if to echo these warring drives, Greenberg sets "The Babylon Line" in 1967 Levittown, where an adult education creative writing instructor from Greenwich Village learns there's more to his pupils than picket fences and penny socials. But those familiar with Greenberg's work, which includes heavy hitters "The Assembled Parties" (2013) and "Take Me Out" (2002), can expect something new in the second act. "This play admits the possibility of happiness in a way that not every play I have written does," says Greenberg, "and I'm interested to see how that plays out." The play stars Josh Radnor (of "How I Met Your Mother" fame), a former Powerhouse apprentice. Click here to listen to Chronogram editor Brian K. Mahoney's podcast conversation with Josh Radnor.

click to enlarge From the 2013 production of “Agamemnon” - © VASSAR & NEW YORK STAGE AND FILM / ROGER J. YERODN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • © Vassar & New York Stage and Film / Roger J. Yerodn Photography
  • From the 2013 production of “Agamemnon”

In Your Arms

Directed and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli; Music by Stephen Flaherty; Vignettes written by Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, & Alfred Uhry

Performances July 5-13

"In Your Arms" was born of Christopher Gattelli and co-collaborator Jennifer Manocherian's ambition to create a dance performance unlike any other, and public anticipation surrounding the piece suggests they might have succeeded. As a dance-theater hybrid, "In Your Arms" excites the imagination and eludes classification. Ten renowned playwrights each sent Gattelli a love story, knowing full well that not a word they penned would be spoken on stage. Working from each story's setting and mood, Gattelli transformed the collection into a series of dance vignettes that showcase dance genres and traditions from around the world. Original scoring by Stephen Flaherty mirrors the vignettes' eclectic inspirations and unifies the stories with a recurring theme.

When asked why love stories, Gattelli says he just wanted to put something positive in the world: "In love there are lots of different colors, different forms, and different times. We really cover the gamut of different phases—from a couple's first kiss and first touch to an older couple in their '70s, '80s, walking down a beach." Perfect for treacle-fearing theatergoers, the piece compliments scenes of passion with ample helpings of grit. "It really covers what people go through in love, from top to bottom," says Gattelli.

The Danish Widow

Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley

Performances July 16-27

Those familiar with John Patrick Shanley's corpus will agree that usually his "characters all spill their guts." "I haven't written many unavailable characters," he says, but this work's eponymous Danish widow is "just not interested in spilling her guts at all." Beginning in New York and ending in Sweden, "The Danish Widow" follows the fraught relationship between a probing insurance adjustor and her tight-lipped client as their cultures clash and a murder mystery unfolds.

Shanley says one of his primary interests in writing the play was to explore relationships between women, and so while the play functions as a mystery it also chronicles the insurance adjustor's quest for identity. "Very often I've seen women use another woman as a kind of mirror that they look into," Shanley recalls, "and they either identify with that woman, or they see a critique of themselves in the differences between them and the other woman." That in this case the "other woman" hails from Sweden adds another layer to her figurative role as a mirror. According to Shanley, "There's something about the Danish temperament that is very cool, analytical, and morally rigorous that can make an American feel sloppy." Written with the express intent to transport viewers through storytelling, "The Danish Widow" promises to thrill (and unsettle) its Powerhouse audience.

Laura Innis and Cotter Smith from the 2013 production of “When The Lights Went Out.” - © VASSAR & NEW YORK STAGE AND FILM / BUCK LEWIS
  • © Vassar & New York Stage and Film / Buck Lewis
  • Laura Innis and Cotter Smith from the 2013 production of “When The Lights Went Out.”
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