Steve Martin Returns, Two Contemporary Plays Premiere, and an Old Man Watches Over the Moonby Brie Stimson November 28, 2016
The Old Globe is midway through its 2016-2017 season, and according to Artistic Director Barry Edelstein, there’s still something for everyone.
The company just finished their “Globe for All” program, which takes professional Shakespeare out to underserved communities around San Diego, for free performances in unexpected places. In its third year of this program, the Globe extended performances by a week and played to more than 2,000 people at homeless shelters, military installations, correctional facilities and senior centers.
Now, the holiday favorite “Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” in its 19th year and more popular than ever, runs through Dec. 26.
In January, Edelstein will direct Steve Martin’s first play “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” “which I’m really, really looking forward to,” Edelstein says. “It’s the third Steve Martin play here in as many years, and he’s determined to thump William Shakespeare out of the way as the house playwright of The Old Globe, which I’m glad to see him attempt. You know, I can’t pick sides because I love Shakespeare too, but I love Steve Martin equally as much.”
Following that sure-to-be smashing production, in February and March the Globe will present the world premiere of “The Blameless” by up-and-coming playwright Nick Gandiello.
“It’s a play that deals with the consequences of gun violence on an individual family, but manages to do so in a very non-political, non-doctrinaire kind of way and really focuses on gun violence really as an emotional phenomenon rather than a political one,” Edelstein says. “It’s a very difficult subject to talk about under any circumstances, but it’s a particularly difficult subject to talk about theatrically without it devolving into politics and this manages not to do that.”
In March, the Globe will stage “Red Velvet,” a play about a man named Ira Aldridge, one of the first significant African American actors in the 19th century.
“He was a Shakespearean who really changed the approach to Shakespearean acting, but also dealt with racism and really had most of his fame in Europe because it was just difficult for him to perform in the United States,” Edelstein says.
“It gets into the cultural differences between America and England … the historical notions of Shakespeare and what Shakespeare’s meant to be – is he contemporary or is he a museum figure? – and it gets into race in terms of how artists can or cannot express themselves based on racial attitudes that prevail at the time.”
In April, The Old Globe will present the West Coast premiere of “Skeleton Crew” by Dominique Morisseau. The play, which gained a lot of attention when it first came out, has been running in New York for about a year now. It’s a contemporary piece about a group of workers at an auto factory in Detroit in 2008.
“It’s a story about good working people trying to deal with an economy that is stacked against them,” Edelstein says. “It puts working people front and center and asks us to think about the things that they really struggle with … It’s a wonderful play, beautifully written, really owes a great debt to August Wilson and … Arthur Miller because it’s a … play that wants to look at American society through the lens of the theatre. The [August] Wilson part of it is that it has a wonderful poetic sensibility of the language that’s really original and really exciting.”
On the main stage in May, the Globe will show “The Old Man and the Old Moon,” which Edelstein says will be somewhat of a departure for The Old Globe. He describes it as Mumford and Sons with shadow play and puppets.
“It’s a beautiful, funny, very, very theatrical little fable about the guy whose job it is to keep the moon illuminated at night,” he says. “That’s something we’ve been trying to do a lot lately … programming that’s suitable for all generations in the family, and that’s what this is.”
Running concurrently on the White Stage that month will be Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid.”
“It’s about hypochondria and marriage,” Edelstein laughs.
Edelstein says that, while choosing what to show at the theatre is always difficult, he operates under specific guiding principals that make the task a bit more clear cut.
“My job is to serve the community by entertaining them … by exposing them to the American theater at the moment … by exposing them to what’s new that’s going to become important in the years and decades ahead and sometimes to provoke them and challenge them and ask them to open their imaginations to new ideas about what theater can look like and what theater can be.”
*Photo by Daniela DeVarney for the San Diego Jewish Journal