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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

PlayMakers Repertory Company announces 2018–19 season

A merry romp through Sherwood Forest, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a high-stakes power play between working class and big business, a world premiere of depth and delicacy, the search for truth in the stars and one of the most romantic musicals of all time make up the Mainstage lineup of PlayMakers Repertory Company’s 2018–19 season, Shifting Ground: Theatre that Moves.

The season delves into the reverberations caused by choice. Each of the six plays explores the power individuals wield to shape and shift everything—from our most intimate relationships, our memories and the institutions around us, to the broadest strokes of science, history and ultimately truth.

Vivienne Benesch

“In selecting this next season at PlayMakers, I wanted to take up the charge of using theater to provoke, represent and entertain our audiences and artists alike,” said Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch.

“Our 2018–19 lineup is all about shifting ground – how power dynamics constantly realign and the ways in which we reclaim or rewrite the narratives of our lives. From the brilliant reach of Brecht to the intimacy of Paula Vogel, the rigor of Dominique Morrisseau and the touching poignancy of emerging playwright Charly Simpson, we have chosen a season of great plays that I hope will move us in every sense of the word.”

PlayMakers will also present three works in the PRC2 Kenan Stage season, complementing the Mainstage themes and adding new work and conversation to the PlayMakers experience.

The 2018–19 PlayMakers season marks the 100th anniversary of the playmaking tradition at Carolina. In 1918, a traveling troupe of University and local artists performed, calling themselves Carolina PlayMakers. The troupe took their
final bow in 1976, and PlayMakers launched as a professional regional theater.

In its 40-year history, PlayMakers has produced more than 300 productions, served nearly 50,000 audience members each year and reached more than 125,000 area youth through award-winning educational programs.

Subscription packages are available for purchase now, and renewing subscribers can secure their current seats for the new season through May 1.

Mainstage productions

Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood                                                        by Ken Ludwig | Sept. 12–30, 2018

The season opens with the regional premiere of a swashbuckling new comedy about that iconic hero of the people who learns that sometimes doing “the wrong thing” ends up being the right thing after all. Ludwig’s Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood is family fare that promises music, merry men, Maid Marian and much merriment.

Skeleton Crew                                                                                                                            by Dominique Morisseau | Oct. 10–28, 2018

The third in acclaimed playwright Morisseau’s Detroit Trilogy, Skeleton Crew is a searing drama about a tight knit group of employees facing the realities of big business bureaucracy in one of Detroit’s last-standing auto plants during the 2008 recession. As the power dynamics shifts between blue- and white-collar workers, how far over the line is each side willing to go to survive? Skeleton Crew has been described as “the best play you’ll see this year” (Detroit Free Press).

She Loves Me                                                                                                                         book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by
Sheldon Harnick | Nov. 1–Dec. 2, 2018

In this romantic musical comedy of mistaken identity, two perfume clerks who aren’t at all the best of friends can’t seem to find common ground – until they realize they are each other’s anonymous pen pals. Based on the same Hungarian play that inspired The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime and You’ve Got Mail, this holiday event for the whole family has been called “the most romantic of all Broadway musicals” (The Wall Street Journal).

Jump                                                                                                                                           by Charly Evon Simpson | Jan. 23–Feb. 10, 2019

This funny and heartbreaking play takes us on a journey where lights flicker, things fall from the sky and a sister finds solace on a bridge. PlayMakers is proud to present the world premiere of this work by emerging playwright Simpson.

Life of Galileo                                                                                                                            by Bertholt Brecht | Feb. 27–March 17, 2019

Brecht’s renowned drama explores the life of 17th century scientist Galileo Galilei, the ultimate ground shifter who upended not just the world’s view of our solar system, but our place in it. Political dogma, science and survival are still at the forefront of our cultural dialogue four centuries later, as is the question, “What price are we willing to pay for the truth?” The show, directed by Benesch, features original music by Justin Ellington.

How I Learned to Drive                                                                                                           by Paula Vogel | April 3–21, 2019

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this wildly funny and compassionate play travels across one woman’s adolescent memories and the complicated roads she was forced to navigate in a relationship with an older man. How I Learned to Drive has been called “a lovely, harrowing guide to the crippling persistence of one woman’s memories” (The New York Times).

PRC2 Kenan Stage productions

Temples of Lung & Air                                                                                                             by Kane Smego | Aug. 22–26  

International hip-hop artist, groundbreaking educator and Carolina graduate Smego premieres his electric, personal spoken word odyssey and ode to hip-hop as a global tool for community building.

Bewilderness                                                                                                                             by Zachary Fine | Jan. 9–13, 2019

Few realize that Henry David Thoreau wrote a flop of epic proportions before he penned his American masterpiece, Walden. This new work is a comedic look at one of America’s greatest philosophers and a celebration of the failures we all must face along the road to our greatest discoveries.

All performances will be in the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art. Mainstage productions will be in the Paul Green Theatre; PRC2 shows will be in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre. For more information, visit