The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis announced its upcoming Studio Theatre season on Monday. The series of plays performed in The Rep’s 125-seat black box space will include Heisenberg by Simon Stephens, October 25-November 12, 2017; Faceless by Selina Fillinger, January 17-February 4, 2018; and Caught by Christopher Chen, March 7-25, 2018.
I spoke with Steven Woolf, the Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director, about the upcoming season.
All three shows this season are new plays, and are intimate works that Woolf described as better suited for a subtle production in a small space. “It gets you to look, you’re close to the action, you can’t escape. […] It personalizes it in a way that it may not in a larger space,” Woolf said.
Heisenberg, the first play of the Studio Theatre season, is inspired by the Heisenberg principle of quantum mechanics, which Woolf describes simply as “if you observe something it changes.” Exploring a relationship that begins with a chance encounter between a younger woman and a man in his late 70’s or early 80’s, the play takes place over the span of several months.
Woolf, who will direct, describes the story as wonderfully odd and says he is most excited to explore the changes and spaces in the characters’ relationship that take place between the moments seen onstage.
“That’s what I’m interested in looking at, knowing that everything for these two people as they look at each other and explore each other, every scene takes another turn,” he said. “There’s a line in the play when the man is talking about music and he says ‘I think the great thing about music is the silence between the notes, that’s when you hear things.’ What an interesting idea that is.”
Simon Stephens, Heisenberg’s author, also wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which will open The Rep’s Mainstage season.
Faceless, the second play in the Studio Theatre season, is a courtroom thriller that addresses topics of religion, zealotry, and terrorism. The Rep is the second theatre to put up a production of Faceless, and Woolf expects it to spark strong reactions from audience members.
“Faceless is going to be a little controversial and hard hitting,” Woolf told me, but he thinks – and I agree – that part of what makes theatre enjoyable are the conversations audience members have after each show.
Closing out The Rep’s Studio season is Caught, “an experience unlike you’ve seen.” Woolf talked about the play in terms of experience rather than script or structure, and compared it to a happening, a multi-disciplinary and often partially improvised artistic performance developed in art communities in the 1960’s.
Caught will be a multi-layered performance that plays with the ambiguity of what is real and what is theatre.
Woolf hopes that new audience members will approach the plays with an eye toward the variety of unique theatrical experiences the season provides, stating “You’ll have a lot to talk about after each one of these.”
Season tickets for the 2017-2018 Studio Theatre series are currently available, and individual tickets for the season’s plays will go on sale in October. The Rep’s Red Door program, which provides young theatregoers ages 18-35 access to discounted tickets for select performances, will continue this year.