New Chester Theatre Company director sets inaugural season

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CHESTER >> Daniel Elihu Kramer's inaugural season as producing artistic director of Chester Theatre Company will include one world premiere and three regional premieres.

The 2016 season — which runs June 30 through Aug. 28 at Chester Town Hall — begins with the world premiere of "My Jane," Kramer's own stage adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" (June 30-July 10) and continues with the regional premieres of "Oh God" by Anat Gov (July 14-24), "Sister Play" by John Kolvenbach (Aug.3-14), and Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop" (Aug. 18-28).

Performances will be 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays at 2.

The elimination of the Friday evening performance. Kramer explained in a news release, will allow for periodic talkbacks with casts and other CTC artists.

There will be regular talkbacks following Thursday matinee and Saturday evening performances and a panel discussion with outside experts after the first Sunday matinee of each production.

"I am extremely excited about the range of stories we'll be telling," said Kramer, chairman of the drama department at Smith College and CTC's associate artistic director from 2012 to 2015. He succeeds Byam Stevens, who led the theater company for 17 years before stepping down at the close of the 2015 season.

"This season (the theater's 27th) will take our audiences to very different worlds, from Jane Eyre's England to God visiting a therapist in Israel, to a mysterious encounter in a dilapidated cabin on Cape Cop to the Lorraine Motel on the last night of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life," Kramer says in the news release.

The plays:

• Adapted from the novel by Charlotte Brontë, Kramer's "My Jane" is his second play for CTC, following his popular "Pride@Prejudice" in 2011.

"My Jane" weaves Jane's romantic story with the lives of her readers, all of whom have their own beloved "Jane." Knud Adams, whose production of "Body Awareness" was presented at CTC in 2013, will direct.

• Produced in partnership with Boston-based Israeli Stage, "Oh God" centers around a therapy session in which a psychologist has only one chance to talk her new patient, a very depressed God, out of destroying his most disappointing creation — humankind.

"Oh God" will be directed by Israeli Stage's artistic director, Guy Ben-Aharon, and feature three-time IRNE Award-winner Maureen Keiller as the psyhcologist, Ella, and Norton Prize honoree Will Lyman as God.

• In "Sister Play," family secrets are revealed, preconceptions are overturned and a sister's overbearing love is tested when a mysterious drifter appears at a moldy cabin on Cape Cod.

Kramer will direct this play, which first was produced in 2014 at Harbor Stage Company in Wellfleet,

• Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop" is set in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s room at the Lorraine Motel on the last night of his life, where the civil rights leader meets Camae, an irreverent maid who challenges everything he believes about his humanity, mortality, and legacy. The director of CTC's production of this Olivier Award-winning play will be announced shortly.

Complete ticket and season information is available online at chestertheatre.org or by phone at 1-800-595-4TIX (4849).

Additional information is available by phone at (413) 354-7770.


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