CHESTER — Four plays, all written by women — one of them a world premiere commission — make up Chester Theatre Company's 31st season, its fifth under producing artistic director Daniel Elihu Kramer.
The 2020 season kicks off June 18 with a New England premiere, "Switzerland" by Joanna Murray-Smith, and ends in mid-August with "Tiny Beautiful Things" by Nia Vardalos, based on the "Dear Sugar" column written by Cheryl Strayed. Kramer will direct CTC associate artistic director Tara Franklin as Sugar. The production is scheduled to run Aug. 6-16.
"Switzerland" is a two-character play involving Patricia Highsmith, a master of psychological thrillers ("The Talented Mr. Ripley," among others), who lives and writes in the shadow of the Swiss Alps, and a charming visitor who may not be all he seems to be on first meeting. James Barry, who has been seen in many roles on CTC's Town Hall Theatre stage ("The Aliens," "The Night Alive," "Sister Play") makes his CTC directorial debut with this production.
Also on tap is Eleanor Burgess' "The Niceties" (July 23-Aug. 2) in which the gloves come off between an ambitious student and her professor during an in-office discussion about slavery and the American Revolution,
Highlighting the season is CTC's first-ever world premiere commissioned work, "The Life of the World to Come" (July 2-12), written by Darcy Parker Bruce and directed by Keira Naughton. Commissioned by CTC through a gift from Frances Henry and Walter Korzec, "The Life of the World to Come" focuses on a woman who, lost and adrift, is struggling to build a life for herself as an adult as she wrestles with the trauma of the abuse she suffered at home as a child.
In addition to the four mainstage productions, CTC will introduce two cabaret evenings featuring current and past CTC artists, hosted by Barry and Franklin.
"I love the journey our audiences will take this summer," Kramer said in a CTC news release. "It's a thrill ride of the very best kind: provocative, chilling, funny, and moving.
"Each of the four plays, all written by women playwrights, offers a gripping story, remarkable characters, and plenty of fodder for the deeper conversations our audiences cherish."
Complete casting and additional production information will be announced at a later date.
Tickets go on sale to the general public at noon on Monday, March 23.
All performances will take place in Chester's town hall, 15 Middlefield Road. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Talk-backs follow Thursday and Saturday matinees. Cast Conversations follow Friday evening performances. Panel discussions featuring outside experts take place after the first Sunday matinee of each play.
Complete information is available by phone at 413-354-7770, or online at chestertheatre.org.