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Marin Theatre Company’s 2020-21 season includes works from, clockwise from top center, Margot Melcon, Leila Buck, Lauren Gunderson, Denmo Ibrahim and Adam Rapp. Courtesy images.

As the Mill Valley Film Festival opens its 43rd edition this week with a mix of digital and drive-in screenings amidst the COVID-19 crisis, another major force in the Bay Area arts community, the Marin Theatre Company, has unveiled its 54th season’s slate of productions and plans to navigate the the uncertain road ahead in late 2020 through 2021.

“Our team of artists have put in an enormous amount of dreaming, research and theorizing to create a season that launches with three thrilling productions in the digital and virtual realms,” MTC Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis says in unveiling the slate. “I am so proud of the effort that everyone has made to think outside the box, inside the box, through the box and down the rabbit hole to create pieces with visionary formats that match their unique voices and stories.”

Minadakis says MTC’s plans call for its final two productions to be live from the Boyer Theatre, hopefully with a combined live and virtual audience so folks who aren’t ready to come back to the theatre can still participate. 

“If conditions don’t permit live theatre in Fall of 2021, don’t worry,” Minidakis says. “We’re going to continue to commission new American work for the virtual realm so we can pivot to keep bringing you the best new American voices.”

MTC has scheduled six productions for its upcoming season, starting with American Dreams in November by Lebanese American playwright, actor, facilitator and educator Leila Buck. It’s a digital co-production with the Working Theater. The play, directed by Tamilla Woodard, is an interactive game show, in which the audience helps to decide who wins citizenship to the U.S. The participatory play seeks to define online theater and changes every night while exploring “how we navigate between fear, security, and freedom; who and what we choose to believe—and how those choices come to shape who we are as citizens, and as a nation.”

In January and February 2021, MTC hosts the digital world premiere of MTC mainstay Lauren Gunderson’s The Catastrophist, produced with Round House Theatre. The one-person play is about virologist Nathan Wolfe, the playwright’s husband, and his efforts to track and combat global outbreaks. Named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for his work tracking viral pandemic outbreaks, Wolfe proposed pandemic insurance years before the novel coronavirus outbreak. No one bought it. Now, in a post-COVID world, audiences get to hear his story—presented as cinematic digital theatre.

April/May will serve as the digital world premiere of Egyptian-American playwright, actor and theatre artist Denmo Ibrahim’s The Brilliant Mind of Yusef El Musri. Starring Mattico David, the play is a live digital interactive experience that explores the immigrant psyche. Here’s how MTC describes it: “Tonight he will lose everything. Some say he was dealt an unfair hand. They called him Mr. Gold. But after he rose to small town fame something strange happened. He blames five-card stud. One trick led to another. Suddenly, he was hunting down the Queen of Hearts. He must have lost his mind. ‘Twas a bettor’s mistake that began a streak of bad luck. Now they call him Mr. Mudd. Is this a joke? Which way out? Poor fella, if he knew – the only way out is through.”

In June/July, an as-yet-unannounced play will be “a physical or digital manifestation of our new associate artistic director’s vision of theatre,” Minadakis says. In September and October, The Sound Inside by Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp, about an an Ivy League professor who makes an unexpected request of a student, stars MTC favorite Denmo Ibrahim (Noura and The Who & The What). MTC’s summary: “A brilliant Ivy League writing professor. A talented yet mysterious student. An unthinkable favor. Everyone has a story—the question is how it ends.” 
 
The season closes out with the world premiere of Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon in November and December. The third installment of the Christmas at Pemberley trilogy, the play follows Georgiana Darcy and Kitty Bennet two years after Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” novel ends.

Due to COVID-19, season programming and dates are TBD and subject to change. All Season 54 advance ticket-holders will be notified at the earliest possible moment of any changes in programming or performance dates that must be made in compliance with county and state health orders, as well as a detailed outline of safety protocols MTC will be implementing upon reopening its doors for physical events.
 
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