Oklahoma City Theatre Company is diving into its 16th season focused on its continuing mission to bring an eclectic mix of plays to the community.
And controversy isn’t going to knock the company off course.
“We don’t play to themes as much as we do trying to give something for everyone, or almost everyone, as much as we can. And diversity is a new major focus for us,” Artistic Director Rachel Irick said.
“My feeling as artistic director is if we don’t have several things on our season that people ... raise an eyebrow to, then I’m not doing my job. I want people to be talking about what we’re doing, and I want people to have some sort of passionate feeling toward what we’re doing. If it’s positive, I hope it is, but if it’s negative, that’s OK, too.”
Last year, local pastors and at least one state legislator campaigned against the company’s staging of the comedy “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” at the Civic Center Music Hall, where it is one of the resident companies.
But that controversy hasn’t stopped the OKC Theatre Company from selecting provocative works for its 2014-’15 season, which includes the musical version of Stephen King’s terror tale “Carrie,” the classic French comedy “Tartuffe” and Terrence McNally's often-protested drama “Corpus Christi.”
“As theater artists, if we’re not reacting to the emotional landscape and to the literary landscape of our own community, then we’re irrelevant. We have to stay relevant to what people are thinking and talking about,” Irick said.
Starting with sharks
The new season opens Aug. 8 in the Civic Center’s CitySpace Theatre with “Glengarry Glen Ross,” iconic American playwright David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story of “sharks in suits” real estate salesmen. The production will reunite OKC Theatre Company with its founding artistic director, Rick Nelson, who will play the role of play James Lingk, a timid client who “comes into this tank of sharks to try to get his check back and a contract canceled.”
“It’s really David Mamet’s masterpiece ... these one-liners, these zingers, these thoughtful comments, there’s so many of them,” said Nelson, who teaches theater at Rose State College and frequently acts in local productions. “It’s probably been two years since I’ve been in any way officially connected with the company, so it’s been nice to be back and be in rehearsals at the Civic Center.”
The company often stages something spooky and sinister around Halloween, and the group will apparently be rolling out the pig’s blood this year for “Carrie.” Irick said OKC Theatre Company production manager Kory Kight-Pagala has long championed the musical version of Stephen King’s famed horror novel.
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Oklahoma City Theatre Company 2014-15 Season
“Glengarry Glen Ross”
When: 8 p.m. preview Aug. 7; 8 p.m. Aug. 8-9, 14-16, 21-23 and 2 p.m. Aug. 17 and 24.
“Carrie: The Musical”
When: Oct. 16-Nov. 1.
When: Jan. 8-18.
When: Feb. 5-15.
When: March 19-April 4.
Sixth annual Native American New Play Festival
When: May 7-17.
Where: Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.
Information: 626-6605 or www.okctheatrecompany.org.