(Israel Horovitz, left, and Lou Tyrrell)
The Theatre at Arts Garage recently announced four shows as part of its second full-length season in the Delray Beach cabaret-style venue.
Running from November to May, the season will be bookended by innovative musicals from emerging composer-lyricist Daniel Mate, and between them will be recent plays from playwrights Carter W. Lewis and Israel Horovitz – two names that should be familiar and welcoming to theatergoers from artistic director Lou Tyrrell’s previous venture, Florida Stage. Both have established something of a permanent residency through Tyrrell’s Palm Beach County theaters.
“Relationships are hugely important to the development and the ultimate success of artistic work,” Tyrrell says. “And if we value the support of an artist over the course of their career, and if we’re interested as an audience to see the development of the voice of an artist over the course of several plays, if not an entire career, then it just makes common sense to nurture these lifelong artistic relationships.”
Here’s a rundown of the four plays in Arts Garage’s next season, complete with exclusive commentary from Tyrrell.
The Longing and the Short of It (Nov. 1 to 24, 2013): Daniel Mate’s evening of genre-hopping theater songs in which six actors play a multitude of characters struggling to find love and acceptance.
Tyrrell: Song cycles have had a great impact on me. My first experience with them, if not opera, was “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.” That piece lived with me long after I saw it. Even though it was in French, I felt the song cycle was able to tell a story in a very different and theatrical way. It wasn’t a traditional narrative. It was more the idea of the personal expression or observation of a character through song – the emotional life of that person, as reflected not only by the lyrics but also by the music.
I think we found the same thing with “And The World Goes Round” and “Closer Than Ever.” They were two of the American contemporary examples of the song cycle. I think Daniel Mate is going to take his place as an emerging lyricist/composer and American storyteller alongside Stephen Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown, Jonathan Larsen – some of our smartest, best composer/lyricists. Having had a chance to spend time with his work during our Summer Tune-Up program, I became completely convinced that Daniel is going to be an important musical-theater contributor through the course of his career.
The Hummingbird Wars (Jan. 10 to Feb. 2, 2014): A returning veteran faces middle-class extinction and encroaching corporatization in Carter W. Lewis’ socially conscious seriocomedy.
Tyrrell: The story is about how this veteran comes home from the battlefront, and what he finds in his middle-class home is that it’s basically the home front as battlefront. His wife teaches law at a local university. She is a mother and activist fighting an example of eminent domain that she and the community find tyrannical. Other issues include references and personal experiences with the pharmaceutical industry – what medicine has become for us and to us – the water company, the cable company, and how little by little it’s easy to feel like your lives are not only threatened but are under siege by the corporatization that, in increments, overwhelms us.
Fighting Over Beverly (Feb. 28 to March 23, 2014): Israel Horovitz, who penned “Gloucester Blue” for Arts Garage last season, wrote this romantic comedy triangle about three 70-plus-year-olds and the legacy of the Second World War.
Tyrrell: Israel is a national treasure in American theater. His voice is dark and funny and always poignant. This is a piece that centers on people of a certain age questioning the whole course of their lives in regard to love and relationships. The circumstance is that a 70-year-old war bride from England was brought back via an American pilot. She fell in love with him at the same time she was engaged to a British pilot. That was at the end of the Second World War. So here we are 50 years later, and the British guy decides he’s going to come to America and reclaim the love of his life.
So it brings up all those questions of a life well lived, what are the mistakes, did you find the love of your life, when does love stop, when can life begin again? And ultimately, with these two guys fighting over her in sometimes very childish ways, it’s about her taking control of her own life, and not being subject to a man and a husband. So the issues of independence and life and love, especially from that point of view, are going to land very specifically for theatergoers that are that age.
The Trouble With Doug (April 18 to May 11, 2014): Daniel Mate and Will Aronson's modern-day, musical re-imagining of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, with the insect replaced by a slug.
Tyrrell: We were going to produce “The Trouble With Doug” in the Florida Stage season that we were not able to get to. It is smart, funny, original, and yet also based in classic contemporary literature. It’s a contemporary re-telling of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” in a Middle American family household, and it deals with issues not unlike “The Hummingbird Wars” that all of us are facing today, living in a highly corporatized environment, living in a tough economic environment, trying to figure out what our “family values” are.
It centers on a crisis that is more absurdist – and is a metaphor, more than a straightforward handling of the issues, with the transformation of a young man into a slug. It represents the idea of how does a family function, to deal with any kind of crisis? And the other side of that is my personal passion for contributing to education. Kids in school read Kafka’s work, in ninth grade and 10th grade. And it would mean so much more to them if they got to see a play that uses the same elements and the same style and absurdist approach, and it’ll give them an understanding and bring to life for them the questions and issues that are a part of the story.”
For tickets and information, visit artsgarage.org or call 561/450-6357.