Who's afraid of Edward Albee?
Not Soulpepper Theatre. The Toronto-based company's 2017/18 season will showcase two plays by the late American playwright, starting in early November with the provocative The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, followed by the 1966 drawing-room drama A Delicate Balance, opening Jan. 18, 2018.
Albee, the Pulitzer-winning provocateur who died on Sept. 16, 2016, has been in the news of late. The playwright's estate recently decided not to allow a non-Equity production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in Portland, Ore., to cast an African-American actor as Nick, a young, white academic at a small New England college. In the 1966 film adaptation of the darkly comic drama, the role was handled by George Segal.
The Soulpepper season opens Sept. 14, with a fresh take on Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, directed by Daniel Brooks and starring Oliver Dennis and Diego Matamoros. Running alongside that production is the premiere of Picture This, a Hollywood-set comedy from the pens of Morris Panych and Brenda Robins.
Coming for a short run in October is Huff, an unflinching Dora-winning one-hander about substance abuse from the Cree playwright and performer Cliff Cardinal. The Native Earth Performing Arts production toured Canada in 2015.
Other season highlights include Peter Shaffer's Tony-winning play Amadeus (Jan. 17 to Feb. 10, 2018); the Canadian premiere of Idomeneus, Roland Schimmelpfennig's choral reimagining of the Troy-era legend (March 8 to 24, 2018); the world premiere of Animal Farm, a Soulpepper-commissioned adaptation of George Orwell's biting barnyard satire (March 15 to April 7, 2018); and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, August Wilson's acclaimed Roaring Twenties story about race relations and the titular American blues singer (May 10 to June 2, 2018).
As previously reported in The Globe and Mail, Soulpepper will celebrate Canada's sesquicentennial year with a month of off-Broadway shows this July at the Pershing Square Signature Theatre. An official announcement on the details of the New York pop-in are expected next month, but it's expected that The Secret Chord: A Leonard Cohen Experience will be part of the Canadian invasion.
That Cohen-song "theatrical concert" will happen in August in Toronto as part of the company's music programming, which also includes Riverboat Coffee House: The Yorkville Scene (October, 2017), Prohibition, a Concert (February, 2018) and A Moveable Feast: Paris in the '20s (spring, 2018).
Christmas fare is covered with the December arrivals of Bad Hats Theatre's Peter Pan, Michael Shamata's crowd-pleasing adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and, at the Jane Mallett Theatre, a short encore presentation of A Very Soulpepper Christmas in concert.