By Owen Hahn
With light humor, introspective drama and dark comedy in between, NC Stage’s 2023-24 season has a play to suit every crowd. As Asheville’s only professional Equity Theatre, NC Stage takes diversity and inclusion into serious consideration during its play selection and hiring process. “We narrow our selection down to plays that our audience needs to see, that are representative of a large group of people,” says Maria Buchanan, the audience relations manager. “One of the main things we talk about is making sure we use a diverse group of voices.”
Beginning on Friday, September 1, with the critically acclaimed and cutting What the Constitution Means to Me, the season will be off to an intense start as playwright Heidi Schreck evaluates the Constitution itself, the people it serves to protect and whom it neglects. The end of this play will involve the audience as they decide whether our nation’s founding document, with all its failings, should be abolished or kept.
A Case for the Existence of God, an intimate and exploratory two-man play written by The Whale dramatist Samuel D. Hunter, will open on October 13. The shiftless and disorganized Ryan and Keith, a mortgage broker of urbane taste, though only meeting at first to discuss the reacquisition of the former’s family property, realize through unremitting dialogue that they have commonality where there first only seemed to be difference.
Turning in the opposite direction, the season’s next play, Margaret Raether’s Jeeves Takes a Bow, will kick off the holidays on November 24 with exuberance and laughter. Bertie Wooster, the heedless and unaccountable libertine, gets too close for comfort to the New York mafia and must call on his inhumanly capable valet, Jeeves, to rescue him. This play is a special event and will not be included in the season pass, but pass-holders will be given a 10 percent discount.
Continuing the comedic pace of the season, Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help by Katie Forgette will bring forth the year on February 2. The Irish-Catholic O’Shea family is at the risk of public humiliation when elder sister Linda’s explanation of the facts of life to the younger Becky is uncovered by the parish priest. In recounting the story, Linda transitions between 1973 and the present throughout, frequently being interrupted by her family.
Travel to the 17th century with Witch, Jen Silverman’s reimagining of a Jacobean play, launching March 15. Propositioned by the devil to trade her soul for the fulfilment of her deepest desire, Elizabeth refuses, even though she, supposed by her community to be a witch, would seem to have all the reason in the world to do so.
Lastly, the season rounds out on April 26 with the George Stevens Jr. biodrama, Thurgood. This one-man play recounts the life of the Supreme Court’s first black justice, from his upbringing in Baltimore to his critical role in the Civil Rights movement.
Founded in 2001, the mission of NC Stage is “to tell stories that illuminate the shared human condition, which is broad, wide and vast,” says Buchanan. “We want to explore all of that.”
NC Stage is located at 15 Stage Lane in downtown Asheville. To purchase tickets or find out more about the season, visit NCStage.org. Owen Hahn, The Laurel’s summer intern, is a student at UNCA and a music enthusiast.