The American Century Theater will open the 2012–2013 season with J.B. by Archibald MacLeish, opening tonight, September 14 and running through October 6 at Gunston Performing Arts Center's Theatre Two in Arlington.
Performed in a circus ring, this theatrical updating of the biblical story of Job begins when two vendors in a circus take on the roles of Satan and God to examine the meaning of life by observing the travails of J.B., a banker whose life falls apart in chunks. Written in response to events around him-two world wars, the Holocaust, and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki-MacLeish turned to the Biblical story's framework, writing that it seemed a sensible format "when you are dealing with questions too large for you which, nevertheless, will not leave you alone." J.B., his third verse play, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony for Best Play in 1959. The play subsequently sparked a national conversation about the nature of God, the nature of hope, and the role of the artist in society.
Longtime TACT artistic associate Rip Claassen directs. Claassen directed the 2011 hit Visit to a Small Planet and most recently was Costume Designer for Marathon '33.
"The play defies easy description," says Artistic Director Jack Marshall. "It is simultaneously bold and thought provoking while being theatrical and entertaining. Like so many of TACT's shows, it deals with grand, universal issues and challenges the audience while giving them a fascinating window into the mind of a great 20th century thinker, in this case, poet/playwright Archibald MacLeish."
"This remarkable show has been on TACT's wish-list from the beginning, but we finally decided to tackle it because we had the right director. Rip Claassen has the exact, and unusual, combination of backgrounds this unique show requires: he is a former seminarian with a lifetime background in vaudeville history. That's J.B.-theology, comedy, and theatricality all wrapped up one surprising package."
The cast includes TACT favorites John Tweel as J.B. (Job), Bruce Alan Rauscher as Nickles (The Devil), and Steve Lebens as Mr. Zuss (God) with Julie Roundtree as J.B.'s wife, Sarah. Rounding out the large cast are Loren Bray, Jennifer Brown, Kathryn Browning, Kecia Campbell, Evan Crump, Joshua Dick, Caroline Frias, Kaiya Gordon, Robert Heinly, Sam Landa, Chanukah Jane Lilburne, Joshua Rosenblum, Jakob Sudberry, George Tamerlani, Allison Turkel, and Zak Gordon.
Trena Weiss-Null is the Scenic Designer and the Properties Designer is Michelle Hitchcock. Zachary Dalton is the Lighting Designer and Lorraine Slattery is the Costume Designer. Ed Moser is the Sound Designer. Katie Dooley is the Stage Manager and Johanna Schoenborn is the Assistant Stage Manager.
The show plays Theatre II, 2700 South Lang Street, Arlington, Va. J.B. opens Friday, September 14 and runs through Saturday, October 6, 2012 with a pay-what- you-can preview on Thursday, September 13 at 8pm, and a pay-what-you-can performance on Wednesday, September 19 at 8pm. There is a post-show talk-back on Thursday, September 20. Note that there is no matinee on Saturday, September 15, and no performance on Friday, September 28. There will be an added show on Wednesday, October 3 at 8 pm.
Regular show times are Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8 pm with Saturday/Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm. Tickets can be ordered online at americancentury.orgor by calling 703-998- 4555. Prices: Fridays/Saturdays - $40, $37 for seniors/students/active duty military; Thursdays and matinees - $35, $32 for seniors/students/active duty military; free tickets to children under 18 when accompanied by an adult paying full price.
The American Century Theater is a 501(c)(3) professional nonprofit theater company dedicated to producing significant 20th century American plays and musicals at risk of being forgotten. TACT is supported in part by Arlington County through the Arlington Commission for the Arts and Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development; the Virginia Commission for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts; and many generous donors.