Hybrid theatre: A preview of Book-It's 32nd season

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Images courtesy of Book-It Repertory Theatre
Images courtesy of Book-It Repertory Theatre

Book-It Repertory Theatre is warming up for its 32nd season. The Seattle Center—based company, which specializes in bringing literary works to the stage, premieres its 2021—22 season on Oct. 12. Audiences will have the chance to enjoy five productions, two as audio dramas and the remaining ones in person.

"We're finding a way to get back to being with audiences. We have a hybrid season. We are starting out with two audio productions and then switching to [being] in person in January," Gus Menary, Book-It's artistic director, told the SGN.

Last year the company opted to make all productions audio dramas, a move that proved to be successful, with listeners tuning in from a hundred countries across five continents. This year, Menary is looking forward to not only bringing audiences back to the theatre but working with a wide array of talent in his second season with the company.

"You're trying to put together teams and great minds... that will sort of gel with each other," he said. "Or you're combining great artists with some great source material. So this season is so much a part of that ethos, while also thinking about what we need as audience members. We're craving the conversation of theater. We're craving the excitement, we're craving the adventure. We're craving that connection that I think at times can feel a little sacred."

The first production from Book-It this season is Zen and the Art of an Android Beatdown, available starting Oct. 12. Based on Tochi Onyebuchi's story of the same name, this audio drama is adapted and directed by Gin Hammond.

"It's really, really something special," said Menary. "It's a story about identity, about humanity, wanting, longing, and what it means to be human through a sci-fi lens."

Following soon after is The Three Musketeers, available as an audio drama starting on Nov. 23. Part of the company's holiday show, it's a fresh interpretation of the classic work by Alexandre Dumas, adapted and directed by Lamar Legend.

In the new calendar year comes Beowulf, Book-It's first in-person production, running from Jan. 21 through Feb. 6, 2022.

"Beowulf is, when you hear it out loud, this story about someone fighting monsters. It's fantastic, thrilling, scary, sacred," said Menary, who will direct this production. "When you're just reading it off the page, just like so many other works, I think it just doesn't quite translate. With that in mind, Julian Glover put this adaptation together, and now we're taking up the mantle with this idea of a return to storytelling and tapping into something more ancient."

The following month will bring Mrs. Caliban, the second in-person production, adapted from a Rachel Ingalls novella by Frances Limoncelli and directed by Kelly Kitchens. It will run from March 23 through April 17, 2022.

The Bonesetter's Daughter, adapted by Rosa Joshi from Amy Tan's novel, will be the final production of the season, running from June 8 through July 3, 2022.

"I grew up in the Bay Area, and Amy Tan is a presence everywhere there... just part of the cultural fabric of where I came from," said Menary. "She is one of our greatest writers. To be able to present it and to have such amazing artists such as Desdemona [Chiang] adapting and Rosa [Joshi] directing, I just feel extremely fortunate. It's going to be, I think, something truly special, I think it's going to be a real gift. I'm immensely honored to have that many talented folks involved this season."

Full-season subscription packages can be purchased online and range from $122 to $185, though audio-only subscription packages can be purchased for $40. For more information on tickets and the 2021—22 season, visit https://book-it.org/2021-2022-season/.