Creative risk-taking has been a pillar of Local Theater Company’s mission since its inception more than a decade ago. And in keeping with the experimental ethos of the Boulder-based nonprofit, Local’s Season 13 rollout will be announced in phases over the coming weeks, culminating in a kickoff party on July 23 at The Savoy in Denver.
Complete details of the upcoming season won’t come into full view until then — but in the meantime, co-artistic directors Nick Chase and Betty Hart offered Boulder Weekly a taste of what’s in store. That includes Topher Payne’s You Enjoy Myself, running at the Dairy Arts Center from September 23 to October 15, and the return of the new-play festival Local Lab at the Dairy from March 14 to 17, 2024.
This initial announcement follows recent news that Local received three Henry Award nominations from the Colorado Theatre Guild. Categories include Director of a Musical (Dee Covington), Lead Actress in a Musical Tier 2 (GerRee Hinshaw), and Best New Play or Musical for Hinshaw’s breakout hit Raised on Ronstadt. It also comes after one of the company’s most ambitious seasons to date, which also featured Nick Chase and Roslyn Hart’s Pop the Holidays, Hadley Kamminga-Peck, Anne Penner and Mare Trevathan’s UNDONE: The Lady M Project, and the aforementioned Local Lab.
“It was our season of women — not a comprehensive look at all feminist perspectives, but three distinct female experiences,” says Chase. “We incorporated new staff members, including Kate Gipson [executive director] and Levi Franklin [associate producer], and Betty, Pesha and I were operating under a new shared leadership model. In our 12th season, we expanded internally and externally, and are eager to continue growing in our 13th season.”
A peek behind the curtain
The first fully produced show in Local’s new season — You Enjoy Myself, directed by Hart — is a jam band-centered production that feels tailor-made for Boulder audiences. The relationship between Judith and Eileen, and their shared love of the band Phish, are at the heart of this multigenerational comedy written by the Atlanta-based Payne. After more than 30 years apart, they are reunited thanks to a stranger’s Instagram post, and while staying at a remote Vermont farmhouse, they explore what devotion is all about.
“Shortly after we presented the developmental workshop of the play in our 2022 Local Lab, we concluded as a team that we wanted to pursue a full production of that work,” Chase says. “We all agree that we wanted to support it, but we had just scheduled our 12th season, and it had a lovely theme that this play didn’t fit into, so we decided that it would be our Season 13 opener.”
The production is a continuation of the work Hart, Payne and the Local team put into the play during last year’s initial workshop. “I am thrilled to be directing an all-local cast of incredible people to help tell Topher’s beautifully written story,” Hart says. “This is my first opportunity to direct mainstage for Local, which is a huge honor. … You Enjoy Myself is such a beautiful exploration of love [and] life.”
When it comes to the return of Local Lab, next spring’s iteration of the new-work festival will see four creative teams, chosen by anonymous review, gather in Boulder for a week of workshops that will culminate in public readings. Local will accept submissions of previously unproduced work until August 31 of this year, and announce the four shows in January 2024.
“It is important for us to include Local Lab as a part of our season because new work requires time and resources to move to its next iteration,” Hart says. “So, as a theater company that values and treasures new work, we want to help support exciting original work by giving playwrights a week to get together with a cast, dramaturg, director, stage management and production team to find the next new voice in that play’s development.”
Subscriptions for the new season are on sale now. While many details have yet to be announced, the Local team says audiences can expect to encounter works that encourage a true expression of who we are — alone, and together.
“One of the themes that emerged last season that we did not really promote but was internally significant for us was about what it looks like to live authentically,” Hart says. “That is still something we are interested in, so expect more projects in Season 13 that help artists and the community find their voices.”
ON STAGE: Local Theater Company Season Kickoff Party. 5:45 p.m. Sunday, July 23, The Savoy, 2700 Arapahoe St., Denver. Free