The Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre has unveiled its highly anticipated 2023/2024 season, marking the 40th anniversary of the downtown theatre. With a lineup of exceptional plays and productions from our Cultural Centre Collectives, “this season promises to charm audiences and showcase the Cultural Centre’s commitment to excellence in the performing arts,” said Constance Macy, artistic director of The Phoenix Theatre.
Among the highlights from the Phoenix’s seven theater and dance companies will be three shows from Indianapolis playwrights produced by the Phoenix Theatre – productions which Macy pointed out will focus on women, Black Americans, and other important audiences from across our collectives.
The lineup will also include, on Nov. 4, the 40th anniversary of the first production staged by The Phoenix.
“We are on the leading edge of reinventing how performing arts are delivered – an approach that will keep more artists, support teams, and patrons in Central Indiana,” Macy said. “And we are doing this in a way that welcomes and serves more voices in our community.”
Following is an overview of the upcoming season:
• Kicking off the Cultural Centre season – as well as their own inaugural season – the Naptown African American Theatre Collective presents Detroit ’67 by Dominique Morisseau. Set in the ever-changing landscape of 1967 Detroit, this gripping play follows two conflicted siblings as they navigate deferred dreams and life-altering decisions amid civil disturbance, all accompanied by the iconic sounds of Motown. The show runs from Augt 24 to Sept. 10 on the main stage, the Livia and Steve Russell Theatre.
• Next, American Lives Theatre presents Sanctuary City by Martyna Majok, a powerful exploration of the lives of two young DREAMers fighting for their place in an increasingly volatile American city. Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok brings this explosive and tender new play to life, challenging audiences to consider the real impact of culture wars and border debates. Catch the Indiana premiere in the Frank and Katrina Basile (studio) Theatre from Sept. 7 to 24.
• In October, Actors Ink, under the direction of Phoenix veteran actor Sandra Gay, presents Grandmothers Inc. by Indiana-based playwrights L. Barnett Evans and Crystal V. Rhodes. The play is described asa delightful production based on characters from the successful cozy mystery series of the same name and featuring actors ranging from 65 to 92 years old. This play and runs from Oct. 5 to 15 in the Russell Theatre.
• As Halloween approaches, Storytelling Arts of Indiana presents a spine-tingling event with Ghost Stories on Oct. 29 and 30 in the Russell Theatre. Audiences are advised to prepare to be thrilled and chilled as talented storytellers bring supernatural tales to life in the presence of a ghost light.
• November brings the Phoenix Theatre’s world-premiere production of The Body by Indiana-based playwright Steve Moulds, a captivating and thought-provoking play exploring the complexities of human existence in the fashion of M. Night Shyamalan. The play will run from Nov. 2 to 19, in the Russell Theatre.
• Continuing the holiday tradition, and back by popular demand: A Very Phoenix Xmas Returns: the Return of A Very Phoenix Xmas opens in the Basile Theatre on Nov. 25 and closes on Dec. 23. Created afresh by Indy’s own Claire Wilcher and friends, this festive and irreverent production promises to take audiences back to the old Phoenix basement for good-hearted mockery of Indy’s favorite holiday traditions.
• In the new year, American Lives Theatre presents The Minutes by Tracy Letts. This hysterical comedy of manners takes audiences into a small-town city council meeting filled with stolen bikes, an inaccessible fountain, and a “Lincoln Smackdown.” But beneath the banter lies something sinister and uniquely American. The Indiana premiere of this Broadway hit will run from Jan. 25 Feb. 11 in the Russell Theatre.
• Next, Summit Performance Indianapolis presents Queen by Madhuri Shekar in the Basile Theatre. This thought-provoking play follows two PhD candidates researching vanishing bee populations and the impossible choice they face. Witness a story of personal integrity, relationships, and the importance of our environment from Feb. 9 to 25.
• The Naptown African American Theatre Collective presents Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson from March 7 to 24 in the Russell Theatre. The play focuses on the collision between legendary Blues and systemic racism as a leading lady fights for her right to the top.
• March also brings the Phoenix Theatre’s production of And I Will Follow, another world premiere by Indianapolis-based playwright Bennett Ayres, in the Basile Theatre, from March 21 to April 7. This moving one-man show about a true crime story feature local legend Mark Goetzinger.
• In May, the Indianapolis Shakespeare Co. joins forces with Zach & Zack to present a fresh, modern take on Shakespeare’s iconic political thriller, Julius Caesar. Witness this captivating performance in the Basile Theatre from May 2 to 19.
• Continuing the artistic journey, the Naptown African American Theatre Collective presents The Light by Loy A. Webb from May 2 to 19 in the Russell Theatre. This two-character drama explores love, doubt, and the power of truth as characters confront accusations from the past.
• June brings American Lives Theatre’s production of Spay by Madison Fiedler. Set in opioid-addicted Appalachia, this play delves into the lives of two sisters as they navigate a family dilemma and an America in crisis. Catch the Indiana premiere of this Osborn New Play Award winner in the Basile Theatre from June 13 to 30.
• Eclipse Indy presents two high-quality productions that bookend the end of the Phoenix Theatre’s 2023/24 season. From June 6 to June 16 and again from Aug. 1 to 11, Eclipse will present yet-to-be-named productions.
• In addition to the 2023/2024 season, the Phoenix Theatre is excited to announce a special reprise of White City Murder by Ben Asaywee. White City Murder delves into the chilling story of H. H. Holmes, a notorious mass-murderer during the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. This enthralling production will run from July 19 to Aug. 4, in the Basile.
Tickets for the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre’s 2023/2024 season will be available at https://www.phoenixtheatre.org/2023-2024season starting July 15.
PHOTO ABOVE: The Phoenix Theatre Cultural Center sits at the corner of Illinois and Walnut streets along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.