The crowd that gathered at The Lighthouse this morning to hear details of the eight plays the University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Theatre will produce next season burst into shouts and applause when they heard another announcement. UT plans to add restrooms to the 43-year-old theater building on campus.
“You’ll be relieved to know that we are going to more than double the number of restrooms,” David Byrd, managing director of the Clarence Brown Theatre, chuckled. The limited number of restrooms — particularly women’s — has long been a problem. When attendance at a play there is at or near capacity — as it often is these days — women either get in a line so long that they risk missing the beginning of the next act or they do what I do and leave the theater building to seek a restroom in another campus building. This also causes the risk of being late to the second act. And it’s particularly irritating when the weather is bad.
Byrd said that new men’s and women’s restrooms will be added in “bump outs” on both sides of the lobby. Additionally, each side of the lobby will have a single stall restroom which Byrd said would help insure “inclusion.” This will eliminate the need to deal with gender identification issues.
In more good news, Byrd said the new restrooms are expected to be ready when the next season opens in the fall.
And, speaking of next season, it’s a good one. Here are the plays:
Aug. 30 – Sept 17: Peter and the Starcatcher. “Get ready for a thrilling ride,” Byrd said of this play by Rick Elice about how Peter Pan came to be the boy who never grew up. Ten actors will play 100 characters during the show, Byrd said. It is not suitable for children younger than 10, he said, because “some places are rather dark.”
Sept. 27 – Oct. 15: Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov. This is a new version of the story about three very different sisters and their attempts to return to their home, Moscow. Also in the works: plans for a Chekhov festival involving other local theater groups.
Oct. 25 – Nov. 17: Blue Window by Craig Lucas. “A portrait of loneliness in Manhattan,” Byrd said. This play will be in the tiny Lab Theatre and will likely be a sellout, so get your tickets early.
Nov. 22 – Dec. 10: A Christmas Carol. Plans call for thousands of schoolchildren to be able to attend this Charles Dickens Christmas classic at drastically reduced prices. “Many will be seeing a play for the first time,” Byrd said.
Jan. 31 – Feb. 18: Alabama Story by Kenneth Jones. This will be a Southeast premiere of a story about race relations in the Deep South. Set in 1959 Montgomery, it portrays the struggle between a segregationist senator and a feisty librarian at the start of the Civil Rights movement. The play has only been performed four times, Byrd said.
Feb. 21 – Mar 11: The Strangers. This world premiere play by Christopher Oscar Pena was commissioned by the Clarence Brown Theatre. It tells an updated story of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” Byrd said.
Mar. 28 – Apr. 15: The Dream of the Burning Boy. Also to be performed in the Lab Theatre, this play is about finding the strength to move on after a death. It contains mature language and themes.
Apr. 18 – May 6: Urinetown. This hilarious musical satire featured Knoxville’s own John Cullum when it ran on Broadway. It won three Tony Awards. It’s a musical satire of capitalism, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, politics, greed and the musical theater. Wow.
To subscribe to the season, call the box office at (865) 974-5161 or go online at clarencebrowntheatre.com.
See you at the shows! (And in the restroom.)