After more than a year of producing theatre virtually, PURE Theatre will return to live performances for the company’s 19th season.
Performances in the 2021-2022 season will take place at multiple locations throughout Charleston, including the Dock Street Theatre, Battery Gadsden Cultural Center on Sullivan’s Island, and the company’s home venue, the new Cannon Street Arts Center.
PURE’s 19th season bears the tagline “Emergence” and celebrates stories of coming into view. “When I think of what it means to emerge,” says Sharon Graci, PURE Theatre’s co-founding Artistic Director, “I see images of something or someone, coming out of the darkness into the light. I see rubble and debris being muscled away so that the process of becoming can flourish. To emerge means to rise up, to come forth, to be more of what you are meant to be. It’s inspiration and aspiration, it’s hope and promise, and it’s commitment and bravery all rolled into one simple verb.”
Season 19: Emergence shines a light on five diverse stories that explore the process of becoming. From a small town on the New Jersey shore confronting difference and hate, to a global exploration of the illegal ivory trade, from a Union fort during the Civil War, to a parlor in Ireland, to a valuable piece of real estate with dirty origins in a small Southern city, each of the plays in Season 19 feature stories of our struggles against the darkness so that we might emerge into the light.
PURE’s Season 19: Emergence kicks off in September/October 2021 with The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey by James Lecesne (cofounder of The Trevor Project). Featuring PURE Core Ensemble member David Mandel, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey is an uplifting story of all the tiny ways that one human being inspires an entire community to seek their highest selves. “A superlative solo show,” PURE’s production will be the South Carolina Premiere and will “leave you beaming with joy” (New York Times).
November/December brings another Southeast Regional Premiere, the play Little Gem by Elaine Murphy. Amber, Lorraine, and Kay, three generations of North Dublin women, find themselves suddenly facing the unexpected. The play moves through a year in their life to discover the beauty, complexity, and necessity of family. Winner of the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Little Gem tells “a slice-of-life story through interwoven, interlocking monologues” (New York Times).
The second half of PURE Theatre’s 19th season will feature two additional Regional Premiere productions and one World Premiere. Ben Butler by Richard Strand opens 2022 with the brilliantly comic story of what ensues when a runaway slave demands sanctuary at a Union Army garrison and the General in charge is faced with a moral quandary: follow the letter of the law, or make a game-changing move that could alter the course of American history? “Part comedy, part historical drama and part biography, often all at once… Just call it splendid…” (New York Times).
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s Mlima’s Tale will run in March 2022. The play follows the story of a magnificent elephant trapped by the underground international ivory market. As he follows a trail littered by a history of greed, Mlima takes us on a journey through memory, fear, tradition, and the penumbra between want and need. Mlima’s Tale “is yet another towering American drama.” (NY Stage Review). “Eighty straight minutes of searing brilliance…makes a strong argument for plausible deniability as a luxury far greater than ivory, afforded to only the most privileged” (TheaterMania.com).
Rounding out the season in April/May 2022 is the World Premiere of Honoria Quietly Drawing Strength from Her Truth, by playwright and screenwriter Clifton Campbell. A social activist, a Vietnam vet, and a progressive theatre artist are each eager to tell their stories to the world. Who among them will be deemed worthy of a valuable piece of property donated by an affluent Southern family with its own complicated past? Honoria Quietly Drawing Strength from Her Truth is a lurching, lyrical exploration of our failures to connect, a culture of disparate voices fighting to be heard, and the spaces we create to tell our stories.
Patrons and ticket buyers should visit PURE Theatre’s website at www.puretheatre.org for additional information on Season 19: Emergence. Information on purchasing season passes as well as individual tickets is also available on PURE’s website, social media platforms, and via PURE Theatre’s box office at 843-723-4444, Monday-Friday from 10 am to 6 pm.