For the 2018-19 season, Phase Eight Theater Company plans to continue “Pushing the Boundaries of Performance.” Having settled into permanent digs at WJCT Studios, Artistic Director JaMario Stills and his team have been planning an exciting second season, expanding into their mission to be Florida’s next great regional theater. Stills, a graduate of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and Juilliard, has professional experience in acting and directing, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and other venues around the country, as well as directing A Soldier’s Tale (Libretto) at New York’s Lincoln Center. He currently serves as drama instructor for Jacksonville University’s Theater Department and on boards of several local arts organizations, but Phase Eight Theater Company is Stills’ way of giving back, of bringing to his home town professional-level theater and supporting local actors and playwrights.
Last year’s line-up was a great start. Stills directed four projects ranging from a locally-written dramatic one-woman show, On Purpose, to Shakespeare’s sixteen-person romantic comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost. The plays were edgy, as their poster images graphically depicted, and offered high-quality and emotionally compelling performances. The Art of Phase Eight poster series, generously donated by Jacksonville–based Brunet|Garcia, was recognized with an American Graphic Art and Design Award for 2017.
Season two will continue to challenge, surprise, and inspire audiences through original writing and professional acting. The plays in season two, performed at the WJCT Studios, range widely in emotional touch points, from the hilarious British farce Noises Off to the depths of struggle and conflict in Ruined. Great writing and acting can transport us into other lives, other places, other viewpoints, inspiring us to see our own lives with fresh eyes. Phase Eight’s upcoming performances promise to bring the world to us – and we will see ourselves in it.
Noises Off by Michael Frayn
April 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15
Noises Off is a comedy classic play-within-a-play. The director of a second-rate theater company is desperately trying to get a disastrous production of a British adult-farce on its feet. From final rehearsals, to opening night, and onto the tour, we follow the onstage and offstage personal dramas of the actors and crew as things fall apart. A hilarious send-up of life in the theater.
Ruined by Lynn Nottage
August 17, 18, 24, 25
In the civil war-torn Congo, miners, traveling salesmen, and military and rebel fighters find temporary escape from the day-to-day at Mama Nadi’s bar and brothel. For the women who work for her, Mama provides sanctuary from the relentless violence experienced outside its walls. Inspired by the plays of Bertolt Brecht and Nottage’s interviews with African women affected by war, Ruined explores the complex humanity of those struggling for survival in the midst of unspeakable horrors. Winner, 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
Nov. 29, 30, Dec. 6, 7, 8
In the lush setting of Ybor City, Florida, in the 1920s, a visiting lector reads the Russian novel Anna Karenina to workers in a Cuban-American family’s cigar factory. During the long, humid days of rolling cigars by hand, the workers find themselves transformed by the language of Tolstoy’s classic, as the book’s events inspire shocking confrontations with issues in their own lives. Winner, 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Collaboration with MOCA
In an exciting new development, Phase Eight has begun a collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville. The partnership is intended to promote the profound connection between the visual and performing arts. Original plays will be created to relate to certain exhibitions at the museum. Guests will be invited into the MOCA theater and gallery to immerse themselves in the convergence of drama and visual art. Imagine visiting MOCA to view a new exhibition and then watching a play written specifically for that artist and their work. MOCA Director Caitlin Doherty is enthusiastic about this opportunity to reach a larger audience and to make the museum’s upcoming exhibits more accessible through dramatic performance.
By Carol Grimes