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Synchronicity salutes Toni Morrison, books the Bard, Tolkien in 2019–20

Synchronicity Theatre’s five-show 2019–20 season begins October 4 with a modern twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and ends June 28, 2020, with The Bluest Eye, adapted from Toni Morrison’s classic 1970 novel.

The company, now in its 22nd season, is dedicated to producing smart, gutsy, bold theater that sparks community connections and uplifts the voices of women and girls. True to its mission, four of this season’s five scripts are by female playwrights. Featured are three Bold Voices productions (contemporary plays for adults) and two Family Series productions (plays for children and families), as well as the Stripped Bare Arts Incubator Project and the next installment of the SheWRITES New Play Festival. Synchronicity is led by cofounder/artistic director Rachel May and managing director Celise Kalke. 

Here’s the season, in chronological order.


Bold Voices Series
Adapted by Erica Schmidt from William Shakespeare
October 4–27, 2019
Directed by Jennifer Alice Acker

When the New York Times chose off-Broadway’s Mac | Beth as a critic’s pick in May, it described the thriller as a “raucously exuberant adaptation [that] finds common cause between rebellious teenagers and bloody-minded Shakespeare.” The piece was inspired, at least in part, by the 2014 Slender Man murder case that left a teenage girl dead in Wisconsin and the 2012 murder of 16-year-old West Virginian Skylar Neese.

Almost all of the text is Shakespeare’s, but Schmidt moves the setting to a modern-day empty lot on an autumn afternoon, where seven schoolgirls meet to do a play. They portray witches, ghosts and kings and hurl headlong into the unchecked passions of Macbeth (one word), where the line between real life and blood fantasy blurs.



Family Series
By Karen Zacarías, with music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, from the Gail Carson Levine novel
December 13, 2019–January 5, 2020
Directed by Jenna Tamisiea, with musical direction by Amanda Wansa Morgan

As a baby, Ella was cursed with the “gift” of obedience. That means she must do whatever is asked of her, including rubbing her stepsister’s stinky feet or hopping on one foot for hours at a time. But a rebel lives within, so she embarks on a journey to reverse the curse, meeting ogres, fairies, a giant and a prince along the way. Levine’s lighthearted-fantasy riff on the Cinderella story won a 1997 Newbery Honor and became a 2004 feature film starring Anne Hathaway. Zacarías’ plays have been done in Atlanta at the Alliance, Aurora and Horizon theaters. Tamisiea, cofounder and artistic director of Glow Lyric Theatre outside Greenville, South Carolina, directed Synchronicity’s A Year With Frog and Toad last December.


Family Series
Adapted by Greg Banks from the the J.R.R. Tolkien novel
January 31–February 23, 2020
Directed by Jake Guinn
Produced in association with Havoc Movement Company

Bilbo Baggins’ adventure story is reimagined with five actors, acrobatics, fight scenes and a decidedly steampunk twist. It remains a tale of how even the smallest creatures can be heroic with just a little courage.


Bold Voices Series
By Whitney Rowland
March 6–29, 2020
Directed by Rachel May

Meet Jane and Harrison. She’s an emotionally numbed new widow; he’s an inattentive, self-sabotaging fiancé. They collide — literally and figuratively — when seeking escape, tangling their life lines and setting them on a time-bending journey that includes an intercontinental plane crash, a magical forest and choices that lead them to an unexpected destination. Playwright Rowland began working on her dark comedy in 2016. It was staged in Seattle in 2018 and had two workshops earlier this year.


Bold Voices Series
Adapted by Lydia R. Diamond from the Toni Morrison novel
June 5–28, 2020
Directed by Tinashe Kajese-Bolden

Toni Morrison’s 1970 novel, her first, tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, an African American girl living in Ohio in the years after the Great Depression. She believes all the obstacles in her life could be overcome if she just had blue eyes. Morrison, who died August 5 at age 88, won numerous awards in this country and abroad, including a 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Beloved.

In addition to her adaptation of Beloved, playwright Diamond is known for Stick Fly, seen at Theatrical Outfit in 2007. Kajese-Bolden returns to Synchronicity for the first time since directing the company’s widely praised staging of Eclipsed in 2017.