Heartwood Theater’s 18th season is underway, with programs and plans to educate and perform.

“Our 20-21 adventure has begun,” notes Artistic Director Griff Braley, “with the same goals as ever — growing and educating students through the lens of theater and engaging students, local and visiting actors for the purpose of live performance. As a company, we recognize the unique challenges of the coming season; we remain eager to create, learn and honor the art of theater, combing a flexible attitude and strong work ethic. It’s what we do, and we’re grateful to be in a position to advance our mission in the community for another season.”

Braley began reconfiguring the Poe Theater in August, with the help of Ryan Kohnert, graduated Lincoln Academy student, and Lincoln Academy interns, to accommodate new production concepts for acting and film.

Three programs are already underway this fall, beginning with a new “Maker Semester” for college students and high school seniors. This program provides an intensive immersion in dramatic literature and theater, through critical analysis and performance. Students are meeting at the Heartwood Studio 10 hours a week, for 12 weeks this fall, under the teaching and direction of Braley.

Vocal Lessons with Beth Preston, new as a Heartwood offering last year (and very popular), have moved from Heartwood’s Studio location to an online platform. Lessons are being run in six-week sessions (visit heartwoodtheater.org for details).

Continuing the longstanding tradition of a fall youth collaboration with Lincoln Academy, LA students have embarked on a series of one act plays, to continue building theater skills and entertaining audiences, during the first trimester. Small groups of students are working on innovative productions to be live streamed from the Poe Theater.

A timely evening of frightful thrills opens the streamed series on Oct. 30 and 31 with an evening of adapted chilling tales: "The Most Dangerous Game," by Richard Connell, and two Edgar Allen Poe tales — "The Cask of Amontillado" and "Masque of the Red Death."

Later in November, students will stream "The Tailor," a heartwarming and poignant tale about a poor fellow trying to please his customers, his wife, his three daughters, his rich neighbors and the local match maker with his very limited resources. Along with "The Tailor" is a short adaptation of Edmund Rostand’s classic, "Cyrano de Bergerac." This one act version keeps nearly all the colorful characters of the original, with an emphasis on language, love, and perseverance.

A new project is in the works for the holidays, with a collection of music, readings, and past performance clips, woven together in the spirit of the season. Look for new and past Heartwood performers, in this online gift to the community.

January is the usual time for Heartwood’s middle school program, the "Winter Drama Adventure," in which 30-35 students in grades 5-8 perform a full production for the public and for hundreds of peers, who visit LA’s Poe Theater during school hours. The intent this year is to make the most of whatever casting/rehearsal/performance opportunities are available at that time and to provide a creative theater experience for students to embark on together.

Summer Camp ’21 is on the calendar, available to students grades 3-12, with newly designed three-week options. Details available at heartwoodtheater.org as the season unfolds.

Henrik Ibsen’s "Rosmersholm," canceled at Heartwood in spring ’20, reappears on the spring ‘21 calendar. A political and romantic thriller, "Rosmersholm’s" transcendent themes include the downside of idealism, loss of faith, and the corruption of the press. Emotionally complicated relationships and hidden deeds energize and imbue the play with intrigue. This modern translation moves quickly and passionately through events which turn a whole town on its head, in a single day. Performance dates and performance space TBD.

Closing Heartwood’s 18th Season in July/August is Kate Hamill's 2017 adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice," published by Jane Austen in 1813. The familiar characters of the Bennet Family and Mr. Darcy, et al are fully intact, as they pursue love in an age of arranged marriages and complicated family dynamics and finances. Hamill adds a great deal of slapstick comedy, as well as modern flourishes, while keeping the characters in their period and language. Hamill's adaptations of "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice" are two of the most produced plays in the country over the last three years, giving audiences who love the originals a chance to reconnect, and inviting those with no experience with the original novel, a great evening of laughter, plot twists, physical comedy, and giddy romance.

A closing note from Heartwood’s executive director, “With immense gratitude for past and continuing support, we anticipate a rewarding season to be shared with our generous community. Theater matters. We know that now, more than ever.”