WILLIAMSTOWN -- A Williamstown Theatre Festival alumnus will return home this summer to direct The Debate Society's off-Broadway hit, "Blood Play," the fourth and final production appearing on the Nikos Stage this summer.
In addition, comedian Lewis Black, a festival favorite, will return to the Main Stage for a one-night-only benefit performance, "My Fair Lewis," on July 22. The festival's signature Late-Night Cabaret series -- featuring its stars in rarely seen cabaret performances -- returns to Goodrich Hall, with performances running July 11 to 13, July 25 to 27 and August 8 to 10.
Oliver Butler, a member of the three-person team behind the Brooklyn-based company The Debate Society, began his relationship with the festival as an apprentice in 1998 and returned last summer to direct the annual "Fellowship Play."
"I've known Oliver in a peripheral way for many years, having first met him while he was an apprentice at the festival," Artistic Director Jenny Gersten said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "When he first formed The Debate Society with Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, I noticed and started to go to see their off-off-Broadway shows. When I saw ‘Blood Play' last year at the Bushwick Starr Theater in Brooklyn, I thought it was really special and wonderful."
When the festival announced its 59th season last month, Gersten was still in negotiations to bring a "revival" to the Nikos as the fourth and final show, but at the last minute, those plans fell through.
"It was not long after that Oliver called me and said that The Debate Society had recently announced it would be touring New England with ‘Blood Play,' and asked if we might have a spot for the production," she said. "As a theater festival, we have the wonderful freedom to introduce our audience to outstanding work from other companies. We're really thrilled to make them part of our 2013 season."
She added, "I think what makes this play special is that it's a combination of what I love about any kind of work -- it has elements that are truly unexpected; a great deal of humor and energy and it's deeply original."
"Blood Play," which will run on the Nikos Stage from Aug. 7 to 18, takes place on a tranquil suburban evening in the early 1950s, where a string of coincidences brings together a group of parents whose children are away on a camping trip and spawns a spontaneous grown-up party in the basement of a new ranch house. During the party, exotic cocktails are imbibed, raucous games are played, and new friends are made, but much is happening that no one is talking about -- and something is stirring underground.
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