season planning futures: 2023-24 (#1)
dial m for march madness
Welcome to Season Planning Futures, a subscriber-only feature where I talk about emerging trends and patterns in the 2023-24 season announcements.
I was born and raised on the Connecticut shoreline, a state rightfully maligned for its rich jagweed vibes. (I didn't see Mystic Pizza until my thirties, but that movie nails townie energy and other dirtbag beach town traditions: extreme Yale worship, drinking beers at a marina, intense family discord and racism over lobster rolls.) Connecticut residents are united by our lack of state pride, but we all know our home boasts few crown jewels: New Haven pizza, Stew Leonard's, The Book Barn goats, The Hartford Whalers (RIP), the late 90s Foxwoods commercial jingle "The Wonder of It All", and, most importantly, the UConn women's basketball team (RIP our Final Four streak, we’ll be back). There is no holier time of year than March Madness.
But after spending half of my one wild and precious life working in regional theatre, March now invokes a different kind of madness: the steady stream of season announcements. (If I could make a feasible bracket to bet on titles, I would.) The slow drip of press releases starts in November/December, when La Jolla Playhouse releases their upcoming line-up. (La Jolla's season usually begins in June, while most regional theatres start in September—but speaking from experience, when you work at an institution you're always in some kind of pre-production/rehearsal phase, so formal divides between seasons are arbitrary for everyone but subscribers.) Before the pandemic, most companies announced between late February and late April—and after several years of cautious scheduling and piecemeal line-ups, theatres seem to be returning to that calendar.
This edition of Season Planning Futures will look at patterns and trends in season announcements from the following theatres: The Guthrie, Arena Stage, Kansas City Rep, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Milwaukee Rep, Stages Houston, TheatreSquared, Portland Center Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, and City Theatre Company.