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Beginning of summer marks new theater season announcements

<i>Il Campiello</i> opens the Ten Thousand Things 2011-2012 season.

Il Campiello opens the Ten Thousand Things 2011-2012 season.

Like graduates matriculating into the world, the end of spring brings the end of many theater seasons. But like school, there is a fresh crop just around the corner. Area theaters are currently in the midst of announcing their upcoming seasons. Here's what is on the slates for three smaller companies known for presenting works ready to challenge audiences: Ten Thousand Things Theater, Theatre Pro Rata, and Hardcover Theater.

[jump] Ten Thousand Things Theater

One of the best theater company's in the Twin Cities offers a trio of productions in the coming year, along with a co-produced staged reading. On the slate for the company's next season: a new adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's Il Campiello, Shakespeare's As You Like It, and Vasa Lisa by Kira Obolensky.

As always, Ten Thousand Things will tour each of the shows to prisons, homeless shelters, community centers, and other locations in an effort to reach out to audiences who are not normally exposed to theater. Public performances are then held over several weekends for the general public.

Opening the season is Il Campiello, adapted by Steven Epp, who provided a stunning performance in the company's recent Man of La Mancha and is currently onstage at the Southern Theater in Come Hell and High Water. The cast includes Sarah Agnew, Nathan Keepers, Elise  Langer, Randy Reyes, and Namir Smallwood. The show will run in October and November.

The company returns to Shakespeare in February with As You Like It, directed by Lear de Bessonet, who directed Ten Thousand Things' 2010 production of My Fair Lady.  The cast includes Aimee Bryant, Pearce Bunting, Maggie Chestovich, Bradley Greenwald, Will Harper, and Kimberly Richardson.

The season concludes with Vasa Lisa, a new work by Kira Oblensky with music by Peter Vitale. Company artistic director Michelle Hensley will direct the show, slated for May 2012.

Along with the three-show main season, Ten Thousand Things will team up with Theater of War Productions for readings of Sophocles' Ajax and Philoctetes. The play explores the psychological and physical wounds from warfare. The readings will be presented to military and everyday audiences. The exact schedule has not been set, but they are expected to be held in November and December.

Theatre Pro Rata

The longstanding small theater still has a show to go this season; a production of Waiting for Godot at the Hollywood Theatre in northeast Minneapolis will run from July 8 to 31.

A trio of pieces are scheduled for the next season, which will be the company's 10th. The season opens with Cat's Paw, by Willaim Mastrosimone, in September. That will be followed by Jon Klein's T Bone N Weasel in March, and 44 Plays for 44 Presidents in June and July 2012. The last work features a number of playwrights who have crafted short pieces about all of the 44 men who have held the top job in the United States.

Hardcover Theater

The adaptation-based group has been quiet as of late and the first of their upcoming shows, Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, has been postponed due to the Southern's financial difficulties. (It was scheduled to run as part of the Steampunk Dreams project.)

Two shows are on the slate for the fall, however. The first is Style, Not Sincerity: Three Short Stories by Oscar Wilde. The piece was originally created for the Ramsey County Public Libraries in March, and will come to the Bryant-Lake Bowl in September.

That will be followed by Spook House Inferno, which takes Dante's Inferno and gives it a site-specific twist: as a tour of Hell in a Twin-Cities-area church. This mixture of a play and a haunted house is slated to run over Halloween weekend.