Paige Price truly believes that the middle stages of life mark the perfect time to reevaluate and examine your goals.
For Price, the producing artistic director of the Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC), the same philosophy holds true for an organization, too.
“I think I that is a good time in life and a good time in the life of a company to look at your values and your priorities,” said Price, who moved to Philadelphia two years ago. “We have classically done a lot of plays by man. I'm interested in the next wave of brilliant female writers.”
With that self-reflection, Price has committed PTC to produce one play from the acclaimed Kilroys List – the Los Angeles-based collective that promotes women and trans playwrights in American theaters – each year. This year, Price has chosen a play she first saw in Chicago, How to Catch a Creation.
A soft open took place March 22 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, but the play is set to go curtains up beginning March 27 and will run through April 14.
“I think that the goal is ultimately audience and just see a good play. Whether they realize it is written by a man or a woman, they might not even take that in,” explained Price about PTC’s pledge to produce works from the Kilroys’ List. “In a woman-led company, we are focusing on making sure that we really, intentionally get those stories [by women] out there.”
Written by playwright Christina Anderson, How to Catch a Creation follows four artists and the legacies they want to leave behind with their work. The arc of play centers around one of the characters finding old writings from a black queer feminist that both inspires him to write and change the lives of the other characters.
Price chose the play, because, from her estimation, it brought something unique to the African-American theatrical narrative.
“It showed people of color in a way that [made] their color not the basis of the story,” explained Price, adding that the show’s visuals are equally noteworthy. “It was not about race [but] it was about black people.”
In addition, Price believes that while the Philadelphia theater scene has been progressive in its values, it still needs to work on passing those types of stories and its core message to audiences.
“Philadelphia is so diverse. But I don't think we have fully told those stories in our theaters,” said Price. “It is just a really good story about people trying to figure out what they're going to leave to the world, what their legacy is.”
Anderson, who has made the Kilroys List before, explained that the root of How to Catch a Creation, which she wrote in 2014, is an intrinsic look at the concept of creation. In the spirit of the play, she also sustained a unique, creative process for writing it.
“After a certain point, in a weird way, the play wrote itself,” said Anderson, who is currently working on a couple of screenplays in addition to a commissioned play about Black Republicans. “I began to engage with these characters. [I got] frustrated by them and laughed with them.”
After its successful run in Chicago, Anderson noted her excitement to “share this world” with Philadelphia audiences. Set to make its Philly premiere with a new director and cast, Anderson classifies the play as a dramedy, retaining humor, heart and passion.
“I hope audiences are inspired. I hope they find laughter and joy,” said Anderson. “I hope [from this play] there's a feeling of celebration and possibility.”
If you’re jonesing for even more of the arts then you’re in luck. Here are six plays and musicals that are in full swing or making its way to a local theater.
Gem of the Ocean
The first installment of August Wilson’s 10-play chronicle, The American Century Cycle, Gem of the Ocean takes place in Pittsburgh, circa 1904. Examining the African-American experience, the mystical play centers on a 287-year-old matriarch who welcomes a man born as a slave and another man looking for a new life into her home. Directed by Philly native playwright James Ijames, Gem of the Ocean explores the theme of freedom in all its dimensions. | Now-March 31. $18-$52. Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St. ardentheatre.org
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Continuing with its 210th anniversary season, the historic Walnut Street Theater takes on five-time Tony-Award-winning play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The spellbinding show based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel of the same name centers on Christopher, a neurodivergent boy who investigates the mystery behind the death of his neighbor’s dog. Visually impeccable, the staging includes pipework and screens to reflect the neurons in the brain of a child on the autism spectrum. | Now-April 28. Prices vary. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St. walnutstreettheatre.org
Broadway Philadelphia presents the Tony-Award winning musical Miss Saigon. Inspired by Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon deals with a tragic story of a Vietnamese woman abandoned by her American soldier lover during the Vietnam War. The same creators behind the musical Les Miserables, Miss Saigon boasts showtime classic songs, like “Last Night of the World” and “The Heat Is On in Saigon.” | Now-March 31. Prices vary. Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St. kimmelcenter.org/events-and-tickets
"When we are born we cry that we have come to this great stage of fools." Judging from the quote, this isn’t one of William Shakespeare’s comedies. Presented by Quintessence Theatre Group, the classic tragedy chronicles an old king who divides his British throne among his three daughters. Taking daddy issues to a whole new level, after King Lear’s youngest daughter rebels against flattering her father for her share of the kingdom, he re-appropriates her section among the other two daughters and sets off a civil war. Exiled and spiraling into madness, the play ruminates on timeless themes of family dynamics and power. | March 19-April 20. Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave. $15-$35. quintessencetheatre.secure.force.com
A musical satire about abortion in America, The Appointment chronicles several women at the clinic to have an abortion. Presented by Lightning Rod Special, the new pop-musical uses a hefty dose of comedy to fully delve into today’s debates about bodily autonomy and rights. Please be advised, the show is not recommended for children under 16. | Now-31. $15-$31. FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Blvd. fringearts.com
Peg + Cat Live!
Perfect for the little ones, check out the musical revamp of the Emmy-winningPBS kids show Peg + Cat. Only in town for one day, Peg + Cat Live! will have two showtimes full of song, dance and a splash of interactive problem-solving. Peg and Cat face a really big problem that only math can solve when they run into a big dog on their way to mail important letters. Can Peg and Cat count on you to count with them and solve the problem? | March 30. 2 p.m. & 5 p.m. $25-$50. Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St. kimmelcenter.org