The Unseam'd Shakespeare Company's announcement of its 2004 season featured a bit more drama than usual: Artistic Director Laura Smiley was to reveal not only what plays the company would stage, but where it would stage them. After playing seven of its ten seasons -- including the past six -- at City Theatre's Lester Hamburg Studio Theatre, Unseam'd became one of several groups hunting for new digs after City announced it would no longer rent space to outside groups.
Most observers agree that for small theater companies, even established ones, finding performance space in Pittsburgh is especially tough right now ["Stage Fright," Nov. 19, 2003]. Unseam'd is no exception: Despite months of searching, Smiley couldn't locate an affordable venue conducive to the company's intimate approach to reinterpreting classic plays.
But City Theatre Managing Director David Jobin had promised Smiley that Unseam'd could rent the Hamburg next summer if it really had nowhere else to go. So at a Dec. 5 party for Unseam'd supporters, Smiley announced that the company would be back for two last shows at the Hamburg.
Partly for financial reasons, Unseam'd's 11th season will include two productions instead of the usual three. Both are broadly war-themed: an all-female version of Shakespeare's Henry V, directed by Nona Gerard, and Beirut, Alan Bowne's 1987 play about the ravages of AIDS, set in a dystopian future where victims of the disease are identified by tattoos. Beirut will be directed by Marci Woodruff.
Exact dates for the shows will be announced. Meanwhile, the company gets an extra year to look for a new home.