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Quantum's 20th season includes a world premiere, tango operetta

| Thursday, June 10, 2010

As it embarks on its 20th season, Quantum Theatre shows no sign of lapsing into complacency or caution in its choice of plays.

The 2010-11 season that begins July 29 will feature the debut of a new play adapted from a Finnish novel, a tango operetta and playwright Andrew Bovell's latest work, which debuted this spring at Lincoln Center Theater, plus a staged reading of a freely adapted Shakespeare play that moves "The Merchant of Venice" to contemporary Los Angeles.

"We consider everything we do new work," says Karla Boos, Quantum Theatre's artistic director.

The season begins with the world premiere of "The Howling Miller," July 29 through Aug. 22. Based on a novel by Finland's Arto Paasilinna, "The Howling Miller" was adapted for the stage by Boos and Peter Duschenes, a Canadian actor and director and a veteran of multiple Quantum productions.

Set in Lapland in the post-war years, the play revolves around a stranger who is a man and a myth who is part hero, part howler.

Duschenes will direct the production, which is set outdoors, and will use the burned-out former Frick Environmental Center in Squirrel Hill as a backdrop for the action.

"It's perfect for us. It's about a mill that's defunct and decrepit and is made to work again by this outlandish character," says Boos, who notes that producing plays outside has become one of Quantum's hallmarks.

"It's a shame not to use the outdoor environment," Boos says. "We just have such a wealth of beautiful outside spaces and a great ongoing relationship with Citiparks. We enjoy taking people into some of the less-known parks, with their little nooks and crannies.

Also planned for the season are:

"When the Rain Stops Falling" (Oct. 28-Nov. 21). Written by Andrew Bovell, it's about seven people trapped in a downpour who share an epic story that spans four generations of a family as it moves from a London flat in 1959 to Southern Australia's coast in 2039. Martin Giles will direct.

"Maria de Buenos Aires" (March 24-April 17). Composed in 1968, Astor Piazzolla's tango operetta is based on poems by Horacio Ferrer, who wrote the libretto. "Piazzolla did something unique in that he elevated the popular music of Argentina to a different level. He took tango into the realm of classical music," says Boos, who will direct the play in cooperation with Andres Cladera, who will serve as musical director. Both a sad story of a young woman and a stylized recounting of the history of tango, the operetta is also a skewed religious allegory full of surreal elements, drunken marionettes, masons who are Magis, and a chorus of psychoanalysts.

"Merchant on Venice" (April 9) Shishir Kurup wrote and will direct this free adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic. The play is set in the present within the South Asian community of Culver City, in Los Angeles County. The staged reading is being done in cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh as part of a series of theatrical events examining the South Asian diaspora.

Locations for the three productions have not been determined yet.

Subscriptions for the four-play season are on sale and range from $100 to $120. Single-ticket prices will be announced when they go on sale July 5.

Details: 412-697-2929 or www.quantumtheatre.com .

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