With Season 36, Mad Horse Theatre Company, at 24 Mosher St., in South Portland, plans to presents a season of enticing, provocative plays that explore issues that face us in our increasingly chaotic world. These four productions were selected for their ability to examine the enduring aspects of the human experience with humor, intelligence and empathy.

This season’s theme is, “Homecoming.” More specifically, our season explores the idea of what it means to be home. For some, “Home” is a place where you feel safe and secure; a place where you experience emotional warmth and feel yourself surrounded by love and affection; Yet at the same time, in some cultures a home isn’t just where you are, it’s who you are.

Each of these four productions investigate an element of being home. Have we not all yearned for the “safe harbor” of home in reflective or nostalgic moments of our lives as Mae does in You Got Older? How do concepts of home influence our expectations in life as it does with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare in Waiting for Alice? How do concepts of home relate to a person’s identity as explored in Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties. Finally, how healthy is a sense of home when so many people live in a world increasingly defined by exile, homelessness, or despair as first told by Homer in The Odyssey? Ultimately, this season investigates how different concepts of home reflect different mindsets in an increasingly decentering world.

Organizers also hope to continue our virtual Artist Chit Chat series that was so fun and successful last season.

“You Got Older“ by Clare Barron and directed by Reba Askari is scheduled from Oct. 7 to 31.

Dumped and fired by her boyfriend/boss, Mae assumes her life can’t get worse — until her Dad acquires a rare, aggressive form of cancer. You Got Older is a dark comedy about coming of age as your youth falls apart behind you. Sexual desire, fantasy cowboys, high school boyfriends and family are all part of Mae’s hilarious, emotional journey. Barron is not afraid to tackle the grittiest details of sex and death and explore the delicate moments that occur in times of passage.

“Waiting For Alice” by Allison McCall and directed by Chris Defillip will be staged Feb. 3-27.

The production was produced last season as part of the virtual By Local series.

The play explores the question: what happens at the Mad Tea Party before Alice arrives … or does she ever? The Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Dormouse are occasionally joined by the Cheshire Cat while they entertain themselves around their tea table, forever stuck at 6 o’clock.

Originally written for PortFringe 2015, the initial idea was inspired by conversations with young actors during rehearsals for Alice in Wonderland at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine. Waiting for Alice delves into the urgency behind rituals and investigates Carroll’s Wonderland through an absurdist lens inspired by Beckett and Ionesco.

“Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties” by Jen Silverman, directed by Hannah Cordes is scheduled from April 28 to May 22.

Betty is rich; Betty is lonely; Betty’s busy working on their truck; Betty wants to talk about love, but Betty needs to hit something. And Betty keeps using a small hand mirror to stare into parts of themselves they have never examined. Five different characters named Betty collide at the intersection of anger, sex, and the “Thea-Tah.”
Each of the five Betties is trying to figure out who they are in relation to their significant others and to themselves. Each is going through a personal journey and transformation. What do they want from life? The 5 Betties are ostensibly putting on a full-tilt lesbian/bicurious/genderqueer/Shakespearean comedy for everyone, but in the end are dealing with the anger, love, and loneliness of modern living.

“Homecoming: An Odyssey” is a season-long devising project led by a team of designers and artists working collaboratively over a nine-month period. The project aspires to create a totally original production drawing from Homer’s The Odyssey but transcending a linear narrative to explore the theme of homecoming. It will challenge and inspire artists and audience members to think about what a production can be.

The project will kick off at the beginning of the season in September and culminate with a final installation event in June 2022. Throughout the season, we will invite you in to experience the designer and artist collective’s original and innovative work.

The theater is now offering its entire season of productions as pay-what-you-decide (PWYD). That means every production, every performance, every person pays what you decide. Here’s how it works:

Make a no-cost reservation, come see the show, and make a payment as you leave the theater.

At this time, Mad Horse is requiring masks for all audience members and vaccination or proof of a negative PCR test from within the previous 48 hours or a negative Rapid Test from the previous 12 hours. Testing includes children younger than 12, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The same is expected of all Mad Horse event personnel, volunteers, and artists.

For more information, call 207-747-4148 or visit madhorse.com.

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