“The Fre,” a play about today’s political divisions loosely based on “The Frogs” by Aristophanes, will have its world premiere at the Flea Theater in the spring, the Off Off Broadway nonprofit announced Tuesday.
The piece centers on an intellectual protagonist who is trapped in a mud pit by swamp inhabitants who call themselves the Fre. It is open to all ages and will run March 9-April 13 in the upstairs Sam Theater.
“The Fre” was first commissioned by the Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis in 2012, but the company has not produced it. “We love this piece, its theatricality, its language and its themes,” Peter Brosius, the artistic director of the company, wrote in an email. “We certainly hope to produce it within the next few years.”
In the fall the Flea Theater will host “Perfect Catastrophes, A Festival of Plays,” a repertory of five new interpretations of pieces by Mac Wellman, the distinguished professor of playwriting at Brooklyn College. Among the works are two world premieres: “The Invention of Tragedy,” about Americans’ acceptance of the Iraq War after 9/11, will be performed in the Sam Theater from Sept. 7-Oct. 14 and “The Fez,” a play whose first incarnation was a T-shirt, will have performances in the underground Siggy Theater Sept. 26-Nov. 1.
The Flea will also host a talk in October in which Mr. Wellman’s collaborators and protégés will reflect on his career and contributions to American theater.
Mr. Mac and Mr. Wellman have “an absurdist’s sense of the world around us and a showman’s love of the power of theater,” Niegel Smith, the Flea’s artistic director, said in a statement. “They are surrealists and dreamers and they choose the stage to let us know that while we might be close to the edge — all is not lost!”
In addition to honoring “the Macs,” the fall lineup includes “Cosmicomics,” a children’s piece that tells the story of the struggles of a dinosaur who survived the Ice Age. The theater will also host musical, dance and theatrical performances by several artists in residence, including Experiments in Opera, Tiffany Mills Company and New York City Children’s Theater.
The Flea’s late-night theatrical competition series “SERIALS” will return for its ninth year in June 2020.