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iTheatre Collaborative Swaps Velocity of Autumn for Yussef El Guindi Plays

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iTheatre Collaborative, the plucky company now housed in the Kax Stage at the Herberger Theater Center, has had a tough time sticking to its announced season the last few years. An October 2015 production of Conor McPherson’s Port Authority was canceled after the troupe didn’t receive a $5,000 general operating support grant from the City of Phoenix. The year before, a proposed production of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark was rescheduled from 2013 after the lead actress was suddenly unavailable.

This year’s summer windup, Eric Coble’s Velocity of Autumn, has also been rescheduled, again due to an actress’ woes. Equity actor Judy Rollings, cast in the lead in the Coble play, broke her foot before rehearsal commenced. Rather than recast the role, iTheatre execs decided to move Velocity to later this year, when it will reportedly open the company’s 14th season.

In its place, iTheatre will present a trio of plays by Arab-American playwright Yussef El Guindi under the banner Hostages and Other Plays. The eponymous play, directed by Charles St. Clair, casts Mike Traylor and Todd Isaac as a pair of professors who are prisoners, perhaps of some war crime. Birds Flew In is a one-woman monologue, performed in this case by Dolores Goldsmith and directed by iTheatre cofounder Rosemary Close. The company’s other founder, Christopher Haines, will perform as The Tyrant, also directed by St. Clair, about a deposed Middle Eastern dictator who’s offering his side of the story of his arrest.

New York theater critic Martin Denton wrote that these plays were “only incidentally political” and that the writing echoed that of Jean-Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett. Regardless of whose work they resemble, here’s hoping that any or all of these plays do in fact take bows at the Herberger.

Hostages and Other Plays performs May 20 through 29 on the Kax Stage at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. Call 602-252-8497 or visit iTheatre's website for tickets.

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