Terry Burrell, Marva Hicks, and Tijuana T. Ricks
in The Women of Brewster Place
(© Greg Mooney)
Terry Burrell, Marva Hicks, and Tijuana T. Ricks
in The Women of Brewster Place
(© Greg Mooney)
It's a busy month on DC area stages as the fall season gets into full swing with a flurry of brand new plays and musicals. Some R & B, blues, funk and gospel music will help tell the story of The Women of Brewster Place (October 19-December 9) at Arena Stage's Kreeger Theater. Based on Gloria Naylor's best-selling novel, and familiar to many from the Oprah Winfrey (non-musical) TV miniseries, the show explores the dreams and the daily realities of the women living in a decaying housing project. (Arena Stage will also present a special concert featuring songs from the show on October 12 at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda.)

Arlington's Signature Theatre presents the first full-fledged production of The Word Begins (October 2-December 2) on the ARK stage. "Spoken word" artists Steve Connell and Sekou (tha misfit) have brought together the worlds of hip-hop and slam poetry for a theatrical presentation exploring race, religion, sex, and love. Audiences at workshops for the show here at Signature last year and later in New York describe an intense experience as the pair utilize a dynamic variety of performance styles to provoke both thought and emotions.

Round House Theatre is presenting the premiere of Redshirts (October 17-November 11), Dana Yeaton's drama about a cheating scandal among college athletes. Coming in at month's end is the world premiere of Melissa James Gibson's Current Nobody (October 29-November 25) at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. When photo-journalist Pen heads off to cover the war in Troy, stay-at-home dad Od struggles to maintain his fidelity and raise a child in his wife's absence.

Meanwhile, Shakespeare Theatre Company officially inaugurates its new Sidney Harman Hall with two productions of Christopher Marlowe works in repertory: Avery Brooks takes on the title role of the little-known Tamburlaine, while Wallace Acton returns to the company for the first time since 2003 to take on the title role of Edward II (Sidney Harman Hall, October 27-January 6).

Theater Alliance has the area debut of Anthony Clarvoe's Ambition Facing West (October 11-November 4), an exploration of the immigrant experience based on three generations of Croatians who improve their lives by constantly facing westward. Washington Shakespeare Company takes us back much farther in time, the years 37-41 to be exact, with Caligula (Arlington's Clark Street Playhouse, October 4-November 4), Albert Camus' 1938 study of the harsh reign of the third Emperor of Rome.

Elsewhere around town: Theater J serves up Speed-the-Plow (October 18- November 25), David Mamet's masterful skewering of the business behind Hollywood movie making. The tour of the recent Broadway hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (October 23-November 4) makes a quick stop at the National Theatre. Canadian playwright George F. Walker has turned Ivan Turgenev's 1862 novel Fathers and Sons into Nothing Sacred (Arlington's Theatre on the Run, October 11-November 4). Another ambitious take on serious literature is Christopher Gallu's new adaptation of Kafka's The Trial at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (October 3-November 3). Finally, MetroStage presents Rent author Jonathan Larson's pop-rock musical tick, tick...Boom! (October 11-November 25).