In fall 2016, a sumptuous revival of Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses opened on Broadway, to critical acclaim. As of this month, there is only one other theater in North America where playgoers can see this tale of sexual politics and seduction in 18th century France, and it just so happens to be in downtown San Diego, courtesy of the fledgling New Fortune Theatre Co.
New Fortune artistic director Richard Baird calls securing the rights to Liaisons a coup for the two-year-old theater company, one of several adventurous new troupes in San Diego. Baird is codirecting the production along with Kaitlin O’Neal, and is starring opposite his partner and New Fortune’s executive director, Amanda Schaar.
"This is the first full professional production of Liaisons in San Diego," Baird says. It’s in line with New Fortune’s motto: "Great plays, rarely done: Theatre for the Daring."
"We want to challenge," Baird says of the company that, in two short years, has staged Shakespeare’s ambitious Henry V and Harold Pinter’s oft-ambiguous The Birthday Party, about a piano player in 1930s England.
That’s heady stuff, to be sure, but as Schaar adds, "We believe in intelligent audiences."
Baird and Schaar are encouraged by the direction San Diego is headed as a theater city, with not only its thriving and long-established companies but with others that are emerging on the scene and offering arts to a broader community: InnerMission Productions, Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company, and the remounted Sledgehammer Theatre. Besides doing exciting work, these theater groups share a noble goal. As Baird puts it: "We want to make theater affordable for more than just the 1 percent."