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Keen Company Announces 21st Season HEAR/NOW, Featuring Five World Premieres and More

KEEN AFTER HOURS will feature George Salazar, Brenda Pressley, Kate Baldwin, Marsha Mason and others!

Keen Company Announces 21st Season HEAR/NOW, Featuring Five World Premieres and More

Today Keen Company Artistic Director Jonathan Silverstein announced his plans for the upcoming season, their 21st: "As Keen grappled with how to produce during this isolating and divisive time, I was inspired by how people were connected and nourished through radio during similarly challenging periods in American history. Excited by the idea of working with a medium which is both entirely new yet familiarly intimate and story-driven, we began to imagine the Off-Broadway experience with a twist. I am thrilled to announce Keen Company's Hear/Now, a season of audio theater, featuring the world premiere of five new pieces by Pearl Cleage, Kate Cortesi, finkle, James Anthony Tyler, and musical team Melissa Li and Kit Yan. All of these writers are Keen alumni, and I am honored to welcome them back to debut fresh pieces which will embrace the audio format as told through each of their unique voices. We are excited to welcome audiences to a classic form of intimate storytelling, while connecting to our community in a whole new way." said Silverstein, adding "This will be a season unlike any other in our 20-year history, but we are very grateful to still be able to tell stories and we can't wait for our patrons to hear what's next."

Keen Company's 21st year will reimagine the classic radio drama with a season of five world premiere audio plays from a multifaceted group of modern playwrights. Hear/Now continues Keen's mission to be an Off-Broadway home for new work.

Hear/Now welcomes patrons into a theater of their imagination and digital programming that will allow for continued conversations and connection.

Hear/Now will begin October 2020 and continue through June 2021, featuring the world premiere of five new audio plays by Pearl Cleage, Kate Cortesi, finkle, James Anthony Tyler, and musical team Melissa Li and Kit Yan. Keen patrons will recognize all of these playwrights not just as celebrated and prolific writers but also as alumni of our mainstage, Playwrights Lab, and Keen Teens programs.

Pearl Cleage is an award-winning playwright, best-selling novelist, published poet, and popular newspaper columnist. An incredibly multifaceted talent, Cleage writes with the rhythms of Black life as her muse and focuses on the experiences of love, sex, and female empowerment which she sees as vital to the African-American community. Keen was proud to present the NY Premiere of Cleage's celebrated play Blues for an Alabama Sky earlier this year.

Kate Cortesi is best known for her full-length plays One More Less, Great Kills, A Patron of the Arts, Is Edward Snowden Single?, and Love. Her work has been developed extensively in New York City, was awarded the NYFA Fellowship in 2016, honored with the Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship in 2014-2015, and has appeared on the Kilroy List in 2016. Keen commissioned and premiered her one-act play Citizens United in the 2019 Keen Teens program.

Finkle's theatrical work includes a visual play with music and puppets called Touch (originally commissioned by Dallas Theatre Center, 2018) and his graphic novel musical for intimate audiences entitled U R a?? (You Are Star), which was developed by the Orchard Project and produced at The American Repertory Theatre (2016) and presented at Ars Nova (2017) as well as a multitude of people's living rooms. His plays, written under Kenny Finkle, have been produced both nationally and internationally including Indoor/Outdoor, Alive and Well and Transatlantica all of which are published by Broadway Play Publishing. finkle participated in the second year of the Keen Playwrights Lab, developing work with the company from 2014-2015.

James Anthony Tyler is the recipient of the 3rd Annual Horton Foote Playwriting Award and an inaugural playwright to receive a commission from Audible. His plays include Artney Jackson, Some Old Black Man, and Dolphins and Sharks. Tyler is also a graduate of The Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program, and he recently was the Staff Writer for the new OWN Network show Cherish the Day created by Ava DuVernay. Tyler's one-act play Around 2 was commissioned and premiered during Keen Teens 2018.

Musical team Melissa Li and Kit Yan have individually won an extensive list of awards and honorary fellowships. They have also collaborated on Interstate which won the Outstanding Lyrics award at the 2018 New York Musical Festival, Miss Step which won the 2019 Vivace Award through The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation. Together and separately, Melissa and Kit have made an impact creating work centered on the Asian-American, Queer, and Transgender communities with an emphasis on social justice and LGBTQ+ awareness. The Village Voice called Interstate "a glorious pop-rock musical about inclusivity, Queer and Trans community, and the open road." The team's one-act musical Cancelled was commissioned for our 2020 Keen Teens program.

All audio plays will be released completely FREE for patrons on Keen Company's website as well as through popular podcast platforms. Those who chose to support Keen Company can purchase a season membership and receive early access to all episodes as well as exclusive perks. Membership options start at just $1 a month and bonus content, including talkbacks with playwrights and artists, panels with experts, behind the scenes interviews, digital programs, opening night premiere parties, and more.

Look for Hear/Now on popular podcast apps like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and TuneIn. More information on membership packages as well as an audio season teaser are available at

Keen Company's 2020-'21 Season will also feature a series of all-star benefit broadcasts, including Howard Koch's legendary adaptation of War of the Worlds made popular by Orson Welles as well as Sorry, Wrong Number by Lucille Fletcher which was once called "the greatest single radio script ever written." Sorry, Wrong Number will star four-time Academy Award nominee Marsha Mason. Further benefit broadcast casting will be announced. Each one-night only event will feature a starry cast performing the audio piece live, and include a talkback after the show with artists. Tickets to these fundraiser events will support Keen Company's Hear/Now audio theater season, as well as our Keen Playwrights Lab for mid-career writers and Keen Teens which serves students in all five boroughs of NYC. Hear/Now season members will receive a special discount to all benefit broadcasts as well as early access to tickets.

New this season, Keen After Hours will connect audiences with luminaries of the theatre world, every Monday night at 6:30pm on Keen Company's website and Facebook page. Team Keen and a special guest will discuss their careers, their artistic process, and take questions from the audience. The first guests scheduled to appear will be George Salazar (9/21), Brenda Pressley (9/28), Kate Baldwin (10/5), and Marsha Mason (10/19). Keen After Hours is free and open to all.

Under the leadership of Keen's Director of New Work, Jeremy Stoller, the Keen Playwrights Lab continues its seventh season with playwrights Karen Hartman, Lisa Ramirez and Ken Urban. Each year, the Keen Playwrights Lab brings together three mid-career playwrights to develop new full-length plays that uphold Keen's mission to create theater that champions identification and connection. Readings of new works by all writers will occur in December 2020, more details to be announced.

Keen Company is an award-winning Off-Broadway theater creating story-driven work that provokes identification, reflection, and emotional connection. In intimate productions of plays and musicals, the company tells stories about the decisive moments that change us. Keen also runs a developmental new work initiative for mid-career playwrights and a unique educational outreach program for teens in all five boroughs of NYC.

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