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La Jolla Playhouse Announces Return to Live Theatre With World Premieres by Charlayne Woodard and More

The three world premieres include: The Garden, to the yellow house, and Bhangin’ It.

La Jolla Playhouse Announces Return to Live Theatre With World Premieres by Charlayne Woodard and More

La Jolla Playhouse has announced its return to live, in-person theatre with several exciting upcoming projects. This summer, the Playhouse will offer two on-site events: the Without Walls (WOW) production of A Thousand Ways (Part 2): An Encounter, by 600 Highwaymen, running June 3 - 20; and the 2021 DNA New Works Series, featuring readings of four new plays over the weekends of July 22 - 25 and July 29 - August 1. The Playhouse will also present a special Pop-Up WOW event featuring five short, Playhouse-commissioned Without Walls works, taking place August 14 - 15 at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station.

Beginning in September, the Playhouse will mount a three-play 2021/2022 subscription season featuring three world premieres: The Garden, by Tony Award nominee Charlayne Woodard (Playhouse's The Night Watcher, Pretty Fire), directed by Patricia McGregor (Roundabout Theatre's Ugly Lies the Bone), running September 21 - October 17 in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre; to the yellow house, by Kimber Lee (tokyo fish story), directed by former Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Neel Keller (Playhouse's Light Up the Sky), running November 16 - December 12 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre; and the new musical Bhangin' It, book by Mike Lew (Teenage Dick; Playhouse's Tiger Style!) and Rehana Lew Mirza (Hatefuck; Playhouse's DNA Series reading of Child of Colonialism), music and lyrics by Sam Willmott (Yo, Vikings!), with additional music by Grammy Award nominee Deep Singh, choreographed by Rujuta Vaidya (Slumdog Millionaire) and directed by Amy Anders Corcoran (off-Broadway's Unexpected Joy), running March 8 - April 17, 2022 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre. Subscriptions will be available for purchase beginning June 21.

"After more than a year of dark stages, we are all aching for that one-of-a-kind communal experience of sitting together in an audience again, heartbeats aligned; and now we're coming back with an amazing slate of projects, both at the Playhouse and in the community," said Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse. "This pause has also caused all of us to reflect deeply - not just about how essential it is to gather together to hear stories, but about how we make those gatherings, those communities and those stories more welcoming and equitable."

Managing Director Debby Buchholz added, "As we start to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we're feeling a tremendous sense of joy and anticipation. We are also extremely grateful to all our patrons for their incredible support and patience this past year. We couldn't have made it through the last 15 months without their unwavering commitment to the Playhouse and the work we do. As we navigate our plans for in-person productions, the safety of our audiences, staff and artists remains of utmost importance, and we are putting together comprehensive plans to ensure that everyone feels comfortable returning to the Playhouse."

The health and safety of all La Jolla Playhouse patrons, staff and artists is the top priority as live events resume. For all in-person activities, the Playhouse will follow COVID-19 guidelines and strategies provided by UC San Diego, San Diego County, California Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Playhouse will also offer flexible ticket return policies, as well as virtual viewing options for subscribers to The Garden and to the yellow house. The Theatre will continue to monitor government and university guidelines for COVID-19 and will keep patrons updated on all safety protocols. For up-to-date information on the Playhouse's COVID-19 safety plans, visit

The Playhouse also plans to continue its Digital Without Walls (WOW) series, offering imaginative Playhouse-commissioned productions as part of its acclaimed WOW program. From intimate, one-on-one experiences to collective events, these brand new virtual WOW offerings bring world-class artists directly into patrons' homes, which helped to create social contact during this isolating time.

Also available virtually will be the Playhouse's Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tour for young audiences: Pick Me Last, by Idris Goodwin, directed by Jacole Kitchen, Playhouse Director of Arts Engagement and In-House Casting. The piece is free to all San Diego schools, community organizations and families, as well as to those around the country.

La Jolla Playhouse's previously-announced 2020/2021 productions of Mother Russia, by Lauren Yee (Cambodian Rock Band), directed by Tyne Rafaeli (The Coast Starlight); and the Broadway-bound musical Lempicka, featuring book and lyrics by Carson Kreitzer, music by Matt Gould, choreography by Raja Feather Kelly, and direction by 2019 Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown), will move to 2022/2023 season.

For more information on La Jolla Playhouse's in-person and digital productions, please visit

Summer Projects

A Thousand Ways (Part 2): An Encounter

By 600 Highwaymen

June 3 - 20 at La Jolla Playhouse

Tickets: $25

A Thousand Ways (Part 2): An Encounter is a continuation of last February's A Thousand Ways, Part 1, which began with a sculpted, structured phone call between two strangers, and now continues with a series of one-on-one in-person encounters across a panel of glass. This stirring reintroduction into a world where people bear witness to, and hold space for, one another both accentuates and transcends the collective isolation of our moment and asks how to rebuild our vocabulary for communing with strangers in all their complexity-something that had become endangered well before COVID-19.

DNA New Work Series

July 22 - 25; July 29 - August 1 at La Jolla Playhouse

Tickets: free; reservations required

The DNA New Work Series offers playwrights and directors the opportunity to develop a script by providing rehearsal time, space and resources, culminating in a public reading. This process gives audiences a closer look at the play development process, while allowing the Playhouse to develop work and foster relationships with established and up-and-coming playwrights. The DNA New Work Series has been a launching pad for numerous shows that have gone on to full productions in future Playhouse seasons, including Chasing the Song, by the Tony Award-winning team of Joe DiPietro and David Bryan (Memphis, Diana); Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar's The Who & The What; Michael Benjamin Washington's Blueprints to Freedom; UC San Diego MFA graduate Jeff Augustin's The Last Tiger in Haiti; Miss You Like Hell, by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes and Erin McKeown; Kill Local, by UC San Diego MFA graduate Mat Smart; What Happens Next, by UC San Diego MFA graduate and current playwriting faculty member Naomi Iizuka; Melissa Ross' The Luckiest and Keith Bunin's The Coast Starlight. Projects and a full schedule for the 2021 DNA New Work Series will be announced shortly.

Pop-Up WOW

August 14 - 15 at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station - North Promenade

Tickets: Free

This special Pop-Up WOW event will take place at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty station, home of the Playhouse's 2019 WOW Festival, and will feature five short, Playhouse-commissioned projects by WOW artists David Israel Reynoso/Optika Moderna (Playhouse's 2020/21 and 2021/22 Resident Artist; WOW Festival's Las Quinceañeras in 2019 and Waking La Llorona in 2017); Blindspot Collective (Playhouse's 2020/21 and 2021/22 Resident Theatre Company; 2019 WOW Festival's Hall Pass); and UC San Diego MFA graduate Jesca Prudencio (2019 WOW Festival's PDA); along with Kenny Ramos (Playhouse 2021/22 Resident Artist) and the San Diego Black Artist Collective. All productions for the Pop-Up WOW event will be free and have multiple performance times throughout the weekend. Full programming and schedules will be announced at a later date.

Since its inception in 2009, the Playhouse's signature Without Walls (WOW) series has become one of San Diego's most popular and acclaimed performance programs. Over the last ten years, the Playhouse has been commissioning and presenting this series of immersive and site-inspired productions throughout the San Diego community, including Susurrus (2011), The Car Plays: San Diego (2012), Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir (2012), Accomplice: San Diego (2013), El Henry (2014), The Grift at the Lafayette Hotel (2015), The Bitter Game (2016) and What Happens Next (2018), as well as WOW Festivals in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Season 2021/2022 Productions

The Garden

By Charlayne Woodard

Directed by Patricia McGregor

Co-Produced with Baltimore Center Stage

September 21 - October 17 in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre

Tickets: available with subscription purchase at

Written by the Tony Award-nominated artist Charlayne Woodard, this moving world premiere play explores the complex relationship between two "alpha" women: Claire Rose, an elderly Black woman and her middle-aged daughter, Cassandra. After not speaking to each other for the past three years, Cassandra shows up unexpectedly at her mother's garden gate, attempting to reconcile old wounds. Both women give as good as they get, taking us on a rollercoaster ride unearthing conflicts and secrets of the past, and creating magic in the process.

to the yellow house

By Kimber Lee

Directed by Neel Keller

November 16 - December 12 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre

Tickets: available with subscription purchase at

February 1886. Vincent Van Gogh is broke again. Trailing past-due notices and annoyed innkeepers, he arrives unexpectedly at his brother's doorstep in Montmartre determined to make another fresh start. Caught in the colorful whirl of the Parisian art scene, he drinks too much, falls in love with the wrong woman, argues with everyone - and paints. Night and day he works to translate what he feels onto the canvas, relentlessly chasing a new form of expression that seems to be always around the next corner. But at what point in an endless cycle of failures do faith and persistence become delusion and foolishness? A meditation on love, art and not being popular.

Bhangin' It

Book by Mike Lew and Rehana Lew Mirza

Music and lyrics by Sam Willmott

Additional music by Deep Singh

Choreographed by Rujuta Vaidya

Directed by Amy Anders Corcoran

March 8 - April 17, 2022 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre

Tickets: available with subscription purchase at

Winner of the Richard Rodgers Award, Bhangin' It is an exhilarating new musical that celebrates the traditions we inherit from yesterday and those we create for tomorrow. When a young woman finds her identity cannot be defined by checking a box, she sets off on a quest to dance to her own beat. Drawing from competitive Bhangra and mixing it with other Indian and Western dance forms alike, Bhangin' It is a brash, intoxicating and joyous musical for America today.

Digital Projects

Digital Without Walls (WOW) Series

Tickets: free; available to stream now

The Digital Without Walls (WOW) series offers imaginative, Playhouse-commissioned productions in a digital format, as part of its acclaimed WOW program of non-traditional theatre. From intimate, one-on-one experiences to collective events, these virtual WOW offerings bring world-class artists directly into patrons' homes. Current Digital WOW projects include Ancient, by Mike Sears and Lisa Berger (2019 WOW Festival's How High the Moon); The Society of Wonder, by Animal Cracker Conspiracy (2015 WOW Festival's Gnomesense); Spittin' Truth to Power While Light Leaping for the People, a spoken word piece set to music by poet and Playhouse Leadership Council member Alyce Smith-Cooper and musician/DJ Shammy Dee; The Totally Fake Latino News with Culture Clash, by Culture Clash (American Night, Zorro in Hell); Towards Belonging, by Anjanette Maraya-Ramey/Maraya Performing Arts; Walks of Life, by Playhouse Resident Theatre Blindspot Collective (2019 WOW Festival's Hall Pass); and You Are Here, by Marike Splint (2017 WOW Festival's Among Us).

Pick Me Last

2021 Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tour

By Idris Goodwin

Directed by Jacole Kitchen

Tickets: free; available to stream now

A playground. 2 teams. 2 captains. It's the same thing every day at Chavonne's elementary school - her best friend Wes is always picked last. She hatches a plan to end the schoolyard cycle, but after a few imaginary visits from visionaries Sigmund Freud and Elon Musk, plus a little help from the new kid, Chavonne learns that the problem she's trying to fix may not be the one that needs solving. The Playhouse's 2021 Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tour Pick Me Last is a funny and touching story - infused with music and poetry - about standing up for your friends, and learning to let them stand up for themselves.

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