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New York Theatre Workshop Announces 2021/22 & 2022/23 Seasons Featuring ON SUGARLAND World Premiere & More

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The 2021/22 Season will conclude with Dreaming Zenzile, based on the life of Miriam Makeba, by Grammy Award nominee Somi Kakoma.

New York Theatre Workshop Announces 2021/22 & 2022/23 Seasons Featuring ON SUGARLAND World Premiere & More

New York Theatre Workshop has announced the complete 2021/22 Season as well as initial work for the 2022/23 Season.

"As we considered our return to live performance, we realized that in addition to the interrupted commitments we'd made, the artists in our community had not stopped creating-there was even more work that demanded our attention," said Artistic Director James C. Nicola and Managing Director Jeremy Blocker. "Theatre as an art form is in defiance of the virus's attempt to silence us-the darkness and stillness has only made our voice stronger and more urgent. After being kept from our spaces for so long, to adhere to our usual practice of announcing one season of work felt insufficient in honoring the artistic community we're so grateful to be a part of. We want to return with confidence, with joyfulness-to be bold with our artmaking but still cautious with our approach to public health.

"Additionally, since we'll be welcoming a new Artistic Director in Summer 2022, we wanted to give them-not to mention the whole organization-some breathing room. Setting out plans for our next two seasons will give the gift of time to just be present, without the pressure to compose a season. Time to listen, to observe, and formulate a plan for change and growth.

"To that end, we're elated to be announcing two seasons of work that bring us a unique perspective and pique the theatrical imagination, work with some of our most cherished longtime collaborators and some new faces that we're eager to welcome into the NYTW family, and work that makes space for both the catharsis and the joy we're so desperately craving."

The 2021/22 season begins this summer with Semblance by Obie Award winner, NYTW Usual Suspect & former 2050 Fellow Whitney White (What to Send Up When It Goes Down; Our Dear Dead Drug Lord)-bringing Whitney's work as a 2020/21 Artistic Instigator to the stage in a filmed theatrical experience; followed by the highly-anticipated return of Sanctuary City by Pulitzer Prize winner, NYTW Usual Suspect and former 2050 Fellow Martyna Majok (Cost of Living, queens), directed by Rebecca Frecknall (Summer and Smoke), returning to the stage after performances were halted in March 2020.

Following Sanctuary City is a new project from NYTW Usual Suspect Kristina Wong (Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord), directed by Obie Award winner and NYTW Usual Suspect Chay Yew (Oedipus El Rey). The project will build on Kristina's 2020/21 Artistic Instigator project Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord. The season continues in 2022 with the World Premiere of On Sugarland by Obie Award winner Aleshea Harris (What to Send Up When It Goes Down, Is God Is), directed by Whitney White.

The 2021/22 Season will conclude with Dreaming Zenzile, based on the life of Miriam Makeba, by Grammy Award nominee Somi Kakoma (Holy Room: Live at Alte Oper with Frankfurt Radio Big Band), directed by Obie Award winner, NYTW Usual Suspect & former 2050 Fellow Lileana Blain-Cruz (The House That Will Not Stand, Red Speedo). Dreaming Zenzile will bring together seven producers including Octopus Theatricals, National Black Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, McCarter Theatre Center, Arts Emerson, Apollo Theater and New York Theatre Workshop.

NYTW eagerly anticipates returning to the previously announced production of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, in a new adaptation by Pulitzer Prize finalist Clare Barron (Dance Nation, You Got Older), directed by Tony Award winner and NYTW Usual Suspect Sam Gold (Othello, Fun Home). To accommodate company schedules, the production will be mounted as part of the 2022/23 season.

The 2022/23 season will also include american (tele)visions by Tow Playwright-in-Residence Victor I. Cazares (Pinching Pennies with Penny Marshall), directed by NYTW Usual Suspect Rubén Polendo (); 2019 winner of the Yale Drama Prize, How to Defend Yourself by Liliana Padilla (Born 1000 Times), co-directed by Tony Award winner and NYTW Usual Suspect Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown), Padilla and Helen Hayes Award winner Steph Paul (The Last Match); The Half-God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams (Barber Shop Chronicles); and an additional production to be announced at a later date.

NYTW has announced a new ticketing initiative for the 2021/22 season which will offer free tickets at all performances to members of our theatre community who lost work during the pandemic and may find cost a barrier to entry to attending shows and participating fully in the return to in-person performances. A simple submission form will enable participants to select a free ticket from available locations via the NYTW ticketing system, just as they would if they were purchasing. There will be a limited number of tickets available and while NYTW won't be able to accommodate every single person who would benefit from the opportunity, the theater hopes in some small way to be of service to the community as it continues to rebuild.

In preparing for a return to in-person gathering, NYTW is committed to keeping the health and safety of its audiences, artists and staff a top priority. Everyone's experience and comfort level with the pandemic will look different and NYTW is committed to a whole person approach in safety-first customer service. Changes include updates to ventilation and air filtration systems, creation of a COVID Compliance Team, flexible exchange and past-date policies and, at this time, requirement of proof of vaccination or negative COVID test and mandatory masks for all attendees. For updated information about evolving COVID policies, please visit nytw.org/covid.

Alongside its artistic and community engagement activities, NYTW is engaged in the essential, sustained commitment of becoming an anti-racist organization in support and affirmation of Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color in its community. In June of 2020, NYTW published its Core Values statement and initial action and accountability steps. In an effort to provide greater transparency, NYTW shares progress updates, further commitments and next steps at nytw.org/accountability.

2021/22 SEASON

SEMBLANCE

By Whitney White

From Artistic Instigator, NYTW Usual Suspect & former 2050 Fellow Whitney White, Semblance is a filmed theatrical experience that asks us to examine how Black women are perceived and how we interact with the Black feminine.

In your everyday life, how do you encounter Black women? As the first voice you hear when you bump your favorite diva's new song? A millisecond of eye contact with the lady who made your salad? A brief conversation with the woman watching your kids? A coworker? A politician on the screen? Perhaps you simply have to look in the mirror.

What do you see? What do you assume?

Semblance will be presented as both a remote virtual experience and an intimate and immersive theatrical installation at NYTW.

SANCTUARY CITY

By Martyna Majok
Directed by Rebecca Frecknall

DREAMers. Love(r)s. Life-long friends. Negotiating the promise of safety and the weight of responsibility, they'll fight like hell to establish a place for themselves and each other in America. 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner, NYTW Usual Suspect and former 2050 Fellow Martyna Majok brings us an unforgettable story that asks what we're willing to sacrifice for someone we love. Rebecca Frecknall, director of the 2019 Olivier Award-winning Summer and Smoke, helms the highly anticipated production which returns to the stage after performances were halted in March 2020.

A NEW PROJECT FROM Kristina Wong

By Kristina Wong
Directed by Chay Yew

On Day 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYTW Usual Suspect Kristina Wong began sewing masks out of old bedsheets and bra straps on her Hello Kitty sewing machine. Before long, she was leading the Auntie Sewing Squad, a work-from-home sweatshop of hundreds of volunteers-including children and her own mother-to fix the U.S. public health care system while in quarantine. It was a feminist care utopia forming in the midst of crisis. Or was it a mutual aid doomsday cult?

As the demand for masks abates and we begin to return safely to space, Kristina is beginning to put her life together post-pandemic cult leadership. With hilarity and boundless generosity, she invites the audience in on her work building community in isolation, while reflecting on what we've been through and imagining what we want to become. NYTW Usual Suspect Chay Yew (The Architecture of Loss, Oedipus El Rey) directs.

ON SUGARLAND

By Aleshea Harris
Directed by Whitney White

Sugarland is on precarious soil-three mobile homes line a southern cul-de-sac replete with years and years of decorative folk-art treasures and keepsakes. Twelve-year-old Sadie calls on generations of matriarchal ancestors to find the truth about her mother while the denizens of Sugarland rise each day to holler for the dead-conscripted soldiers lost to a greedy war-in a ritual reclamation of timeless grief.

This sweeping new work from Obie Award-winning playwright Aleshea Harris (Is God Is, What to Send Up When It Goes Down) is at once a spectacular pageant and spirited meditation on remarkable people transcending difficult circumstances. On Sugarland brings joyous life to communal healing with a glorious ensemble of 14 performers in a production directed by Obie Award winner, NYTW Usual Suspect & former 2050 Fellow Whitney White (What to Send Up When It Goes Down).

DREAMING ZENZILE

Based on the life of Miriam Makeba

By Somi Kakoma
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz

At her final concert, South African musical legend and activist Miriam Makeba delivers the performance of her life, raising the conscience and the consciousness of a people. But the ancestors are calling-transporting her through the music and fractured memories of her past on a spiritual journey of reconciliation. Written and performed by international music sensation Somi Kakoma, this world premiere musical is an electrifying portrait of a revolutionary artist's singular voice and vision.

Under the direction of NYTW Usual Suspect & former 2050 Fellow Lileana Blain-Cruz, the rolling world premiere production of Dreaming Zenzile will bring together seven producers including Octopus Theatricals, National Black Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, McCarter Theatre Center, Arts Emerson, Apollo Theater and New York Theatre Workshop. The soul-stirring production includes a live jazz band playing original music and reinterpretations of Makeba's remarkable catalog.

Special thanks to The Miriam Makeba Estate, The Mama Africa Cultural & Social Trust, and The Miriam Makeba Foundation for their support and permission to create this work.

2022/23 SEASON

THREE SISTERS

By Anton Chekhov
Adapted by Clare Barron
Directed by Sam Gold

NYTW Usual Suspect and Tony Award winner Sam Gold (Othello, The Black Eyed) revisits Chekhov following his acclaimed 2012 production of Uncle Vanya that was heralded as "luminous" and "the most intimate and engaging exploration of Chekhov's bleak comedy." This new adaptation of Three Sisters is penned by Pulitzer Prize finalist Clare Barron (Dance Nation).

american (tele)visions

By Victor I. Cazares
Directed by Rubén Polendo

A long, long time ago-the '90s-in a Walmart far, far away, Erica, our Hero of Ages Lost, pushes her shopping cart-that most sacred ancient vessel of capitalism-through the aisles of a memory play. american (tele)visions is an explosive collision between the American Dream and the American Nightmare-the story of an undocumented Mexican family. With singular wit and pathos, NYTW Tow Playwright-in-Residence Victor I. Cazares creates an epic multiverse where time is fluid and the characters are refracted through literal televisions, imagined video games, endless Walmart aisles, and a double-wide torn in two. NYTW Usual Suspect Rubén Polendo, founding artistic director of Theater Mitu, directs the multi-media production which includes live performance, live camera feeds and pre-recorded video.

HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF

By Liliana Padilla

Co-directed by Rachel Chavkin, Liliana Padilla, Steph Paul

After a sorority sister is raped, seven college students gather for a DIY self-defense workshop. They learn to use their bodies as weapons. They learn to fend off attackers. They learn "not to be a victim." Self-defense becomes a channel for their rage, anxiety, confusion, trauma and desire-lots of desire. With sharp humor and brutal honesty, Liliana Padilla's How to Defend Yourself explores what we want, how to ask for it, and the violator and violated inside us all. Tony Award-winning NYTW Usual Suspect Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown), Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist Liliana Padilla (Born 1000 Times) and Helen Hayes Award winner Steph Paul (The Last Match) will co-direct the production.

THE HALF-GOD OF RAINFALL

By Inua Ellams

When Demi, the half Nigerian-mortal, half Greek-god, is angry, rain clouds gather. When he cries, rivers burst their banks. And the first time he takes a shot on a basketball court, the deities of the land wake up.

From award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams (Barber Shop Chronicles) comes a new myth that spans continents and millennia. The Half-God of Rainfall is a contemporary epic that weaves poetry and storytelling in a majestic journey that transports us from a tiny village in South West Nigeria to an NBA arena in the United States to the hallowed halls of Mount Olympus, where the mothers, daughters and goddesses take a stand against the fragile, furious and entitled gods.

Performance schedules, casting and full creative teams will be announced at a later date.

A variety of 2021/22 Season membership packages are now on sale at www.nytw.org or by calling 212-460-5475.


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