Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Playwrights Horizons Announces 2022-23 Season

The season will feature Catch as Catch Can by Mia Chung, the world premiere of Wet Brain by John J. Caswell and more!

Playwrights Horizons Announces 2022-23 Season

Playwrights Horizons today announced its 2022-2023 season. Brought together amidst the easing of a reality-altering pandemic -during which desire for a "return to normal" began to feel at once futile and shortsighted-the lineup consists of five works that consider and radically challenge the very idea of normalcy. Whether breaking from realism to open symbolic worlds; dauntlessly confronting questions of justice and hypocrisy; or matching narrative adventurousness with adventurous form; this collection of plays signals a new era of imaginative theater at Playwrights Horizons.

This season, Playwrights Horizons joins forces with theater colleagues to chart a path toward pandemic recovery as a community, expanding its collaborations with other companies that share its producing ethos. 2022-23 works feature co-productions with acclaimed institutions Page 73 Productions (with whom they co-produced Michael R. Jackson's A Strange Loop in 2019), WP Theater (a co-producer on 2011's Milk Like Sugar, by Kirsten Greenidge), and MCC Theater.

Though eclectic in their approaches, the plays this season often stretch boldly into the realm of the non-literal, destabilizing our certainties about the world around us. Adam Greenfield, who became Playwrights Horizons' Artistic Director in July 2020, and this season demonstrates his vision for the post-pandemic future of the groundbreaking Off Broadway theater, says, "Above all, theater is a live and agile art form. This is its potency. A character enters and says, 'I'm in Nebraska,' and it's happened. 'Now we're in outer space,' and there we are. 'She's a robot,' 'We're all cowboys.' 'Time is moving backward,' and it does. How can we really mine the live-ness and plasticity of theater to transport us farther, to other worlds and ways of seeing? As you walk out into the night, I hope these plays make you feel like you know yourself a little bit less, and like you know the world a little bit less. That, to me, is what great plays do."

After two pandemic years drastically rewrote many people's relationships to domesticity and family, plays in the Playwrights Horizons 2022/23 season similarly consider and explode traditions of American family drama-traveling to the far reaches of what theater is capable of. In Mia Chung's Catch as Catch Can-a play "so smoothly virtuosic that it takes a while to realize how good it really is" (Time Out, in a five-star review)-the playwright blends father and daughter, mothers and sons, as actors double in roles across generations and genders in two families whose quotidian world abruptly opens into a chasm of chaos. Originally premiered to acclaim by Page 73 Productions, this new and reconceived production (beginning October 2022, with an entirely new creative team) examines Chung's beguiling play from new angles. Directed by Daniel Aukin (Bad Jews), it features an all-Asian cast in the play's Irish and Italian working class roles, adding another layer to the play's keen display of the slipperiness of identity. As characters transform into one another in Catch as Catch Can, they transform into their setting itself in Agnes Borinsky's The Trees (beginning February 2023), a "parable in four acts" surrounding two siblings who fall asleep in a park just beyond their father's old house and become quite literally rooted to, and part of, the landscape. This abrupt change leads to a necessary recalibration of their lives, and those of the new community that grows around them-outside of the structures they've forever lived within. Commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, this world premiere is a co-production with Page 73 Productions (Michael Walkup, Artistic Director; Amanda Feldman, Managing Director), with whom Playwrights Horizons collaborated on the world premiere of Michael R. Jackson's Pulitzer Prize-winning, Broadway-bound A Strange Loop, Borinsky's Off-Broadway debut will be staged by visionary director Tina Satter (Is This A Room).

In John J. Caswell, Jr.'s Wet Brain, candid family drama is interlaced with alien abduction science fiction, as siblings grappling with their father's end-stage alcoholism realize that the only place they can openly sort through their baggage is in outer space. Wet Brain (beginning May 2023) follows Caswell, Jr.'s breakout Man Cave, which Page 73 just premiered. Described by The New York Times as "a political drama wrapped in the spooky pleasures of the horror genre," Man Cave introduced Off-Broadway audiences to the playwright's genre-bending writing that leaps between the grotesque and deeply humane, attuned to forces otherworldly, personal, and structural. Wet Brain is co-produced with MCC Theater (Bob Lupone, Bernie Telsey, Will Cantler, Co-Artistic Directors; Blake West, Executive Director). Regretfully, So the Birds Are begins March 2023. Described by the playwright as a "farcical tragedy," this play follows three adopted siblings, raised by unreliable parents-one dead, but embodied by a talking snowman, the other in prison for his murder-on disparate journeys in search of the elusive grounding (or for a character claiming real estate in the sky: ungrounding) of identity and home. Regretfully, So the Birds Are is co-produced with WP Theater (Lisa McNulty, Artistic Director; Michael Sag, Managing Director) and directed by Jenny Koons (A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Public's Mobile Shakespeare Unit; Theatre for One).

Bruce Norris' incendiary Downstate never leaves our plane of reality-but manages to shake it to its core by uncomfortably turning audiences' attention to a condemned, unseen corner of it. Steppenwolf Theatre Company and National Theatre's production, directed by Pam MacKinnon (Clybourne Park), greets New York at Playwrights Horizons (October 2022) after its vastly acclaimed world premiere in Chicago. Set in a halfway house for convicted sex offenders, Downstate asks: what happens when we hold a person beyond forgiveness? In his accomplished career, Norris has previously had four productions at Playwrights Horizons-including 2010's Clybourne Park, for which he earned the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This production of Downstate is made possible by a generous grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation.

PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS 2022-23 PRODUCTIONS

Catch as Catch Can

Written by Mia Chung

Directed by Daniel Aukin

Beginning October 2022

Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Deep in blue-collar New England, the Phelans and the Lavecchias welcome home a prodigal son, setting off an evolving crisis that reshapes their lives... and the play itself. In Mia Chung's cyclone of a play, three actors perform across race, gender, and generation-a family drama that doubles as a theatrical tour de force.

Mia Chung. Playwrights debut. Off-Broadway: Catch as Catch Can (Page 73). Regional and international: You For Me For You (Woolly Mammoth, Royal Court, National Theatre Company of Korea). Awards, commissions, and residencies: Clubbed Thumb, Helen Merrill Award, Huntington, Loewe Award in Music-Theatre, Ma-Yi Lab, MTC/Sloan, New Dramatists, NYTW, Playwrights' Center, Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust Commission, Playwrights Realm, South Coast Rep, SPACE/Ryder Farm, Stavis Award, TCG.

Daniel Aukin is a New York-based director who has directed world premieres by Sam Shepard, Melissa James Gibson, Joshua Harmon, Abe Koogler, Dan LeFranc, Michael Friedman, Itamar Moses, Amy Herzog, Mark Schultz, Mac Wellman, Quincy Long, and Maria Irene Fornes. From 1998-2006, Aukin was the Artistic Director of Soho Rep, where he developed and produced premieres by Richard Maxwell, Young Jean Lee, Thomas Bradshaw, Adam Bock, Anne Washburn and Jordan Harrison among many others. He has participated in development programs at Sundance Theater Lab, the O'Neill Playwrights' Conference, and New York Stage and Film. Upcoming: Emily Feldman's The Best We Could (A Family Tragedy) and David Adjmi's Stereophonic. Aukin has won three Obie Awards.

Downstate

Steppenwolf Theatre Company and National Theatre Production

Written by Bruce Norris

Directed by Pam MacKinnon

Beginning October 2022

New York Premiere

Mainstage Theater

At a registered address in downstate Illinois, four men convicted of sex crimes share a group home where they live out their days post-incarceration. When a man shows up to confront his childhood abuser, it becomes hard to locate the line between justice and retribution. This gripping, provocative new play from Pulitzer Prize winner Bruce Norris zeroes in on the limits of compassion and forgiveness.

Bruce Norris. Playwrights: The Qualms, Clybourne Park, The Pain and the Itch. Bruce's play Clybourne Park received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the Olivier, Evening Standard, and Tony Awards for productions at Playwrights Horizons, the Royal Court, West End, and Broadway. Other plays include The Low Road, Domesticated, A Parallelogram, and The Unmentionables. He is a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble in Chicago and lives in New York City.

Pam MacKinnon. Playwrights: Log Cabin, The Qualms, Clybourne Park, Completeness. Pam MacKinnon serves as the Artistic Director of American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She is a Tony, Drama Desk, and Obie Award-winning director. Recent credits include Lydia R. Diamond's Toni Stone (Roundabout, A.C.T., Arena), Maria Irene Fornés's Fefu And Her Friends (A.C.T.), and Christopher Chen's Communion (A.C.T.). Pam is a frequent interpreter of the work of Edward Albee as well as Bruce Norris. She proudly serves on the Board of SDC, in solidarity with directors and choreographers.

The Trees

Written by Agnes Borinsky

Directed by Tina Satter

Co-Produced with Page 73 Productions

Beginning February 2023

World Premiere

Mainstage Theater

How does a makeshift community take root in a mercenary world? The Trees offers an unexpected answer in the story of a brother and sister who unwittingly establish a utopia in the park next to their father's house. Lyrical and epic in scope, Agnes Borinsky's contemporary parable investigates the precariousness of staying put.

The Trees was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons with funds provided by the Jody Falco and Jeffrey Steinman Commissions for Emerging Playwrights.

Agnes Borinsky. Playwrights debut. Agnes is a writer and artist who has collaborated on all sorts of projects in basements, backyards, gardens, circus tents, classrooms, bars, and theaters. Selected plays include A Song of Songs (Bushwick Starr & El Puente), Ding Dong It's the Ocean (Rady&Bloom), Brief Chronicle, Books 6-8 (i am a slow tide), and Of Government (Clubbed Thumb). She lives in Los Angeles.

Tina Satter. Playwrights debut. Tina is a writer and director. Her critically acclaimed play Is This A Room, which she conceived and directed, ran on Broadway in fall 2021 at the Lyceum Theatre, after a fall 2019 Off-Broadway premiere at the Vineyard Theatre. She's Artistic Director of Half Straddle, an Obie-winning ensemble of performers and designers whose work has been presented across the United States and internationally. Tina attended Mac Wellman's graduate playwriting program at Brooklyn College.

Regretfully, So the Birds Are

Written by Julia Izumi

Directed by Jenny Koons

Co-Produced with WP Theater

Beginning March 2023

World Premiere

Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Arson. Affairs. Incest. Murder... are only the beginning of problems for the Whistler siblings. Mora's gotta find her birth mother, Neel's gotta find himself, and Illy's gotta keep her piece of the sky... but the birds have other plans. Julia Izumi's Regretfully, So the Birds Are is a wild, farcical tragedy that gleefully flips the human quest for self-discovery on its head.

Julia Izumi. Playwrights debut. Julia's work has been developed and presented at MTC, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Bushwick Starr, WP Theater, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Seattle Rep, The COOP, NNPN/Kennedy Center MFA Playwrights' Workshop, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Williamstown, CAATA's National Asian-American Theatre ConFest, and Pork Filled Productions. Awards and honors: OPC Dr. Kerry English Award, O'Neill's National Playwriting Conference Finalist, Kilroys List Honorable Mention, and KCACTF's Darrell Ayers Playwriting Award. She is a current New Dramatists Resident. Current commissions: True Love Productions, MTC/Sloan, Playwrights Horizons. MFA: Brown University juliaizumi.com

Jenny Koons. Playwrights debut. Credits include Head Over Heels (Pasadena Playhouse), Hurricane Diane (Huntington Theatre), Now Becomes Then (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Men on Boats (Baltimore Center Stage), Speechless (New Blue Man Group North American Tour), The Tempest (The Juilliard School), Between Us: The Deck of Cards (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Public Theater Mobile Unit), Burn All Night (American Repertory Theatre), Theatre for One: In This Moment (Pershing Square Signature Center), Instant SPKRBOX (SPKRBOX Festival commission, Norway), Bars and Measures (B Street Theatre), Gimme Shelter (Why Not Theatre, Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games commission), Theatre for One: I'm Not the Stranger You Think I Am (Arts Brookfield), A Sucker Emcee (National Black Theatre, LAByrinth Theater Company, SPKRBOX Festival, Norway), Queen of the Night (Diamond Horseshoe Nightclub, Drama Desk Award), and The Odyssey Project 2012 (site-specific NYC). Koons has been an artist in residence at Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and The Invisible Dog Art Center, and has developed new work at Steppenwolf, Roundabout, and New Black Fest, among others. She is a Lilly Award recipient and a proud member of the SDC.

Wet Brain

Written by John J. Caswell, Jr.

Co-Produced with MCC Theater

Beginning May 2023

World Premiere

Mainstage Theater

In a crumbling house in Arizona, a family haunted by addiction - and hardened into smart-asses - wrestles with the alcoholic ruin of its patriarch... who may or may not be repeatedly abducted by aliens. With humor and horror, John J. Caswell, Jr. brings us the transfixing story of a family mining the depths of loss, traveling lightyears to find a language for closure.

John J. Caswell, Jr. Playwrights debut. John is a playwright originally from Phoenix. Recent honors include the L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award for Wet Brain, the 2020 Paula Vogel Playwriting Award from the Vineyard Theater, the 2020 Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award, a 2018 MacDowell Fellowship, a 2018 SPACE on Ryder Farm Creative Residency, Play Group member at Ars Nova, and the 2017 Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship. Education: Juilliard School, Hunter College, Arizona State University.

Ticketing Information

Flex Passes (customizable bundle, starting at $200 for 4 tickets) and Memberships ($50 to join, $25 preview tickets with discounts thereafter) are on sale today.

Patron packages start at $1,800.

All packages and tickets can be purchased at www.phnyc.org.

Tickets for individual performances in the season will be available for purchase approximately one month prior to the start of each production.

About Playwrights Horizons

Playwrights Horizons is a writer's theater dedicated to the development of contemporary American Playwrights, and to the production of innovative new work. In a city rich with cultural offerings, Playwrights Horizons' 50-year-old mission is unique; the organization has distinguished itself by a steadfast commitment to centering and advancing the voice of the playwright. It's a mission that is always timely, and one that's necessary in the ongoing evolution of theater in this country.

Playwrights Horizons believes that playwrights are the great storytellers of our time, offering essential contributions to civic discourse and illuminating life's greatest paradoxes. And they believe in the singularity of a writer's voice, valuing the broad, eclectic spectrum and diversity of American writers. At Playwrights Horizons, writers are supported in every stage of their growth through their New Works Lab, POP Master Class series, Soundstage audio program, the Lighthouse Project, and Almanac, their digital magazine.

Playwrights Horizons presents a season of productions annually on their two stages, each of which is a world, American, or New York premiere. Much like Playwrights Horizons' work, their audience is risk-taking and adventurous; and the organization is committed to strengthening their engagement and feeding their curiosity through all of its programming, onsite and online.

About Co-Producers

Page 73 (Michael Walkup, Artistic Director; Amanda Feldman, Managing Director) advances the careers of talented playwrights who have yet to have a New York professional premiere by producing celebrated Off-Broadway debuts and offering robust writer development programs. Page 73 and Playwrights Horizons' co-production of A Strange Loop received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize and transferred to Broadway in April 2022. Other acclaimed productions include Zora Howard's STEW (2021 Pulitzer Prize Finalist), Mia Chung's Catch as Catch Can, Susan Soon He Stanton's Today Is My Birthday, and Clare Barron's You Got Older. In 2020, Page 73 won an Obie Award for "providing extraordinary support for early-career playwrights."

WP Theater (Lisa McNulty, Producing Artistic Director; Michael Sag, Managing Director), now in its 44th Season, is the nation's oldest and largest theater company dedicated to developing, producing, and promoting the work of Women+ at every stage of their careers. Founded in 1978 by Julia Miles as Women's Project Theater, WP Theater has earned acclaim as a home for Women+ theater makers, historically marginalized in the field, to hone their craft while becoming leaders, change-makers, and advocates in the industry. WP Theater has produced over 600 Mainstage productions and developmental projects and published 11 anthologies of plays by Women+ artists-receiving multiple awards, including The Lucille Lortel, Obie, and Drama Desk Awards, for their outstanding body of work.

MCC Theater (Bob Lupone, Bernie Telsey, Will Cantler, Co-Artistic Directors; Blake West, Executive Director) is driven by a mission to provoke conversations that have never happened and otherwise never would. Founded in 1986, it is one of the only theaters in the country led continuously by its founders, Artistic Directors Bob LuPone, Bernie Telsey, and Will Cantler. MCC fulfills its mission through premiering plays and musicals that challenge artists and audiences to confront contemporary personal and social issues; robust playwright development; and public engagement and education initiatives that foster the next generation of theater artists and students. Learn more at http://mcctheater.org



Related Articles


More Hot Stories For You