Premieres From Ryan J. Haddad, Sarah Mantell & More Set for Playwrights Horizons 2024-25 Season

The season will also feature the Off-Broadway Premiere of Francesca D’Uva’s Solo Musical Comedy This Is My Favorite Song, and more.

By: May. 15, 2024
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Premieres From Ryan J. Haddad, Sarah Mantell & More Set for Playwrights Horizons 2024-25 Season Playwrights Horizons has revealed its 2024-25 season, a line-up that focuses on finding humanity and connection in isolating, disconnected times, with new work from Francesca D’Uva, Ryan J. HaddadJordan HarrisonGabriel Kahane, Sarah Mantell, and a Spring 2025 production to be announced later this summer. Brimming with compassion, invention, and comedy, the season’s limitlessly profound works center humans approaching darkness with a persistent drive to find each other within it. In intimate ensemble plays and expansive solo works alike, writers subvert and find new resonances in genre, expand our understandings of the theatrical form, and offer a counter-narrative to everything we hear repeated about an industry in turmoil: revealing the unstoppable ingenuity of artists and the exciting horizons for American theater. 

Says Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director Adam Greenfield, “This season feels like a homecoming to me, a return to the essential, human purpose of theater. In this collection of works, we see great artists wrestling with some very real threats to humanity: climate change, unbridled technology, authoritarianism, indifference, coronaviruses. But in the midst of these rocky and unnerving times, each of these stories ultimately is searching for solace in connection with others. The experience of live theater – specifically in an intimate space like ours – uniquely carries the ability to confront the fragility and transience of our relationships, our selves, our societies, and our species; to amplify the singularity of being alive, and to share the mystery of that experience with others. We’re delighted to introduce Playwrights Horizons' 2024-25 season: the premiere of six daring new works from a wildly diverse roster of artists, ranging in scale from cosmic to cozy, and each an experience unlike anything else.”

Last season, Playwrights Horizons emphasized theater’s wide-ranging possibilities for transcendence: both through large-scale ensemble works (including David Adjmi’s Stereophonic, which transferred to Broadway and earned the most Tony nominations of any play in history) and genre-bending solo events featuring the playwright as the performer, reminding us of the essential components of drama: the storyteller and the audience. This season, Playwrights continues in that vein, emphasizing both the immense, shifting worlds present in a performer alone onstage and the human touch and warmth that can be captured even in sweeping dystopian ensemble epics. 

The season kicks off in September 2024 with pieces from acclaimed singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane: Book of Travelers & Magnificent Bird, directed by Annie Tippe. Kahane has “taken the concept of the concept album to rarefied heights,” writes Alex Ross in The New Yorker, deeming his work “an exercise in lyric beauty…suffused with idiosyncratic, enriched tonal harmony” and the artist himself “one of the finest, most searching songwriters of the day.” Kahane, a frequent collaborator of Sufjan Stevens, is no stranger to the theatricalization of his own work: his 2014 album Ambassador was “given luminous and mysterious physical life” (Ben Brantley, The New York Times, in a Critic’s Pick review) as a theatrical song cycle by John Tiffany, first presented at BAM. 

At Playwrights Horizons, Kahane continues to expand his work at the collision of theater and concert. His new works are wrought from singular personal experiences he underwent in response to the overwhelming sense of alienation of an ideologically embattled America fragmented by technology. In Book of Travelers, a narrative work derived from a 9,000 mile train ride around the country, he writes about America’s train tracks like arteries in an unfamiliar body he’s trying to understand. Magnificent Bird, another piece narrating his experiential process, was created from a year spent offline, seeking a more profound and deliberate way of connecting with people.

In October 2024, Sarah Mantell’s Playwrights commission In the Amazon Warehouse Parking Lot, a paean to the resilience of queer community in a human future drastically narrowed by encroaching oceans and the extreme endgame of corporate monopoly, comes to Playwrights Horizons in a world premiere production directed by Sivan Battat and produced in association with Breaking the Binary Theatre. Mantell makes their Off-Broadway debut with this indelible, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize-winning play celebrating human warmth and care against the backdrop of environmental collapse. Mantell wrote characters flexibly for seven women, nonbinary, and trans actors; all characters are in their 50s to 70s. Surrounding news of Mantell’s Blackburn Prize, the playwright said in a statement: “When I wrote this play, my wildest dream was that it would become something my generation of actors could age towards.” 

In addition, Playwrights Horizons will host the third annual Breaking the Binary Theatre Festival in October 2024 in their Peter Jay Sharp Theater.

Another play this season, the January 2025 world premiere of The Antiquities—written by Jordan Harrison (Playwrights: Maple and Vine, Doris to Darlene, a cautionary valentine, Marjorie Prime,

Log Cabin; Vineyard: The Amateurs) and co-produced with Vineyard Theatre and the Goodman Theatre—likewise takes human society to, and in fact beyond, its conclusion to explore the huge and tiny experience of being human. Marjorie Prime, Harrison’s ​​”elegant, thoughtful and quietly unsettling drama” presented at Playwrights Horizons in 2015, was “a rumination on technology that fits right into the current spate of essays and news articles about the rise of robots in our lives…[that] keeps developing in your head, like a photographic negative, long after you’ve seen it”  (Ben Brantley, The New York Times, in a Critic’s Pick review). In the decade since that play premiered, those “essays and news articles” speculating on the future of AI have become our present, with the recent implementation of countless technologies, The Antiquities accordingly expands Harrison’s examination of what this means for human life. Gazing back on our society from the point of view of the non-human, can we in fact see ourselves—in our beauty and mystery and violence and limits—more clearly? 

In Francesca D’Uva’s This Is My Favorite Song, directed by Sam Max (November 2024), the writer, composer, and experimental comedian entwines stand-up and song into a singular theatrical work. Here, the self she’s performing enters a tug-of-war between grappling with loss and the avoidance of public, performed grieving. The frequent result: divertive explosions of digital pop and self-reflexive anecdotes. As D’Uva performs herself comically orbiting tragedy, This Is My Favorite Song is drawn closer and closer to the heart of the matter, and to a moment in recent history that—in some way or another—changed us all. 

This year, Ryan J.Haddad’s “richly provocative” Dark Disabled Stories—presented at The Public—was named Best New American Play at the 2024 Obie Awards. It was “a highly theatrical, gracefully layered” collection of performed stories “about how arduous it can be to navigate a world that’s oblivious to your comfort and safety, because it wasn’t built with your kind of body in mind…[and] also about the body as an instrument of pleasure, a vessel of longing, a means of communication” (Laura Collins Hughes, The New York Times, in a Critic’s Pick review). In 2025, Haddad comes to Playwrights Horizons with his latest performance, Hold Me in the Water—a single, continued story expanding on the weight of pleasure: about a romantic relationship with a person who knew what the performer’s body wanted. Haddad shares in the piece about a fleeting yet transformative connection between bodies, “I knew how he made my body feel, and that flowed into everything I felt in my heart.” With the performer appearing alone on the Mainstage, Haddad’s vulnerability, humor, and arresting clarity fill the space with theatricality and beauty.

Whether taking us to the edge of human society as it’s swallowed up by rising waters and corporate interest; far past human obsolescence brought on by the very technologies we innovated; into the human heart of an immense and unruly country seething with ideological incompatibilities; through a labyrinthe of distractions from confronting the personal repercussions of a very recent global trauma; or into a relationship whose fleetingness could never reduce its importance; plays this season find abundant humor and exaltation in what we humans do with our ephemeral existences. As a character in Jordan Harrison’s The Antiquities asks, “What must it have been like for [humans], to realize their time on this earth was short?” All of these works contain answers: it is strange and beautiful, with the search for delight and connection valiantly fighting to make meaning—through relationships, through theater—from the bracketed time and space we’re given.

Playwrights Horizons 2024–25 Productions

Book of Travelers/Magnificent Bird 

By Gabriel Kahane

Directed by Annie Tippe

September 2024

​​Peter Jay Sharp Theater

In this duo of intimate solo musical plays, composer Gabriel Kahane blends songwriting and storytelling for a singular, poignant theatrical event. Book of Travelers recounts the strangers he met on a 9,000-mile train journey through a divided America, and Magnificent Bird chronicles a year he spent entirely off-line, and the unexpected turbulence of living quietly. Performed on alternating nights, these two concept albums offer a relentless self-inquiry, and a searing portrait of a world in flux. 

In the Amazon Warehouse Parking Lot

By Sarah Mantell

Directed by Sivan Battat

In association with Breaking the Binary Theatre

October 2024

Mainstage Theater

As the oceans rise, a band of queer warehouse workers travel from job to job, running from the encroaching coastline. An unlikely love story, and a startling new work of speculative fiction, In the Amazon Warehouse Parking Lot is a quietly revolutionary tale of queer aging, chosen family, and the search for home in a volatile world.

In the Amazon Warehouse Parking Lot has received generous support from the Venturous Theater Fund, a fund of Tides Foundation.

In the Amazon Warehouse Parking Lot was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons with the support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. 

This is My Favorite Song

Written and performed by Francesca D’Uva

Directed by Sam Max

November 2024

​​Peter Jay Sharp Theater

In a world transformed by loss, Francesca D’Uva finds humor…everywhere. An experimental fusion of stand-up and original digital-pop bangers, This Is My Favorite Song is a musical fever dream about sex, grief, nannying, and Shakira.

The Antiquities

By Jordan Harrison

Co-produced with Vineyard Theatre and The Goodman Theatre

January 2025

Mainstage Theater

At the Museum of Late Human Antiquities, the curators are fiercely committed to bringing a lost civilization to life again: What were humans really like? What did they wear, what did they eat, how did they die out? By casting us into the far future, Jordan Harrison’s new play gives us an uncanny view of the present moment, as we straddle the analog world that was and the post-human world to come. 

Hold Me in the Water

Written and performed by Ryan J. Haddad

Directed by Danny Sharron

April 2025

Mainstage Theater

When Ryan falls for a man he just met, he’s ready for the romance of his dreams. But as their connection grows, Ryan learns that new heights of joy can bring deep insecurities to the surface. Disarmingly vulnerable and playfully provocative, Hold Me in the Water is a funny and tender solo play about the passion and intimacy of first love. 

Ticketing Information

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