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The Civilians Announces 20th Anniversary Season

One centerpiece of the 20th anniversary season is the long-overdue New York premiere of Whisper House, a new musical by Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow.

The Civilians Announces 20th Anniversary Season


The Civilians has announced programming for its 20th anniversary season which includes a return to in-person events. The season, running December 13, 2021 - June 6, 2022, celebrates the vital and necessary human connections that have made The Civilians thrive for two decades.

One centerpiece of the 20th anniversary season is the long-overdue New York premiere of Whisper House, a new musical by Grammy and Tony winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening, American Psycho) and Tony-nominated and Obie winner Kyle Jarrow (Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical). Directed by Steve Cosson, the production takes place January 11 - February 6, 2022, at 59E59 Theater where its original run was set to begin on March 12, 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. Set during the height of World War II, Whisper House combines a lush original score with a haunting story about fear of the other and the ways we can transcend it.

The 20th anniversary season continues with the world premiere of What You Are Now by Sam Chanse and directed by Cosson. Running February 16 - March 13, 2022, in co-production with Ensemble Studio Theatre (William Carden, Artistic Director) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (Doron Weber, Vice President & Program Director), the play follows a Cambodian American family as present-day challenges force a re-examination of the past, bringing long held secrets and silences to the surface.

A series of one-night cabarets-unique theatrical events and concert versions of new musicals-complement these theatrical premieres. They include Ethan Lipton's Talent Show (December 13), which draws on the voices of real people to look at the state of public education in America, told through the particular story of communities in North Carolina. Alix Lambert's Courtroom (January 24) is an evening of theater, music, and poetry created from true stories of the courtroom. Black Girl In Paris (June 6), with book and lyrics by AriDy Nox and music by Jacinth Greywoode, leads an ensemble of Ancestors into 18th century France to tell the musical story of one of the most famous and least known Black women in American history: Sally Hemings.

On May 23, The Civilians will celebrate inspiring stories and performances from their 20-year history at City Winery for its 20th anniversary spring gala.

Throughout the season, The Civilians, led by Resident Dramaturg Phoebe Corde, will continue work with The R&D Group, a collection of playwrights, composers, and directors who work together as a writing group for nine months to develop new plays and musicals. The season culminates in the Findings Series, a works-in-progress reading series anticipated to take place in June 2022. Members of The R&D Group are Calley N. Anderson, Lila Rachel Becker, Phillip Gregory Burke, Aeneas Sagar Hemphill, Denmo Ibrahim, Eric Marlin, and Liba Vaynberg.

Alongside these in-person performances, The Civilians 20th anniversary season includes two special projects. As part of The Michael Friedman Recording Project and following the release of five albums of Friedman's work, The Civilians and Ghostlight Records will release Adventures in Reality, a collection of previously unreleased songs from various projects. Additionally, Smith & Kraus will publish five Civilians scripts including The Great Immensity, The Abominables, Paris Commune, The Undertaking, and Pretty Filthy.

"The Civilians is bursting with excitement to be back in the theater with audiences after such a long stretch of social isolation," said The Civilians Artistic Director Steve Cosson. "Both mainstage productions this year, Whisper House and What You Are Now, speak to the wounds of isolation. They reveal how divisive forces-fear, secrets, xenophobia-separate us as much as any pandemic lockdown. And each story struggles through that darkness to find the light of authentic connection. I am immensely grateful for how much bigger and more interconnected The Civilians has made my world, and I hope we can do the same for you, our audience."

Please visit www.thecivilians.org for more information.

The Civilians 20th Anniversary Season

Whisper House

Music & Lyrics By Duncan Shiek

Book & Lyrics By Kyle Jarrow

Conceived With Keith Powell

Directed By Steve Cosson

Choreographed by Billy Bustamante

January 11 - February 6, 2022 at 59E59 Theater


In an eerie lighthouse on the remote coast of Maine, two lonely people face the beginning of World War II. There's Yasuhiro, a Japanese immigrant threatened by the rising wartime xenophobia-and Lily, his employer, who's spent her whole life here. Their world is turned upside down when Lily's young nephew, Christopher, is sent to live with them. Soon, the boy begins to hear strange music seeping through the walls. Is his imagination getting the better of him? Or are there ghosts here and maybe dangerous ones at that? What happens next will change the lives of these three characters forever... Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow's Whisper House combines a lush original score with a haunting story about fear of the other and the ways we can transcend it.

Special production support for Whisper House provided by Kara Unterberg. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The Civilians Present

What You Are Now

by Sam Chanse
February 16 - March 13, 2022 at Ensemble Studio Theatre

What if our memories aren't fixed but instead change each time we recall the past? Pia is a passionate young researcher investigating cutting-edge new ideas about how to heal the mind from traumatic memories. But her interest is also personal, deeply intertwined with her family's history. When a figure from the past unexpectedly shows up, urging Pia's mother to testify about her experiences during the violence of 1970s Cambodia, unresolved histories are brought to the surface. Pia must navigate through a latticework of interconnected memories: her relationship, her brother Darany and, centrally, her mother Chantrea-making discoveries that will radically alter everyone's lives in the present.

This co-production with the EST/Sloan Project is supported in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation.

Talent Show

By Ethan Lipton

Directed by Jade King Carroll

December 13, 2021 at A.R.T./New York Oxford Street, Brooklyn

Talent Show draws on the voices of real people to look at the state of public education in America, told through the particular story of communities in North Carolina. Inspired by interviews conducted by the company, Lipton's musical takes the unique points of view of teachers, parents, administrators and others, and reimagines each as performance in a talent show. Hosted by a pair of bona fide children, Talent Show stages how the grown-ups negotiate choices that ultimately determine the fate of everyone's family. This presentation is a work-in-progress showing.

Courtroom

Written and directed by Alix Lambert

January 24, 2022 at Joe's Pub, NYC

Courtroom is an evening of theater, music and poetry created from true stories of the courtroom. Written and directed by Alix Lambert as part of her ongoing investigation into the world of crime, using Lambert's book of the same title as source material. The cast of Courtroom perform interviews with lawyers, judges, witnesses, and more, including noted prison activist Albert Woodfox. Grammy Award winner Mike Mattison shares original songs created for the show, and acclaimed poet Martín Espada reads his poem Jumping off the Mystic Tobin Bridge. Visit any courtroom in the USA and you will find yourself surrounded by theater, politics, history, law, performance, illustration, and community.

Black Girl in Paris

Book and Lyrics by AriDy Nox
Music by Jacinth Greywoode

June 6, 2022 at Joe's Pub, NYC

Black Girl In Paris leads an ensemble of Ancestors into 18th century France to tell the musical story of one of the most famous and least known Black women in American history: Sally Hemings. The show focuses on Hemings' time in Paris and the beginnings of her relationship with Thomas Jefferson, a man who held her and her family in bondage. At the heart of this musical is the question "What does it mean to be free?" a question Black Americans have been grappling with since the original kidnapping and enslavement of Africans for The American Project.

The 2021-22 Cabaret series is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from The Axe-Houghton Foundation.

20th Anniversary Spring Gala

May 23 at City Winery, NYC

This brilliant annual event brings together an ever-expanding community of artists, citizens, and supporters - all while raising essential funds for The Civilians. In this milestone year, The Civilians will celebrate inspiring stories and performances from their 20 year history and raise a glass to all that's ahead for the company and creative community.

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