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The Public Theater's Season to Feature World Premiere Kitt & Yorkey Musical THE VISITOR, SOFT POWER, and More


The Public Theater's Season to Feature World Premiere Kitt & Yorkey Musical THE VISITOR, SOFT POWER, and More

Public Theater announced the line-up today for The Public's 2019-20 Season at their landmark home on 425 Lafayette Street. The iconic New York destination continues programming this season with new plays and musicals by Jessica Blank, Public Studio Alum Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Steve Earle, David Henry Hwang, Erik Jensen, Tom Kitt, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Emerging Writers Group Alum Mona Mansour, Richard Nelson, Jeanine Tesori, and Brian Yorkey.

The season will also feature a new revisiting of Tony Kushner's first play A Bright Room Called Day and the first major New York revival of the epic choreopoem, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by the late Ntozake Shange, which returns to The Public for the first time in over 40 years.

"We are reviving two of the great works in The Public's history, Ntozake Shange's first legendary play for colored girls... and Tony Kushner's first incendiary play A Bright Room Called Day," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "Both of these extraordinary works speak with astonishing directness to this exact contemporary moment. Surround those plays with brilliant new musicals like Soft Power and The Visitor, add incredibly diverse plays like The Vagrant Trilogy, Coal Country, The Michaels, and Cullud Wattah, and you have The Public's must-see '19-20 season."

Eustis continued, "The Public is more than just plays. The programs that reach across the world, to the people of New York, the United States, and abroad, extend the reach of theater to people from all walks of life. Our Mobile Unit not only serves all five boroughs of New York, but also tours to the rural Midwest as well. The Public Forum makes The Public a center of civic life, where ideas and values are shared and debated in lively and diverse groups. We are one Public."

As a champion for new and diverse voices, The Public's wide range of artist development programs and residencies includes the Devised Theater Initiative; the fifth session of the #BARS Workshop, a lab series created by artists Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs investigating the intersection between contemporary verse and theater; Public Studio, staging new work by early-career writers; the fifth year of the Joe's Pub Working Group; and the Emerging Writers Group.

"The Public is reaching around the country, and around the world. Everywhere Hamilton plays, The Public is there; everywhere Latin History for Morons performs, The Public is there; every community where our Public Works programs happen, there The Public is. From London to Seattle, from Berlin to Hong Kong, from Dallas to Perth, The Public's influence is global," said Eustis.

The Public Theater'S 2019-20 SEASON

New York Premiere
Book & Lyrics by David Henry Hwang
Music & Additional Lyrics by Jeanine Tesori
Choreography by Sam Pinkleton
Directed by Leigh Silverman
September 24 - November 3, 2019
A co-commission and co-production with Center Theatre Group

Initial casting includes Billy Bustamante (Xue Xing Standby), Kendyl Ito (Jing/Ensemble), Francis Jue (DHH), Austin Ku (Bobby Bob), Raymond J. Lee (Randy Ray/VEEP/Ensemble), Alyse Alan Louis (Zoe/Hillary), Jaygee Macapugay (Campaign Manager/Ensemble), Daniel May (Ensemble), Paul HeeSang Miller (Ensemble), Geena Quintos (Ensemble), Conrad Ricamora (Xue Xing), Trevor Salter (Ensemble), Kyra Smith (Ensemble), Emily Stillings (Female Swing), Emily Trumble (Zoe/Hillary Understudy), and John Yi (Male Swing)

Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori bring their groundbreaking new musical-within-a-play to The Public for its New York premiere. One of the most exciting theatrical collaborations in recent memory, SOFT POWER is an exploration of America's current place in the world, told through an East-West musical from China's point of view, in which a theater producer from Shanghai forges a powerful bond with Hillary Clinton. SOFT POWER is a fever dream of modern American politics amidst global conversations, asking us all-why do we love democracy? And should we? Featuring the choreography of Tony nominee Sam Pinkleton, Tony nominee Leigh Silverman directs this exhilarating new show.

First Major New York Revival
Written by Ntozake Shange
Choreography by Camille A. Brown
Directed by Leah C. Gardiner
October 8 - November 17, 2019; Opening Night: October 22

A groundbreaking work in modern American theater, FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE/WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF, returns to The Public for the first time since it premiered in 1976, before its breakthrough run on Broadway. Filled with passion, humor, and raw honesty, legendary playwright/poet Ntozake Shange's form-changing choreopoem tells the stories of seven women of color using poetry, song, and movement. With unflinching honesty and emotion, each woman voices her survival story of having to exist in a world shaped by sexism and racism. Obie Award winner Leah C. Gardiner directs this seminal work that speaks to our world today about women's struggles, strength, desires, resilience, and the sanctified magic of love and possibility.

World Premiere
Written and Directed by Richard Nelson
October 19 - November 17, 2019; Opening Night: October 27
Commissioned by The Public Theater

Complete casting includes Charlotte Bydwell (Lucy Michael), Haviland Morris (Irenie Walker), Maryann Plunkett (Kate Harris), Matilda Sakamoto (May Mary Jane Smith), Jay O. Sanders (David Michael), Brenda Wehle (Rose Michael), and Rita Wolf (Sally Michael)

Tony Award-winning playwright/director Richard Nelson returns to The Public with the world premiere of THE MICHAELS. Part of Nelson's critically acclaimed RHINEBECK PANORAMA, which includes The Apple Family and The Gabriels, this new drama places the audience directly into the kitchen of Rose Michael, a celebrated choreographer. Dinner is cooked, modern dances are rehearsed, and the meal is eaten-all amidst conversations about art, death, family, dance, politics, the state of America, and how the world sees our country...and a host of everyday questions that make up the richness of ordinary life. With grace and depth, Nelson once again creates an intricate, moving snapshot of modern-day America. Laced with humor and heartbreak, THE MICHAELS is a beautiful new play, illustrating the rich humanity within the incidental moments of one day.

First Major New York Revival
Written by Tony Kushner
Directed by Oskar Eustis
October 29 - December 8, 2019; Opening Night: November 19

Initial casting includes Jonathan Hadary (Xillah), Linda Emond (Annabella Gotchling), and Estelle Parsons (Die Alte)

Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, reunites with longtime collaborator and Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis in a scorching new version of his first play, the prescient 1985 masterwork suggesting the possibility of the Reagan counter-revolution eventually giving rise to American fascism. Agnes, an actress in Weimar Germany, and her cadre of passionate, progressive friends, are torn between protest, escape, and survival as the world they knew crumbles around them. Her story is interrupted by an American woman enraged by the cruelty of the Reagan administration, and a new character, grappling with the anxiety, distraction, hope, and hopelessness of an artist facing the once unthinkable rise of authoritarianism in modern America. Funny, brilliant, and devastating, this new production of A BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY revisits an epic work that takes a piercing look at the vulnerability of American democracy, and demands to know: when the devil takes up residence in your country...will you act?

Joe's Pub at The Public
Written by and Starring Adrienne Truscott
Directed by and Developed with Ellie Heyman
September 20 - October 13, 2019; Opening Night: October 3

ADRIENNE TRUSCOTT'S (STILL) ASKING FOR IT (A Stand-Up Rape About Comedy Starring Her P*ssy and Little Else!) is a sex positive, seriously funny, unflinching and nuanced show about rape culture. Its first iteration, Asking for It, performed in 2013, was a ribald provocation that came for everyone: comedians, rapists, lazy rape-apologists, and the ding-a-ling chodes who think women aren't funny. Dressed only from the waist up and the ankles down, "brilliantly bold" (Times UK) creator Adrienne Truscott will be joined onstage by sexual assault survivors, anti-harassment allies, and surprise special guests! (STILL) ASKING FOR IT reveals how jokes tickle, thrill, enrage, or rile-when the storytellers bring vastly different lived experiences to the same provocative material. Imagine The Aristocrats if it were rooted in material that matters...and performed without pants.

16th Edition
January 8 - 19, 2020

Curated by UTR Director Mark Russell, the 16th edition of this highly-anticipated downtown winter festival will bring together exciting artists from around the world who are redefining the act of making theater.

World Premiere
Written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen
Original Music by Steve Earle
Directed by Jessica Blank
February 18 - March 29, 2020
Commissioned by The Public Theater

In 2010, the Upper Big Branch mine explosion killed 29 men, and tore a hole in the lives of countless others. In this riveting, emotionally stunning new work based on first-person accounts by survivors and family members, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, award-winning writers of The Exonerated, and three-time Grammy Award-winning country/folk legend Steve Earle, dig deep into the lives and loss of the most deadly mining disaster in recent U.S. history. Jessica Blank directs this haunting world premiere that gives voice to those yet unheard and shines a piercing light on the deadly forces of greed and the enduring power of love.

New York Premiere
Written by Mona Mansour
Directed by Mark Wing-Davey
March 17 - April 26, 2020
Commissioned by The Public Theater

Mona Mansour, award-winning playwright and alum of The Public's Emerging Writers Group, delves into the Palestinian struggle for home and identity in THE VAGRANT TRILOGY, a single epic story told in three parts. In 1967, Adham, a Palestinian Wordsworth scholar, goes to London with his new wife to deliver a lecture. When war breaks out at home, he must decide in an instant what to do-a choice that will affect the rest of his life. The two parts that follow explore alternate realities based on that decision. Each part in the trilogy speaks to the others, together painting a rare and moving picture of Palestinian displacement and a refugee's life of permanent impermanence. Featuring six actors in 19 different roles, Mansour's drama spans four decades and three generations of a family uprooted by war and politics. Obie Award winner and Drama Desk Award nominee Mark Wing-Davey directs this sweeping new epic about the poetry and pain of losing the place called home.

World Premiere Musical
Music by Tom Kitt
Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Book by Kwame Kwei-Armah & Brian Yorkey
Choreography by Lorin Latarro
Directed by Daniel Sullivan
March 24 - May 10, 2020

Initial casting includes Jacqueline Antaramian (Mouna), Joaquina Kalukango (Zainab), David Hyde Pierce (Walter), and Ari'el Stachel (Tarek)

With heart, humor, and lush new songs, Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning team Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey with Kwame Kwei-Armah bring their soul-stirring new musical based on the acclaimed independent film, THE VISITOR by Thomas McCarthy, to The Public for its World Premiere. Widowed and living alone, Walter is a college professor whose life has lost a sense of purpose. When he discovers two young undocumented immigrants living in his New York apartment, the drummer Tarek and jewelry maker Zainab, Walter finds himself in the middle of their battle to stay in an America that's lost its better angels. Tony winner Daniel Sullivan directs this unforgettable new musical about friends and lovers caught between two worlds.

World Premiere
Written by Public Studio Alum Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Directed by Candis C. Jones
July 7 - August 16, 2020

2018 Relentless Award Semifinalist and poet-playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza's new Afro-surrealist play premieres at The Public about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan. It's been 936 days since Flint has had clean water. Marion, a third generation General Motors employee, is consumed by layoffs at the engine plant. When her sister, Ainee, seeks justice and restitution for lead poisoning, her plan reveals the toxic entanglements between the city and its most powerful industry, forcing their family to confront the past-present-future cost of survival. As lead seeps into their home and their bodies, corrosive memories and secrets rise among them. Will this family ever be able to filter out the truth? Directed by Lilly Award winner Candis C. Jones, CULLUD WATTAH blends form and bends time, diving deep into the poisonous choices of the outside world, the contamination within, and how we make the best choices for our families' future when there are no real, present options.

Patrons who join The Public Theater as a donor starting with a gift of $100 gain early access to tickets for shows and events throughout the year. To find out how you can support The Public by joining one of the donor programs, visit or call 212-967-7555. Tickets for the 2019-20 season will be accessible later this year.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski

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