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DES MOINES Starring Michael Shannon & More Announces New Preview & Opening Dates

DES MOINES Starring Michael Shannon & More Announces New Preview & Opening Dates

The play runs through January 1, 2023, at Polonsky Shakespeare Center.

Theatre for a New Audience has announced new preview, press, and opening dates for Denis Johnson's Des Moines. Due to the detection of Covid within the Des Moines company, performances November 29 - December 3 have been canceled, with the production now beginning December 4. The final play from the late author, and the first play by Johnson TFANA has staged, runs through January 1, 2023, at Polonsky Shakespeare Center (262 Ashland Pl, Brooklyn).

Arin Arbus, who has helmed numerous TFANA productions of Shakespeare and modern classics to acclaim, first explored Des Moines in a 2015 TFANA workshop with Johnson, and now directs the full Off-Broadway premiere production of his tender, mercurial drama.

Des Moines' world premiere was in 2007 at San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts. It was further developed by the author and completed in 2013.

In this mysterious work, chance events-including a plane crash, a rescued wedding ring, and a frightening diagnosis-bring five characters in its titular city together for a debauch of karaoke, liquor, and sex that becomes an unlikely communion. With its dark humor, Des Moines confronts death, mortality, and the stubborn pursuit of grace among those who barely believe in it. "What I write about," Johnson once told New York Magazine, "Is the dilemma of living in a fallen world, and asking why it is like this if there's supposed to be a God."

Des Moines' imperfect, haunted characters-familiar traits within Johnson's acclaimed body of work-will be played by two-time Tony nominee Johanna Day (Sweat, Peter and Jerry, August: Osage County, Proof), Arliss Howard (Mank, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Full Metal Jacket), Hari Nef ("Daddy", Assassination Nation, Transparent; Upcoming: The Idol), Michael Shannon (TFANA: The Killer. Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Knives Out, Revolutionary Road) and Heather Alicia Simms (TFANA: Fairview, Richard III; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Ma Rainey's Black Bottom). The creative team includes Riccardo Hernández (Scenic Designer), Qween Jean (Costume Designer), Scott Zielinski (Lighting Designer), Mikaal Sulaiman (Sound Designer), and Byron Easley (Choreographer).

Director Arin Arbus observes, "Denis Johnson was a keen and loving observer of life. He wrote about what's holy and hilarious and hard in our daily lives and was interested in the eternal human struggle to be awake to life in an uncontrollable and incomprehensible universe."

Johnson, a National Book Award winner for his 2007 novel Tree of Smoke, who was twice shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, was known for his "novels and short stories about the fallen [that] emerged in ecstatic, hallucinatory and sometimes minimalist prose" (Richard Sandomir, The New York Times). Michiko Kakutani wrote of Johnson in The New York Times, "He used his startling gift for language to create word pictures as detailed and visionary, and as varied, as paintings by Edward Hopper and Hieronymus Bosch, capturing the lives of outsiders - the lost, the dispossessed, the damned - with empathy and unsparing candor...There is a fierce, ecstatic quality to Mr. Johnson's strongest work that lends his characters and their stories an epic, almost mythic dimension, in the best American tradition of Melville and Whitman."

About Denis Johnson (Playwright)

Denis Johnson is the author of nine novels, three books of verse, two short story collections, a novella, and seven plays. He received many awards and honors, including The National Book Award for Fiction (Tree of Smoke), the Library of Congress Award for American Fiction, and the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction from the Paris Review. In 2014, Denis Johnson was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was twice shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. Two of his works were adapted into a film: his book of short stories, Jesus' Son, starring Billy Crudup and Samantha Morton, and most recently Stars at Noon, directed by Claire Denis. His plays have been produced in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle.

About Arin Arbus (Director)

Arin Arbus (Director) is the Resident Director at TFANA, where she directed The Winter's Tale, The Skin of Our Teeth (Obie Award), Strindberg's The Father and Ibsen's Doll's House in rep, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, Othello, and most recently the critically acclaimed The Merchant of Venice starring John Douglas Thompson. She directed Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (Tony nom for best revival) with Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon on Broadway. Arbus spent several years making theatre with prisoners in association with Rehabilitation Through the Arts and in 2018, she directed an adaptation of The Tempest in a refugee camp in Greece for The Campfire Project.

About the Cast

Johanna Day

(Marta) Broadway: How I Learned to Drive, The Nap, Sweat (Tony Nomination), You Can't Take It With You, August: Osage County, Lombardi, Proof (Tony Nomination). Theatre: Floyd's (Guthrie), Peace for Mary Francis (New Group), Peter and Jerry (Second Stage - Drama Desk Nomination), Appropriate (Signature - Obie Award, The Lilly Award), Poor Behavior (Mark Taper), Realistic Joneses (Yale), Choice (Huntington), The Rainmaker (Arena Stage - Helen Hayes Award), How I Learned to Drive (Vineyard). Television: Bull, The Good Fight, Madam Secretary (5 Years Recurring), For Life, New Amsterdam, The Blacklist, Escape at Dannemora, The Knick, The Americans, Masters of Sex. Film: Worth, The Post, The Great Gilly Hopkins, How Far She Went, The Breatharian.

Arliss Howard

(Dan) has worked with some of the most admired directors in film history, including Stanley Kubrick in Full Metal Jacket, Oliver Stone in Natural Born Killers, and Steven Spielberg in both Lost World and Amistad. He was recently seen as Louis B. Mayer in David Fincher's Mank, and will also be seen in Fincher's upcoming feature, The Killer, with Michael Fassbender. He starred in Men Don't Leave with Jessica Lange and with Michelle Pfeiffer in Tequila Sunrise. Amongst many notable performances, Arliss was featured in Moneyball, Birth, and Sandlot. A distinguished theatre actor, Howard appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning play Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Among his other extensive credits: Signature Theatre Company's productions of Sam Shepard's The Late Henry Moss and Killer's Head, The American Repertory Company's How I Learned to Drive, In the Jungle of Cities, Ivanov, and Uncle Vanya. At The New York Theatre Workshop, he starred in Caryl Churchill's A Number, and Ivo van Hove's production of Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage.

Hari Nef

(Jimmy). Nominated for a SAG award in 2016 for her role as Gittel in the Amazon series Transparent (2015), Nef is also known for playing Blythe in the Netflix series You (2018), a lead in the Sam Levinson film Assassination Nation (2018), and Katherine in the Season 4 opener of HBO's Room 104 (2020). Nef was recently cast in a series regular role in ABC's reboot of LA LAW, and she can be seen appearing in Amazon's award winning series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and playing Rabbi Jen in the season 1 finale of the HBO series And Just Like That. Most recently Hari starred in the Amazon comedy 1UP, as well as starring in Simchas and Sorrows, which she also produced. Nef will next be seen starring in the Warner Brother's feature, Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig. With additional notable roles in Hellaware (2013), Let Me Die a Nun (2017), and Mapplethorpe (2018), Nef shared the screen with Jennifer Garner, Busy Philipps, and Nicole Richie as Nia in the HBO's Camping (2018). She made her off-Broadway debut in 2019 in Jeremy O. Harris' "Daddy." In 2021, Hari's writing appeared in GQ, L'Officiel, A24 publication, and three times in Artforum. She lives in New York City.

Michael Shannon

(Father Michael) is an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Tony Award nominated actor. He previously performed at TFANA in Ionesco's The Killer, directed by Tony Award winner Darko Tresnjak, and collaborated with Arin Arbus in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune on Broadway, alongside Audra McDonald. Shannon recently wrapped his film directorial debut, Eric LaRue, based on the Brett Neveu play that debuted at A Red Orchid Theatre (of which Shannon is a founder) in Chicago in 2002. Shannon will soon be seen starring opposite Jessica Chastain in Spectrum/Paramount+ limited series, George & Tammy. He is currently filming Jeff Nichols' The Bikeriders, marking Shannon's eighth re-team with Nichols, with previous collaborations including Loving, Hank the Cowdog, Midnight Special, Take Shelter, Mud, and Shotgun Stories.

Shannon received acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for his role in Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road; was nominated for Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice, Gotham, and Film Independent Spirit Awards for Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes; and nominated for an Academy Award and Critics Choice Award for Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals. His filmography features nearly ninety roles in film. TV credits include Nine Perfect Strangers, The Little Drummer Girl, Room 104, Fahrenheit 451, Waco, and Boardwalk Empire. Notable theater credits include Shannon's direction of the world premiere of Brett Neveu's Traitor and The Roundabout Theater Company's revival of Long Day's Journey into Night (Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award).

Heather Alicia Simms

(Mrs. Drinkwater) was last seen at TFANA in the Soho Rep production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fairview. Select theater-Broadway: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, A Raisin in the Sun. Off-Broadway: Fabulation and By The Way, Meet Vera Stark (Signature 2019 Obie Award), Richard III (Delacorte), born bad (Soho Rep), Barbecue (The Public), The Exonerated (The Culture Project/Riverside Studios UK). Television: The Kings Of Napa as Yvette King, Marvel's Luke Cage, Bull, Blue Bloods, High Maintenance, The Last O.G., Broad City, Seven Seconds, and Law & Order. Film: Vampires vs. The Bronx, Red Hook Summer, The Nanny Diaries, Broken Flowers, Head of State. Awards and Affiliations: Fox Foundation Fellowship Recipient Round 4, Audie Award, The Actors Center, Education:Tufts University,

B.A., Columbia University, MFA.

About the Creative + Producing Team

Riccardo Hernández

Broadway: Jagged Little Pill (Tony Award Nomination); Indecent;The Gin Game; The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess; The People in the Picture; Caroline, or Change (also National Theatre London); Elaine Stritch: At Liberty (also Old Vic); Topdog/Underdog, (also Royal Court); Bells Are Ringing; Parade (directed by Hal Prince, Tony, Drama Desk nominations); Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk;The Tempest. International: Théâtre du Châtelet, Avignon Festival (Cour d'honneur Palais des Papes), Oslo National Theatre, Abbey Theatre. Recipient, Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Design. Hernández is an Associate Professor and Co-Chair of the Yale School of Drama.

Mikaal Sulaiman

(Sound Designer) Broadway: Death of a Salesman, Cost of Living, Macbeth (Tony nom.), Thoughts of a Colored Man. Off-Broadway: Evanston Salt Cost Climbing (The New Group), Fat Ham (NYTW), Sanctuary City (Drama Desk nom.), On Sugarland (NYTW), Fairview (Drama Desk nom.), Rags Parkland (Drama Desk, Lortel noms.), Passage (Soho Rep), Thanksgiving Play (Playwrights Horizons), Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (NYTW), Underground Railroad Game (Ars Nova), The Institute of Memory (EMO), Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical. Recipient: Creative Capital Award, Henry Hewes Award, and CTG Sherwood Award, Head of Sound Design MFA program at Yale University. www.mikaal.com

Qween Jean

(Costume Designer) is a New York City based Costume Designer who has fully committed her voice to the advocacy of marginalized communities, emphasizing Black Trans people. She is thrilled to be collaborating with Arin on Des Moines. She recently designed Wedding Band at TFANA. Recent theatre: soft, Corsicana, Hound Dog, On Sugarland, Black No More, I Need Space, Macbeth In Stride, Semblance, Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, Siblings Play, Amen Corner, Rags Parkland Sings The Songs For The Future, Good Grief, Othello, and the acclaimed What to Send Up When It Goes Down. MFA from NYU Tisch. Black Trans Lives Matter!

Byron Easley

(Choreographer) Slave Play on Broadway (Antonyo Award Nomination) and NYTW, X: Or Betty Shabazz V. The Nation (Lucille Lortel Award nomination), The Bubbly Black Girl for City Center Encores, Langston in Harlem (SDC's Joe A. Callaway Award and an Audelco Award). Regional: Signature Theatre: Gun & Powder; Olney Theatre: Matilda (Helen Hayes Nomination); Yale Repertory Theatre: Twelfth Night; OSF: Unison, The Wiz, A Comedy of Errors; Arena Stage: Five Guys Named Moe (Helen Hayes Nomination); Alliance Theatre: Jelly's Last Jam (Suzi Bass Award), Sophisticated Ladies (Suzi Bass Award). Associate arts professor at NYU/Tisch.

Elizabeth Cuthrell

(Evenstar Films) is co-founder of Evenstar Films. She wrote and produced the acclaimed film Jesus' Son (Billy Crudup, Holly Hunter, Michael Shannon). Other award-winning films include The Same Storm (Mary-Louise Parker, Elaine May, Sandra Oh), Meek's Cutoff (Michelle Williams), Vara A Blessing, The Sisterhood of Night (Kal Penn). Theatre credits include Tony-nominated Farinelli and the King (Mark Rylance), premieres of Shoppers Carried by Escalators Into the Flames (Will Patton, Michael Shannon), Slut The Play, What You Will (Roger Rees) and Walt and Emily. With Mary-Louise Parker, Cuthrell wrote and produced the award-winning "Stop the Hate" public service announcements.

David Urrutia

(Evenstar Films) is co-founder of Evenstar Films. He wrote the screenplay and produced the feature film Jesus' Son based on Denis Johnson's short stories (with Billy Crudup, Samantha Morton, Jack Black), Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff (Michelle Williams, Will Patton), Vara A Blessing, The Sisterhood of Night and, most recently, The Same Storm (Sandra Oh, Danny Burstein, Judith Light) and the Sundance Film Festival's U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award[1]winning film Blood. Theatre producing credits include Roger Rees' What You Will, Denis Johnson's Shoppers Carried by Escalators Into the Flames, Slut The Play and Walt and Emily.

Evenstar Films

is a film and theatre production company. Films include Jesus' Son, Meek's Cutoff (both selected for NY Times Top 10 Films of the Year), The Same Storm, the recent Sundance-winner Blood, The Sisterhood of Night and Vara A Blessing. Festivals include the Venice, Telluride, Sundance, London, Busan and New York film festivals, and the films have won numerous awards including The Little Golden Lion, Special Jury Award, Ecumenical, Signis and Best Actor awards. Theatre credits include Denis Johnson's Shoppers Carried by Escalators Into the Flames, Roger Rees' What You Will, Slut The Play and Walt and Emily.

Performance Schedule

Performances of Des Moines take place December 6-11, 13-18, 20-23, and December 27-January 1 at 7:30pm, with matinee performances on December 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 21, 31, and January 1 at 2pm at Polonsky Shakespeare Center (262 Ashland Pl, Brooklyn).

Members of the press are welcome:

Tuesday, December 13 @ 7:30pm

Wednesday, December 14 @ 7:30pm

Thursday, December 15 @ 7:30pm

Des Moines opens December 16 with reviews embargoed until 9pm.

Sunday, 7:30 PM December 4th will be a Pay what You Can Performance.

The 2pm performance on December 18 will be open captioned.

TFANA will offer post-show Humanities events after select performances: the December 15 evening performance will be followed by an installment of Reflections with Bianca Vivion (host of ALL ARTS' Generational Anxiety), and the December 17 matinee will be followed by a TFANA Talk. (A TFANA Talk initially scheduled for December 10 has been canceled.)

Ticketing Information

For all Des Moines ticket holders: If no other dates in the run of Des Moines work, the ticket holder can receive a full refund; or make a tax deductible gift by donating the tickets

Season subscriptions-with benefits including priority booking, flexible exchange policy, discounted guest tickets, discounts at Food & Drink and the Book Kiosk in the Polonsky Shakespeare Center lobby, and more-are available online, by phone at 646.553.3880; and in person at the box office.

2022-2023 subscription packages:

Three Play Package ($174): One ticket to three productions at just $58 per ticket.

- Des Moines, Fuente Ovejuna, and Orpheus Descending.

Flex Pass Package ($240): a four-ticket package for just $60 per ticket. Use them in any combination for any of the shows in the 2022-2023 season.

Subscriber add-ons include Guest Tickets for $60 and New Deal Tickets for $20. Subscriber New Deal tickets-for those aged 30 and under, and for full-time students of any age-are available for all performances for $20 and can be purchased in advance or day-of online, by phone, or at the box office with valid ID(s) required at pickup.

All sales are final. No refunds. All packages are subject to a $10 handling fee.

2022-23 Single Tickets

Single ticket types include Full Price Ticket: $90-$100 and Premium: $125. New Deal tickets-for those aged 30 and under, and for full-time students of any age-are available for all performances for $20, can be purchased in advance or day-of online, by phone, or at the box office with valid ID(s) required at pickup.

New Deal ticket subsidies are supported by the Audrey H. Meyer New Deal Fund.

All productions, artists and dates are subject to change.

Photo credit: Hollis King



Related Stories
DES MOINES Starring Michael Shannon & More Extends at TFANA Photo
Theatre for a New Audience has announced the extension of the Off-Broadway premiere of Denis Johnson’s Des Moines. The final play from the late author now runs through January 8, 2023 (extended from an original closing date of January 1).

Review Roundup: DES MOINES Opens Off-Broadway! Photo
Critics have weighed in on DES MOINES, written by the late Denis Johnson and directed by Arin Arbus. The play, starring Michael Shannon, Hari Nef, Johanna Day, and more, opened December 16th at Theatre For A New Audience and runs through January 1st.

Preview Performances of DES MOINES at Theatre for a New Audience Rescheduled to Due Covid Photo
Due to Covid cases within the company, Theatre for a New Audience is canceling five preview performances of the Off-Broadway premiere of iconic American writer Denis Johnson's Des Moines, directed by Arin Arbus and featuring Johanna Day, Arliss Howard, Hari Nef, Michael Shannon, and Heather Alicia Simms.

Michael Shannon, Johanna Day & More to Star in DES MOINES Off-Bway Photo
Theatre for a New Audience will present Denis Johnson’s Des Moines, the final play from the late author, and the first play by Johnson TFANA has staged, November 29, 2022–January 1, 2023, at Polonsky Shakespeare Center.


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