PlayCo Productions Available to Audiences Everywhere This Spring

This Is Who I Am, a written-for-Zoom play directed by Evren Odcikin, is now streaming.

By: Apr. 16, 2021
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PlayCo announces plans for Spring 2021, building on the company's multi-platform exploration of this moment, its engagement with artists who are illuminating the complexities of relationships sustained from a distance, and its introduction of new initiatives responding to the changes in our world.

This spring, PlayCo re-teams with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, in association with American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, the Guthrie Theater, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, to present an on-demand run of Amir Nizar Zuabi's intimate portrait of a father and son separated by continents, This Is Who I Am, a written-for-Zoom play directed by Evren Odcikin, April 13-25. William Burke's Is it Supposed to Last?-a streamer-stuffed, Neil Diamond-enhanced, currently-but-perhaps-not- always Zoom-captured performance party-continues to evolve in a third iteration on April 29.

PlayCo is also teaming with Burke for the early May launch of Pep Talks for a New World, a collection of short podcast episodes pepping listeners for a wide variety of tasks and actions-each written and performed by a new special guest. On May 26, Ars Nova will present The (virtual) Wildness, adapting the rock fairy tale The Wildness from Sky-Pony as a Zoom concert directed by Ashley Tata. Hailed as a "defiantly exultant" (The New York Times) "glitter-splashed, cathartic rager" (Time Out New York), the original production of The Wildness was presented in 2016 in a partnership between PlayCo and Ars Nova.

This Is Who I Am on Demand

Told with humor and humanity through the intimacy of a video call, Amir Nizar Zuabi's This Is Who I Am explores the unpredictable nature of grief and the delicacy of family connection across geographical and generational divides. Presented by PlayCo and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, in association with American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, the Guthrie Theater, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the recent world premiere Zoom-based production featured Ramsey Faragallah and Yousof Sultani taking on the roles, respectively, of an estranged father (in Ramallah) and son (in New York City), reuniting over Zoom as they prepare a cherished family recipe.

Now, from April 13-25, the performance will be available to view on demand, any time, on One ticket, available here, gives access to the entire streaming window beginning April 13; the performance is available for 48 hours after clicking "watch now." Tickets are $15.99 for a single buyer, and $30.99 for a household.

Having presented his site-specific "wrenching and shrewd solo show" (The New York Times, in a Critics' Pick review) Oh My Sweet Land in kitchens across New York City with PlayCo, Zuabi expands the meaning of site-specificity with this new piece. Performed in two actors' kitchens (in which they cook fteer), the play is also set across the divide of two computer screens. Zuabi here deepens his exploration of the kitchen as a space of sensorial stimulation, familial legacy, and discussion that organically slips between intimate and external circumstances-and finds a new setting to consider: Zoom. In This Is Who I Am, two actors perform a balancing act of care and resentment, closeness and vast separation, as they cook in real-time over video chat.

Zuabi, who grew up in Palestine, moved to London for a time, and currently resides in Jaffa, explains, "I left my country at a certain point and remembered these awkward long-distance conversations. Now, many hours of my day have been spent Zoom-ing since January; one of the big frustrations is that we're very close, and I can look at people's houses and feel very intimate with them but at the same time we're deprived of our sensory ability and are separated by two walls of glass. But if two people are both cooking the same dish, at least the smells are similar and the noises might be happening at the same time, so suddenly we are creating a mutual world. All of these things combined in creating this: my need to take revenge from Zoom and its limitations; the fact that food was on the table for this project from the very get-go; and the fact that as I'm grieving [the loss of my own parents four and five years ago] a lot of other people started grieving from the actual pandemic."

Zuabi adds, "This play for me is about grief and the way we negotiate it. It's about distance and how we negotiate it. It's about manhood and how we negotiate it. And it's about love and how it negotiates us."

Is It Supposed to Last?, Peptalks, Sponsor a Succulent

At a time when our isolation and uncertain futures amplify the need to take care of ourselves and others, William Burke's iterative performance series Is it Supposed to Last? dizzily spins around the question, "What happens when the nurturers are unable to nurture the people who need them?" The series' third iteration-April 29 at 7PM EST-will see performers joining together at wild project, with audiences invited to stream the performance virtually. (RSVP here). Featuring Carolina Đa?- and Jehan O. Young, these presentations of Is it Supposed to Last?-which began January 28-expand on initial performances last August in PlayCo's Mini-Commissions program, with an artistic team that also includes Sugar Vendil (composer/performer), Carolyn Mraz (co-designer), Cheyanne Williams (co-designer), Aaron Gonzalez (video systems designer) and Jenny Beth Snyder (project manager).

Is it Supposed to Last? is a celebration of the good parts of people, a ritual of friendship, and an exorcism of the repeating bile that comes in between. Each installment progresses from the last, with performers appearing in different locations across New York City, incorporating the existing conditions at the time to play with our changing experiences of isolation, weather, and communing. Audience members are encouraged to take part in the performances as they continue to evolve.

Says Bryn Herdrich, "What are the excuses we use to simply make it okay to have a conversation with each other, to tell our friends we love them and they're important to us? We should all be able to just sit and talk, but we can't do that all the time so we throw parties and pretend birthdays are real and buy a bunch of streamers and decorate a room or have dinners or play cards. We do these things to create spaces where we feel like we can say the things we can't say in everyday life. Is it Supposed to Last? is an attempt for the collective of theatermakers and audience to mutually care for each other while acknowledging the limitations of that in this moment. We suspect we will not be successful, and so each iteration is a new attempt to get at that within the boundaries of what is possible in that moment on that day."

William Burke writes, "We'll try again...and again...and again...and again....bigger, a little different, but not enough, with more sparkle and color, not that it heals, but it makes things more fun by the end. You'll be a little changed. Hope it's for the better."

In conjunction with Is it Supposed to Last?, the first series of Pep Talks for a New World, produced by PlayCo and William Burke, will consist of seven five-to-ten-minute episodes, each written and performed by a special guest, each around a different topic to help "pep" the listener. The topics are up to the writer, with possibilities ranging from doing the dishes to ending climate change. Guest writer/performers for the first series will include Darian Dauchan, Nia Farrell, and Ramiz Monsef, with more to be included.

Says Burke, "During [the pandemic], friends of mine have asked for a pep talk or a motivational word and I've found (to my dismay) that I haven't had anything in the tank. That changes now. We could all use a little collective action, forward-motion breathing once in a while. We start on Spotify, but we'll finish on top of the world."

The first series of Pep Talks For A New World will premiere in May.

PlayCo has also launched another initiative linked to Is it Supposed to Last?-Sponsor A Succulent-providing plants that require low-effort care to vulnerable communities across New York City. PlayCo is partnering with Presbyterian Senior Services, Opening Act, and CaringKing-three major humanitarian organizations in New York City-who have been caring for neighbors most severely impacted by the pandemic. Putting the play's theme of care into action, suggested contributions of $10 are provided by individual sponsors, which are then used to purchase succulents wholesale from family-owned nurseries on Long Island and distributed by PlayCo staff and its community partners. As of April 7, over 380 succulents had been funded, and the initiative is on track to exceed its initial goal of 500 succulents sponsored by June. Contributors can pledge to sponsor here.

The (Virtual) Wildness Presented by Ars Nova

On May 26 at 7pm EST (with on-demand streaming for subscribers to follow), Ars Nova Supra will present The (virtual) Wildness, the online, one-night live concert performance of Kyle Jarrow and Lauren Worsham's indie-pop band Sky-Pony's acclaimed rock fairy tale. With lush sound and cheeky style surrounding and seducing viewers into a world of prophecies and forbidden temptations, The (virtual) Wildness, directed by Ashley Tata, is a raucous ride exploring faith, doubt, and the wild space in between. Upon its 2016 world premiere,The Village Voice described the original production of The Wildness as a "rock 'n' roll rite of passage belted with passion and verve."

Originally produced in 2016 by Ars Nova, in collaboration with PlayCo, The Wildness was directed by Sam Buntrock with choreography by Chase Brock. The (virtual) Wildness is a new event that takes place 5 years after the events of The Wildness. The (virtual) Wildness will take place on Zoom, with audiences watching via Ars Nova's digital platform, Ars Nova Supra, and will include elements of audience participation. Tickets, available here, are $10 for the live performance. Ticket-holders will also be able to access a recording of the performance until 5PM EST the next day.

The (virtual) Wildness features text by Kyle Jarrow and Lauren Worsham, songs by Kyle Jarrow, and incidental music by Kevin Wunderlich. It is directed by Ashley Tata, associate produced by Alexa Spiegel, with video design by Eamonn Farrell and performances from David Blasher, Lilli Cooper, Jeff Fernandes, Kyle Jarrow, Sharone Sayegh, Lauren Worsham, Jamie Mohamdein, and Kevin Wunderlich.


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