PlayCo Returns To In-Person Performances With IS IT SUPPOSED TO LAST?

The company also announces its 2021 Residency for Black Women Theatre Makers.

By: Jun. 21, 2021
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

PlayCo today announces their first performance for in-person audiences in over a year: the fifth and culminating iteration of William Burke's Is it Supposed to Last?, co-directed by Burke and Bryn Herdrich, on June 29. The event concludes the streamer-stuffed, Neil Diamond-enhanced performance party series, which dizzily spins around the question, "What happens when the nurturers are unable to nurture the people who need them?" The innovative 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.

PlayCo has also launched a 2021 Residency for Black Women Theatre Makers, a four-month period of process-oriented creative support provided to artists from around the world. The program provides financial support, time for new work development and artistic experimentation, and connectivity and community-building with fellow resident artists and PlayCo's local and international networks. Selected through an invitation to apply process in collaboration with curatorial consultant Kathy Perkins, the company announces four participating artists: Brazilian playwright, screenwriter, actress, and curator Dione Carlos; scholar, playwright, and portrait photographer Zainabu Jallo; Botswana-born, international award-winning interdisciplinary artist and activist Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile (founding director of the Queer Shorts Showcase Festival, Botswana's premier LGBTQ theatre festival); and playwright and theater-maker Daaimah Mubashshir. They begin their remote residencies, each shaped with PlayCo around their respective creative practices and needs, this month.

Is it Supposed to Last?, Pep Talks for a New World, and Sponsor a Succulent

Is it Supposed to Last?'s every installment progresses from the last. Each has incorporated the existing conditions at the time to play with our changing experiences of isolation, weather, and communing. After four iterations where audiences watched the evolving work unfold over Zoom in disparate locations (a bar, a gallery, a plant shop, Walker Space, a basement, the PlayCo offices, The WP Theater, The Wild Project), the series' final performance for the first time invites a limited number of in-person audiences to experience the work, at a special surprise location in Bushwick, Brooklyn on June 29 at 7pm. (Participants who RSVP for the in-person experience will receive their confirmation immediately, and the exact location of and directions to the venue via email in the days leading up to the performance. Remote audiences will continue to have the option to participate over Zoom).

Featuring Carolina Đa?- and Jehan O. Young, these presentations of Is it Supposed to Last?-which began in January 2021 and have happened monthly since-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, iterations 1-3), Xavier Khan (video systems designer, iterations 3-5) Jenny Beth Snyder (project manager, iterations 1-3), and Guillermo Contreras (project manager, iterations 4-5).

William Burke says, "I started writing this pre-pandemic, about not knowing how to take care of somebody and both feeling and bridging isolation, and many of the things that are in the show have popped out through the context of the pandemic and it being over Zoom. I was trying to talk about all of the small ways we can fail in our social lives, with parties as the backdrop-where stuff that was cutely awkward before has become amplified. The question of who's going to come to your party now has become so much more loaded."

Bryn Herdrich says, "This is not a 'pandemic play,' but it's about showing up even when it's not ideal or it's weird or it's awkward, and this year has forced us to be together in strange new shapes. Over the course of the last year we've been forced to become hyper-aware of our bodies-and the reality of how my body impacts your body in a very literal way when we're in the same space together. The core of this piece is the tension between trying to be there for each other and not being able to be there for each other, that's made physical here. What residual tensions and traumas do we carry with ourselves through this time at, say, our first party-as we make our attempts to be near one another again?"

In conjunction with Is it Supposed to Last?, PlayCo recently launched the first season of Pep Talks for a New World, curated and conceived by William Burke. Season 1 consists 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 were left up to the guests, who include Becca Blackwell, William Burke, Lorraine Currelley, Darian Dauchan, Carolina Đa?-, Nia Farrell, and Ramiz Monsef.

Says Burke, "During this time, friends of mine have asked for pep talk or a motivational word. It's a trick I do at gatherings or events. The equivalent to wearing a lampshade at parties. I've found (to my dismay) that I haven't had anything in the tank. Our landscapes have felt empty and shallow with brutal world events keeping us quiet in our small bubbles. That changes now. We could all use a little collective fire. Some high-octane forward motion, while breathing once in a while. We could use some Pep Talks for a New World."

PlayCo also launched another initiative linked to Is it Supposed to Last?-Sponsor a Succulent-teaming with humanitarian organizations Presbyterian Senior Services, Opening Act, and CaringKind to put the play's theme of care into action and provide succulents (557 by the program's conclusion) to vulnerable communities across New York City.

2021 Residency for Black Women Theatre Makers

With the residency, artists receive an $8,000 stipend, as well as a $4,500 project budget. Support in the form of community will be built through biweekly virtual meetings between artists as well as frequent communication and collaboration with and guidance from the PlayCo artistic team (including Founding Producer Kate Loewald and Artistic Assistant Charlene Adhiambo) and a meet-and-greet with the PlayCo staff. PlayCo will also facilitate individual coffee dates, group meetings, teach-ins/Q&As, feedback sessions, and more with artists and theatre makers the resident artists are interested in meeting with. While the residencies are geared towards process and incubation rather than finalizing work for production, they will culminate in open, public-facing presentations of works-in-progress-potentially including readings, digital presentations, panel conversations or town halls - conceived by the artists in collaboration with PlayCo..

Kate Loewald says, "This new residency project is a wonderful opportunity for PlayCo to further our mission of supporting extraordinary artists to create bold new work and build new connections between our local and global communities."

Charlene Adhiambo says, "Daaimah, Dione, Katlego and Zainabu are accomplished artists whose varied perspectives, backgrounds, and creative energies we are thrilled to bring together, especially as they all live in different countries. This is a one-of-a-kind cohort that we are honored to be hosting for the next four months."

PlayCo Returns To In-Person Performances With IS IT SUPPOSED TO LAST?