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Playwrights Horizons Announces Plans for 50th Anniversary Season

Playwrights Horizons Announces Plans for 50th Anniversary Season

Playwrights Horizons today announced plans for the 2021 season, which marks the Off-Broadway theater's 50th anniversary. Entering its second half-century, Playwrights meets this historic moment of disruption and transformation with a lineup of new plays that embody distinctive visions and bold storytelling; a robust lineup of commissions for both the stage and the popular Soundstage podcast, which enters its second season; a new performance series that launches in Playwrights Horizons' space, the provision of resources to a diversity of artists, curators, and theater companies; and the launch of a new digital magazine that commissions theater artists to capture their thinking in the ongoing evolution of new play culture.

The 2020-2021 season's productions-which will take place when it's safe for audiences to reconvene in person-include:

the World Premiere of Tambo & Bones, a scathing satire on the intersections of racism, capitalism, and performance, written by Dave Harris (a Tow Playwright-in-Residence at Roundabout Theatre Company), directed by Taylor Reynolds, and presented with Center Theatre Group

Sylvia Khoury's intimate thriller Selling Kabul, directed by Tyne Rafaeli (originally scheduled for Spring 2020), in which the devastation of America's longest, and ongoing, war reverberates through a Kabul apartment; produced in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival

The Movement Theatre Company's widely acclaimed production of Aleshea Harris' What to Send Up When It Goes Down, directed by Whitney White, a previously announced part of Playwrights Horizons' Redux Series

the World Premiere of Sanaz Toossi's Wish You Were Here, tracing five women across 14 years of friendship amidst the relentless aftershocks of political upheaval in Iran, directed by GT Upchurch and presented with Williamstown Theatre Festival

Please see below for more information about the plays and their playwrights and directors. Dates will be announced at a later date, based on guidance from federal, state, and local authorities about when it is possible to gather in theaters again. Ticket packages will go on sale once dates are solidified.

Playwrights Horizons' production of A Boy's Company Presents: "Tell Me If I'm Hurting You" by Jeremy O. Harris, directed by Dustin Wills, and choreographed by Jack Ferver, will be presented in the 2021-2022 season. It was postponed from the 2019-2020 season due to COVID-19.

Playwrights will launch season 2 of its popular anthological scripted fiction podcast series, Soundstage, and has commissioned the following writers Eboni Booth, Agnes Borinsky, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, The Debate Society, Sarah Gancher, David Greenspan, Miranda Rose Hall, Dave Harris, Julia Izumi, Kit Yan and Melissa Li, to write scripts for works that engage the podcast as a theatrical medium. Playwrights began production on Soundstage in 2019, motivated by the belief that theater is for everyone, and by the desire to make it available everywhere-and have thus far released works by Heather Christian, Robert O'Hara, Jordan Harrison, Qui Nguyen, Lucas Hnath, Milo Cramer, and Kirsten Childs. A renowned ensemble of actors and award-winning directors, sound designers, and composers collaborate to realize these scripts in rich audio experiences, with episodes that are 15-40 minutes in length. These "lushly produced... for-your-ears-only" (New York Magazine) works are available for free to listeners on all podcasting platforms. The platform has also served as a means for Playwrights to offer meaningful work to artists amidst the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.

The series line producer for both seasons of Soundstage is Alison Koch, Playwrights' Digital Content Producer.

As Playwrights expands its vision for innovative and inclusive theater-making, the organization launches Lighthouse, an eclectic new performance series that repurposes the time between productions to support artists across disciplines, rather than renting it to outside projects. Events will include collaborations with groundbreaking performance groups city-wide, barebones "studio" productions of new plays, guest-curated series, workshops and concerts: a list that will grow over time, as the theater seeks to intensify the traffic of artists through the Playwrights Horizons building. The program's initial offerings, beginning as soon as possible in 2021, will include collaborations with dance-theater-media company Raja Feather Kelly | the feath3r theory, adventurous podcast play company The Parsnip Ship, as well as a reading-and-lecture series curated by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic prompts broad, critical conversations within the larger artistic community about theater's past and future-its architecture, its budgeting, its dramaturgy, and its role in the pursuit of racial equity in America-Playwrights Horizons finds itself in a unique moment of reflection and transformation, facing a change in artistic leadership while also marking the organization's 50th Anniversary. In the effort to capture the rapidly changing ideas and mindset of this critical moment, Playwrights has conceived Almanac, a new digital magazine, a compendium of commissioned works by artists across all disciplines, as well as staff members: essays, drawings, interviews, manifestos, short plays, and more. This ambitious new project-a snapshot of artistic thought in a time of seismic change-will be assembled over the coming months and released in Fall 2020. Playwrights Horizons Dramaturg Ashley Chang leads the project as Editor in Chief.

The organization continues to cultivate lasting relationships with and offer support to theater's most exciting voices through commissions for full-length plays. As Playwrights enters the coming season, newly commissioned playwrights include César Alvarez, Bleu Beckford-Burrell, John J. Caswell, Jr., Mia Chung, and Anne Washburn. A full list of other open commissions can be found here.

Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director Adam Greenfield says, "The long days since March 12 - when Playwrights Horizons, like theaters across the nation, shut our doors - have been consumed by a cycle of making plans, scrapping plans and revising them, as our grasp of society and theater's place within it continuously shifts. It's a moment of tectonic change for the nation, our city and our theater; a moment that's both daunting and exhilarating. As I take on the role of Artistic Director on the occasion of our fiftieth anniversary, envisioning the next fifty years, the pandemic is a mandate to rethink our models and practices, and to imagine a new theater that's just, equitable, sustainable and liberating. I'm strengthened and inspired when I look at the wildly varied roster of artists and works and forms that have aligned for our reopening. Looking forward, I continue to return to our name, which promises a commitment to following playwrights toward the future, the 'horizon.' In tough times, I look to artists-particularly writers, as expansive and inclusive a designation as can be imagined-to illuminate the path: a future I'm hungry to share with our city as soon as that becomes possible."

For Greenfield, the position of Artistic Director represents the culmination of years of transformative work within the organization. Working in close collaboration with Tim Sanford-first as Literary Manager, and, since January 2015, as Associate Artistic Director-he has been instrumental in bringing wide-ranging, singular writers to Playwrights Horizons. He has devised major new programs to deepen the theater's support of playwrights' work and broaden the reach of the theater's programming.


Playwrights Horizons Presents

Tambo & Bones

Written by Dave Harris

Directed by Taylor Reynolds

Presented with Center Theatre Group

World premiere

Tambo and Bones are two characters trapped in a minstrel show. It's mad hard to feel like a real person when you're trapped in a minstrel show. Their escape plan: get out, get bank, get even. A rags-to-riches hip-hop triptych, Tambo & Bones roasts America's racist past, wrestles America's racist present, and explodes America's post-racial future - where what's at stake, for those deemed less-than-human, is the fate of humanity itself.

Playwrights Horizons Presents:

Selling Kabul

Written by Sylvia Khoury

Directed by Tyne Rafaeli

Produced in Association with Williamstown Theatre Festival

Taroon once served as an interpreter for the US military in Afghanistan. Now the Americans - and their promises of safety - have withdrawn, and he spends his days in hiding, a target of the increasingly powerful Taliban. On the eve of his son's birth, Taroon must remain in his sister's apartment or risk his life to see his child. With shattering precision, Sylvia Khoury's thriller tracks the human cost of immigration policy, and the overlooked legacy of America's longest, and ongoing, war.

Selling Kabul was originally programmed as part of the 2019-2020 Season but postponed due to COVID-19. The production, produced in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival, reunites Khoury with director Tyne Rafaeli-who recently collaborated with the playwright on her "bleak...striking... insidiously sharp" (The New York Times) Power Strip at LCT3.

Playwrights Horizons presents The Movement Theatre Company Production of:

What to Send Up When It Goes Down

Written by Aleshea Harris

Directed by Whitney White

What to Send Up When It Goes Down is a play, a ritual, and a home-going celebration that bears witness to the physical and spiritual deaths of Black people as a result of racist violence. Setting out to disrupt the pervasiveness of anti-blackness and acknowledge the resilience of Black people throughout history, Aleshea Harris's acclaimed, groundbreaking play blurs the boundaries between actors and audiences, offering a space for catharsis, discussion, reflection, and healing.

The production is a previously announced part of the institution's Redux Series, which expands audience reach for vital new plays that premiered to limited runs elsewhere.

Playwrights Horizons Presents:

Wish You Were Here

Written by Sanaz Toossi

Directed by GT Upchurch

Presented with Williamstown Theatre Festival

World Premiere

It's 1978 and protests are breaking out all across Iran, encroaching on this suburb where a tight-knit circle of friends plan weddings, trade dirty jokes, and struggle to uphold a sense of normalcy. But as the revolution escalates, each woman is forced either to join the wave of emigration or face an equally uncertain future at home. With breathtaking humanity and cutting wit, Wish You Were Here chronicles a decade of life during war, as best friends forever become friends long lost, scattered, and searching for home.

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