Playwrights Horizons to Present the World Premiere of Will Arbery's CORSICANA

Cast Includes Jamie Brewer, Will Dagger, Deirdre O’Connell, and Harold Surratt.

By: Apr. 14, 2022
Playwrights Horizons to Present the World Premiere of Will Arbery's CORSICANA

Playwrights Horizons will present Will Arbery's Corsicana, directed by Sam Gold, June 2-July 10 (opening June 22) in the Mainstage Theater. In Corsicana, a small city in Texas, a woman with Down syndrome named Ginny and her half-brother Christopher are unmoored in the wake of their mother's death. Their close family friend, Justice, introduces them to a local artist named Lot, a recluse and outsider, hoping that he and Ginny can make a song together. In this restless quartet about care-taking and care-giving, in which the very fabric of reality is up for debate, Will Arbery charts the quiet, particular contracts of the heart that forge a new family.

Corsicana brings together an accomplished cast to form the micro-community at the play's heart: Jamie Brewer (Off-Broadway: Amy and the Orphans; TV: "American Horror Story") as Ginny, Will Dagger (Off-Broadway: The Antelope Party, Among the Dead) as Christopher, Deirdre O'Connell (Broadway: Dana H.; Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) as Justice, and Harold Surratt (Playwrights: Familiar; TV: The Blacklist) as Lot. The creative team includes Laura Jellinek (Scenic Designer), Qween Jean (Costume Designer), Isabella Byrd (Lighting Designer), Justin Ellington (Sound Designer), and Joanna Sternberg (Composer).

Will Arbery has said that every play he's written is a ghost story. If Heroes of the Fourth Turning-his Pulitzer Prize finalist, Obie-winning play that premiered at Playwrights Horizons in Fall 2019-felt like an "uncompromising" (The New York Times) "lyrical and scary" (New York Magazine), "subtly horrifying" (The New Yorker) exorcism of the demons within festering ideologies at a college reunion, Corsicana's depiction of a haunted everyday is far gentler. Originating with characters isolated by grief and shame, Corsicana traces people's movements towards one another-and towards their acceptance of the imprints, whether emotional or supernatural, of the past. Says Arbery, "The world of Heroes felt like a truth; but there's another truth out there too, which is that people can lead with kindness, and I just wanted to see that onstage."

Playwrights Horizons teams Arbery with Tony-winning director Sam Gold (Playwrights: The Flick, Kin, The Big Meal, Circle Mirror Transformation; Broadway: Fun Home, A Doll's House, Part 2) to create a vision of two homes and four overlapping lives in Corsicana, TX, within what Arbery refers to as a "grounded hallucinogenic space." Sam Gold says, "Will has created a delicate, uncanny world with this play, populated with four deep, gentle, generous souls. It will be a pleasure to help bring that world and those characters to life."

Though Arbery's two acclaimed prior works have drawn from aspects of his upbringing -Conservative Catholic academia in Heroes and sisterly relationships in his "wonderfully unsettling" (New York Magazine) Off-Broadway debut, Plano-the playwright has in Corsicana, for the first time, written a character based on himself. Dedicating the character Ginny to his older sister Julia, who has Down syndrome, Arbery poured elements of himself into her brother character, Christopher.

As the characters work through their grief and divergent experiences of the world, the play complicates expectations surrounding the notion of care and who does it for whom. A core question emerges around the term "special needs"-and how the emphasis on needs often occludes the attention to wants. Arbery describes, "The play was born out of being a brother to Julia and seeing the ways that she had to constantly renegotiate her desires and her expressions of them because the world doesn't treat her the same as everyone else. Very universal wants of companionship and romantic love become so much more complicated for her. She's been such a teacher to me in that regard, and she's modeled an incredible resilience for me her entire life."

In the character Lot and his relationship to his art and music, the play also troubles the art world's relationship to what it deems "outsider art"-asking us to consider the subjectivity of the term "outsider." Arbery brought on musician Joanna Sternberg-who, in coincidental parallel to the play's own emphasis on community and localism, grew up across the street from Playwrights Horizons-to compose Lot's music, crafting his songs along the delicate line of not-made-to-be-consumed specificity and affecting directness. With intricate detail and careful plotting, Corsicana is built around care, seen in the most intimate, private moments of its formation.

Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director Adam Greenfield says, "With each new play, Will invites us into a wholly new chamber within his brain, a new dimension of his highly idiosyncratic journey through the days. And what's so uncanny is that this consistently provides the precise medicine we need, whether it tastes nasty or sweet. If Heroes of the Fourth Turning offered the rough wake-up call we needed to hear, Corsicana-these few tumultuous years later-gently suggests its anodyne."

Playwrights Horizons' Commitment to Health and Safety

We look forward to working together with our Off-Broadway colleagues, audiences, and union partners to chart a path forward into this endemic phase of COVID-19. Proof of full vaccination continues to be required, and proper face masks must be worn at all times to best protect artists, audiences, and staff at Playwrights Horizons. Based on low infection rates in New York City, we are not requiring proof of a booster shot. The company has outlined all current updates in their full health and safety policy.

The theater's ventilation system complies with the CDC's standards (MERV-13 filters), high-touch surfaces are being cleaned regularly, and paperless ticketing is offered for all performances.

Playwrights Horizons encourages anyone interested in getting vaccinated to visit this site for guidance.

Performance Schedule and Ticketing

Corsicana runs June 2-July 10 and officially opens on June 22.

Tickets can be purchased at

About Will Arbery

Will Arbery is a playwright from Texas + Wyoming + seven sisters. Playwrights: Heroes of the Fourth Turning, which was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist and one of the best plays of 2019 by The New York Times, Vulture, Time Out, and more. He's the recipient of an Obie Award, Lortel Award, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and Whiting Award. Other plays include Plano (Clubbed Thumb), Evanston Salt Costs Climbing (New Neighborhood), Wheelchair (3 Hole Press). He's a member of New Dramatists, and an alum of The Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm, P73's Interstate 73, Colt Coeur, Youngblood, and Clubbed Thumb's Early Career Writers Group. He's the former Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Playwrights Horizons. He's developing film/TV projects with A24, BBC Films, Endeavor, and HBO. Most recently, he served as a writer on Season 4 of Succession (HBO). An excerpt from Corsicana was published in the Spring 2022 issue of The Paris Review.

About Sam Gold

Sam Gold is a Tony Award-winning director based in Brooklyn, NY. His Broadway credits include Macbeth; King Lear; A Doll's House, Part 2 (Tony Award nomination); The Glass Menagerie; Fun Home (Tony Award); The Real Thing; The Realistic Joneses; Picnic; Seminar. Other productions include The Flick (Barrow Street Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, National Theatre; Lortel Award nomination); Kin (Playwrights Horizons); The Big Meal (Playwrights Horizons; Lortel Award); Circle Mirror Transformation (Playwrights Horizons; Obie Award, Drama Desk nomination); The Secret Life of Bees (Atlantic Theatre Company); Hamlet (The Public Theater); Othello (New York Theatre Workshop); The Glass Menagerie (Toneelgroep Amsterdam); John (Signature Theatre; Obie Award, Lortel and Drama Desk Award nominations); The Village Bike (MCC); Uncle Vanya (Soho Rep.; Drama Desk nomination); TheRealistic Joneses (Yale Repertory Theatre); The Cradle Will Rock (Encores! Off-Center); Look Back in Anger (Roundabout Theatre Company; Lortel nomination); and The Aliens (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater; Obie Award). Training: The Juilliard School. Gold will direct Oscar Isaac and Greta Gerwig in Clare Barron's new adaptation of Chekhov's Three Sisters at New York Theater Workshop.

About the Cast

Jamie Brewer (Ginny), known for her role in "American Horror Story," has been acting all her adult life and has mastered the stage, as well as her TV and film career. Jamie was the first woman with Down syndrome to walk in NYFW. She won the 2018 Theater World Award and the Drama Desk Award for her performance in the off-Broadway production Amy and The Orphans. Jamie can be seen in the upcoming film Bromates, co-produced by Snoop Dogg.

Will Dagger (Christopher). Playwrights debut. Off-Broadway: Among the Dead (Ma-Yi, New York Times Critic's Pick), The Convent of Pleasure (Cherry Lane), Napoleon in Exile (59E59), The Antelope Party (Dutch Kills, New York Times Critic's Pick).TV: "Law & Order: SVU," "FBI: Most Wanted," "Deception," "New Timers."

Deirdre O'Connell (Justice). Playwrights Horizons: Circle Mirror Transformation, Manic Flight Reaction, Moe's Lucky Seven, Spatter Pattern. Broadway: Dana H (Obie, Lucille Lortel, and Outer Critics Circle awards), Magic/Bird. Off-Broadway: The Way West, Thinner Than Water (Labyrinth); By the Water, Fulfillment Center (MTC); Judy (Page73); In the Wake (The Public), Scarcity (Rattlestick); Terminus (NYTW). Regional: Before the Meeting (Williamstown). Film: Diane, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. TV: "The Affair," "The Path," "Outer Range." Awards: Obie Award for Sustained Excellent in Performance, New York Drama Critics Circle Special Citation, Lily Award.

Harold Surratt (Lot). Playwrights: Familiar. Broadway: Impressionism, Serious Money. Other theater credits: A.R.T., The McCarter, The Goodman, The Kirk Douglas, La Mama, Premiere Stages, Keen Company, Urban Stages, Triad Stage, The Denver Center, and A.C.T. Films: Bite Me, The Pelican Brief, Blood In Blood Out, Sudden Death. TV: Recurring roles on "The Blacklist," "Grand Army," "For Life," "Orange Is the New Black," and "The Temptations." Training: A.C.T.'s professional training program.

About the Creative Team

Laura Jellinek (Co-Scenic Designer). Playwrights: Heroes of the Fourth Turning, The Treasurer, Marjorie Prime, A Life. Broadway: Oklahoma!; Sea Wall / A Life; Marvin's Room. Off-Broadway: The Antipodes, Everybody (Signature); Buzzer (The Public); Mary Page Marlowe (2ST); Mary Jane (NYTW); Rags Parkland..., Mrs. Murray's Menagerie (Ars Nova); The Wolves, Queens (LCT); The Debate Society, The Mad Ones. Opera: OTSL, Boston Lyric, Opera Philadelphia, Atlanta Opera. Obie for Sustained Excellence in Design. MFA: NYU.

Cate McCrea (Co-Scenic Designer) is a set designer, scenographer, material dramaturg. Cate has been an assistant or associate designer for Laura Jellinek (Heroes of the Fourth Turning, The Antipodes, Floyd's, Do You Feel Anger, Sea Wall/A Life) and Neil Patel (Life After, India Pale Ale, An Ordinary Muslim, Time and the Conways). Other credits at Ars Nova, Danspace Project, and others. Proud union member of USA-829.

Qween Jean (Costume Designer). Playwrights: What to Send Up When It Goes Down. Recent theatre: Wedding Band, On Sugarland, Black No More, I Need Space, Macbeth In Stride, Semblance, Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, Siblings Play, Amen Corner, Rags Parkland, Good Grief, Othello, and the acclaimed What to Send Up, When it Goes Down. MFA from NYU Tisch. Black Trans Lives Matter!

Isabella Byrd (Lighting Designer). Playwrights: Heroes of the Fourth Turning, The Thanksgiving Play. Other Off-Broadway: The Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (NYTW, Obie Award), "Daddy" (Vineyard/New Group), Continuity (MTC), Plano (Clubbed Thumb), The Hello Girls (Prospect, 59E59), Everybody (Juilliard), Sundown Yellow Moon (Ars Nova/WP). Select Regional: The Tale of Despereaux (Old Globe), Seascape (ACT), Actors Theatre of Louisville, Berkeley Rep, People's Light, Portland CenterStage, City Theatre, Williamstown.

Justin Ellington (Sound Designer). Playwrights: Tambo and Bones, Heroes of the Fourth Turning. Broadway: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Was Enuff, Clyde's, Pass Over, Other Desert Cities. Off Broadway: The Rolling Stone, Pass Over, Pipeline (Lincoln Center); Mrs Murray's Menagerie (ArsNova); The House That Will Not Stand, Fetch Clay Make Man (NYTW); Merchant Of Venice, He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, The Winter's Tale (TFANA).

Joanna Sternberg (Composer) is a singer, songwriter, musician, and visual artist born and based in New York City. Fat Possum Records released Sternberg's debut full-length album, Then I Try Some More, in 2019. Joanna finished their double bass performance degree at The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music, where they got a full scholarship. When Joanna was 23, they began writing songs and learning how to sing. At the age of 24 Joanna started singing in public while accompanying themself on different instruments. Today, Joanna continues to write songs, sing, create visual art and play instruments (double bass, electric bass, guitar, piano, violin, drums, banjo and mandolin).

Ilene Reid (Music Director). Playwrights: Mankind. Ilene is one of the Grammy-nominated songwriters of "Throw That Girl Around," from the Broadway musical Swing!. Her musical Bingo (The Winning Musical), written with Michael Heitzman and David Holcenberg, had a successful Off-Broadway run and continues to be produced nationally and internationally. Current projects in development include the original musical Solana and an adaptation of the Patrick Dennis novel Genius. Reid served as Music Director for Elizabeth Swados' Missionaries. She is a private vocal coach in New York City and an adjunct professor at Indiana University.

Gigi Buffington (Vocal and Text Coach). Playwrights: The Thin Place, Heroes of the Fourth Turning. Broadway credits include The Minutes, Clyde's, Slave Play (remount), Pass Over, Linda Vista, Straight White Men, and King Kong. Selected Off-Broadway: On Sugarland, Prayer For The French Republic, Our Dear Dead Drug Lord. Buffington has coached five seasons for Steppenwolf Theater Company and one season at the Royal Shakespeare Company. She was the text consultant for Spike Lee and Ron Wimberly's screenplay Prince Of Cats and is an Arts Professor at Tisch Drama, NYU.

Stage Management

Amanda Spooner (Production Stage Manager). Playwrights: For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday. Broadway: Indecent. Off-Broadway: The Wolves (Playwrights Realm), Everybody (Signature), 10 out of 12 (Soho Rep.), The Glory of the World (BAM), An Octoroon (Soho Rep./TFANA). Regional: A.R.T., Yale Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Westport. TV: "The Academy Awards." Assistant Adjunct Professor of Stage Management at Rider University, Outreach Director of Tandem at Transport Group Theatre Company, mother to a toddler named Jack.

About Playwrights Horizons

Playwrights Horizons is a writer's theater dedicated to the development of contemporary American Playwrights, and to the production of innovative new work. In a city rich with cultural offerings, Playwrights Horizons' 50-year-old mission is unique; the organization has distinguished itself by a steadfast commitment to centering and advancing the voice of the playwright. It's a mission that is always timely, and one that's necessary in the ongoing evolution of theater in this country.

Playwrights Horizons believes that playwrights are the great storytellers of our time, offering essential contributions to civic discourse and illuminating life's greatest paradoxes. And they believe in the singularity of a writer's voice, valuing the broad, eclectic spectrum and diversity of American writers. At Playwrights Horizons, writers are supported in every stage of their growth through their New Works Lab, POP Master Class series, Soundstage audio program, the Lighthouse Project, and Almanac, their digital magazine.

Playwrights Horizons presents a season of productions annually on their two stages, each of which is a world, American, or New York premiere. Much like Playwrights Horizons' work, their audience is risk-taking and adventurous; and the organization is committed to strengthening their engagement and feeding their curiosity through all of its programming, onsite and online.

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