Suzan-Lori Parks' PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR to Return to The Public Theater in April

PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR will begin previews on Wednesday, April 5 with performances running through Sunday, April 30.

By: Mar. 17, 2023
Suzan-Lori Parks' PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR to Return to The Public Theater in April
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The Public Theater has announced complete casting for the remount of the theatrical concert PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR. Written by and featuring Pulitzer Prize winner and Public Theater Writer-in-Residence Suzan-Lori Parks, the production will return to Joe's Pub this spring after a successful production this fall that was truncated due to COVID-19 cases. Directed by Bessie Award winner Niegel Smith, PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR will begin previews on Wednesday, April 5 with performances running through Sunday, April 30. The official press opening will be Tuesday, April 18.

On March 13, 2020, as theaters shut their doors and so many of us went into lockdown, Suzan-Lori Parks picked up her pen and her guitar and set out to write a play every day. What emerged is a breathtaking anthology of plays and songs that chronicle our collective experience and the hope and perseverance that occurred throughout that troubling year. Performed in the intimate music venue, Joe's Pub, PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR is a theatrical concert featuring the music and plays of Suzan-Lori Parks. At once, both a personal story of one family's daily lives, as well as a sweeping account of all we faced as a city, a nation, and a global community. Niegel Smith directs this life-affirming new work that beams with humor and humanity, bears witness to what we've experienced, and offers inspiration as we shape our future.

"When I started writing the project, on Day One, I wanted to create something that we could experience together, whenever it was safe for us to be physically together again," said playwright, performer, and Public Theater Writer-in-Residence Suzan-Lori Parks. "While I could have just written down my thoughts in a journal, I decided to write plays instead, because plays are meant to be done with others, in the company of friends and strangers-and, for me, plays, and the resulting act of theater-making, celebrate our humanity and demonstrate the process of community. During lockdown I feel like we all longed for that. I also wrote songs, to accompany the plays, because singing with others creates magic. These plays and songs are meant to give us all the tools we need to process both what we've been through and what we're still going through now."

The complete cast of the remount of PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR will include Suzan-Lori Parks as "The Writer," Edward Astor Chin, Rona Figueroa, Leland Fowler, Danyel Fulton, Greg Keller, Orville Mendoza, Lauren Molina, Joe Osheroff, Danea Osseni, Nathan M. Ramsey, and Martín Solá.

"As we were emerging from lockdown, Suzan-Lori approached me to guide the conception and development of this epic project. True-to-form, she had set her pen, typewriter, and computer to task each day to write plays and songs that capture our collective experience in all its complexity and nuance-from the ways we cling to loved ones to moments of communal rage and joy," said PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR director Niegel Smith. "They are as expansive as our society, incorporating a multiethnic, super talented company of actors, singers, and musicians. Suzan-Lori has dared to make a work that brings us closer in our humanity by looking deeply at our recent past and offering us visions of hope and resilience. Now we get to return to Joe's Pub this April, with an expanded family of artists. I couldn't be more excited to share this work with even more of our community."

The production features scenic and projection design by Peter Nigrini, costume design by Rodrigo Muñoz, lighting design by Ania Washington, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier, and prop management by Alexander Wylie. Ric Molina serves as music director and will contribute to both vocal and instrumental arrangements for the production. Buzz Cohen serves as the production stage manager and Adhalia Ivette Hart and Eloia Peterson serve as stage managers.

Suzan-Lori Parks is a longtime Public Theater artist, serving as Writer-in-Residence since 2008. Her world premieres at The Public include White Noise (2019); Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) (2014); The Book of Grace (2010); f-ing A (2003); the Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog (2001); Venus (1996); and The America Play (1994). Parks' upcoming musical The Harder They Come premiered in spring 2023.

Over the course of her career, Suzan-Lori Parks has creatively innovated the play-a-day format, writing several collections of plays daily over different time periods. Her anthology 365 Days/365 Plays premiered at The Public in 2006 and featured a play written every day between November 13, 2002 to November 13, 2003. Suzan-Lori Parks is also the writer of 100 Plays for the First Hundred Days (2018), which chronicles the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency through play diaries.

The Public's 55th anniversary season at Astor Place continues with the currently running productions of the world premiere musical THE HARDER THEY COME and the hilarious and audacious DARK DISABLED STORIES, a world premiere play in the Shiva Theater. Also beginning previews in April will be Erika Dickerson-Despenza's SHADOW/LAND, the first play in her 10-play Katrina Cycle, making its live premiere after a successful audio production in spring 2021. Directed by Candis C. Jones, the world premiere play in the LuEsther Hall follows a mother and daughter as they face questions of legacy against the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. At the end of spring, The Public's Mobile Unit embarks on a new tour of the five boroughs with a bilingual musical adaptation of Shakespeare's THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, conceived by director Rebecca Martinez and composer Julián Mesri, that embraces music from all over Latin America in this tale of separation and joyous reunion.

In keeping with guidance from city, state, and federal officials, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and the use of face masks are no longer required in Joe's Pub, the venue that PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR will be presented and where food and drink will be available for purchase throughout the performance. Patrons are strongly encouraged to wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking. In all other performance spaces at The Public, masks are strongly encouraged except on all Tuesday evening performances and Saturday and Sunday matinees when a face mask will be required for everyone. For complete health and safety protocols, visit Safe At The Public.

The Library at The Public serves food and drink Tuesday through Sunday, beginning at 5:00 p.m. and closing at midnight. The Library is closed on Mondays. For more information, visit


Suzan-Lori Parks

(The Writer, Playwright) is the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Other honors include the MacArthur Genius Grant and the Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts, and she was recently inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. In addition to the 20th Anniversary Broadway revival of Topdog/Underdog, Parks' most recent world premieres include Plays for the Plague Year (Public Theater), The Harder They Come (Public Theater), and Sally & Tom. Her other works includes The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (Tony Award for Best Revival), 365 Days/365 Plays, Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), f-ing A, Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Musical, and In the Blood. Parks also works extensively in film and television, most recently as the screenwriter for The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Genius: Aretha as creator, writer, and showrunner. Her novel Getting Mother's Body is published by Random House, and in her spare time, she writes songs and fronts her band Sula & The Noise. Parks is a former writing student of James Baldwin.

Niegel Smith

(Director) is a Bessie Award-winning theater director and performance artist. He is the Artistic Director of NYC's Obie Award-winning theater, The Flea; board member of A.R.T./New York; and was a ringleader of Willing Participant. His other current directing projects include Taylor Mac's Bark of Millions and The Ritual of Breath Is the Rite to Resist. Smith most recently directed the jazz opera The Hang (Drama League nomination). His theater work has been produced at The Alley Theater, The Barbican, Classical Theatre of Harlem, The Flea, The Goodman Theatre, HERE Arts Center, Hip Hop Theatre Festival, The Invisible Dog, Luna-Stage/">Luna Stage, The Melbourne Festival, Magic Theatre, Mixed Blood, New York Fringe Festival, New York Live Arts, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, Playwrights Horizons, Pomegranate Arts, The Public Theater, St. Ann's Warehouse, Summer Play Festival, and Under the Radar, among others. Smith is co-director of A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Kennedy Prize in Drama, Bessie Award, Edwin Booth Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist). He associate directed the Tony-winning musical FELA! (restaging that production in London, Lagos, and its world tour) and assistant directed the original Broadway and Off-Broadway productions of Tony Kushner's Caroline, or Change.


(Understudy). Off-Broadway credits include The Headlands (Lincoln Center), Veil Widow Conspiracy (NYTW/NAATCO), and Small Mouth Sounds (National tour, directed by Rachel Chavkin); Roundabout, Ars Nova, and Ma-Yi. Regional credits include Vietgone (Alley Theatre) and Between Two Knees (Yale Rep); ACT, Long Wharf, Barrington Stage, Philadelphia Company, and Northern Stage. Film credits include Maria Schrader's She Said. TV credits include "Manifest," "City on a Hill," "Elementary," "Lincoln Rhyme," "Marvel's Jessica Jones," ""Person of Interest," "Feed the Beast," "Mysteries of Laura," and "Limitless."

Rona Figueroa

(Actor)'s Public Theater credits include Dogeaters, as a part of the Under the Radar Festival. Figueroa previously performed on Broadway in Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, and Nine (revival). Regional credits include Rhinoceros (ACT), The King and I (Chicago Lyric), Wild Goose Dreams (La Jolla), Jacques Brel is...(Two River Theater). Film credits include Slow Jam King. TV credits include "Madam Secretary," "Elementary," and "The Mysteries of Laura." Original albums include Quasilulu, Quasilulu2. Figueroa has a BFA in Fine Arts and an MFA in Writing.

Leland Fowler

(Actor) previously performed at The Public in Mobile Unit's Henry V and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Additional Off-Broadway credits include one in two (The New Group), Novenas for a Lost Hospital (Rattlestick), If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons), and Measure for Measure (TFANA). Regional credits include we are continuous (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Queen of the Night (Dorset Theatre Festival); King Lear (St. Louis Shakespeare Festival); Skeleton Crew (Westport Country Playhouse, Dorset Theatre Festival); Protect the Beautiful Place (McCarter Theatre Center); Seven Guitars (Yale Rep); The Taming of the Shrew, Tiny Houses (Chautauqua Theatre Company); Songs to Grow On and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Alliance Theatre). Fowler has performed on television on "City On A Hill." Fowler holds a BA from Morehouse College and an MFA from Yale School of Drama.

Danyel Fulton

(Actor) is a Brooklyn-born and bred storyteller. Favorite credits include Ruby in Broadbend, Arkansas (Transport Group); Auntie in Show Way (Kennedy Center); Dorothy in The Wiz (The Muny); Dionne in HAIR (second national tour); Aisha in A Time to Love (National Black Theater); Sarah in Ragtime (The 5th, Asolo Rep and TUTS). Fulton received a Drama League Award nomination, an Antonyo Award nomination, and a fourth AUDELCO Award nomination for her performance as Ruby.

Greg Keller

(Actor) has originated roles on and off-Broadway in new plays by Clare Barron, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Ayad Akhtar, Sarah Ruhl, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Amy Herzog, Richard Greenberg, Julia Cho, Moises Kauffman, Theresa Rebeck, Mara Nelson-Greenberg, Jordan Harrison, Jenny Schwartz, Daniel Goldfarb, Sheila Callaghan, Melissa Ross, Zayd Dohrn, David Grimm, and Robert O'Hara, to name a few. Keller has an Acting MFA from NYU and was a Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at the Juilliard School, where he was a two-time recipient of the Lecomte Du Nouy prize.

Orville Mendoza

(Actor) has performed at The Public Theater in Timon of Athens directed by Barry Edelstein; Road Show by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, directed by John Doyle; and Romeo & Juliet (Delacorte) directed by Michael Greif. Most recently, Mendoza was Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew at The Old Globe, directed by Shana Cooper. Broadway credits include Pacific Overtures and Peter and the Starcatcher. Off-Broadway credits include Adrift in Macao (Drama Desk nomination, Barrymore Award winner Best Supporting Actor); Found (Atlantic Theater); Passion and Pacific Overtures 2017 revival (Classic Stage Company). Mendoza has appeared on "Billions," "Dead Ringers," and "The Blacklist." Mendoza was also a vocalist for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch."

Lauren Molina

(Actor)'s Broadway credits include Johanna in Sweeney Todd and Regina in Rock of Ages. Molina has performed Off-Broadway as Goldie in Goldie, Max & Milk, Bella Rose in Desperate Measures (Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), Her in Marry Me A Little, and Megan in Nobody Loves You (Second Stage). She is the co-creator of the acclaimed comedy-pop band, The Skivvies. Molina's favorite regional credits include the role of co-conceiver and Lucy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Cincinnati Playhouse), Cunegonde in Candide (Helen Hayes Award; Huntington, Goodman, Shakespeare Theatre), Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors (Cleveland Playhouse), Squeaky Fromme in Assassins (Yale Rep), Countess in A Little Night Music (Huntington), and Janet in The Rocky Horror Show (Bucks County Playhouse).

Joe Osheroff

(Understudy) is making his Public Theater debut. National tour credits include War Horse. Off-Broadway credits include The Acting Company. Regional highlights include Molly's Hammer, The Other Place, The Drawer Boy, Midsummer, The Merchant of Venice, Proof, War of the Roses, As You Like It, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Television credits include "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Quantico," "The Blacklist," "East New York," and "Blue Bloods."

Danea Osseni

(Understudy) is thrilled to be a part of this quick-witted piece at The Public. Past credits include Sistas The Musical, The Color Purple, The Bodyguard, Ain't Misbehavin', and a Princess Tiana Vocalist in Hong Kong Disneyland.


(Understudy) is thrilled to make his debut at The Public Theater. Regional theater credits include The Tempest (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and A Christmas Carol (People's Light).


(Actor) is a New York-based actor, singer, and teacher. He has appeared on Broadway in On Your Feet, The King and I, Coram Boy, and Baz Luhrmann's La Bohème. He has also been a Featured Artist with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and has performed in over a dozen productions with the New York City Opera. Solá has performed with City Center Encores!, The Public Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, and many other leading theater companies in NYC and throughout the U.S. More recently, he has appeared as Father Russo in the Netflix series "Archive 81," and guest starred on "FBI" (CBS) and "Law and Order: SVU" (NBC). Over the pandemic, Solá wrote, directed, and starred in his first short film, May I Take It Your Plate?, which made its debut at the Latino International Film Expo just outside of Chicago earlier this year. Solá also teaches singing at Yale University in New Haven and has had a private voice and acting studio in NYC for many years. For more info, visit

ABOUT The Public Theater:

THE PUBLIC continues the work of its visionary founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with some of the most important ideas and social issues of today. Conceived over 60 years ago as one of the nation's first nonprofit theaters, The Public has long operated on the principles that theater is an essential cultural force and that art and culture belong to everyone. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public's wide breadth of programming includes an annual season of new work at its landmark home at Astor Place, Free Shakespeare in the Park at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, the Mobile Unit touring throughout New York City's five boroughs, Under the Radar, Public Lab, Public Works, Public Shakespeare Initiative, and Joe's Pub. Since premiering HAIR in 1967, The Public continues to create the canon of American Theater and is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Their programs and productions can also be seen regionally across the country and around the world. The Public has received 60 Tony Awards, 190 Obie Awards, 56 Drama Desk Awards, 59 Lortel Awards, 34 Outer Critic Circle Awards, 13 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards, 62 AUDELCO Awards, 6 Antonyo Awards, and 6 Pulitzer Prizes.

The Public Theater stands in honor of the first inhabitants and our ancestors. We acknowledge the land on which The Public and its theaters stand-the original homeland of the Lenape people. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced removal from this territory. We honor the generations of stewards and we pay our respects to the many diverse indigenous peoples still connected to this land.

The LuEsther T. Mertz Legacy Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater's year-round activities.


PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR begins performances in Joe's Pub on Wednesday, April 5 and will run through Sunday, April 30, with an official press opening on Tuesday, April 18.

Public Theater Partner, Supporter, and full-price single tickets can be accessed by visiting, calling 212.967.7555, or in person at the Taub Box Office at The Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street.

The Public's Joseph Papp Free Performance initiative will offer free tickets to the performance on Wednesday, April 5 through TodayTix. The lottery will open for entries on Wednesday, March 29 and will close at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4. Winners will be notified by email and push notification anytime from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and if selected, winners will have one hour to claim their tickets.

The performance schedule is Tuesday through Sunday at 7:00 p.m., and Saturday at 1:00 p.m. (There will be no 1:00 p.m. performance on Saturday, April 8). The full performance calendar can be found at