WISH YOU WERE HERE Announces Second Extension at Playwrights Horizons

Wish You Were Here, chronicles 13 years of everyday life through the Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq War, as best friends forever become friends long lost.

By: May. 12, 2022
WISH YOU WERE HERE Announces Second Extension at Playwrights Horizons

Playwrights Horizons today announced an additional one-week extension of Sanaz Toossi's Wish You Were Here, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, to June 5. With humanity and cutting wit, Wish You Were Here, chronicles 13 years of everyday life through the Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq War, as best friends forever become friends long lost, scattered and searching for home. The world premiere production, which a four-star review from Time Out NY called "a poignant gift," began April 13 in Playwrights Horizons' Peter Jay Sharp Theater and officially opened on May 3.

Wish You Were Here begins in 1978, as protests are breaking out all across Iran, encroaching on a suburb where girlfriends in a tight-knit circle plan weddings, trade dirty jokes, and try to hold onto a sense of normalcy. But as the revolution escalates, each woman is forced to join the wave of emigration or face an equally uncertain future at home. Written by Toossi as a tribute to her mother's group of friends in Iran, Wish You Were Here is a warm, intricate character study that locates beauty, love, laughter, longing, pain, and loss within the minutiae of friends' hangouts-moments separated from a context of political and cultural upheaval by the porous divide of their homes' walls.

The New York Times has described Wish You Were Here as "a saga of constantly fluctuating degrees of intimacy and friction" and "an exciting portrayal of the complexity of female friendships," writing, "Each of the actresses gives an expert performance." Time Out NY, in a four-star review, calls the play "a poignant gift," Theatrely calls it "masterful," and Theatermania, naming Wish You Were Here an Editor's Pick, describes it as "an R-rated Pink Ladies slumber party" and praises the "almost imperceptible precision" of Toossi's writing and the "perfect subtlety" of Upchurch's direction. Martyna Majok, Arian Moayed, and Heidi Schreck have written pieces responding to the play for Playwrights Horizons' Almanac literary magazine. Moayed writes, "Sanaz's play gives me hope that audiences can better understand Iranian people. How resilient we are. How much complexity we have to show. How much we've had to sacrifice. How much we want to be heard."

Wish You Were Here is part of a breakthrough year for Toossi, who made her Off-Broadway debut in February with her play English, co-produced by Atlantic Theater Company and Roundabout Theatre Company and winner of the 2022 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. It is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and, at The National Theatre Conference, the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award.

For Toossi, Wish You Were Here rapidly morphed from idea into a fully-realized script, as the characters sprang forth from reflections of the playwright, her mother, their respective circles of friends. "My friendships are the most mundane part of my life and also the best and most important part of my life," she says, explaining how this work so organically took form. "'Mundane' has become a special word for me when discussing Wish You Were Here. In Middle Eastern plays, there's an expectation you're going to walk into the theater and all the characters are going to be in a crisis. I love those plays too, but for me I've always wanted to write, simply, life. I wanted to honor characters that are full of contradictions, to show the fluidity of life over time, how there's not always logic in our decisions and life and we don't even know ourselves a lot of the time-to give them the real, mundane patterns of life I don't often see them afforded onstage."

Putting a tight focus on small moments, Toossi has structured her play around settings-all living rooms, represented as one single, unchanging space-and occasions that echo one another. Three of the play's nine temporally and tonally distinct sections are set on a different characters' wedding day. Through these overlaps, the changes, absences, and new presences become all the more palpable. Says Gaye Taylor Upchurch, "Sanaz is a master at rigorously observing shifts in friendships over time. And it's a rare opportunity to work on a play with five women that so astutely shines a light on the many facets of female friendship. I want to focus on how to render those nuanced changes that happen slowly over 13 years, to give these portrayals as much detail and vitality as Sanaz has built into the play. We've put together an incredible cast and I'm excited to get them into a room together, because they're fireworks."

Wish You Were Here features a cast of all Iranian and Iranian-American women actors: Nikki Massoud (Off-Broadway: Othello; Regional: Zealot, TV: 'Love Life') as Zari, Marjan Neshat (Playwrights: Selling Kabul, Other Off-Broadway: English, Joan) as Nazanin, Nazanin Nour (Regional: Othello, TV: 'Persia's Got Talent,' 'Madam Secretary') as Rana, Artemis Pebdani (TV: "Scandal," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") as Shideh/New Friend, and Roxanna Hope Radja (Torch Song, Frost/Nixon, After the Fall) as Salme. The creative team includes Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic Design), Sarah Laux (Costume Design), Reza Behjat (Lighting Design), Sinan Refik Zafar & Brian Hickey (Sound Design), Vanessa Coakley (Production Stage Manager), and Lindsay Eberly (Assistant Stage Manager).

Playwrights Horizons' Commitment to Health and Safety

To best protect audiences, artists, and staff members, Playwrights Horizons requires all audience members to provide proof of full vaccination (via CDC vaccination card, NY State Excelsior Pass Plus, or NYC Covid Safe app) and wear face masks at all times while at the theater. (Proof of a booster is not currently required). N95 or KN95 masks are strongly encouraged (and are required of staff, and of artists when not on stage during a performance). 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

Wish You Were Here now runs through the afternoon of June 5. Tickets can be purchased at https://my.playwrightshorizons.org/events.

About Sanaz Toossi

Sanaz Toossi. Playwrights debut. Sanaz is an Iranian-American playwright from Orange County, California. Her plays include Wish You Were Here (Williamstown Audible 2020; Playwrights Horizons 2022; Stavis Award) and English (Atlantic/Roundabout 2022; Weissberger New Play Award; Kilroys' List 2019). She is currently under commission at the Atlantic Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Repertory, IAMA Theatre and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (American Revolutions Cycle). Sanaz is a member of Youngblood and the Middle Eastern American Writers Lab and was the 2019 P73 Playwriting Fellow. She was a recipient of the 2020 Steinberg Playwright Award and the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award. MFA: NYU Tisch. TV: 5 Women; A League of Their Own; Invitation to a Bonfire. Sanaz is a proud child of immigrants.

About Gaye Taylor Upchurch

Gaye Taylor Upchurch. Playwrights debut. Selected credits: world premieres of Clare Lizzimore's Animal (Atlantic, Studio Theatre, Helen Hayes nomination), Lauren Gunderson's The Half-Life of Marie Curie (Audible Theater at Minetta Lane), Anna Ziegler's The Last Match (The Old Globe, Roundabout), Laura Marks's Bethany (WP, Old Globe). Also Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding (Williamstown), Simon Stephens's Harper Regan and Bluebird (with Simon Russell Beale, Atlantic), the musical Songbird (Two River), The Year of Magical Thinking (with Kathleen Turner, Arena Stage), An Iliad and As You Like It (Hudson Valley Shakespeare, Falstaff Award for Best Production and nomination for Best Director). Alum of UNC School of the Arts.

About the Cast

Nikki Massoud (Zari): Playwrights debut. Off-Broadway: Othello (New York Theater Workshop). Regional: The Old Globe, Berkeley Rep, Huntington, Portland Center Stage, South Coast Rep, The Two River Theater, Trinity Rep. TV: "Love Life," "Mozart in the Jungle," "Madam Secretary," "Emergence," "Succession)," "Homeland," "Odd Mom Out. Education: Georgetown University, BADA, Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA. nikkimassoud.com. @nikkima1776. For my family.

Marjan Neshat (Nazanin). Playwrights: Selling Kabul. New York: English (Atlantic Theater); Joan (Colt-Coeur); Julius Caesar (NYSF); The Three Sisters Project, Queens (WP), The Seagull (CSC). Film: Love 40, Rockaways, Chromophobia, Almost in Love, Robocop, Sex in the City 2, First Person Singular, Cry Funny Happy, among others. TV: "New Amsterdam," "Bull," "For Life," "Quantico," "Strangers," "Elementary," "Royal Pains," "Blue Bloods," "Person of Interest," "Rescue Me," "Law & Order," and many others. Member of The Actors Center.

Nazanin Nour (Rana). Playwrights debut. Nazanin is an actor, writer, and comedian. She recently co-wrote and co-starred in a horror short All Of You, which had a successful festival run. Regional credits: Othello (Vpstart Crow Theater), Pack of Lies (The Little Theater of Alexandria), Christmas at the Murphy's (Lifedome Theater). Film: The Last King, All Of You, A Thousand Little Cuts. TV: "Persia's Got Talent," "Madam Secretary," "Criminal Minds," "Political Animals." Education: George Mason University. IG @iamnazaninnour, Twitter @NazaninNour

Artemis Pebdani (Shideh). Playwrights debut. TV: "Scandal," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "Masters of Sex," "The Goldbergs," "Big City Greens," "Love, Victor," "Welcome to Flatch," "Star Trek: Lower Decks," "Mother, May I Dance with Mary Jane's Fist?: A Lifetone Original Movie for Adult Swim." Film: The Croods: A New Age, Sex Tape, Godmothered, Sex Appeal. BFA in Theatre: Southern Methodist University, Professional Training Program: Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre. @therealshmartemis

Roxanna Hope Radja (Salme). Playwrights debut. Broadway: Torch Song, Frost/Nixon, After the Fall, The Women, Boeing Boeing, and others. Off Broadway: Yacht, Ruins of Civilization (MTC); Torch Song (Second Stage); Ode To Joy, Horsedreams (Rattlestick); Mahida's Extra Key To Heaven (Epic Theater Co); Princess Turandot (Blue Light Theater Co); 1001 Arabian Nights. Regional: Hartford Stage, Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, ACT, Williamstown Theater Festival, Huntington, Westport Country Playhouse, Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Film: Puncture. TV: "New Amsterdam," "The Blacklist," "Law and Order: SVU," "Elementary," "Blue Bloods," "Unforgettable," "The Good Wife," "Law and Order," "Law and Order CI," "All My Children." MFA: American Conservatory Theater.

About the Creative Team

Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic Design). Playwrights: Selling Kabul, A Strange Loop (Special Citation Obie), I Was Most Alive with You, Dance Nation, Iowa, Men on Boats. Broadway: A Strange Loop, Trouble In Mind. Off-Broadway: Shhhh, Paris (Atlantic); Fires in the Mirror (Signature); one in two (The New Group); Nollywood Dreams, School Girls...(MCC); Sugar in Our Wounds (MTC, Lucille Lortel Award); Usual Girls (Roundabout). Regional: Alley Theatre, Berkeley Rep, CTG, Guthrie, Steppenwolf. International Tour: The Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir. 2020 Obie Sustained Excellence in Set Design, Princess Grace Fabergé Theater Award, Henry Hewes Design Award nominee. MFA: NYU Tisch. @arnulfo.maldonado.design arnulfomaldonado.com

Sarah Laux (Costume Design). Playwrights debut. Broadway: The Band's Visit, Fully Committed, The Humans. Selected Off Broadway/Regional: Prayer For The French Republic (MTC); Kimberly Akimbo, Blue Ridge, This Ain't No Disco, On the Shore of the Wide World, The Band's Visit (Atlantic); The Humans (Roundabout); Superhero, Man From Nebraska (Second Stage); Downstairs (Primary Stages); Jerry Springer: The Opera (New Group, Obie Award); The Effect (Barrow Street); A Play Is A Poem (Taper Theater); Before The Meeting (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Bad Dates, Come Back, Little Sheba (Huntington). Film: Freakshow, The Sixth Reel, Not Okay. TV: "High Fidelity," "Godfather of Harlem."

Reza Behjat (Lighting Design). Playwrights debut. Off-Broadway: English (Atlantic); Out of Time, The Vagrant Trilogy (The Public/NAATCO); P.S. (Ars Nova); Disclaimer (UTR), Henry VI (NAATCO); Hamlet (Waterwell). Regional and others: Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Guthrie Theater, PlayMakers Rep, Actors Theater of Louisville, Baltimore Center Stage, Geva Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare, Long Wharf Theater, Target Margin, New Georges, and more. Awards: Knight of Illumination Award for Nina Simone: Four Women (2019)


Sinan Refik Zafar (Co-Sound Designer). Playwrights: What to Send Up When It Goes Down. Broadway: What The Constitution Means to Me. National Tour: What The Constitution Means to Me. Off-Broadway: MCC, NYTW, The Public, Second Stage, Atlantic Theater Company, BAM, Clubbed Thumb, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, The Movement Theater Company. Regional: Kennedy Center, Guthrie, Mark Taper Forum, Berkeley Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and more. Sinanzafar.com

Brian Hickey (Co-Sound Designer). Playwrights debut. Some recent designs and collaborations include: The Pool 2021 productions of Superstitions, Is Edward Snowden Single?, and The Ding Dongs (New Ohio); A Nation Groove's (Mass MoCa); Esai's Table (JAG/ Cherry Lane). Audiobook: Brutal Imagination (Audible Original). Upcoming: Black Odyssey (Classic Stage Company). MFA: Yale.

Stage Management

Vanessa Coakley (Production Stage Manager). Playwrights: Marjorie Prime, Your Mother's Copy of the Kama Sutra, Pocatello, The Call, Assistance, Go Back to Where You Are. Broadway: Waitress; Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812; The Merchant of Venice. Other Off-Broadway: The Public, Roundabout, MTC, MCC. National Tour: Aladdin, La Cage aux Folles. For JWC.

Lindsay Eberly (Assistant Stage Manager). Playwrights debut. Off-Broadway: Prayer for the French Republic, Bella Bella (MTC); By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, Paradise Blue (Signature); A Sign of the Times (LDK Production); Tell Hector I Miss Him (Atlantic). Regional: Contemporary American Theater Festival, Baltimore Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Hartford Stage. BFA: Emerson College.

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.