The Play Company Announces #Playfrom6FeetAway Spring 2020 Programming
The Play Company has announced #Playfrom6FeetAway Spring 2020 programming, a series of experimental new works and stimulating conversations that can be experienced together, even as we hunker down and shelter in place. Tailored to our moment of social distancing-and the continued, even elevated, need for art and connection therein-#Playfrom6FeetAway programming includes two brand new initiatives: Mini-Commissions of new works which will be shared digitally in the coming weeks, and PlayClub, a weekly virtual gathering to talk about a contemporary play with an intimate group and a rotating slate of special hosts, which has already begun meeting every Thursday at 5pm EST. Additionally, PlayCo is collaborating with community partner Bronx Defenders to offer a series of conversations springing from Sarah Einspanier's Lunch Bunch (a play inspired by the Bronx Defenders' own lunch bunches). The play was originally scheduled to be performed in March & April, in a production co-presented with Clubbed Thumb and directed by Tara Ahmadinejad, but has been postponed until New York theaters reopen.
With Mini-Commissions, PlayCo aims to help to keep creativity flowing as so much around us remains on pause, while continuing to bring artists money for their work. These works offer audiences access, from within their homes, to exciting artists creatively navigating the constraints of our times. Commissioned works include the first episode of The MS Phoenix Rising, a serial podcast from director KATIE BROOK and writer Trish Harnetiaux, about a cruise ship conglomerate using avant-garde theatre to rebrand on their latest voyage; F*ck that Tiny Train, a communal multidisciplinary piece from playwright, director, and curator William Burke, teaming with songwriter/singer Starr Busby and other willing participants; Django in Pain, by theatre artists Ana Graham & Antonio Vega from Por Piedad Teatro, following the adventures and misfortunes of a man and his three-legged dog in a "table-top theatre" piece; an experimental short film, La Vida Normal, by multi-disciplinary artist María Fernanda Videla Urra, following a drawing figure model's journey toward its own material identity; and Inside Voice, a new song and animated musical short film from singer/actress Lauren Worsham and her musician/writer husband Kyle Jarrow, recorded with members of their band, Sky-Pony, and other artists across the globe. See below for longer descriptions of these works; release dates will soon be announced.
While PlayCo and audiences await the return of live, in-person performance, PlayCo is moving Idea Lab programming around Sarah Einspanier's Lunch Bunch online. In the Idea Lab program they partner with cultural, educational, social justice, and social service organizations to leverage stories for positive change, co-programming public events and activities. They will be hosting online conversations with the playwright, director Tara Ahmadinejad, members of the Bronx Defenders, and other NYC public defense professionals, and presenting special digital content created by the artists in collaboration with lawyers from Bronx Defenders, to explore the inspirations behind the play as well as public defense in the real world. See schedule below for programming.
PlayClub, the other #Playfrom6FeetAway initiative, is similar to a book club, with participants reading a designated play each week and then coming together via Zoom for a one hour discussion. Each week features a different host who will select the play and lend their own perspective in leading the conversation. PlayCo draws from a treasure trove of contemporary playwriting as a way to continue its mission of introducing audiences, in a meaningful way, to a worldwide variety of stellar new plays. PlayClub began April 23 and has featured as hosts Trip Cullman (in a conversation about Nina Raine's Consent), Diep Tran (in a conversation about Young Jean Lee's We're Gonna Die), Jeremy Tiang (in a conversation about Wei Yu-Chia's A Fable for Now, which Tiang translated); and Catherine Coray discussing Selling Kabul by Sylvia Khoury. A special Lunch Bunch edition will take place May 21st at 12:30 (lunchtime) hosted by Phillip Howze and Sarah Einspanier. Admission is free but space is limited: spots are limited to the first twenty people to sign up via PlayCo's website. Those interested are encouraged to keep an eye out for the announcements on PlayCo's Twitter and Facebook pages.
The MS Phoenix Rising
Written by Trish Harnetiaux
Directed and Produced by KATIE BROOK
Designed by Ben Williams
A serial podcast created by director KATIE BROOK and writer Trish Harnetiaux
As they launch their new route to The Bahamas following a disastrous event, an American cruise ship conglomerate calls on an avant-garde theatre director to adapt Ionesco's The Chairs in a last ditch effort to rebrand.
Written by Trish Harnetiaux (based on her play We Are Not Well), produced by KATIE BROOK, designed by Ben Williams, and featuring Anthony Arkin, Eric Berryman, Susan Blommaert, Johnny Gasper, Emily Cass McDonnell, Keilly McQuail, Danielle Skraastad, Nidra Sous La Terre, and Jacob A. Ware.
The PlayCo commission will feature Episode One of The MS Phoenix Rising.
F*ck that Tiny Train
Live Score by Starr Busby
With breathing and possible postcards...and a liftoff from unwelcome routines.
In which we(you) explore our father's communist model train lair (is it his? At least it's a safe space) in progress while we float in an optimistic nihilism(It's restorative, We promise) and wait for hope to fall from the sky(It will?) and our voices to be heard from the top of the mountain. With breathing(together) and possible postcards(sent to you)...and a lift off from unwelcome routines(like...maybe we just soak our hands in water in the best feeling water, just because). And hopefully we'll all feel a little lighter and little more clear and we can look out of the windows without fear of filters and enjoy our heartbeats...phew? Phew.
Django in Pain
Created by Ana Graham & Antonio Vega
from Por Piedad Teatro
A playwright is commissioned to write Django, a happy story. Unfortunately, his main character wants to die.
Exploring the possibilities of creation limited by the constraints of depression and self-isolation, the writer uses objects found in his home to create a "table-top" show about the adventures and misfortunes of a man and his three-legged dog.
The PlayCo commission will showcase a few scenes from a work in progress that Ana Graham & Antonio Vega will later develop into a neat, one-hour charming little play the size of a drafting desk.
La Vida Normal
Created by María Fernanda Videla Urra
The life of an ideal beauty.
La Vida Normal is an experimental short film about a drawing figure model who enjoys high status as the ideal of beauty, but must brave a journey through its own material identity when it encounters difference.
Written by Kyle Jarrow and Sky-Pony
Director and filmmaker: Aleksei Postnikov
Animator: Sasha Vodolazhchenko
Vocals: Lauren Worsham
Guitar: Kevin Wunderlich
Cello: Dave Blasher
Bass: Eric Day
Percussion: Jeremy Yaddaw
We are all stuck at home during the pandemic, but one little girl discovers how to fight the despair and make her way back to hope.
An international collaboration between director Aleksei Postnikov, animator Sasha Vodolazhchenko and the band Sky-Pony results in an animated musical short film snapshotting this historic moment in time. The film brings together the talents of eight artists scattered across the globe, all working from home.
Lunch Bunch-Related Programming
While the planned production of Lunch Bunch has been postponed to a later date TBD, PlayCo is moving related Idea Lab programming online now, including live Zoom conversations with Tara Ahmadinejad, Sarah Einspanier and members of the Bronx Defenders, as well as a video project featuring lawyers from the Bronx Defenders office exploring public defense, the legal system in the pandemic, and lunch.
PlayClub (a special session dedicated to Lunch Bunch)
May 21 Live on Zoom
BYOL (bring your own lunch) for this lunchtime discussion in real time
Note Special Time: 12:30pm - 1:45pm
Participants will read short scenes from the play in advance, then chat and ask the playwright questions -- all while eating lunch together.
Panel: Creative Works
May 31 at 4-5pm Live on Zoom
Moderated by Kate Loewald, Founding Producer of PlayCo
Sarah Einspanier, Tara Ahmadinejad, and lawyers from the Bronx Defenders discuss how the Bronx Defenders real-life lunch bunches inspired the play: the cross over from real life to the theatrical world, and what it's like to be theatricalized. The Bronx Defenders Family Defense lawyers will also share their holistic defense model and discuss how they get creative to advocate for clients.
Panel: Public Defense
June 3 at 7:30pm Live on Zoom
Moderated by Justine Olderman, Executive Director of The Bronx Defenders
Lawyers from the Bronx Defenders and other NYC public defender practices discuss their work, exploring the state of public defense and its centrality to social justice, examining the role of storytelling and persuasion in legal advocacy, and focusing on how the pandemic has impacted this work.