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Oakland Theater Project Presents 2021 Season: 'Resurrection, Revolution & Renewal'

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Productions include Binding Ties: The 16th Street Station, The Waste Land, BEGIN THE BEGUINE: A Quartet of One Acts and more.

Oakland Theater Project Presents 2021 Season: 'Resurrection, Revolution & Renewal'

Oakland Theater Project will present a full year of drive-in theatrical performances in Oakland for its 2021 Season, featuring six productions exploring themes of Resurrection, Revolution & Renewal. The plays focus on three interrelated themes, which propose a sequence for regeneration that theater can uniquely provide in an unprecedented time. All of the plays center around the ability of theater to resurrect the past. Each of these resurrections seeks to identify a radical and necessary re-ordering of our world-a revolution-so that we might access and experience renewal in the midst of a pandemic without a clear end.

Oakland Theater Project's 2021 Season contains four World Premiere productions, a 30th Anniversary production, and the return of a celebrated local musical creator. We hope these works help us all re-conceive ourselves and our world in this unprecedented time, so that the world we shape in the years to come is one that reflects the demands of the time we are now living in and responds to the unheeded calls from the past.

The season kicks off January 29-March 7 with Stephanie Anne Johnson's 30th Anniversary production of Binding Ties: The 16th Street Station, presented as a site-specific production at the historical 16th Street Station in West Oakland. In this innovative and moving production, Binding Ties weaves original video interviews and captivating historical narratives to tell the story of the former Southern Pacific Railroad workers and explore the economic and cultural forces surrounding the station and the subsequent migration of Oakland's Black and immigrant communities in the first half of the 20th century. Using a combination of the historical building with the original video interviews and photographs of its community members, as if the voices and images are coming from deep within the building's consciousness. This production is conceived and created by Oakland Theater Project's Resident Lighting Designer Stephanie Anne Johnson with support from Michael Copeland Sydnor.

From March 12-April 18, the re-imagined classic poem The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot comes to life in a world premiere adaptation for the stage that speaks to the current crisis caused by the pandemic. Featuring award-winning actor and playwright Lisa Ramirez in a one-person performance, The Waste Land gives urgent expression to the mysterious blend of personal, spiritual, psychological, national and existential threads Eliot weaves together in his masterwork. The Waste Land explores the way in which life itself has been hollowed out by human hands, while within the vivid expression of the poem itself, art stands as a testament to the capacity for human hands to enliven our void and create a path toward renewal.

From May 14-June 20, Bay Area audiences can be among the first to experience never-before-produced theatrical work of the prolific filmmaker and playwright Kathleen Collins, with the world premiere of BEGIN THE BEGUINE: A Quartet of One Acts, co-directed by Michael Socrates Moran and Dawn L. Troupe. Kathleen Collins' work as a Black filmmaker, writer and playwright in the 1970s and '80s was largely under-recognized during her lifetime. Her daughter compiled her mother's work and recently published it. Her one acts, BEGIN THE BEGUINE: A Quartet of One Acts have never before been produced. Vinson Cunningham wrote in The New Yorker about her work, "Collins was, foremost, an artist and an interpreter of the striated psyche. Her most striking characters are black women of a creative or intellectual bent- writers, dancers, designers, professors-whose quotidian struggles with marriage, motherhood, and work take on cosmic proportions." Collins' work is gentle and revelatory, powerful and resonant. In addition to co-directing, Company Member and Director of Education Dawn L. Troupe will play the central role(s) in all four one acts.

From July 23-August 29, Oakland Theater Project presents the world premiere of The Dream Life of Malcolm X, created by Literary Manager John Wilkins, Co-Artistic Director William Hodgson and Director of Education Dawn L. Troupe. The play is a one-person show featuring William Hodgson, directed by Dawn L. Troupe, about how the unique personal experiences in Malcolm X's life and his relationship to loved ones helped him construct a searing and prophetic vision of revolution that continues to play itself out today.

From September 17-October 24, Dave Malloy's celebrated musical Ghost Quartet returns to the Bay Area with a new spin, as William Hodgson directs four Oakland Theater Project company members in this 90-minute musical, reveling in the act of resurrection. After its celebrated run at the Curran in 2015 and an extended run in New York, the musical has garnered enormous critical acclaim. In a time of loss and uncertainty, four interconnected ghost stories take on new significance. As the country processes the unfathomable reality of mass death, Ghost Quartet offers a unique and cathartic musical experience filled with strange joy and unusual revelation.

Closing out the season from November 12-December 19, Oakland Theater Project has commissioned the world premiere of sAiNt jOaN (burn/burn/burn) by award-winning playwright Lisa Ramirez and directed by Co-Artistic Director Michael Socrates Moran, a contemporary reimagining of the Joan of Arc story seen through the lens of teenage girls in Oakland. Merging music, movement and text, it's a story of vision and innovation in the face of oppression. Taking on the revolutionary and inspired vision of Joan of Arc, the play reveals the way this classic heroine's spirit continues to permeate our world today. Couched in the uprisings the country has seen in 2020, this play probes the question: what is the cost of sacrifice and how do we summon the courage to commit to our inner voices?

Drive-In Theater is an innovative way to produce live performances during a pandemic that has paralyzed countless theaters across the country. Oakland Theater Project's ability to produce shows in a safe and responsible manner is made possible by a health order from Alameda County, which specifically allows for regulated vehicle-based gatherings. Each audience member will be required to remain in a fully enclosed motorized vehicle, and all vehicle occupants must be members of a single household. Performers will be visible to all vehicles, with the show's soundscape transmitted via FM radio. For any attendee that requires the use of a bathroom, social distancing, face covering, and disinfecting protocols will be in place.

General admission tickets are $25-38, depending on the number of people in the vehicle; priority tickets with reserved parking spaces are $50; and a limited number of pay-what-you-can tickets ($5-20) will be available for every performance. All tickets will be sold exclusively online until 2 hours before each performance. Due to Alameda County requirements for vehicle-based gatherings, no tickets or concessions will be sold at the venue for any performance. Tickets can be purchased at oaklandtheaterproject.org.

Building on its ongoing tradition of offering pay-what-you-can tickets to every performance, Oakland Theater Project continues its commitment to radical inclusivity with pay-what-you-can subscriptions for the season, with sliding scale tickets for every performance.

To subscribe, donate, or learn more, the public can call 510.646.1126 or visit oaklandtheaterproject.org.


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