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The Williams Project Announces 2021 Season

The Williams Project has announced a full slate of 2021 programming that kicks off with a summer outdoor festival.

After a year of no performances, no rehearsals, and no in-person artistic gatherings, The Williams Project has announced a full slate of 2021 programming that kicks off with a summer outdoor festival rich with live performance coming this May.

Led by Artistic Director Ryan Guzzo Purcell, The Williams Project is a professional theatre ensemble that strives to make theatrical excellence accessible to diverse and engaged audiences in Seattle, while always paying artists a living wage. In an effort to remove barriers to artistic participation, all tickets to The Williams Project productions are available to the general public via a pay-what-you-can ticket model and will become available for reservation and/or purchase in the coming weeks via TheWilliamsProject.org.

This season, The Williams Project will produce or co-produce three theatrical experiences at different locations throughout the city of Seattle, plus one virtual event, including: The Campfire Festival: Socially Distanced Encounters with Artists featuring a series of commissioned solo works; RAISINS 2021, a digital co-production with Raisins in a Glass of Milk, a documentary theatre project that aims to be a catalyst for conversation about how white supremacy affects the way art is made; Marisol, by playwright José Rivera and directed by Ryan Guzzo Purcell, a wildly timely story about the astonishment and terror of being alive while an old world is collapsing, and the joy and freedom of building a new one together; and The Amen Corner, by James Baldwin and directed by Williams Project company member Reggie D. White, a story that asks the question -- "What does it profit a man to gain piety and lose love?"

Keeping public health and safety top of mind, including social distancing and mask mandates, The Williams Project has crafted this season to coordinate with the Governor's phased reopening approach. The shows and the ways in which audiences will experience those shows adapt as the theatrical season progresses, starting this May with the outdoor Campfire Festival and culminating in November with a more traditional and indoor theatre experience. That said, these 2021 season plans, and especially the dates, are subject to change dependent on COVID-19 and the pace at which state, local, and union restrictions on theaters adjust. "Our first priority is the health and safety of our community and our workers, and while we've put a lot of thought and energy into how to make it possible to do live theatre in a safe and responsible way during all phases of re-opening, we won't hesitate to postpone shows if we can't meet that standard," Producing Director Ellen Abram said.

When the worldwide shutdowns happened in March 2020, The Williams Project was on the verge of announcing its 2020 season, and as the pandemic escalated, it became clear all of their plans would be put on the backburner. "Due to the timing of the pandemic hitting our country, The Williams Project had yet to contract with artists and venues, or to publicize any of our plans for 2020, so we just quietly held on everything and watched the pandemic unfold," Artistic Director Ryan Guzzo Purcell said. "And now, we're gearing back up, and the 2020 season has adapted and become the 2021 season, which feels really good. But, I'm not ready to go back to the theatre yet, and I need some help to get there. It's like, if you break a leg and somebody asks you, 'When is your next marathon?' First, we have to be able to stand up. So this season, for me, is about slowly building back that capacity for communal joy. Going back to the roots of outdoor storytelling, experiencing artists' visions for a better future, and savoring the opportunity to start from scratch. Artists have always been prophets, helping us figure out better ways to do things, so let's not go backwards. It's fitting we're ending the season with James Baldwin. I don't think there's ever been a writer better at expressing that we need to acknowledge our honest reality, where we've been, in order to have any hope of experiencing freedom and celebration. And that's what we're after: freedom and celebration. Without denying what we've been through, we want this season to create real joy: among artists, among audiences, and among communities."

THE 2021 SEASON LINE-UP

The Campfire Festival:

Socially Distanced Encounters with Artists

May 21-June 6

Simple. Containing multitudes. Built for this moment. The Williams Project has commissioned four extraordinary local artists to create half-hour solo works, conceived for performance outdoors with very small, socially-distancing audiences. Each performance will be followed by an intimate conversation with the artist. Presented as a repertory festival, The Campfire Festival will ease us back into the acts of gathering, communion, and storytelling.

A Williams Project Special Co-Presentation with Raisins in a Glass of Milk

RAISINS 2021

Written, Directed, and Produced by Maya Burton and Lexi Chipman

June 19-27 - all virtual

Created by emerging artists Maya Burton and Lexi Chipman, Raisins in a Glass Of Milk is an annual play series created directly from the words, poetry, and stories of Artists of Color. The Williams Project will support RAISINS' return to Seattle in 2021 as the show's digital presenting partner.

Marisol

By José Rivera

Directed by Ryan Guzzo Purcell

August 4-15 (subject to change based on COVID-19 restrictions)

In José Rivera's Marisol, the end times are here, and a young Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx might hold the key to survival. Marisol Perez struggles to save the world and herself in a quest full of surreal comedy, music and poetry, beauty and destruction, and characters almost as weird as real life. If Black Mirror had a baby with an excommunicated Puerto Rican priest, Marisol might be the result.

The Amen Corner

By James Baldwin

Directed by Reggie D. White

November 5-21 (subject to change based on COVID-19 restrictions)

"What does it profit a man to gain piety and lose love?" For years, Sister Margaret Alexander has led the congregation of her storefront church in Harlem and raised her son, a gifted musician, on the path of righteousness. When her estranged husband shows up without warning, Margaret is caught between her faith, her flock, and her family - and she might lose all three. From one of America's greatest writers and deepest thinkers, James Baldwin's The Amen Corner tackles our most profoundly human questions, about our relationships with God, with love, and with freedom.


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