Additional Playwrights Join Power Plays Initiative At Arena Stage

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces three additional commissioned playwrights as a part of Power Plays, an ambitious initiative commissioning and developing 25 new plays and musicals from a diverse mix of writers, composers and lyricists over the course of 10 years. Playwrights Kia Corthron, Idris Goodwin and Octavio Solis join previously commissioned playwrights with projects underway, including Aaron Posner, whose Power Play JQA, an inquisitive and provocative look at America's sixth president, enjoys its world premiere in Arena's Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle March 1 through April 14, 2019.

"We're a theater that focuses on American plays, American stories, American ideas and American artists," shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. "What has been thrilling about the Power Plays cycle is that we're commissioning some of the strongest voices in American theater today. These three playwrights have a unique way of looking at the world politically and galvanizing it into a story for our times. From Kia's focus on the public school system, Idris' poetic way of looking at the complexity of race relations and Octavio's insight into Mexican-American politics, Power Plays will cover the breadth of the American political psyche."

She continues, "Power Play commissions include an expanse of writers such as Theresa Rebeck, Craig Lucas, Kenneth Lin and Nathan Alan Davis. The creative power and capacity in the writers have been thrilling. This fertile, fervent program is exploding at Arena Stage."

This massive initiative features American stories of politics and power, exploring the people, events and ideas that have helped shape our country's narrative and identity, with one story per decade, beginning with 1776 through the current decade. These works have the ability to show America at its best and at its worst, to bring people together who may not otherwise find themselves in the same room, and to introduce audiences to historical figures they may not know or understand. Power Plays features works by well-established writers as well as those who are in the beginning stages of their careers in theater, embracing the diversity of our country to understand who we are as Americans.

Power Plays encompasses five unique voices cycles:

  • Presidential Voices - plays about exceptional presidents and remarkable events in their lives
  • African-American Voices - plays that herald African-American stories in our country's history and politics
  • Insider Voices - plays that delve into an exclusive perspective on the complex workings of American institutions or cultures
  • Musical Theater Voices - musicals that celebrate political ideas and events
  • Women's Voices - plays that shine a spotlight on women in our country's political life

With this initiative, Arena Stage amplifies its role as a national center dedicated to American voices and artists, located in the heart of the nation's capital. Upcoming play and musical commissions are focused on such diverse topics as Theodore Roosevelt, Oklahoma's "Black Wall Street," Fidel Castro and witchcraft.

"Arena Stage has a bold artistic vision, clear mission and core values that our audience embraces and understands," shares Executive Producer Edgar Dobie. "As a producer and administrator, our Power Plays initiative is important to me because infusing the field with new work is a vital component of our purpose as a resident theater. These Power Plays will leave a legacy of discourse and storytelling, engaging new and established artists, and bringing to the forefront stories that have not been told before."

Power Plays builds on the tremendous success of previous Arena Stage commissions focused on both political figures and historic events including John Strand's The Originalist (2015), which offered a rare portrayal of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; Lawrence Wright's Camp David (2014), which explored the pivotal 1978 Camp David Accords between President Jimmy Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat; and Mary Kathryn Nagle's Sovereignty (2018), which shared the story of a young Cherokee lawyer fighting to restore her Nation's jurisdiction. Previously commissioned playwrights also include Jacqueline E. Lawton (Intelligence - 2017); Bob Banghart, Georgia Stitt and John Strand (Snow Child - 2018); Aaron Posner (JQA - 2019); Nathan Alan Davis; Eve Ensler; Kenneth Lin; Craig Lucas; Eduardo Machado and Theresa Rebeck.

Support for Power Plays has been generously provided by Elliot and Lily Feldman and BakerHostetler, David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn, Rick and Carol Froehlich, Ann O. Hamilton, JMA Solutions, Robert Liberatore and Debra Kraft, and Vicki and Roger Sant. For information about sponsorship and branding opportunities associated with Power Plays, contact Ryan Merkel at or 202-600-6042.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacts the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its seventh decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000.

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