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Arena Stage Announces 2021/22 Looking Forward Season

The Winter/Spring season features a three-part original musical series, world-premiere films, a love letter experience via mail and more.

Arena Stage Announces 2021/22 Looking Forward Season

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces its robust lineup of digital programming for the 2021/22 Looking Forward Season. Following on the success of last year's virtual offerings, the upcoming season expands even further to reflect Arena's commitment of championing diverse voices, engaging audiences and producing compelling, dynamic work. As part of Arena's mission to serve artists and audiences on a national, regional and local scale, the 2021/22 Looking Forward Season is packed with ambitious new works.

Following on the success of previous films, Arena is excited to debut a newly commissioned filmed musical series, Arena Riffs, along with an original film Indigenous Earth Voices and a new theatrical film by Arena's Voices of Now ensembles. The Looking Forward Season also includes a Love Letter Experience delivered to mailboxes across the country and an exciting slate of virtual classes.

"It feels like a long journey into spring this year, but we have some wonderful new pieces that will illuminate and brighten our days with our raucous online program. I'm so excited to premiere two new films, Arena Riffs and Indigenous Earth Voices," shares Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith.

"Arena Riffs will take us on three different emotional journeys through our virtual world, using music, lyrics and each artist's unique creative visions. The artists were asked to create whatever they envisioned and make small films through music and imagery," Smith continues. "Indigenous people's stories are so rarely told in the mainstream and Indigenous Earth Voices will share those deep and meaningful stories highlighting the connection of Indigenous people to the land."

Beginning in March, Arena will debut Arena Riffs, a three-part commissioned musical series that features three different composer and lyricist teams with musical selections infused with sounds of folk, indie and hip-hop. The self-produced, self-contained finished pieces will be delivered to be presented by Arena Stage. Performances will premiere on March 17, March 31 and April 14. Each original musical will be 20 - 30 minutes long and will be available to stream on Arena's website.

Each artist was given free rein in terms of what they wanted to compose. Themes in the musical series include the grief and void created by the pandemic, the nationwide reckoning on racial injustice, finding joy in difficult times and the exploration of one's relationship to the country. The series includes the premiere of the musical The Freewheelin' Insurgents, written and directed by award-winning playwright, director and actor Psalmayene 'Psalm' 24 (Arena's The 51st State, May 22, 2020). The series also includes musical pieces by indie-folk duo Shaun and Abigail Bengson (The Keep Going Song, Hundred Days) and award-winning composer Rona Siddiqui (Salaam Medina: Tales of a Halfgan, One Good Day). The cast and creative teams include Louis Davis, Shannon Dorsey, Doug Fitch, Em Goldman, Raja Feather Kelly, Gary L. Perkins, Justin Weaks, Tony Thomas and Nick "tha 1da" Hernandez. For further details, visit here.

Premiering in May, Indigenous Earth Voices, will explore the people's relationship to the Earth. All of the artists involved in this film, including actors, directors, interviewees and playwrights are Indigenous. The film features six stories from locations throughout Canada and the United States focusing on stories of subsistence, family traditions, land rights, myths and legends, regalia, tribal rituals, treaties and issues that impact Indigenous cultures.

These stories, written by six playwrights, are based upon interviews with tribal leaders and storytellers from many different tribes across Canada and the United States. The interviewees come from the tribes of Cherokee, Cree in Canada, Cu'pik Eskimo in Alaska, Lakota, Piscataway, Shoshone, Zuni and others. Featured playwrights include Tara Beagan (Ntlaka'pamux and Irish Canadian), Lee Cataluna (Hawaiian), Dillon Chitto (Choctaw, Laguna and Isleta Pueblo), Frank Henry Kaash Katasse (Tlingit), Mary Kathryn Nagle (Cherokee) and Madeline Sayet (Mohegan). Full casting details will be announced next month. For more information, visit here.

Later in the year, Arena's Voices of Now ensembles will premiere an additional theatrical film following on the success of last year's original piece and visual time capsule. The film will debut on June 18. Further details will be released at a later date. For more information, visit here.

As previously announced, Arena Stage is excited to bring a love story directly to mailboxes nationwide. Inspired by Ken Ludwig's Dear Jack, Dear Louise, patrons can relive, or experience for the first time, the joyous, heartfelt drama through a series of nine letters in the mail that follow the love story of Ludwig's parents, Jacob S. Ludwig and Louise Rabiner. For $35, the Love Letter Experience includes letters, personal photos and telegrams specifically designed and handcrafted with period details by the Arena Stage prop shop. This enchanting, limiteda??time experience is available for purchase by visiting here. Mailings will start in early March, with new letters placed in the mail twice a week. Recipients should expect to receive all nine packets within a six-week period.

Arena's ongoing Winter virtual class series continues with offerings catered to families, theater lovers, students, adults and emerging theater artists. Masterclasses include audition preparation with Franchelle Stewart Dorn, dialogue writing with Eduardo Machado, stage management with Christi Spann, monologue writing with Jacqueline E. Lawton and script analysis with Nehal Joshi. The Insider Lecture Series gives participants a glimpse into the offstage work that helps create the magic seen onstage. Upcoming lectures will be led by Properties Director Jenn Sheetz and Costume Director Joseph Salasovich. Additional offerings through March include a Drama Book Club led by dramaturg, director and instructor Otis Cortez Ramsey-Zöe and Arena's School Programs Manager Rebecca Campana, along with Family Creativity Workshops led by Arena's Director of Education Ashley Forman. Further information and registration details on these programs can be found here.

Arena's series of weekly virtual conversations will continue with another season of Molly's Salons. More information on featured upcoming guests and registration details can be found here.

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