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Arena Stage Announces World Premiere Films in Response to the Health Crisis

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Arena Stage Announces World Premiere Films in Response to the Health Crisis

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater will open its online Spring/Summer Season, Looking Forward in June with two world premiere films, May 22, 2020 and Inside Voices: a film by Arena Stage's Voices of Now ensembles. Both films will premiere through Arena's new Supper Club and are at the core of Arena Stage's mission to support our region's talented artists of all ages and to champion new work and authentic voices.

Premiering June 12, May 22, 2020, a filmed docudrama, directed by Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith, captures one day in the life of our region. Ten D.C.-Maryland-Virginia subjects ranging in age from 18 - 89, and from a variety of backgrounds including a climate change activist to a grandmother living alone, were interviewed by 10 area playwrights on May 22, 2020. From these rich conversations, writers composed original monologues, a window into radically changed lives during the COVID-19 pandemic which will be filmed with Washington actors. Featured playwrights include Randy Baker, Audrey Cefaly, Annalisa Dias, Caleen Sinnette Jennings, Aaron Posner, Psalmayene 24, John Strand, Gregory Keng Strasser, MaryHall Surface and Karen Zacarías. Arena's artistic leader Molly Smith, Deputy Artistic Director Seema Sueko and Director of Community Engagement/Senior Artistic Advisor Anita Maynard-Losh will direct the monologues.

"The concept of May 22, 2020 is to capture a moment in time that will never occur again," states Arena Stage Artistic Director and film director Molly Smith. "We are being hyper local here as the interviewees, writers, directors, actors and video makers are all from the Washington, D.C. metro area. Our purpose as a regional theater reflecting our city is a powerful motivator. This part of America is unlike any other part of America and we want to capture it. Docudramas are immediate and full of individual stories. Newspapers do a brilliant job of this type of storytelling and this is our opportunity to catch the zeitgeist of the moment through filming ten monologues that range from an emergency room nurse to a beekeeper to a DC Detective."

For more than 17 seasons, Arena Stage's Voices of Now ensembles have provided a vital theatrical platform for young artists to use their personal experience to investigate the world around them and pose questions relevant to their communities. Recognizing the impact of the pandemic on today's youth, Voices of Now quickly transitioned its rehearsals online adapting their traditional original theater festival to film. Directed by Ashley Forman and Mauricio Pita, Inside Voices: a film by Arena Stage's Voices of Now ensembles is a visual time capsule of the experiences of over 120 student artists. Inside Voices premieres on June 19.

"Inside Voices: a film by Arena Stage's Voices of Now ensembles is an opportunity for young artists to respond to and process this global emergency through creating art," shares Anita Maynard-Losh. "It is also an opportunity for the community to have a unique artistic record of what these young people have experienced at this historic time."

"Voices of Now artists are uniquely trained and inspired to create theater that provokes thoughtful inquiry while also representing their authentic point of view," states Ashley Forman, Director of Education and Artistic Director of Voices of Now. "Access to over 100 Voices of Now Artists has presented an historic opportunity for us, as theater makers, to catalogue the experiences of young people in a way that will speak to future generations."

Creating a fully immersive experience, patrons are invited to livestream the films from the comfort of their home as part of the newly created Arena Stage Supper Club. Patrons will be able to dine on delicious fare delivered to their door from area restaurants while watching the live premieres.

With restaurant and catering partner options in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, patrons will have a variety of options to enjoy each night. Cuisine options include seasonal American cuisine from RIS, flavorful barbecue from Cinder BBQ and savory dishes from Geppetto's, RSVP and Ridgewells Catering.

The Supper Club and these unique events bring our communities together again virtually to engage with artists and their original work.

Additional information on how to watch the films and purchase a Supper Club can be found here: arenastage.org/supperclub. Dinner prices for the Supper Club range from $60 to $99 per two persons.


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