Arena Stage Is Developing 25 New Political Plays and Musicals

News   Arena Stage Is Developing 25 New Political Plays and Musicals
The Power Plays initiative will feature the work of 25 writers over a 10-year period.
Rajiv Joseph
Rajiv Joseph Joseph Marzullo/WENN
2016 Steinberg Award recipient Sarah Ruhl
2016 Steinberg Award recipient Sarah Ruhl Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C., has launched Power Plays, an initiative commissioning and developing 25 new plays and musicals from 25 writers over the course of the next 10 years.

The undertaking, according to a press release, 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 today.” The initiative will feature the work of both well-established and beginning writers.

Seven commissioned projects are currently in development, with playwrights Nathan Alan Davis, Eve Ensler, Rajiv Joseph, Mary Kathryn Nagle, Aaron Posner, Sarah Ruhl, and John Strand; topics include Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street,” Native American sovereignty, John Quincy Adams, and Theodore Roosevelt. Inspired by true events, Jacqueline Lawton’s Intelligence, a political thriller that explores the cost of deception and the consequences of speaking truth to power, debuts as part of the Power Plays cycle February 24-April 2, 2017, at Arena Stage.

“Power and politics are the red meat of Washington, D.C.,” stated artistic director Molly Smith. “We eat, sleep and drink politics here from early morning coffee to late night conversations. Every city has its own language, its own nuances, its own history, and our language is politics. D.C. audiences are hungry for these stories, and there is no other place in the country where these plays could have such an impact. There is no better time to launch this massive commissioning cycle, the largest in Arena’s history. The more we understand our American stories of politics and power, the more informed we become as a democracy.”

“Our Power Plays initiative ties directly into Arena Stage’s mission of nurturing new plays and presenting work that reflects America’s diversity and challenges, and honors the founding principles of our organization, set down over six decades ago,” added executive director Edgar Dobie. “We have test driven the idea with several stakeholders and already received meaningful support. As a manager, I love the 10-year arc, which allows us to plan with confidence and set audacious goals for the organization.”


Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists.


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