Ars Nova will present the Off-Broadway premiere of Underground Railroad Game, created by and starring Jennifer Kidwell and Scott Sheppard. The duo play teachers at a middle school, where the audience is invited to attend a lesson on history, race and power.
Kidwell and Sheppard developed the piece with Philadelphia-based theatre company Lightning Rod Special; Taibi Magar directs. Performances are scheduled to run September 13-October 15 at Ars Nova.
The show is billed as an “R-fated, kaleidoscopic and fearless comedy.” Underground Railroad Game was inspired by Sheppard’s real-life fifth grade classroom experience. His class was divided into two opposing sides: Confederate Soldiers and Union Soldiers, with each group trying to score points for their military strategy. The Underground Railroad Game involved both sides either securing or impeding the passage of two black dolls, representing slaves, to safe houses.
“Jenn and Scott navigate fraught, baggage-laden territory with fierce intelligence and humor, which lines up beautifully with Ars Nova’s interest in supporting work that challenges our ideas about what a live theatrical experience can be,” comments Ars Nova artistic director Jason Eagan in a statement. “We’re excited to introduce this new production to New York audiences.”
The creative team includes Tilly Grimes (production design), Steven Dufala (scenic design),Oona Curley (lighting design) and Mikaal Sulaiman (sound design).
Tickets are available at arsnovanyc.com or by calling (212) 352-3101. Ars Nova is located at 511 West 54th Street, New York.