The series, now in its tenth year, will include new works by Tazewell Thompson (director of Arena's M. Butterfly and Yellowman), Psalmayene 24 (Imagination Stage's Zomo the Rabbit) and Seamus Sullivan. The Downstairs Series is under the direction of Arena Stage literary manager Janine Sobeck.
The 2009 Downstairs New Play Reading Series at Arena Stage in Crystal City
May 18 at 7 PM
Harlan at the Rockpile by Seamus Sullivan
Directed by Derek Goldman
"This engaging new work is based on the true story of forgotten adventurer Josiah Harlan, the first American to travel to Afghanistan. Harlan at the Rockpile alternates between the 19th and 21st centuries for a thrilling epic about the power of the individual pitted against the weight of history and the might of empires."
A May 2008 graduate of Georgetown University and member of Arena Stage group sales team, playwright Seamus Sullivan will be premiering his new play, Skywriter, as part of the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival. Sullivan is also a regular contributor to Rorschach's Myth-Appropriation Series.
June 22 at 7 PM
Slavery/The Remix by Psalmayene 24
Directed by Kamilah Forbes
Choreographed by Paige Hernandez
"This 'Hip-Hop Odyssey' by Arena Stage master teaching artist Psalmayene 24 tells the story of the restless and idealistic Baraka, who meets an eccentric novelist at a DC bus stop and is called to go on a mystical journey to The Door of No Return. His quest takes him to Wu-Tang Mountain in China, a psychotherapist's office and a famed slave castle off the coast of West Africa." Psalmayene 24's work Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth recently premiered at Imagination Stage.
June 29 at 7 PM
Mary T. & Lizzy K. by Tazewell Thompson
Directed by Ronee Penoi
"Arena Stage Writers Council member Tazewell Thompson's play explores the relationship between First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and her personal dressmaker and confidante — the freed black Elizabeth 'Lizzy' Keckly — and revolves around the dress Lizzy creates for Mrs. Lincoln to wear to Ford's Theatre the night of Lincoln's assassination.
Thompson has directed numerous shows at Arena, including M. Butterfly, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Yellowman.
Tickets to the Downstairs New Play Reading Series are free but must be reserved by calling the Arena Stage sales office at (202) 488-3300 or in person at Arena Stage in Crystal City — the company's temporary home while construction continues on its DC home. Arena in Crystal City is at 1800 S. Bell St. Arlington, VA.
Under the leadership of artistic director Molly Smith and managing director Edgar Dobie, Washington, DC-based Arena Stage is the largest theatre in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights. Founded in 1950 by Zelda Fichandler, Thomas Fichandler and Edward Mangum, Arena Stage was one of the nation's original resident theatres.
For more information visit www.arenastage.org.