Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater's fall–winter Looking Forward season will feature more than 70 virtual events and programs, including the world-premiere film The 51st State, a fall classes series, and partnerships with Georgetown University and the Forum for Cultural Engagement.
Premiering September 16, Arena Stage’s third film in four months, The 51st State, is inspired by the protests and the drive for the creation of a movement after the murder of George Floyd and the quest for the creation of the 51st state and sovereignty in Washington, D.C. The film features 10 stories written by 10 area playwrights based upon interviews with those impacted by the protests and D.C.’s journey to statehood.
Featured playwrights include Caleen Sinnette Jennings, Gregory Keng Strasser, Lady Dane Figueroa, Mary Hall Surface, Aria Velz, Farah Lawal Harris, Teshonne Powell, Otis Ramsey-Zoe, Deb Sivigny, and Karen Zacarías, while the cast features Sherri L. Edelen, Michael Glenn, James J. Johnson, Joy Jones, Jason B. McIntosh, Gary L. Perkins III, Todd Scofield, Thomas Adrian Simpson, Dani Stoller, Justin Weaks, and Jacob Yeh. Artistic Director Molly Smith, Deputy Artistic Director Seema Sueko, Director of Community Engagement/Senior Artistic Advisor Anita Maynard-Losh, Everyman Theatre Artistic Associate Paige Hernandez, and Arena Master Teaching Artist Psalmayene 24 will direct the monologues with original music composed by DJ and sound designer Nick “tha 1da” Hernandez.
The Looking Forward season will also include socially distanced Cabaret Nights. Beginning in the fall on select Fridays, Victor Simonson, Sherri L. Edelen, Nova Y. Payton, Maria Rizzo, and Felicia Curry will explore songs from the worlds of Broadway, jazz, and the American Songbook.
The Forum for Cultural Engagement, created and led by singer and international exchange producer Mary McBride, in partnership with Arena Stage and Georgetown University, have joined forces with the Lubimovka Young Playwrights Festival, the Center for Modern Drama in Yekaterinburg, and the United States Embassy in Moscow to present FLASH ACTS, a six-day online festival featuring short plays by 20 American and Russian playwrights. The festival will premiere October 8 and will feature Zoom productions in Russian and English.
Arena’s virtual master class sessions will continue in the fall with hip-hop theatre with Psalmayene 24 and DJ Nick tha 1da, choreography with Parker Esse, playwriting with Aaron Posner and Timothy Douglas, and costume design with Ivania Stack.
“Every moment in history is a transition, and this has been monumental. Our world has already seen major changes in 2020—and when we find ourselves on the other end, we will be surprised at who we are,” states Artistic Director Smith. “It’s been challenging and energizing to transform our thinking online since we can’t gather in the traditional ways, but pioneering too as we innovate.”
Additional information and registration details on these programs can be found by clicking here.