Playwrights Horizons, now under the new leadership of Artistic Director Adam Greenfield, has unveiled its plans for the upcoming season. While the theatre remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, four productions have been announced to take place when it is safe for audiences to reconvene in person.
In addition, the 50th anniversary season will feature a second season of Soundstage, Playwrights' newly launched scripted podcast series, as well as two new programs: The Lighthouse Performance Series and Almanac, a digital magazine. Five new full-length play commissions round out the programming.
Kicking off the 2020-2021 season will be the world premiere of Dave Harris' Tambo & Bones, directed by Taylor Reynolds. A satire on the intersection of racism, capitalism, and performance, the play will be presented with Center Theatre Group.
Live programming continues with a return of Sylvia Khoury’s Selling Kabul, directed by Tyne Rafaeli and produced in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival. Originally scheduled for spring 2020 (but halted in rehearsals), the intimate thriller traces the impacts of America's ongoing war in Afghanistan.
Originally slated for summer 2020, and now scheduled to take place next year, will be The Movement Theatre Company’s acclaimed production of Aleshea Harris’ What to Send Up When It Goes Down, directed by Whitney White. Weaving facilitated conversation, parody, song, and movement in a series of vignettes, the show was created in response to the physical and spiritual deaths of Black Americans as a result of racialized violence.
The fourth 2021 production will be the world premiere of Sanaz Toossi’s play Wish You Were Here, tracing five women across 14 years of friendship amidst the aftershocks of political upheaval in Iran. Presented with Williamstown Theatre Festival (which had announced the play as part of its 2020 season), the world premiere will be directed by GT Upchurch.
Dates for all four shows will be announced at a later date. Playwrights’ previously scheduled 2020 production of A Boy's Company Presents: “Tell Me If I'm Hurting You” by Jeremy O. Harris, directed by Dustin Wills, and choreographed by Jack Ferver—postponed due to COVID-19—will be presented in the 2021–2022 season.
In 2021, Playwrights will also launch Season 2 of Soundstage, and has commissioned Eboni Booth, Agnes Borinsky, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, The Debate Society, Sarah Gancher, David Greenspan, Miranda Rose Hall, Dave Harris, Julia Izumi, Kit Yan, and Melissa Li to write scripts for the podcast.
The Off-Broadway theatre will also launch The Lighthouse Series, a new performance series that repurposes the time between productions—to support artists across disciplines, rather than renting the space to outside projects. The program’s initial offerings, beginning as soon as possible in 2021, will include collaborations with Raja Feather Kelly's dance-theatre-media company the feath3r theory, Iyvon Edebiri's play podcast The Parsnip Ship, and a reading-and-lecture series curated by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
In an effort to capture the ideas and conversations of this critical moment in history, Playwrights has conceived Almanac, a new digital magazine that will feature commissioned works by artists across all disciplines, as well as staff members. Containing essays, drawings, interviews, manifestos, short plays, and more, the project will be assembled over the coming months and released in the fall of this year. Playwrights Dramaturg Ashley Chang leads the endeavor as editor in chief.
As Playwrights enters the coming season, newly commissioned playwrights include César Alvarez, Bleu Beckford-Burrell, John J. Caswell, Jr., Mia Chung, and Anne Washburn.
“As I take on the role of artistic director on the occasion of our 50th anniversary, envisioning the next 50 years, the pandemic is a mandate to rethink our models and practices, and to imagine a new theatre that’s just, equitable, sustainable and liberating," shares Greenfield. "I’m strengthened and inspired when I look at the wildly varied roster of artists and works and forms that have aligned for our reopening. Looking forward, I continue to return to our name, which promises a commitment to following playwrights toward the future, the ‘horizon.’ In tough times, I look to artists—particularly writers, as expansive and inclusive a designation as can be imagined—to illuminate the path: a future I’m hungry to share with our city as soon as that becomes possible.”