Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks is stepping onto the stage. Parks will play The Writer in the world premiere of her Plays for the Plague Year at the Public Theater. The limited engagement will be presented in the intimate cabaret space Joe’s Pub November 4-27.
Plays for the Plague Year is a theatrical concert featuring both music and words by Parks. In addition to Parks, the company will include Tony nominee Kenita Miller, Leland Fowler, Greg Keller, Orville Mendoza, Lauren Molina, Martín Solá, and Pearl Sun.
“When I started writing the project, on Day One, I wanted to create something that we could experience together, whenever it was safe for us to be physically together again,” said Parks. “While I could have just written down my thoughts in a journal, I decided to write plays instead, because plays are meant to be done with others, in the company of friends and strangers—and, for me, plays, and the resulting act of theatre-making, celebrate our humanity and demonstrate the process of community. During lockdown I feel like we all longed for that. And I also wrote songs, to accompany the plays, because singing with others creates magic. These plays and songs are meant to give us all the tools we need to process both what we’ve been through and what we’re still going through now.”
Directed by Niegel Smith, the production will also have costume design by Montana Levi Blanco, lighting design by Ania Washington, sound design by Dan Moses Schrier, projection design by Peter Nigrini, and prop management by Alexander Wylie. Ric Molina will music direct and will contribute to both vocal and instrumental arrangements. Buzz Cohen will serve as the production stage manager, and Janelle Caso will serve as stage manager.
“There is no writer in the world like Suzan-Lori Parks,” said Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “Her brilliant and utterly unique voice is one of the mountaintops of the American theatre, and The Public is proud to have been her home for over 30 years. When the pandemic hit, Suzan-Lori began a personal practice: writing a play every day, a chronicle of the times we were living through. What emerges is a personal, intimate journal, but also a public window into that first, torturous year of the crisis. Plays for the Plague Year is funny, powerful, quirky, emotional, and deeply satisfying.”