The Playwrights Realm production of Noah Diaz’s Off-Broadway debut, Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally, has found its cast. The new play, directed by Taylor Reynolds (Plano), imagines a complex adulthood for the iconic children’s book characters that subverts a normative vision of the American Family.
Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally, which begins performances April 3 (tickets available March 12), will feature a company made up of Neimah Djourabchi (OSF's Othello, Jesus in India), Michelle Beck (Broadway's A Raisin in the Sun and Hurricane Diane), Jay Cobián (The Video Games, The Happy Sad), Treshelle Edmond (seen on Broadway in Spring Awakening and Children of a Lesser God), Noah Averbach-Katz (The Metromaniacs, Bad Jews at the Studio Theatre), and Vanessa Kai (The Pain of My Belligerence and KPOP Off-Broadway).
In Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally Diaz re-imagines the characters of William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp's 1950s Dick and Jane books. After learning Dick (now Richard, played by Djourabchi) is terminally ill, Jane (Beck), who hasn't seen her brother in ages, comes back to find his household in disarray: his son Dick Jr. (Cobián) sports his mother’s clothes in hopes of conjuring her; his daughter Sally (Edmond)—who is deaf and feeling the crushing weight of her father’s desire for her to fit into the hearing world—converses with the family dog, Spot (Averbach-Katz); and his dead wife, Mother (Kai), remains very present in the household and beyond.
“During the time I wrote the play, as my family experienced a kind of cyclical grief over my grandmother’s passing, I saw a really strange momentum within grief and impending death: a thing is knowable, and inevitable even, and yet we must keep moving towards it," says playwright Diaz, who is currently completing his MFA at the Yale School of Drama. "I’m biracial, half-white and half-Mexican, and it was my father and his sisters, the Mexican side of my family, that was experiencing the brunt of this grief. Historically in theatre when we see a family sitting around a table grieving, it’s a white family. Where does that side of my family have a seat at the table in terms of seeing themselves reflected onstage in that way?”
Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally is a co-production with Baltimore Center Stage—where it is currently being presented (featuring the same Off-Broadway-bound cast)—as well as a collaboration with The Sol Project, a national theatre initiative amplifying the voices of Latinx playwrights. The Realm engagement will feature two ASL-friendly performances, as well as a childcare matinee.
The creative team for the premiere includes scenic designer Stephanie Osin Cohen, costume designer Alicia J. Austin, lighting designer Reza Behjat, sound designer and composer Frederick Kennedy, and ASL director James Caverly. Casting is by Ada Karamanyan, and stage management includes stage manager Kara Kaufman and assistant stage manager Seth Betzler.