The Public Theater has unveiled titles for its 2021–2022 season, marking the organization’s return to its Off-Broadway home at Astor Place.
The lineup includes works that were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, works developed during the extended hiatus, and longtime collaborations finally reaching a public stage. Responding to calls for racial equity while the theatre remained closed, Artistic Director Oskar Eustis says that the season was developed to feature BIPOC individuals in more than half of the artistic leadership roles.
The world premiere of the musical The Visitor, by Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey, and Kwame Kwei-Armah, will begin October 7 (opening night is set for November 4). The musical, based on the Thomas McCarthy film, is directed by Daniel Sullivan and choreographed by Lorin Latarro. Tony winners David Hyde Pierce and Ari’el Stachel are among the previously announced cast members returning, having been tapped for the show's initially scheduled March 2020 bow.
Another piece originally slated for the season cut short will follow: Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s cullud wattah. Candis C. Jones directs the November 2–December 5 run, which will mark the world premiere of the play that earned Dickerson-Despenza this year’s Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
Out of Time, a collection of world premiere monologue plays, commissioned and produced by the National Asian American Theatre Company, will be presented in February 2022. Les Waters will direct the works, written by Jaclyn Backhaus, Sam Chanse, Mia Chung, Naomi Iizuka, and Anna Ouyang Moench. Each piece will be performed by an actor over 60 as they explore age, memory, motherhood, and identity.
The same month, the Public will team up with Barrington Stage Company and Ma-Yi Theater Company to present Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady, about Afong Moy, the first Chinese women to immigrate to the United States. Ralph B. Peña will direct.
Shaina Taub, a Public mainstay, will present her long-gestating musical about suffragists, now titled Suffs, in a world premiere in March. Leigh Silverman will direct, with choreography by Raja Feather Kelly. Rounding out the season are, in April, Mona Mansour’s The Vagrant Trilogy (directed by Mark Wing-Davey), and, in May, the New York premiere of James Ijames’ Shakespeare-inspired Fat Ham (directed by Saheem Ali).
Over the course of the season, the Public will showcase pieces penned by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks through her quest to create a play a day during the pandemic. Niegel Smith will direct the series, titled Plays for the Plague Year.
The Public’s Joe’s Pub space will also welcome in-person audiences beginning this fall; the current lineup throughout 2021 includes Justin Vivian Bond, Taylor Mac, The Skivvies, Peppermint, and Sandra Bernhard.
Additional signature and new series on the roster include the return of Mobile Unit in Corrections, bringing theatre tools and workshops to incarcerated communities; the 18th Under the Radar Festival in January 2022; theatre artist Daniel Alexander Jones’ Altar No. 1 – Aten shared in weekly installments beginning September 22; and the Hunts Point Children’s Shakespeare Ensemble program, culminating in a May production of Twelfth Night.
In line with recent Equity agreements and New York City mandates, all individuals—staff, artists, and audiences—will be required to show proof of complete vaccination against COVID-19. Face masks will also be required.
For more information about each of the titles and the Public’s safety protocols, visit PublicTheater.org.