the week of march 11-17, 2023
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an update on the cleveland play house debacle
To recap: in January, playwright Charly Evon Simpson pulled the rights to her play I’m Back Now weeks before its scheduled world premiere at the Cleveland Play House. Simpson and director Stori Ayers withdrew from the production after an actor was sexually assaulted in company housing and CPH grossly mishandled the aftermath. After issuing one of the worst public apologies I’ve ever read, the Cleveland Play House announced a series of changes, including:
CPH contracted new, secure housing for visiting artists
All managers and supervisors will be trained and retrained on Reporting Compliance Procedures; all employees will undergo sexual harassment training or retraining this season
The theatre established a Collaborative Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access (CEDIA) committee, consisting of board and staff members
All artists involved in the canceled production of I’m Back Now will receive full compensation. (It’s worth noting that this comes after two grievances were filed with Actors’ Equity over non-payment.)
The new initiatives dropped in the wake of additional public pressure and testimonials from former employees. First, a group of BIPOC artistic and executive leaders wrote an open letter to the theatre’s leadership, condemning CPH’s retaliatory press statement and demanding accountability:
Actor Molly Hernández, who appeared in CPH’s American Mariachi last fall, publicly shared that she had previously raised concerns about the safety and conditions of artist housing. Hernández said she was drugged at a nearby bar CPH recommended to visiting artists — and that the theatre continued to recommend the establishment after her experience.
Former managing director Collette A. Laisure — who left in October 2022 after joining the theatre in an interim capacity in February 2021 — wrote about her difficult tenure: “It angers me that my presence as the first woman of color (black woman) to serve as managing director was not enough to disrupt this egregious behavior and disrespect.”
Cleveland Play House is currently searching for a permanent artistic director and managing director — and I think an overhaul of that board is equally needed.
The world premiere of Julia Izumi’s Regretfully, So the Birds Are starts performances March 22nd at Playwrights Horizons in a co-pro with WP Theater. Jenny Koons directs the “wild, farcical tragedy that gleefully flips the human quest for self-discovery on its head.”
Dave Harris’ Watch Me will have a one-day reading on March 20th as part of Manhattan Theatre Club’s Ted Snowdon Reading Series. The “wild ass love story of a couple from their first date, to their first time, to a reckoning with sex, ancestry, desire, and Black Jesus” is directed by Miranda Haymon.
Kev Berry’s Rough Trade is now playing at The Tank. Alex Tobey directs the “vicious comedy about classism, chosen family, and holding on (too) tightly to the ones you love.”
Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches starts performances March 24th at Arena Stage. The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic drama is directed by János Szász. (Arena will also host a one-night-only reading of Part Two: Perestroika on April 17th.)
Cheryl L. West’s SHOUT SISTER SHOUT! is now playing through May 13th at Ford’s Theatre in DC. Kenneth L. Roberson directs the new musical chronicling the life and legacy of influential rock/gospel singer and activist Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Jacqueline Goldfinger’s Backwards Forwards Back runs March 24 - April 23 at Urbanite Theatre Sarasota. The NNPN rolling world premiere about a veteran grappling with PTSD and virtual reality therapy is directed by Brendan Ragan.
World Premiere Wisconsin, a statewide festival celebrating new work, is now running through June 30th. New plays and musicals produced and workshopped by the 47 participating theaters will “explore, illuminate, and celebrate the vastness of Wisconsin’s story, culture, and the many people who make up this great state.”
The Fled Collective’s late-night play competition Serials returns March 23-25 and March 30-April 1. The Fled’s resident company of artists perform original short episodic plays, while the audience votes for its favorites to return with a new installment. The returning works are Chloé Hayat’s Madame Couché's Hot Tarts End the French Revolution, Allison Merkel’s Catching Fire, and Josiah Thomas Turner’s MTV’s Spookz!.
Nicole Gluckstern’s radio play The Forever Wave will broadcast on various Bay Area radio stations through March 28th. Set in a drowned San Francisco in 2070, the “study in resilience, resourcefulness, and community-building” was inspired by Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood.
2023 season updates
South Coast Repertory announced the 2023 Pacific Playwrights Festival line-up. The festival will feature world premiere productions of Michael Shayan’s avaaz (directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel) and Charlie Oh’s Coleman ’72 (directed by Chay Yew), as well as five staged readings: Anika and Britta Johnson and Nick Green’s musical Dr. Silver (directed by Logan Vaughn); Clarence Coo’s Chapters of a Floating Life; Bleu Beckford-Burrell’s Crasiss (directed by Lili-Anne Brown); Eleanor Burgess’ Galilee, 34; and Noa Gardner’s A Small Man (directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch).
Goodspeed Opera House announced its 2023 summer season. The East Haddam, CT theatre will produce Gypsy (directed by Jenn Thompson), Dreamgirls (directed by Lili-Anne Brown), Robert Schenkkan and Neil Berg's The 12 (directed by John Doyle), and the world premiere of Summer Stock (directed by Donna Feore).
PlayPenn announced its 2023 programming. The Philadelphia organization will present four readings by local playwrights (Robynne Graffam, Griffin Horn, Devin Randall, and Megan Schumacher) and two workshop presentations: one from a local Latiné writer in partnership with The Sol Project and DeLanna Studi’s "I" is for Invisible. The company also announced a series of initiatives: a year-long professional development program for emerging local playwrights (The Playwrights Cohort at PlayPenn); Videologues, a series of interviews with creative luminaries in the new play development field; and migrating to a donation-based pay-what-you-can model.
Stephen Sondheim’s final musical Here We Are will premiere at The Shed in September. The long-gestating musical — inspired by the work of Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel — features a book by David Ives and will be directed by Joe Mantello.
2023-24 season announcements
Portland Center Stage announced its 2023-24 season. The line-up includes the musical Hair (directed by Isaac Lamb); David Saffert & Jillian Snow’s Liberace & Liza Holiday at the Mansion (A Tribute); Kate Hamill’s Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really (directed by Marissa Wolf); Heidi Schreck’s What the Constitution Means to Me (directed by Wolf); Octavio Solis’ Quixote Nuevo (directed by Lisa Portes, co-pro with South Coast and Seattle Rep); Coriolanus (directed by Rosa Joshi); Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s (directed by Chip Miller); and one play TBA.
City Theatre Company announced its 2023-24 season. The Pittsburgh theatre will produce Brian Quijada’s Somewhere Over the Border (co-pro with Pittsburgh CLO and People’s Light), Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon’s Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (directed by Kyle Haden), Tami Dixon’s South Side Stories Revisited (directed by Matt M. Morrow), James Ijames’ Fat Ham (directed by Monteze Freeland, co-pro with TheatreSquared), and Brent Askari’s Andy Warhol in Iran (directed by Marc Masterson).
TheatreSquared announced its 2023-24 season. The Fayetteville, AR company’s line-up includes Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Dial M for Murder, David Yazbeck and Itamar Moses’ musical The Band’s Visit, Heidi Schreck’s What the Constitution Means to Me, Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, Alexis Scheer’s Laughs in Spanish, James Ijames’ Fat Ham, and the world premiere of Joseph Scott Ford’s Responders.
the regional theatre game of thrones
Peter Brosius is stepping down as artistic director of the Children’s Theatre Company. He has led the Minneapolis TYA theatre for 27 years.
Rebecca Bradshaw is the new artistic director of Gloucester Stage Company. Bradshaw was most recently the producing artistic director of the Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca; she succeeds Robert Walsh, who stepped down at the end of the 2021 season.
things i read this week when i wasn’t losing my oscar pool
Kevin Ritter’s profile of Dark Disabled Stories playwright/actor Ryan Haddad, the inaccessibility of New York City’s infrastructure, and how some Off-Broadway theatres are redesigning their spaces to be more accessible to disabled artists and audiences. (Urban Omnibus)
Alexis Hauk for American Theatre on Florida Studio Theatre’s The Recovery Project, a new venture led by Sean Daniels to create new work, education programs, and outreach initiatives that combat stigma and change narratives around addiction and substance abuse disorders.
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