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From left, Jay O. Sanders, Laila Robins and Maryann Plunkett in Richard Nelson's "Sorry," at New York City's Public Theater in 2012, one of four Apple Family plays. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Public Theater Announces 2016-17 Season, Featuring 5 World Premieres

The season features 2 new plays from Richard Nelson, the NYC premiere of Lynn Nottage’s ‘Sweat,’ and another David Byrne/Alex Timbers musical.

NEW YORK CITY: The Public Theater has announced the 2016-17 season, its 61st, featuring four world premiere plays, four New York premieres, a New York revival, a world premiere musical, and the 13th Under the Radar Festival.

“The Public is firing on all cylinders, and this season reflects the tremendous diversity of our work,” artistic director Oskar Eustis said in a statement.

The season will launch with the Public Works free presentation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Sept. 2-5) at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The production is conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah, who will direct, and Shaina Taub, who will write music and lyrics.

Next up will be the world premiere of the second play in Richard Nelson’s three-play cycle, The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family. Entitled What Did You Expect? (Sept. 10-Oct. 2), the play is set in the kitchen of a family as the country is in the midst of a general election for president. Meg Gibson, Lynn Hawley, Roberta Maxwell, Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, and Amy Warren will star, and Nelson will also direct.

The theatre will next revive David Hare’s Plenty (Oct. 4-Nov. 6) , featuring Corey Stoll and Rachel Weisz. The play, which first played at the Public in 1982, follows Susan Traherne, a British secret agent who arrives in France during World War II. David Leveaux will direct.

The New York premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat (Oct. 18-Nov. 20) will be next. The play, which was co-commissioned by and previously played at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Arena Stage in D.C., follows a group of friends in Reading, Pa., as they deal with layoffs at the local factory. Kate Whoriskey will direct.

UNIVERSES’s Party People (Nov. 1-Dec. 4) will have its New York premiere next. The ensemble-driven work explores complicated legacies of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Org/Party. The UNIVERSES are Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, and William Ruiz, a.k.a. “Ninja.” Millicent Johnnie will choreograph, and Liesl Tommy, who also developed the piece, will direct.

Women of a Certain Age, the third play in Richard Nelson’s aforementioned three-play cycle, will follow (Nov. 4-27). On election night the Gabriel family awaits the results of the presidential election. Meg Gibson, Lynn Hawley, Roberta Maxwell, Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, and Amy Warren will star, and Nelson will also direct.

Next is the world premiere of Tiny Beautiful Things (Nov. 15-Dec. 18), adapted from Cheryl Strayed’s book by Nia Vardalos and co-conceived by Vardalos with Marshall Heyman and Thomas Kai. Vardalos will star as “Sugar,” the pen name of Strayed’s advice column for The Rumpus, and Kail will direct.

The 13th edition of the Under the Radar Festival (Jan. 4-15, 2017) will start the new year. Curated by UTR director Mark Russell, the 12-day event brings artists from around the world.

The world premiere of David Byrne’s Saint Joan (Feb. 14-March 19, 2017) will be next. The musical explores the rise of Joan of Arc and will be directed by Alex Timbers. Timbers and Byrne previously collaborated at the Public on Here Lies Love, about the life of Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos.

Ethan Lipton’s The Outer Space (Feb. 24-April 2) will make its New York premiere at Joe’s Pub next. With music by Lipton, Vito Dieterle, Eben Levy, and Ian Riggs, the show follows a married couple who leave Earth for the final frontier. Leigh Silverman will direct.

Next is Martin Sherman’s Gently Down the Stream (March 14-April 16, 2017). Harvey Feirstein will play an American pianist in London who falls for a young man at the dawn of the Internet dating revolution, as the two explore their different attitudes toward romance in a world that doesn’t always accept their love. Sean Mathias will direct.

The New York premiere of John Leguizamo: Latin History for Morons (March 17-April 23) will be next. Written by and starring Leguizamo, the one-man show attempts to retell and reclaim the history of Latinos in the Americas. The show, presented in a coproduction with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, will be directed by Berkeley Rep’s Tony Taccone.

The season will also feature free Shakespeare in the Park; next summer’s shows will be announced at a later date. There will also be two new shows in the theatre’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit, which will tour for free to prisons, homeless shelters, social advocacy organizations, and other community venues in the five boroughs.

Founded in 1954, the Public Theater produces Shakespeare, the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental works.

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