WASHINGTON, D.C.: Arena Stage has announced its 2020-21 season, featuring five world premieres.
“This is one of our most ambitious seasons yet, with five world premieres, four Power Plays, and three musicals,” said artistic director Molly Smith in a statement. “This season is full of con men and saints, strong comedies and terrific dramas, and so much music! It’s a joy to see our Power Play commissioning program yield such remarkable and diverse stories, from 1770s to 1920s to 1960s to right now.”
The season will kick off with the world premiere of American Prophet: Frederick Douglass in His Own Words (July 10-Aug. 16), written and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, with music, lyrics, and book by Marcus Hummon. The new musical celebrates the enduring legacy of Frederick Douglass, played by Cornelius Smith Jr.
Next up will be the world premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s Enlightenment (Sept. 11-Oct. 18), which explores witchcraft, equality, and women’s rights in 1776. Rebeck will direct this work as part of the Power Play series.
Following will be the world premiere of The Change (Oct. 9-Nov. 1), conceived and directed by Mike Daisey. The play is a personal call to confront the climate crisis and takes place in the past, present, and future.
The season will continue with Catch Me If You Can (Oct. 23-Dec. 13), with book by Terrence McNally, music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman. Based on the Dreamworks film, the musical follows the adventures of a young con man who posed as an airline pilot, doctor, lawyer, and escaped police custody. Corbin Bleu will star, Parker Esse will choreograph, and Smith will direct.
Next up will be Pearl Cleage’s Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous (Nov. 12-Dec. 20), produced in association with Denver Center Theatre Company and Hartford Stage. The comedy follows the staging of a play about the lack of female voices in August Wilson’s 10-play Century Cycle, and the tension between the playwright and the inexperienced actor cast in the leading role. Susan V. Booth will direct.
Following will be Life After (Jan. 15-Feb. 21, 2021), with book, music, and lyrics by Britta Johnson. The musical is about a grieving 16-year-old who sets out to investigate her father’s untimely death. Ann Yee will choreograph and Annie Tippe will direct.
Next will be the world premiere of Rashomon (Feb. 5-March 7, 2021), by Fay Kanin and Michael Kanin. Based on stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Rashomon is about the search for truth after a samurai is found dead in the forest and conflicting accounts are presented about the event. Seema Sueko will direct.
The season will continue with The High Ground (Feb. 26-April 11, 2021), a Power Play commission from Nathan Alan Davis, about an African American soldier’s crusade to restore the town of Tulsa after its destruction in the infamous 1921 race riots. Megan Sandberg-Zakian will direct.
The season will close with the world premiere of Change Agent (April 23-May 30, 2021), a Power Play by Craig Lucas, imagines conversations between historical figures whose decisions shaped our country today. Smith will direct.
Arena Stage, founded in 1950 by Zelda Fichandler, produces diverse works with writers and theatres across the country.