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Heather Velazquez and Andhy Mendez in "Celia and Fidel," at Arena Stage in 2020. (Photo by Margot Schulman)

Arena Stage Announces Updated 2020-21 Season

The season will open in January of 2021 will ‘Celia and Fidel,’ which was cut short this spring.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Arena Stage has announced an updated 2020-21 season. The season will open with live performances  in January of 2021, and will include a few shows postponed or cut short from the 2019-20 season.

“We are a theatre that focuses on American plays, American ideas, and American artists,” said artistic director Molly Smith in the livestreamed announcement. “The double impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have made us as Americans more introspective than before. It’s a time for looking deeply inward. We need a combination of soulfulness and joy. Arena’s season offers both thought-provoking and joyful projects that provide a powerful antidote to this moment in time. The season is full of soul and champagne, with energizing stories and soaring music.”

The updated season will begin in January with Eduardo Machado’s Celia and Fidel  (Jan. 22-March 7, 2021) . Originally produced for the 2019-20 season, with a foreshortened run, the play follows Fidel Castro’s rise to power and his closest confidant. Smith will direct.

Next will be Toni Stone (March 11- April 25, 2020), by Lydia R. Diamond, about the first female athlete to play professional baseball in the Negro Leagues. Pam MacKinnon will direct.

 Following will be August Wilson’s Seven Guitars (April 23-May 23, 2020), about seven friends who reunite unexpectedly when a gifted blues artist dies. Tazewell Thompson will direct.

The season will continue with the world premiere musical American Prophet: Frederick Douglass In His Own Words (May 28-July 3, 2020), co-written by Charles Randolph-Wright and Marcus Hummon. Randolph-Wright will direct this new musical about the human rights leader who changed the course of history.

The season will close out with Britta Johnson’s Life After (Aug. 13-Sept. 26, 2020), a musical about the complexities of love and loss when a young girl discovers secrets about her recently deceased father. Annie Tippe will direct.

“Our North Star remains the health and wellbeing of our employees and artists,” said executive producer Edgar Dobie in a statement. “Equally, it is our duty to adhere to all health authority directives in creating a safe place for our many patrons to gather to enjoy a production. Arena Stage finds its resiliency in the value our many supporters have placed on our enterprise and the confidence they are all expressing in our mission to create a safe place where all are welcome. Let’s keep Arena in the low risk cohort of institutions that will emerge from this pandemic changed for certain and as purposeful as ever.”

Arena Stage, founded in 1950 by Zelda Fichandler, produces diverse works with writers and theatres across the country.

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ADV – Billboard