Studio’s 2019-2020 season brings plays from around the globe to DC, sharing their expansive curiosity and theatrical dexterity with audiences across the city.
The plays of the 2019-2020 season are impressively different from one another but all speak to the purpose of Studio’s work: to take some of the most urgent problems or complex personal questions we face and match them with human-sized stories. Each play has great parts for great actors and plunges its audience into the thick of its characters’ struggle. Some are funny, some are chilling; all powerfully illuminate our present moment.
BY JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY
DIRECTED BY MATT TORNEY
2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; 2005 Tony for Best New Play
BEGINS SEP 4
“A lean, potent drama…passionate, exquisite, important and engrossing." —Newsday
The Bronx, 1964. Suspicions surface at a parochial school about a charismatic young priest’s interest in a Catholic school’s first and only Black student. Absent hard proof, Sister Aloysius, the school’s starched and self-assured principal, tries to protect the innocent—but is she doing God’s work or is her certitude actually pride? Doubt is John Patrick Shanley’s masterpiece about faith, ambiguity, and the price of moral conviction.
Although the New York production of Doubt came through Washington on its national tour, Studio’s production of John Patrick Shanley’s moral drama is the first revival in a DC professional residential theatre. Set in a Catholic school in 1964, decades before the Church began to publicly grapple with clergy abuse, Doubt is as complex as it was 15 years ago, and its questions of how to handle unprovable suspicions—and how the most vulnerable usually bear the brunt of unequal justice—are as timely as ever.
BY ANCHULI FELICIA KING
DIRECTED BY DESDEMONA CHIANG
BEGINS NOV 6
Clearday is a cosmetics company on the rise: Based in Singapore, launching a global skincare range, and bringing a start-up mentality to the big leagues. But a draft ad for their latest skin whitening cream surfaces on YouTube, gathering views and outrage. As morning nears in the U.S. market—19,643 views. 467,327. 654,398.—Clearday’s all-female team hustle to contain the damage before Buzzfeed weighs in: Someone’s definitely getting fired. A comedy from rising Thai-Australian writer Anchuli Felicia King about toxic corporate culture, selling whiteness, and shame as both a cultural commodity and canny marketing strategy.
Anchuli Felicia King’s ruthless comedy has smarts and swagger. Set in a glass-walled conference room with six women from different Asian backgrounds and ease with English running damage control, it’s a look at millennial corporate culture, accountability in the age of social media, and the pernicious ugliness of the beauty industry. King’s first play to receive a professional production, White Pearl comes to DC on the heels of its world premiere at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY DANIEL KITSON
BEGINS NOV 19
“Monologist extraordinaire—unconditionally engaged and engaging” —The New York Times
A new show about how much past the present can usefully contain. About rigor and generosity. About postcards and hair pins and a certificate from Harry Ramsden’s in Blackpool. About how long it takes to stop noticing where you are. About the compromise of a full life and the burden of a full heart and how it’s impossible to know where looking back will lead. About the task of being who we are without denying who we’ve been. About the importance of regret and the possibility of hope and the delusional idea of starting again. About all the books I’ve never read and all the jam I’ve ever eaten and the bags of torn tickets and the drawers of empty pens and the inevitable sadness of ever holding on to anything.
About, in short, the stuff in my house and the thoughts in my head.
BY DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU
DIRECTED BY AWOYE TIMPO
BEGINS JAN 15
“An ethically ambiguous drama that raises barbed questions about class, race, parental duty, and the state of American education.” —Variety
Nya is a Black single mom and dedicated teacher at a high-poverty city school, determined to give her teenaged son Omari opportunities that her students will never have. When an altercation with a teacher at his private school threatens Omari’s future, Nya has to fight a system that’s against him in any environment. A searing, eloquent, and deeply compassionate look at a broken education system, the price Black men pay for their anger, and the ferocity of one parent’s love.
Dominique Morisseau returns to Studio after last season’s acclaimed production of Skeleton Crew. Drawn from her mother’s experience as a public school teacher in Detroit—and Dominique’s own observations about the unacknowledged but ingrained racism in privileged education institutions—Pipeline is both a clear-eyed analysis about the costs of systemic racism and a love song to literature’s power to reflect and transform lives.
BY ANTOINETTE NWANDU
DIRECTED BY PSALMAYENE 24
BEGINS MAR 4
“Searing, daring, blazingly theatrical, and thrillingly tense.” —The New York Times (Best Plays of 2018)
Kitch and Moses seem stuck on their street corner, but it don’t matter. They joke, dream, and throw down about the promised land they’re heading to just as soon as they get up off the block—what they’ll eat, who they’ll see, whether today’s the day they’ll pass over. Allegorical and immediate, humorous and chilling, Nwandu’s collision of the Exodus saga and Waiting for Godot probes the forces that have marooned these young Black men, and the power and limitations of their personal resilience.
What if the stories that have shaped you are also a trap? That’s the question at the heart of Antoinette Nwandu’s contemporary riff on Waiting for Godot. In distilled but approachable language, Pass Over is a playful and haunting journey through some of the many moments young Black men have been exhorted to wait—from bondage in Egypt to chattel slavery in the US to Civil Rights era promises of freedom—and what happens when the future holds not the promised land, but the deadly violence that racism renders ordinary for young Black men in America.
MUSIC BY JEANINE TESORI
BOOK & LYRICS BY LISA KRON
BASED ON THE GRAPHIC MEMOIR BY ALISON BECHDEL
DIRECTED BY DAVID MUSE
2015 Tony Award for Best New Musical
BEGINS MAY 13
“A rare beauty, extraordinary and heart-gripping.” —The New York Times
Alison is 9, begging her father to play with her. She is 19, overcome by the aching and joyous pain of first love. She is 43, an out lesbian hunting for the truth of her brilliant, volatile, and closeted father’s life and death. She is all three at once, trying to untangle the central mystery of her childhood: How did she survive their shared hometown, when her father could not? With a score that ranges from exuberant 70s pop to aching melodies and dissonant harmonies of characters longing to be known, Fun Home is the award-winning story of a daughter and father, of coming out and coming to terms with a life shaped by a family’s secrets.
Near the beginning of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, she writes, “My Dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay. And I was gay. And he killed himself. And I…became a lesbian cartoonist.” Fun Home follows these diverging paths in a surprising, hilarious, and truly moving musical, brought up close and intimate in Studio’s Mead Theatre—the perfect space for this illuminating and unmissable piece.
BY ABE KOOGLER
DIRECTED BY LES WATERS
supported by Studio R&D, Studio Theatre’s new works initiative
BEGINS JUN 24
“Mr. Koogler observes the nuances of unequal relationship[s] with delicacy… never strikes a false or strained note.” —The New York Times (about Kill Floor)
Anne and Rob struggled through their artistic 20s, inherited wealth in their 30s, and are spending their affluent late-40s in a life of parties and philanthropy and ideas—irresistible, paradigm-shaping ideas. So when they meet a mysterious young couple promising a grand theory that will explain all the world’s problems, Anne and Rob don’t ask many questions—they just want to continue the conversation, all the way to the cliffs of the Colorado mountains. This Studio commission is a fast-paced and darkly comedic thriller about the poisonous appeal of believing that the best ideas win, and that winners know best.
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