Mosaic Theater, buoyed by a million-dollar grant from the Logan Foundation, will launch an eight-play second season which will “unearth and investigate issues of race, social inequity, and the process of seeking truth and reconciliation that is at the heart of Mosaic’s focus,” Founding Artistic Director Ari Roth announced.
The Mosaic season will feature a bio-play written by an acclaimed critic, the world premiere of a play by a new local playwright, and directorial appearances by Eleanor Holdridge, Jennifer L. Nelson, Natsu Onoda Power and Joy Zinoman.
The Mosaic season begins with Terry Teachout’s Sachmo at the Waldorf, a one-actor (Craig Wallace) play about the legendary Louis Armstong. Teachout, the Wall Street Journal’s theater critic and an Armstrong biographer, also introduces Armstrong’s hard-bitten Jewish manager, Joe Glaser, and Armstrong’s competitor and critic, Miles Davis. “By the show’s end, you sense the profound fortitude that lay beneath the avuncular surface of this giant, and you are newly appreciative of his singular place in history,” says Andy Webster of the New York Times. Holdridge directs; from August 25 to October 2 of this year.
Kirstin Greenidge’s Milk Like Sugar will run next at Mosaic’s Atlas Performing Arts Center home, playing between November 2 and 23, 2016. Greenidge’s story is about teenage girls whose expectations are so low that they hope to attain freedom and status by getting pregnant, and they make a pact to do so. One of the young women begins to aspire to an achievement-filled future, and is ostracized by her friends and family for it. Don Aucoin of the Boston Globe says “Greenidge examines the forces that shape her characters not with the gimlet eye of the sociologist but the searching gaze of the dramatist and the heart of a humanist. We care about them because she does.” Nelson will direct.
Mosaic starts the new year with Phillip Dawkins’ Charm, a modern story of the battle of the sexes. Based on a true story of a transgendered woman who opens a charm school for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth, Charm “is not only charming but has the potential to be a real hit,” according to Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune. Power will direct this show, which will run from January 4 to 29, 2017.
Next up is the world premiere of Hooded: Or Being Black for Dummies, a new play by Catholic University MFA Tearrance Arvelle Chisolm. Serge Seiden will direct this story about a book-smart young African-American man from Achievement Heights, Maryland, who is selected by a fellow holding-cell inmate for lessons in how to recover his “blackness.” The two butt heads but come to some understandings, including that Tupac Shakur and Nietzsche were saying the same thing. Hooded won the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s First Place Hip Hop Creator Award and Second Place Lorraine Hansberry Award. From January 25 to February 19 of next year.
Mosaic will stage two plays about South Africa in rep — Athol Fugard’s The Blood Knot and A Human Being Died That Night, Nicholas Wright’s adaptation of Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela’s account of her interrogation of the Apartheid-era torturer and assassin Eugene de Kock.
Fugard’s play, which Zinoman will direct, is a story of two half-brothers, one considerably darker skinned than the other, who live together in a miserable shack in the South African city of Port Elizabeth. The darker brother takes up a correspondence with a white woman, and harbors fantasies of a romantic relationship, but when she announces that she is coming to Port Elizabeth, he realizes that he would be arrested if he met with her — so he sends his brother in his stead. The ensuing exercise makes the brothers realize some unpleasant truths about the way they feel about each other. This play motivated the South African government to revoke Fugard’s passport. Mel Gussow of the New York Times called the play, “[an artfully executed theatrical dialogue…one can discover the seeds of the author’s art. Themes, motifs, images and the author’s own impassioned conscience are all there in organic form.” Blood Knot will run from March 29 to April 30, 2017.
A Human Being Died That Night is a dramatization of the prison interviews Gobodo-Madikizela had with de Kock, a state-sanctioned killer who had been sentenced to two life terms in prison plus 212 years. ” Wright’s play…cleverly excavates the natural drama of the situation, in which a white Afrikaner man and a black South African woman face each other across a table. This is not just two people. It is the old South Africa and the new South Africa. It is a test of them both, and of the limits – or not – of forgiveness and empathy,” said Lyn Gardner of The Guardian. A Human Being will run from April 7 to 30 of next year; Mosaic has not yet announce a director.
Mosaic wraps up with two plays from its Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival, Ulysses on Bottles and The Return. Gilad Evron’s Ulysses on Bottles, which won the Israel Theater Prize’s Best Original Play award in 2012, tells the story of a Israeli-Arab man sails into Gaza on a raft floating on plastic bottles, ostensibly to teach Russian. Helen Kaye of the Jerusalem Post called it “an allegory on the definition of freedom— what it means, what it entails and what it demands”. It will run from May 18 to June 11, 2017.
The Return is Palestinian playwright Hanna Eady’s story about the conflicted relationship between a Palestinian mechanic and an Israeli woman from his past. Mosaic calls it “[f]our Pinteresque scenes deftly unfold a story of love, betrayal, guilt, and challenge.” The Return will run from June 8 to July 2, 2017. Mosaic has not announced directors for either of the Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival plays.