Mosaic Theater of DC’s 2017-2018 season will consist of eight plays, including two world premieres, the company’s first musical, the company’s second musical, a special three-night presentation of a ninth play, and a national tour of three additional plays.
Not bad for a company’s third season.
Mosaic will launch its season with the off-Broadway solo musical hit, The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, with Miche Braden in the title role. Set in a Memphis buffet flat just after Smith refused to sing in a whites-only venue which required her to use the back door, Angelo Parra’s play uses Smith’s music as a way of giving her biography. Smith’s “outsized talents — and personality — are vividly channeled through a powerhouse performance by Miche Braden,” says the L.A. Times’ Phillip Brandes. Joe Brancato, who directed the original off-Broadway production, directs here. From August 24 to September 24, 2017.
Next, a tailor and his apprentice struggle to make a bespoke suit out of vicuña wool for a real estate tycoon preparing for his second Presidential debate. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead in John Robert Baitz’s Vicuña is purely coincidental, but Variety’s Peter Debruge calls the play an “astonishingly timely, withering political satire”. The Mosaic production, which Robert Egan will direct, will include an epilogue based on Baitz’s encounter with a drunk Trump supporter during the inauguration weekend this year. Vicuña and Epilogue will run from November 1-26 of this year.
At roughly the same time, Mosaic will be presenting two one-actor productions, The Real Americans and Draw the Circle. The Real Americans chronicles actor-journalist Dan Hoyle’s travel through small-town America, where he meets “union coal miners, rural drug dealers, anti-war Veterans, and closeted gay creation theory experts” and learns to portray them without liberal condescension. The New Yorker praised Hoyle’s “smart, entertaining, funny, insightful, and surprising one-man show,” Directed by Charlie Varon, The Real Americans runs from November 10 to December 22, 2017.
In rep with The Real Americans, Mashuq Deen’s Draw the Circle tells what it was like for a woman to come out as a man — to his conservative Muslim family (not fun). Deen presents the story from the point of view of everyone involved except the protagonist himself. “Draw the Circle is truly a tour de force,” say Martha Keravouri and Chuck Galle of Triangle Arts & Entertainment, a review site. “Mashuq Mustaq Deen is a phenomenal performer. It must be said also that this is not a Sunday sermon; there is not an iota of preachiness here. This is a love story, pure and simple; it just surrounds a very difficult subject.” Chaw Yew directs; from December 1-24 of this year.
Mosaic kicks off the new year, and the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, with a commissioned work — Caleen Sinette Jennings’ Queens Girl in Africa, featuring Erika Rose. Queens Girl in Africa is a sequel to Jennings’ highly successful Queens Girl in the World, which DCTS reviewer Jessica Pearson called “a poignant, hilarious journey of self-discovery.” In Queens Girl in Africa, Jacqueline Marie Butler (Rose) sets sail to Nigeria after the assassination of her father’s close friend, Malcolm X. Paige Hernandez will direct Queens Girl in Africa, which will run from January 4 to 28.
Mosaic’s second musical is the American premiere of Paper Dolls, Phillip Himberg’s story about five Filipino guest workers who, by day, care for elderly Orthodox men in Tel Aviv and by night — why, they headline a drag show! Harry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard says that Paper Dolls is “a big-hearted show, which ends on an emphatically feelgood note.” From March 29 to April 22, 2018.
In May, Mosaic is going forward to the past — specifically, to Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies. This show, which had a sold-out run for Mosaic in 2016, is about an African-American raised in a White family — and his Black friend, who is worried that he had lost his Blackness. Kelly McCorkendale, reviewing it last year for DCTS, observed that “Hooded is an amazing production, all around. Hands down, one of the funniest, most important, deeply aching plays I have ever seen.” Serge Seiden will once again direct. From May 2 to June 3 of next year.
Mosaic will finish its season with The Vagrant Trilogy, Parts I and II in rep. Immigration attorney Mona Mansour has written three plays; the first, The Hour of Feeling describes the life of an immigrant who travels to England to support his wife, about to give a career-defining lecture, in the second, The Vagrant, the protagonist is now up for professorship but must explain terrorist activities in his country; in the third, Urge for Going, the protagonist finds himself in a refugee camp, The first two episodes run from May 31 to June 24, 2018; the third story runs from June 18-20.
In addition to these production, Mosaic will be producing I Shall Not Hate, Wrestling Jerusalem, and Via Dolorosa as part of its Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival National Tour. Mosaic has not yet announced dates and locations for these productions.