Round House Theatre is making streaming news with their project Homebound, a new web series bringing together DC-area playwrights, actors, and designers to explore life under stay-at-home orders in the Nation’s Capital. The ten-minute episodes will air on YouTube over ten weeks, from April 27 to June 29, 2020. This original offering is part of RHT’s initiative Round House at Your House, an intriguing new set of programs that also includes theater education challenges, a playwright discussion series, and quarantine cocktail recipes from the bartenders at the Fourth Wall Bar & Café.
Homebound will unfold each week as a chain story, with a new playwright assigned to write a scene that continues the previous episode. Each scene will be written for two actors, who will film themselves separately from home after rehearsing under the remote direction of Round House Artistic Director Ryan Rilette and Associate Artistic Director Nicole A. Watson. Rilette and Watson both recently received Helen Hayes nominations for Outstanding Direction in a Play for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play, respectively.
“We are launching Homebound in order to address two very important issues,” Ryan Rilette explains. “First, we believe that art must play an important role in helping us to process the incredible moment we’re living through. Second, we care greatly about the artists who lost work as a result of the cancellations of theaters across the nation, and we wanted to put to work the local actors who lost paychecks as a result of our closures. Unlike those of us on staffs working to keep theaters alive, our artists don’t get a steady paycheck. During difficult times like these, they are hurt disproportionately.” Rilette adds, “We can’t create live theater right now—and of course nothing can replace it—but we hope our audience will enjoy seeing some of their favorite local artists creating new work virtually. We can’t wait to see people back at the theater soon, but until we can all be together, we hope everyone will tune in to Homebound and enjoy new stories in a new medium.”
Humorist and Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri will write the first episode of Homebound. The other playwrights, in episode order, are Karen Zacarías (The Book Club Play, Destiny of Desire), Farah Lawal Harris (Artistic Director of Young Playwrights’ Theater, current member of The Welders), Liz Maestri (Sinner-Man, Owl Moon), Psalmayene 24 (The Freshest Snow Whyte, Cinderella: The Remix), Tim J. Lord (“We Declare You a Terrorist…”, making its world premiere as part of Round House’s 2020–2021 season), Audrey Cefaly (The Gulf, Alabaster), Dani Stoller (Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes), Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi (Klytmnestra: An Epic Slam Poem, For Black Trans Girls Who Gotta Cuss A Motherf*cker Out When Snatching An Edge Ain’t Enough), and Caleen Sinnette Jennings (Queens Girl in the World, Queens Girl in Africa). These episodes will be performed by an incredible cast of actors who will be guided by “backstage” advisors in addition to the directors. More details, including a list of the full cast and creative team, can be found on the Homebound website.
Round House Theatre is one of the leading professional theaters in the Washington, DC, area, producing a season of new plays, modern classics, and musicals for more than 40,000 patrons each year at their theater in Bethesda. Round House has been nominated for 197 Helen Hayes Awards and has won 37, including four Outstanding Resident Play Awards and the Charles MacArthur Award for Original New Play in 2016. Round House’s lifelong learning and education programs serve more than 5,000 students each year at its Education Center in Silver Spring, in schools throughout Montgomery County, and at their Bethesda theater. Cornerstone programs include Free Play, which provides free tickets for students age 13 to college, the Teen Performance Company, which culminates in the student-produced Sarah Metzger Memorial Play, Summer Camp for students in grades K–12, and a full slate of classes for Adults & Youth. Round House at Your House is fully funded by new contributions from the Round House Board of Trustees.
Tax-deductible contributions can be made on the Round House Theatre website.