In 2010, award-winning playwright Richard Nelson began his series of plays in The Rhinebeck Panorama, named for the town in upstate New York where he lives. After ten years of installments on the everyday lives of The Apple Family, The Gabriels, and The Michaels, which played Off-Broadway at The Public Theater, the cycle returns on Wednesday, April 29, with a live performance on Zoom of Nelson’s newest and fifth play on The Apples – who were last seen in 2014 – What Do We Need to Talk About?
As with the others in the ongoing cycle, this latest installment will offer insight into the life, outlook, and concerns – personal, social, and political – of an ordinary family in real-time America. But unlike the others, this one is not set at the dinner table, but during a digital group conversation on Zoom, in our current period of coronavirus and quarantine (when Nelson, who also directs, wrote it).
Members of the original Apple family cast – Jon DeVries (Benjamin), Stephen Kunken (Tim), Sally Murphy (Jane), Maryann Plunkett (Barbara), Laila Robins (Marian), and Jay O. Sanders (Richard) – will perform from their homes, in isolation, on the popular digital platform, as if participating in a true virtual conversation. The familiar format of a Zoom call will once again break the boundaries between real life and theater, in the signature style of Nelson and his minimalist epic.
The hour-long world premiere, which can be accessed for free, is being presented as a benefit for The Public Theater. Donations can be made online, on The Public’s website.