The debut of a new audio play for our times and the virtual revival of an annual Eastertime event are among the compelling offerings of New York City theater to check out this weekend.
Keen Company, All We Need Is Us – Up next in the Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning Off-Broadway company’s Hear/Now season of audio theater is the world premiere of a newly commissioned play by James Anthony Tyler. Recipient of the 3rd Annual Horton Foote Playwriting Award and one of the acclaimed inaugural playwrights to receive a commission from Audible (hop thA A, which premiered on February 18), Tyler has been a close member of the Keen community since his previous commission of Around 2 for the Keen Teens program in 2018. “As in that play,” said Keen Artistic Director Jonathan Silverstein, “James has beautifully interwoven an intimate and personal tale while at the same time adroitly addressing the present moment.”
Set in the unprecedented times of the summer of 2020, while the pandemic rages through New York City, the narrative follows expectant parents Lymere and Halen, who are threatened with imminent eviction as they await the birth of their first child. But they come to the hopeful realization that at least they are not alone; they can rely on each other. Directed by Jamil Jude, the audio play stars Drama Desk Award winner MaameYaa Boafo (School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play), Ronald Emile, and Tony Award Winner Ari’el Stachel (The Band’s Visit), with sound design by Justin Ellington and sound engineering by Garrett Schultz.
Streaming begins on Friday March 26, at 7 pm, and is available free on your favorite podcasting apps, including Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and more. To listen, go to the Keen Company website and click on a link. If you’d like to support Keen Company by purchasing a season membership (starting at just $1/month), you can receive early access to all episodes, as well as exclusive bonus content that includes talkbacks with playwrights and artists, panel discussions with experts, behind-the-scenes interviews, digital programs, and opening-night premiere parties.
Dzieci Theatre, A Passion 2021 – In 2012, Brooklyn-based Dzieci was invited to work with a group of nuns at The Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT, to create a Passion play for their Holy Week. It inspired the company to seek the essence of this sacred ritual, beginning with the earliest translations of the liturgy and the Gospel According to Matthew. Relying heavily on the Aramaic Peshitta version of the Bible, the group integrated Hebraic song and chant, and ritual elements of Judaism, and set their revision in the shadow of the Warsaw Ghetto. After consecutive years of performances, in 2020, with the COVID-19 shutdown of live theater, the piece was recreated on Zoom.
This year, the company will gather in person to present the special holiday event as a livestream from Boughton Place – a non-profit center in the Hudson Valley dedicated to providing education, community, and a platform for the arts – in the form of “a dramatic choral liturgy unbound.” Dzieci believes that, whether Christian, Jew, or Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Zen, A Passion will appeal to the human spirit in everyone and our essential desire for communion.
A Passion 2021 streams on Sunday, March 28, at 3 pm, and will be available on demand beginning on April 1. For tickets, starting at $20, go online. Dzieci is sustained solely through viewers’ contributions; ticket purchases will help to cover expenses for the retreat at Boughton Place that enabled this production.
You can watch an excerpt from the 2014 production below: