Woolly Mammoth begins digital spring with a social-media show

Instagram interaction features in the kickoff play, then two online experiments return plus a musical séance and a virtual gala.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company announces its digital spring line-up that features an interactive and innovative play that repurposes social media; the return of two Woolly on Demand productions; an original film adaptation; and a free virtual Gala. These events will take place at various times through June 2021.

The season begins with The Javaad Alipoor Company’s biting new play, RICH KIDS: A HISTORY OF SHOPPING MALLS IN TEHRAN by Javaad Alipoor and co-created by Javaad Alipoor and Kirsty Housley, recently included in The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival. As the global gap between rich and poor grows and humanity’s destructive impact on the earth rampages on, so does the allure to watch the carnage unfold on social media – and audiences are invited to join in online. Streaming live April 1 – 18, 2021 at woollymammoth.net.

“One of Woolly’s greatest assets is our ability to pivot and innovate. The past year has been a chance to really flex those muscles. We feel tremendous anticipation to return to in-person performances, and we also will continue programming specifically for new mediums, digital or otherwise. We are excited to build on the experiments of this past year with this spring lineup! We hope you will join us!”  —Maria Manuela Goyanes (Artistic Director) and Emika Abe (Managing Director)

After a successful live run last December, THIS IS WHO I AM by Amir Nizar Zuabi, returns to Woolly Mammoth on demand. Told through the intimacy of a video call with humor and humanity, Amir Nizar Zuabi’s new play explores the unpredictable nature of grief and the delicacy of family connection across geographical and generational divides. THIS IS WHO I AM is co-produced by PlayCo and in association with American Repertory Theater, Guthrie Theater, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Streaming on demand April 13 – 25, 2021 at woollymammoth.net.

Clear away the cobwebs, clean out the clutter, and celebrate new beginnings with SOAPBOX: A MAMMOTH SPRING CELEBRATION. Woolly’s annual gala returns virtually this year with a very “Woolly” interpretation on the rite of spring cleaning! While we metaphorically dust the theater and clean out the clutter in hopes of welcoming you back, you can expect a celebration of recent accomplishments and a sneak peek at upcoming projects. Streaming live on May 3, 2021. Visit woollymammoth.net for more information, including sponsorship opportunities.

Rounding out the spring is an original film adaptation of The Bushwick Starr’s acclaimed musical séance, ANIMAL WISDOM, where singer-songwriter-soothsayer Heather Christian lays to rest the souls that haunt her. Take a virtual front row seat for this transporting experience where a concert becomes a mass, and a mass becomes a séance, all in your living room. ANIMAL WISDOM is co-produced with American Conservatory Theater and in association with Matt Ross, Madeleine Foster Bersin, and Outskirt Media. Streaming late Spring of 2021. Visit www.animalwisdomfilm.com for more information.

Originally produced as Woolly’s first digital production last October, Telephonic Literary Union is bringing whimsy to The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ phone lines with Woolly’s production of HUMAN RESOURCES, a playful twist on the all-too-familiar customer service phone maze. HUMAN RESOURCES invites callers to chart their own journey. Whether you’re looking for self-knowledge, witness, or deliverance, help is only a phone call away. Dial in March 12 – April 11, 2021 at repstl.org.

TICKETS

Tickets for the virtual production of for RICH KIDS: A HISTORY OF SHOPPING MALLS IN TEHRAN are available now and start at  $15.99 at woollymammoth.net, by phone at (202) 393-3939, and via email at tickets@woollymammoth.net.

Tickets for the virtual production of THIS IS WHO I AM are available now for $15.99 or $30.99 (Household) at woollymammoth.net, by phone at (202) 393-3939, and via email at tickets@woollymammoth.net.

Tickets for the virtual production of TELEPHONIC LITERARY UNION’S HUMAN RESOURCES at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis are available now for $7 at repstl.org.

SOAPBOX: A MAMMOTH SPRING CELEBRATION will be live streamed for free. Virtual RSVP’s can be made starting April 2021. Visit woollymammoth.net/events/soapbox for more information, including sponsorship opportunities.

Tickets for the ANIMAL WISDOM film will be available Late Spring 2021 at animalwisdomfilm.com.

THE SPRING 2021 SEASON AT WOOLLY

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Presents
The Javaad Alipoor Company production of
RICH KIDS: A HISTORY OF SHOPPING MALLS IN TEHRAN
Written by Javaad Alipoor
Co-Created by Javaad Alipoor and Kirsty Housley
April 1 – 18, 2021

As the global gap between rich and poor grows and humanity’s destructive impact on the earth rampages on, so does the allure to watch the carnage unfold on social media. From the company behind the award-winning play The Believers Are But Brothers comes a darkly comedic virtual experience about entitlement, consumption, and digital technology through the lens of Iran’s elite. Rich Kids explores the cycles of historic decline and rebirth and the ways societies try to reproduce themselves. Winner of the 2019 Scotsman Fringe First Award and co-created by artist, writer, and activist Javaad Alipoor and director/dramaturg Kirsty Housley, this biting new play repurposes Instagram to explore what’s happening around the world in interactive and innovative ways.

“This year, Woolly was a global partner for the Under the Radar festival at The Public Theater as they pivoted to online. We then took a group on a virtual “trip” to NYC and Rich Kids blew us away. This is live-streamed storytelling at its best, covering a fantastic array of topics from the history of Iran, nonlinear time, and the detritus of the Internet, to name only a few! This felt like a missing puzzle piece for our spring, and provides a different perspective on the Middle East as a compliment to This Is Who I Am.” —Maria Manuela Goyanes

PlayCo and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in association with
American Repertory Theater, Guthrie Theater, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival present
THIS IS WHO I AM
By Amir Nizar Zuabi
April 13 – 25, 2021

Separated by continents, an estranged father and son reunite over Zoom. From their respective kitchens in Ramallah and New York City, they recreate a cherished family recipe and struggle to bridge the gap between them, one ingredient at a time. Told through the intimacy of a video call, with humor and humanity Amir Nizar Zuabi’s new play explores the unpredictable nature of grief and the delicacy of family connection across geographical and generational divides.

“My first commissioned play for Woolly Mammoth was a co-production with five major theaters across the country, written by the brilliant Amir Nizar Zuabi, and streamed live every night on Zoom. We recorded the last performance for posterity, and then heard from so many people that they had missed it! Though it is not performed live anymore, I am so proud of the work that Ramsey, Yousof, and this incredible creative team were able to accomplish under pandemic circumstances.” —Maria Manuela Goyanes

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presents Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s production of
HUMAN RESOURCES created by Telephonic Literary Union
Created by Brittany K. Allen, Christopher Chen, Hansol Jung, Sarah Lunnie, Stowe Nelson, Zeniba Now and Yuvika Tolani
Featuring Marc Bovino, David Greenspan, Jin Ha, Mia Katigbak, Brian Quijada and Ikechukwu Ufomadu
March 12 – April 11, 2021

Craving human contact in the COVID age? Want to get away from it all? Dial in to the Human Resources hotline, where mystery, inspiration, and maybe even enlightenment await at the push of a button.

Together with the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Telephonic Literary Union, The Rep presents a unique and interactive audio experience. Dial the hotline to access a menu of unexpected options, in a playful twist on the all-too-familiar customer service phone maze. Featuring new works by playwrights Brittany K. Allen, Christopher Chen, Hansol Jung and Zeniba Now, Human Resources invites callers to chart their own journey. Whether you’re looking for self-knowledge, witness, or deliverance, help is only a phone call away.

Human Resources is a thoughtfully-curated and completely intentional  environment — a world built specifically for you to choose your own audio adventure. Human Resources broke us out of our own isolation and propelled us into making art again. And it’s wonderful to continue making that art collaboratively not only with Telephonic Literary Union, but also with the brilliant Hana Sharif and her team at the Rep of St Louis.” —Maria Manuela Goyanes

SOAPBOX: A MAMMOTH SPRING CELEBRATION
May 3, 2021

Clear away the cobwebs, clean out the clutter, and celebrate new beginnings…our annual gala returns virtually this year with a very “Woolly” interpretation on the rite of spring cleaning! While we metaphorically dust the theater and clean out the clutter in hopes of welcoming you back, you can expect a celebration of recent accomplishments and a sneak peek at upcoming projects. Click here for more information, including sponsorship opportunities.

“A year ago this week, we shut down Woolly Mammoth because of the coronavirus pandemic, just 5 weeks away from our spring benefit. It was through the support of our staff, board, donors, and theater lovers, we quickly pivoted to produce a virtual party. That online event became the foundation of so much of our work this past year, not just because of the resources raised to brace us for a difficult year, but also because of the great learning about how to produce events and projects digitally. This year – with some more experience under our belt – we’re gearing up for another one-of-a-kind virtual gala centered around the idea of ritual spring cleaning to prepare us for our future re-opening. And, in true Woolly fashion, we can’t wait to amplify our local community, including artists, on our proverbial soapbox.” —Maria Manuela Goyanes

American Conservatory Theater and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company present The Bushwick Starr’s production of
ANIMAL WISDOM
By Heather Christian
Produced in association with Matt Ross, Madeleine Foster Bersin, and Outskirt Media

Do you believe in ghosts? Take a virtual front row seat for this original film of the acclaimed musical séance, Animal Wisdom, where singer-songwriter-soothsayer Heather Christian lays to rest the souls that haunt her. Christian shapeshifts between rock star, folklorist and high priestess as she conjures a constellation of souls in an effort to confront her family’s mythologies.

With their raucous, ferocious music that fuses blues, gospel and folk, Heather Christian invites you to raise a glass to the unseen forces that shape our lives. Adapted from the stage production that had a sold-out and acclaimed run at The Bushwick Starr, Animal Wisdom offers a transporting experience where a concert becomes a mass, and a mass becomes a séance, all in your living room.

“Seeing ANIMAL WISDOM at the Bushwick Starr changed me, and the music still haunts me in the most beautiful ways. Woolly is leaning into musicals this year, especially those breaking the boundaries of the form, like this one. This film adaptation of ANIMAL WISDOM aims to conjure the divine of the original, and a way to honor all those we have lost.” —Maria Manuela Goyanes

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS

JAVAAD ALIPOOR is an artist, writer and Artistic Director of The Javaad Alipoor Company. In 2017, he began writing a trilogy of plays about how digital technology, resentment and fracturing identities are changing the world. The Believers Are But Brothers, described as “one of the most fascinating shows I have seen in an age” (The Financial Times) excavated the stories of young men at the extremes of hyperreality. It opened at Summerhall in Edinburgh in 2017 where it won a Fringe First Award, before transferring to London’s Bush Theatre. It has toured nationally and internationally over the last four years, and in 2019 was adapted for television by the BBC and The Space.

Its sequel — Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran — “breaks all the rules of theatre behaviour” (The Times) and premiered at the Traverse Theatre in 2019, winning a Fringe First Award. Its London transfer to Battersea Arts Centre in early 2020 and subsequent national tour was postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic inspiring the creation of a new digital version for online audiences which has toured virtually to HOME Manchester, Oxford Playhouse, Electric Dreams Festival and Under The Radar at The Public Theater New York.

Javaad is a former ACE Changemaker and was Resident Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres (2017/18) where he directed a new adaptation of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for The Crucible, and prior to this was Associate Director at Theatre in the Mill from 2015 to 2017.

He was a founder member of the International Alliance in Support of Iranian Workers and The Syria Solidarity Campaign, and the Bradford-based pro EU Migrant organisation #BradfordSaysEveryoneStays.

Javaad’s writing about international politics, cultural policy and art has been featured in The Guardian, The Independent and The Stage. His plays are published by Oberon, and his poetry by Art in Unusual Places.

KRISTY HOUSLEY is a director, writer and dramaturg. She won the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award in 2003 for Cue Deadly:  A Live Film Project and was twice nominated for The Stage’s Innovation Award, winning in 2017 for The Encounter.

She has worked with Javaad Alipoor since 2017 on The Believers Are But Brothers as Director and Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran as Co-Creator.

Other recent work includes creating The Long Goodbye with Riz Ahmed for Manchester International Festival /BAM; Mephisto (A Rhapsody) at The Gate Theatre (director); Tao of Glass for Manchester International Festival (co-director); Avalanche: A Love Story at The Barbican and Sydney Theatre (dramaturg); Phillip Pullman’s Grimm Tales at The Unicorn (director); I’m a Phoenix, Bitch for Bryony Kimmings (director); Misty at The Bush and in the West End (dramaturg); Myth at the RSC (co-written with Matt Hartley); A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer for Complicite, National Theatre and HOME Manchester (as dramaturg in 2017, and as writer-director on its 2018 international tour), The Encounter for Complicite (co-director); Wanted and for Chris Goode and Company, Transform Festival and West Yorkshire Playhouse (co-director); Walking the Tightrope for Offstage and Theatre Uncut; All I Want for Live Theatre, Leeds Libraries and Jackson’s Lane; Mass for Amy Mason at Bristol Old Vic and Camden Peoples Theatre; The Beauty Project and Theatre Uncut 2012 at the Young Vic; How to be Immortal for Penny Dreadful at Soho Theatre and on tour; Bandages at the Corn Exchange Newbury and on tour; Thirsty for The Paper Birds; and Blue Jam for Etcetera Theatre Company.

Kirsty is currently developing new work with the National Theatre, Complicite, Clean Break and Hampstead Theatre.

HEATHER CHRISTIAN is an Obie Award winning composer/playwright/performer, 2021 Richard Rodgers Award winner and  Sundance Institute Time Warner Fellow. Recent composing/performing credits include her own work Oratorio for Living Things  (Ars Nova), I am Sending You the Sacred Face (Theater In Quarantine/ YouTube— Named Vultures #5 Theater Experience of 2020), Prime: A Practical Breviary (Playwrights Horizons Soundstage—named IndieWire’s #1 Podcast Episode of 2020) Animal Wisdom ( The Bushwick Starr,) in addition to being a lead artist on devised works Mission Drift Nat’l Theater London, The World Is Round BAM).  Film composition credits include The Craft: Legacy (Sony Pictures/ Blumhouse 2020) Lemon, (2017 Sundance Film Festival and SXSW) Gregory Go Boom, (Sundance Grand Jury Prize) Adult Swim series The Shivering Truth, and all four films in the Criterion Collection’s Retrospective of Janicza Bravo She was named one of TimeOut NY’s Downtown Innovators To Watch and is a 2019 Harold an Mimi Steinberg Trust commissionee. She has been seen in Taylor Mac’s 24 Decade History of Popular Music and in Toshi Reagon’s Parable of the Sower and is a long time collaborator in devised theater with the TEAM, Jane Comfort Company, Salty Brine, Mac Wellman, Big Dance Theater, and Taylor Mac. She has released 11 records, teaches vocal-based music composition at NYU, owns and operates her own recording studio in Beacon, NY, and can be seen regularly in concert halls and dive bars as Heather Christian & the Arbornauts. www.heatherchristian.bandcamp.com

AMIR NIZAR ZUABI is an award-winning theater writer and Director and the Artistic Director of ShiberHur, and has served as Associate Director of Young Vic London (2009-2017). Zuabi is also a member of Union of Theatres of Europe (UTE) for artistic achievement, an artistic advisor for the Palestinian National Theatre, and an alumni of Sundance Theatre Lab. Writing and directing credits include I Am Yusuf and This Is My BrotherIn the Penal ColonyAlive From PalestineOh My Sweet Land (PlayCo NYC, Young Vic/Théâtre de Vidy-Lausanne), The Beloved (co produced by ShiberHur/Young Vic), Three Days of GriefWest of Us the SeaMid Spring MusicalAsmahan, and Grey Rock. He also created three full-length dance pieces with collaborator Samar King: Dry MudAgainst a Hard Surface, and Last Ward. Directing credits include Samson and Delilah (Flanders Opera, Antwerp); Jidarriya, by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (Edinburgh International Festival, Bouffes du Nord and World Tour); Forget Herostratusle Mallade ImaginerWar or MoreSneezeDeep SorrowFall TaleWhen The World Was GreenLanterns Of The King Of Galilee, and Taha the Publisher. Zuabi was the first Middle Eastern director to be asked to direct for the Royal Shakespeare Company, for which he directed The Comedy of Errors. Zuabi recently created Grey Rock for La MaMa in New York (currently on tour) and is writing new plays for the Riksteren in Stockholm and for the National Theatre London. He was recently appointed Artistic Director of a cross-border cultural festival produced by Good Chance Theatre.

ABOUT WOOLLY

Woolly Mammoth is “the hottest theater company in town” (Washington Post); priding itself on developing, producing, and making theater that disrupts conventional processes and stimulates transformative experiences. For almost four decades, Woolly has held a unique position at the leading edge of the American theater, earning a reputation for staying “uniquely plugged in to the mad temper of the times” (New York Times). The co-leadership of María Manuela Goyanes (Artistic Director) and Emika Abe (Managing Director) is supported by a core company of artists that holds itself to a high standard of artistic excellence. Woolly is relentless in its desire to take risks, experiment, innovate, interrogate, and create a radically inclusive community. Located in Washington, DC, Woolly Mammoth stands upon occupied, unceded territory: the ancestral homeland of the Nacotchtank whose descendants belong to the Piscataway peoples.

ABOUT WOOLLY’S SPRING SEASON PARTNERS

AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATER is an essential gathering place that brings artists and communities together to inspire and provoke. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon and Executive Director Jennifer Bielstein, A.C.T.’s mission is to engage the spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area, activate stories that resonate, promote a diversity of voices and points of view, and empower theater makers and audiences to celebrate liveness. A.C.T. values inclusion, transformational learning, participation and rigorous fun. A.C.T. is a Tony Award-winning nonprofit theater serving almost 200,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area annually through theater, training, education and community programs. www.act-sf.org/

AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER (A.R.T.) at Harvard University is a leading force in the American theater, producing groundbreaking work that is driven by risk-taking and passionate inquiry. A.R.T. seeks to expand the boundaries of theater by programming transformative theatrical experiences, always including the audience as a central partner, and is committed to a long-term process of centering anti-racism in its practice, policies, culture, pedagogy, governance and organizational structure. Under the leadership of Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Diane Paulus and Executive Producer Diane Borger, A.R.T. has received 19 Tony Awards including: Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and All the Way. Other Broadway productions include Jagged Little Pill; Waitress (also US National Tour and in London’s West End); Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Finding Neverland; The Glass Menagerie; and Once. A.R.T.’s club theater, OBERON, has been recognized annually as a top performance venue in the Boston area, and has attracted national attention for its innovative programming and business models. As the professional theater on the campus of Harvard University, A.R.T. is committed to playing a central role in the cognitive life of the University, catalyzing discourse, interdisciplinary collaboration, and creative exchange among a wide range of academic departments, institutions, students, and faculty members. Dedicated to making great theater accessible, A.R.T. actively engages more than 5,000 community members and local students annually in project-based partnerships, workshops, conversations with artists, and other enrichment activities both at the theater and across the Greater Boston area. A.R.T. acknowledges that its theaters are situated on the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Massachusett Tribe.

THE BUSHWICK STARR is an Obie Award winning non profit theater that presents an annual Season of new performance work. We are an organization defined by both our artists and our community, and since 2007, we have grown into a thriving theatrical venue, a vital neighborhood arts center, and a destination for exciting and engaging performance. We provide a springboard for emerging professional artists to make career-defining leaps, and we are a sanctuary where established performance companies come to experiment and innovate. We are also a neighborhood playhouse, serving our Bushwick, Brooklyn community’s diverse artistic needs and impulses. Our past Seasons have included new work from groundbreaking artists such as Jeremy O. Harris, Heather Christian, Diana Oh, The Mad Ones, Clare Barron, Phillip Howze, Dave Malloy, Daniel Fish, Haruna Lee, and the TEAM. www.thebushwickstarr.org

 THE GUTHRIE THEATER (Joseph Haj, Artistic Director) is an esteemed center for theater performance that seeks to illuminate our common humanity and transform our world through the power of live theater. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and firmly rooted in the community since 1963, the Guthrie is dedicated to producing classic and contemporary works with excellence, cultivating artists and inspiring the next generation of theatergoers.

THE JAVAAD ALIPOOR COMPANY takes stories beyond the stage through powerful multi-platform creations that explore the intersection of politics and technology in the contemporary world. Established in 2017, it stands on the shoulders of Northern Lines, the first company founded by Javaad Alipoor – a British-Iranian, Manchester-based and Bradford-built artist and writer – and retains its commitment to making new work with diverse artists for diverse audiences and communities.

Founded by Angus Bowmer in 1935, the OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL (OSF) has grown from a three- day festival of two plays to a nationally renowned theater arts organization that presents an eight-month season of up to 11 plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as a mix of classics, musicals, and world-premiere plays and musicals. OSF’s play-commissioning programs, which include American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, have generated works that have been produced on Broadway, internationally, and at regional, community, and high school theaters across the country. The Festival draws attendance upwards of 400,000 to more than 800 performances annually and employs 400 to 600 theater professionals.

OSF invites and welcomes everyone, and believes the inclusion of diverse people, ideas, cultures, and traditions enriches both our insights into the work we present onstage and our relationships with each other. OSF is committed to equity and diversity in all areas of our work and in our audiences.

OSF’s mission statement: “Inspired by Shakespeare’s work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory.”

PLAYCO (Kate Loewald, Founding Producer and Robert G. Bradshaw, Managing DIrector) is an Obie Award-winning Off-Broadway theater. PlayCo produces adventurous new plays from the U.S. and around the world, to advance a dynamic global experience of contemporary theater and expand the voices and perspectives represented on U.S. stages.

Now celebrating its 20th year, PlayCo has produced 37 new plays from the United States, Central and South America, Europe, Russia, South and East Asia, and the Middle East. PlayCo’s distinctive international programming links American theater with world theater, American artists with the global creative community, and American audiences with a whole world of plays. Previous productions include Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas’ wry and wrenching Recent Alien Abductions, Lee Sunday Evans’ New York Times Critics’ Pick production of Stefano Massini’s Intractable Woman: A Theatrical Memo on Anna Politkovskaya, the sold-out run of Amir Nizar Zuabi’s critically-acclaimed Oh My Sweet Land, Guillermo Calderón’s Villa, Christopher Chen’s Caught (Obie Award for Playwriting, 2017), Maria Milisavljevic’s Abyss, Kyle Jarrow & Lauren Worsham’s The Wildness, debbie tucker green’s generations, Aya Ogawa’s Ludic Proxy, Antonio Vega’s The Duchamp Syndrome, and more.

PlayCo’s office space on the island known as Mannahatta (Manhattan), and the rehearsal and performance spaces we use throughout New York City, are located in Lenapehoking, the homeland of the Lenape people.

THE REPERTORY THEATRE ST. LOUIS is the St. Louis region’s most honored live professional theater company. Founded in 1966, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is a fully professional theatrical operation belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, The League of St. Louis Theatres and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre. Visit www.repstl.org for more, and find The Rep on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

TELEPHONIC LITERARY UNION makes stories for very small audiences using phones, thoughtfully curated environments and the theater of the mind. TLU is a collaboration of Sarah Lunnie, Stowe Nelson and Yuvika Tolani, in cahoots with a rotating band of co-conspirators. Telephonicliteraryunion.com

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