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Placebo

February 20–April 5
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Tim Sanford on  Placebo

I was fascinated to learn from Melissa’s restless and plangently witty new play, Placebo, that the derivation of the word stems from medieval ecclesiastical customs. According to one of her characters, Jonathan, a Classics Ph.D. candidate, certain well-to-do families would sometimes hire sham mourners to sing vespers for the dead. Because the first word of these vespers is “placebo,” meaning, “I shall please,” these mourners-for-hire eventually earned the shorthand appellation, placebos. It took several centuries for the steady course of etymology to bring about its current clinical definition.

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PLAYWRIGHT'S PERSPECTIVE

How much does committing to a job, to a life, to a partner, to a path, fix who we are? And how sustainable are these choices in the shadow of forever, in the shadow of mortality?

Placebo, in Latin, means “I shall please.”

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ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT/DIRECTOR

Visit our show page to read more about Pocatello including bios of the cast and creative team!

placebo


THE AMERICAN VOICE: ARTS & SCIENCES

Jane: Why are you sitting in the almost dark
Alan: It’s the human condition Jane in case you haven’t noticed
– from This, by Melissa James Gibson

Few scholarly catchphrases have had as enduring a legacy as “The Two Cultures,” the term coined by C.P. Snow to describe what he perceived as a dangerous rift between science and literary life. A chemist and a novelist—himself a living model of these divergent cultures united—Snow stood before the academic community at the University of Cambridge in the Spring of 1959, and lamented that “the intellectual life of the whole of Western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups,” literary intellectuals and scientists, “between them a gulf of mutual incomprehension.” Though his accusing finger was pointed in both directions, the blame was largely placed with the literary set: “A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of, ‘Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?’ I now believe that if I had asked an even simpler question—such as, ‘What do you mean by mass, or acceleration?’ which is the scientific equivalent of saying, ‘Can you read?’—not more than one in ten of the highly educated would have felt that I was speaking the same language.”

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how you can get that “Feel Good Effect”

1. Sociologists Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson have reported in their new book, The Paradox of Generosity, lower depression rates among Americans who donate more than 10 percent of their incomes.  Increase your happiness by making a special gift to Playwrights Horizons today! To make a donation, visit PHnyc.org or call Eva Rosa at (212) 564–1235 x3144.

2. Support Playwrights Horizons through the AmazonSmile program.  The next time you need to make a purchase from Amazon, go to
smile.amazon.com instead and select Playwrights Horizons as your charity to receive a donation each time you shop. Then sit back and smile, knowing you’ll be actively supporting the development and production of new American theater while you wait for your packages to arrive!


BACKSTORY: MIND OVER MATTER

Do you remember when you took the training wheels off your bike? At some point in the course of those first exhilarating two-wheeled joy rides, maybe you fell down, and maybe you banged your knee, and maybe you cried out for your mom. Who maybe, before she cleaned you up and sent you on your way again, kissed you where you hurt. For many of us, the mysterious healing properties of a parent’s kiss offer one of our first experiences of a placebo effect—“a change in a patient’s illness attributable to the symbolic import of a treatment rather than a specific pharmacologic or physiologic property,” according to one 20th century definition. Put more crudely: you believe you will get better, and so you do.

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Placebo Symposium

Monday, March 23
7 PM IN THE MAINSTAGE THEATER

The Symposium Series was inaugurated to explore the work we produce in a greater cultural context. Supplementing our regularly-programmed series of post-performance discussions—which provide opportunities for our audiences to engage with our playwrights—Symposium events allow writers to lead a conversation with a panel of unique experts to address topics surrounding their work.

Melissa James Gibson will be moderating a panel featuring an exciting slate of guests (to be announced).

General admission tickets to this event are FREE with your reservation.

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PH MAKES HEADLINES

“We can afford to take more steps to help writers, and maybe inspire more theaters to do the same.” 

Theater writers are among the least compensated creative artists in America. In November, the New York Times announced our new initiative to offer writers better pay and money for health insurance. As this quote from Tim suggests, we're hoping our peers will join us in this important effort.

“The potential for new collaborations and projects is boundless. We are giddy at the prospect of hatching them.”

So says Maria Striar, Producing Artistic Director of Clubbed Thumb, on the impact of being named PH’s first Resident Company. This new program will offer smaller NYC companies rehearsal, performance, and office space in our downtown campus at 440 Lafayette Street.

Out of Town But Not Out of Times

In his recent article for American Theatre magazine, Tim reports on his conversations about reviewing shows outside New York with the editorial staff of the New York Times.

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post-performance discussions

During the run of Placebo, post-performance discussions with the creative team have been scheduled for the following dates:

Wednesday, February 25
Sunday, March 1 (following the matinee)
Friday, March 6

These discussions are an important aspect of our play development process. We hope you can take part!


helpful information

LOG IN & BOOK YOUR SEATS BOOKING INFO CALENDAR

MEMBER PRICES

MEMBERS:
Your ticket to PLACEBO (reg. $75) is $30 for performances February 20–March 1, and Sunday evenings through April 5; $36 for performances March 3–April 5, excluding Sunday evenings.

YOUNG MEMBERS: 
30&Under Member tickets are $20; Student Member tickets are $10.

GUEST TICKETS

SUBSCRIBERS: Order guest tickets for $45 each when you reserve your own.

FLEXPASS HOLDERS:  FlexPass holders may use tickets in your account to bring guests.  Add tickets to your account by calling Ticket Central (Noon-8pm daily) at (212) 279-4200.  Restrictions apply.

MEMBERS: Order one guest ticket per package per production for $50 when you reserve your own.

YOUNG MEMBERS:  One guest ticket may be purchased per production for $35.

Age appropriate?

We recommend Placebo for those aged 13+. 

DIRECTIONS/PARKING/NEIGHBORHOOD DISCOUNTS

Go to Plan Your Visit to find out more about directions, parking, and neighborhood discounts!