Theater for All
A Word from Artistic Director Tim Sanford
These are heady times for theater makers. The world is changing rapidly, and our programming is changing in response. I am proud that Playwrights Horizons is producing work that reflects all of the communities in our democracy.
We’re opening our doors, which also means saying “yes” to ambition.
The 2018/19 season stretched us artistically. It stretched our resources. It was an “all hands on deck” season and I couldn’t be prouder of our success.
It’s almost hard to believe that we produced three plays in one season on the scale of Craig Lucas’s I Was Most Alive with You, Tori Sampson’s If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be A Muhfucka, and Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop. For most theaters, producing one of these would have been challenging. Craig’s play was performed simultaneously in English and ASL by a cast of 14, with a Director of Artistic Sign Language, a Deaf lighting designer, and a full complement of interpreters for rehearsals and more. Tori’s play engaged its cast, musicians, director, choreographer, and literary staff in its Brechtian mashup of folktale and neo-African dance, capped by its powerful climax. And finally, we end with the brave A Strange Loop. It has gone through years of development, mostly with the same ensemble of amazing black queer performers and a dizzying array of artistic collaborators. Our staff and creative teams worked indefatigably to bring these incredible shows to life.
It’s also worth noting that our three smaller plays, equally wonderful, also had tremendous reach. Heather Raffo’s Noura was the first play by a MENASA playwright produced at our theater. This timely story of Iraqi-Americans began in DC where it just won the Helen Hayes award for best new play, then performed in Abu Dhabi before arriving here. Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play was the first full-length play by a Native American playwright produced in New York. Larissa generously helped prepare us for the arrival of many Indigenous artists and audiences to our theater by sharing with the full staff values and practices of her community. Halley Feiffer’s The Pain of My Belligerence brought layers of complexity and self-reflection to its portrait of unhealthy romance in a not-yet-post patriarchal society. Audiences were hungry for the conversations these plays evinced.
The theater community counts on Playwrights for our ability to push the boundaries by producing plays that will live on in subsequent productions, both in our nation’s most prestigious regional theaters and in amateur and student productions.
You are part of this work.
The purpose of the theater is to bring communities together. And the broader the canvas, the more of us find ourselves in this work. Won’t you stand with us in creating theater for all, for now, and for the future?
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Tim Sanford portrait by Zack DeZon. Production photos by Joan Marcus.