Theater News

New Musicals by Shaina Taub, Kitt and Yorkey to Appear in the Public Theater's 2021-22 Season

The season will also feature new work by Suzan-Lori Parks, Lloyd Suh, and James Ijames.

David Hyde Pierce is one of the many actors who will tread the boards at the Public Theater this fall.
David Hyde Pierce is one of the many actors who will tread the boards at the Public Theater this fall.
(© David Gordon)

The Public Theater, the off-Broadway company where musicals like Hamilton and Fun Home originated, has announced a return to live and in-person performances at its Lafayette Street venue.

"For the last 18 months, we have been unable to create the most basic requirement of our art form: gathering artists and audiences in one room. The return of theater is the return of community, a return to the city we love, a return to the vital mission we have to create, encourage, and promote cultural democracy," said artistic director Oskar Eustis in a press statement.

This includes a return of the Public's cabaret venue, Joe's Pub, where Justin Vivian Bond and the Illustrious Blacks will give the first performance on October 5. Other performers slated for the fall include Taylor Mac (October 19-23) and Bridget Everett (November 30-December 4). Click here for a full lineup of events at Joe's Pub.

The theater season kicks off on October 7 with a holdover from the 2019-20 season, the world premiere of The Visitor, a new musical by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), with a book by Yorkey and Kwame Kwei-Armah (Elmina's Kitchen). Based on the eponymous film by Thomas McCarthy, it tells the story of a widowed college professor who becomes swept up in the struggle to keep two immigrants from being deported. The cast, which remains largely unchanged from 2020, will be led by David Hyde Pierce, Ari'el Stachel, and Alysha Deslorieux. Daniel Sullivan directs, with choreography by Lorin Latarro. The official opening is November 4, with a run planned through November 21.

The world premiere of Erika Dickerson-Despenza's Cullud Wattah begins previews on November 2 ahead of an official opening on November 17, with a run planned through December 5. This afro-surrealist play is about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan. It will feature performances by Crystal Dickinson, Lizan Mitchel, Andrea Patterson, and Alicia Pilgrim, with additional casting to be announced at a later date. Candis C. Jones directs.

In a move reminiscent of her 365 Days/365 Plays project, Suzan-Lori Parks (White Noise) set out to write one play every day during the pandemic. Both a personal story and a collective one, Plays for the Plague Year will be rolled out over the course of the season. Niegel Smith directs.

Josh Quat, Trevor Bachman, Vuyo Sotashe, and Daniel Alexander Jones (as Jomama Jones) appeared in Black Light at Joe's Pub.
Josh Quat, Trevor Bachman, Vuyo Sotashe, and Daniel Alexander Jones (as Jomama Jones) appeared in Black Light at Joe's Pub.
(© Joan Marcus)

Daniel Alexander Jones (Black Light) returns to the Public with a unique new project titled Altar No. 1 – ATEN, unfolds through a series of weekly installments to the online portal It will include a new album of 15 original songs by Jones and Josh Quat, connected music videos, a series of probing podcast conversations with special guests, and invitations for visitors to engage on and offline.

The 18th edition of the Under the Radar Festival of new and experimental work will return January 12-23, 2022. It will include performances by the Devised Theater Working Group who have been developing projects for the past two years.

In February 2022, the Public will join forces with the National Asian American Theatre Company to present Out of Time, a collection of brand-new monologues by five award-winning Asian American playwrights, performed by an ensemble of actors all over the age of 60. It will include work by Jaclyn Backhaus, Sam Chanse, Mia Chung, Naomi Iizuka, and Anna Ouyang Moench. Les Waters directs.

Also in February, the Public will present the Barrington Stage Company and Ma-Yi Theater Company production of Lloyd Suh's The Chinese Lady. Inspired by the true story of the first Chinese woman to step foot in America, The Chinese Lady is a unique portrait of the United States as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese girl. Ralph B. Peña directs.

In March 2022, the Public will host the world premiere of Suffs, a new musical about the women's suffrage movement with book, music, and lyrics by Shaina Taub (Twelfth Night). Leigh Silverman directs with choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.

Mona Mansour's The Vagrant Trilogy will make its long-awaited New York premiere in April 2022. Centered on the Palestinian struggle for home and identity, it presents three alternate realities based on one decision made by a Palestinian scholar studying in London. Mark Wing-Davey directs.

The Public teams up with the National Black Theatre in May 2022 for the New York debut of Fat Ham by James Ijames. It tells the story of Juicy, a queer, Southern college kid, already grappling with some serious questions of identity, when the ghost of his father shows up in their backyard, demanding that Juicy avenge his murder. Saheem Ali directs.

The Public will also resume its Mobile Unit in Corrections program this fall with the second volume of its Hip-Hop vs. Shakespeare video series this fall. The second series was created and conceived by hip-hop theater artist Malik Work and Mobile Unit Community Programs Manager Praycious Wilson-Gay, and aims to activate creative thinking, develop skills of writing and performing verse, and encourage a life-long passion for learning within incarcerated communities.

Starting October 2021, Public Shakespeare Initiative and The Hunts Point Children's Shakespeare Ensemble will collaborate on a new production of Twelfth Night to be presented in May 2022. The Ensemble will meet in person with up to 60 young people and a full creative team for eight months of workshops and discovery around a variety of theater-making skills while also incorporating some new online learning tools discovered during the last 18 months of remote work.