2019 Powerhouse Season Includes New Projects From Rachel Chavkin, Jocelyn Bioh, César Alvarez, More | Playbill

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Regional News 2019 Powerhouse Season Includes New Projects From Rachel Chavkin, Jocelyn Bioh, César Alvarez, More Harrison David Rivers’ Relentless Award-winning play, the bandaged place, will kick off the mainstage programming in June.
Rachel Chavkin, Jocelyn Bioh, César Alvarez, and Harrison David Rivers

Vassar and New York Stage and Film have unveiled the lineup for their upcoming 35th Powerhouse Season. This season's artists include playwrights Harrison David Rivers, Beth Henley, Jocelyn Bioh, Emily Feldman, Antoinette Nwandu, and Martyna Majok; composers Ingrid Michaelson, Tom Kitt, César Alvarez, and Michael Thurber; and directors Saheem Ali, Rachel Chavkin, Kate Whoriskey, Daniel Aukin, and Michael Mayer, among many more.

The annual summer season, which will run June 20–July 28 at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, will feature fully staged productions, workshop presentations, readings, and other works in progress for theatre, film, and television.

Saheem Ali Joseph Marzullo/WENN


The two mainstage productions will be Rivers' Relentless Award-winning play, the bandaged place, directed by David Mendizábal (June 27–July 7); followed by Pulitzer Prize winner Henley's Lightning (or The Unbuttoning), directed by Mark Brokaw (July 18-28).

A brutal and lyrical portrait of the things we hang on to and the price of moving forward, the bandaged place tells of one man’s attempt to free himself from the abuses of his past. In Lightning (or The Unbuttoning), a young woman is visited by a mystical, traveling salesman in a cabin as a lightning storm brews outside.

The slate of musical workshop presentations features three new projects. The first, Annie Salem: An American Tale, is adapted from Mac Wellman's surrealist coming-of-age novel of the same name. With a book by Hadestown director Chavkin, music by Animal Wisdom's Heather Christian, lyrics by Christian and Chavkin, and direction by Chavkin, the musical is an otherworldly journey into the jagged heart of rust-belt Ohio, where blue monkeys play in the wreckage of post-industrial America, and where high school boy Jack Scan is in love with the prettiest girl in town. Performances will run July 5-7.

Running July 12–14 will be Alvarez' new musical The Elementary Spacetime Show, which sees him reunite with Futurity director and Soho Rep. Artistic Director Sarah Benson. With music and lyrics by Alvarez, and a book by Alvarez with Emily Orling, the new musical sees a young girl attempt suicide, only to wake up trapped in a cosmic vaudevillian game show. Performances will run July 12–14.

Rounding out the slate of musical workshops is Goddess, a new project conceived and helmed by Sugar in Our Wounds director Ali, inspired by the ancient myth of Marimba, the goddess of music. In the new musical, a young man returns home to the African coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya, to marry his betrothed and step into his family’s political dynasty. But when he visits Moto Moto—a steamy afro-jazz club and the stomping ground of his youth—he finds himself drawn to a beautiful, mysterious new singer. The new work features music and lyrics by composer Thurber, additional lyrics by Mkhululi Z. Mabija, and a book by School Girls playwright Bioh. Performances will run July 26–28.

Martyna Majok Manuel Harlan

This summer's Inside Look workshops will feature two plays: Zach Helm's …and the horse you rode in on, helmed by Sweat director Kate Whoriskey (June 20-22); and Emily Feldman's The Best We Could (a family tragedy), directed by Daniel Aukin (July 25–27). As previously reported, Feldman's new drama will be seen at Manhattan Theatre Club next spring.

The upcoming season's readings will include free public presentations of works in progress, including The Notebook, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, music and lyrics by Michaelson with book by Bekah Brunstetter; The Excavation of Mary Anning by Ian August, directed by Sammi Cannold; Tuvalu or, The Saddest Song by Nwandu, directed by Danya Taymor; The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin by Jessica Huang; Delusion by Proxy by Brooke Adams, directed by Ethan Silverman; and Sanctuary City by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Majok.

Additional projects and artists in residence include Williamsburg, with a book by Jason Katims and music and lyrics by Kitt; Like Water For Chocolate, a new musical adaptation of Laura Esquivel’s novel by Lisa Loomer and La Santa Cecilia, directed by Mayer; and the Lark Play Development Center.

Subscriptions will be available online May 9, and single tickets will go on sale online May 14. Visit Powerhouse.vassar.edu for more information.

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