Lynn Nottage, Thomas Kail, and More Make Up New Public Theater Season | Playbill

Off-Broadway News Lynn Nottage, Thomas Kail, and More Make Up New Public Theater Season Also included in the lineup is the world premiere of Richard Nelson’s Illyria, a play that will celebrate the downtown theatre’s rich history.
Lynn Nottage, Thomas Kail, Julia Cho, and Sarah Burgess

The Public Theater has announced its 2017–18 season, which will feature new works by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, Sarah Burgess, Bruce Norris, Richard Nelson, Julia Cho, as well as a return engagement of the theatre’s sold-out hit show Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the book by Cheryl Strayed. Also included in the lineup is the world premiere of Nelson’s Illyria, a play that will celebrate the downtown theatre’s rich history.

Buñuel, the working title of the forthcoming new musical by Stephen Sondheim and David Ives, which is being developed by the Public, is not featured in the new season.

Nia Vardalos and Phillip James Brannon in the 2016 production of Tiny Beautiful Things Joan Marcus

The season will kick off in the fall with the world premiere of Elevator Repair Service’s Measure for Measure, a unique take on Shakespeare’s comedy from the dynamic Off-Broadway company. Performances will run September 18–October 29.

The production will be followed by an encore engagement of Tiny Beautiful Things, which played an acclaimed, extended run at the Public in the winter. Nia Vardalos, who penned the adaptation, will return to star as Sugar. The show is co-conceived by Marshall Heyman, Vardalos, and Thomas Kail, who directs. Performances will run September 19–November 12.

Also slated for the fall is the New York premiere of Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus El Ray, in which the tragic hero is reimagined as a troubled Latino. With direction by Chay Yew, the production is a collaboration with the Sol Project. Performances will run October 3–November 12.

The New York premiere of Cho’s Office Hour, a new drama about a teacher and student desperate to change their own stories, will play October 17–December 3, directed by Neel Keller.

Rounding out the fall lineup, Nelson, the writer and director of the Public’s acclaimed Apple Family Plays and The Gabriels, will return with a work that reveals a forgotten chapter in the theatre’s celebrated history. Set in 1958, Illyria follows the triumphs and struggles of a young Joe Papp.

In the new year, Tony-winning director Kail will team up once again with playwright Burgess (Dry Powder) for the world premiere of Kings, a new play about money, politics, and the state of the American republic. Performances will run January 30–March 25, 2018.

The production will be followed by Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Norris’ Low Road, under the direction of Dear Evan Hansen director Michael Greif. Set in the 18th century, the new play imagines America’s first laissez-faire capitalist. The epic play features 16 actors in 50 roles; performances are scheduled to run February 13–April 1, 2018.

Next spring, Nottage will return to the Public to take audiences on a journey from the heart of Africa and around the world with Mlima’s Tale. The play tells the story of Mlima, a magnificent elephant trapped in the international ivory market. Performances will run March 27–May 20, 2018, with a director to be announced at a later date.

Oskar Eustis Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Closing out the season will be the New York premiere of Fire in Dreamland by Rinne Groff. The story takes place on Coney Island, in the aftermath of 2013’s Superstorm Sandy, and examines the incredible things we do when faced with devastation. Performances will run July 17–September 2, 2018, with direction by Marissa Wolf.

The 2017–18 season will also feature the return of two free Mobile Unit Tours (Henry V and The Winter’s Tale), directed by Lee Sunday Evans and Robert O’Hara; the 14th annual Under the Radar Festival; and Judy Collins’ Love Letter to Stephen Sondheim as part of her residency at Joe’s Pub.

“The new season is a beautiful evocation of The Public’s artistic family: long-time favorites, new voices, works traditional and experimental, art that strives to reflect all the turbulence and beauty of our times,” commented Artistic Director Oskar Eustis in a press statement. “The Public’s offerings have a range and variety that is unmatched by any theatre in the country. Each of these plays participates in the great issues of the age; that is what makes them Public plays.”

Tickets for the 2017–2018 season will go on sale later this year. For more information on how to become a donor and gain early access, visit or call (212) 967-7555.


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