La Jolla Playhouse will return to live programming on Thursday, June 3, kicking off a nine-month event season that will include three world premieres, a free weekend of Without Walls festival performances, a new series of plays and a mix of online theatrical performances for adults and children.
Among the highlights of the season will be the premieres, presented in a three-show subscription that includes two pieces by famous authors and a new musical.
Tony-nominated playwright Charlayne Woodard returns to the theater in September with “The Garden,” a play about a mother and daughter finding common ground. And in November, Kimber Lee will debut in her new play about painter Vincent van Gogh on the verge of greatness, titled “To the Yellow House.” The new musical “Bhangin ‘It”, which blends Indian folk and contemporary western dance traditions, will also premiere in March.
The popular Festival Sans Murs (WOW), presented as an all-digital event in 2020, will return to the in-person performances on June 3 with the second part of the three-part interactive series “A Thousand Ways”. There will also be a “Pop Up WOW” festival August 14-15 at Liberty Station in Point Loma with five free shows. Several more WOW digital shows are planned in the coming months.
The Playhouse Performance Outreach Program (POP) ‘Pick Me Last’ is now available to stream online, free to school groups and families this spring and summer.
Over two weekends at the end of July, the playhouse will present four new works in its eighth annual series of new DNA New Work plays. Over the past few years, the series has been the springboard for several theater premieres, including “The Who & The What”, “Chasing the Song”, “Blueprints to Freedom” and “The Last Tiger in Haiti”.
Two shows previously scheduled for 2021, Lauren Yee’s “Mother Russia” and the Broadway-bound musical “Lempicka”, will move into the 2022-2023 season.
The performance venue will continually update its policies regarding in-person performances on its website at lajollaplayhouse.org/planifier-votre-visite. It will also offer flexible ticket return policies as well as virtual viewing options for “The Garden” and “To the Yellow House” subscribers.
Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley said in discussions with subscribers most are eager to return for live performances, but for those who aren’t, the playhouse is making accommodations.
“The vast majority of subscribers I have had conversations with are very positive about coming back,” he said. “We haven’t absolutely settled the rules around someone coming into our theater. Everyone’s health and safety is our top priority, so we will welcome them back to our theaters per UC San Diego, County, State and CDC. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines.”
Subscriptions to the three world premiere show series go on sale Monday, June 21.
Here is the lineup for the new Playhouse lineup from June to April 2022. For more information on La Jolla Playhouse’s in-person and digital productions, visit lajollaplayhouse.org.
“A thousand ways (part 2): a meeting”, June 3-20. This is the second part of a play from 600 Highwaymen’s Without Walls festival about the power of human connection. This part will bring together two ticket buyers who are strangers who will communicate with each other through a window using printed cards. The first part, presented last fall, involved a phone call between two strangers with questions posed by a computerized voice. The third part will bring together all the few hundred former participants in the same space for a new interaction, most likely in late fall or early winter. Tickets for Part 2 cost $ 25.
New series of work on DNA, July 22-25 and July 29-August. 1: The Theater New Plays Festival will return with four unannounced works. This year’s format will include two performances of two new plays on the first weekend and the same schedule for the other two plays on the second weekend. Tickets will be free, but reservations are required.
WOW pop-up, August 14-15: Without Walls returns to the festival experiences in person with a weekend of five short performances commissioned by a performance hall to be presented in the Arts District at Liberty Station in Point Loma, site of the WOW 2019 festival. Participating playwrights include three former WOW artists: David Israel Reynoso (“Las Quinceañeras” in 2019 and “Waking La Llorona” in 2017), Blindspot Collective (“Hall Pass” in 2019) and Jesca Prudencio, UC San graduate. Diego (director and choreographer of “PDA” in 2019). Playwrights joining WOW for the first time this year are Theater-in-Residence Artist Kenny Ramos and the all-new San Diego Black Artist Collective.
“The garden,” September 21 to October 17: In co-production with Baltimore Center Stage, this new play by Charlayne Woodard tells the story of two black “alpha” women, Claire Rose and her middle-aged daughter Cassandra, who meet in a garden after three. years of estrangement in an attempt to heal old wounds. Patricia McGregor made her stage directorial debut at the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theater.
“At the Yellow House”, From November 16 to December 12: The world premiere of Kimber Lee, full of art and color, takes place in Paris in 1886, where struggling painter Vincent van Gogh tries to find love and overcome just failure before moving to Arles, where inspiration finally struck. Ashley describes the play as a “show of scale with a substantial cast”. Former Theater Associate Artistic Director Neel Keller runs the Mandell Weiss Theater.
“Bhangin ‘It,” From March 8 to April 17, 2022. Winner of the 2019 Richard Rodgers Award, this new musical tells the story of a young woman who finds that her identity cannot be defined by checking a box, so she sets out on a quest for dance at your own pace. The musical is inspired by competitive bhangra, mixed with other forms of Indian and Western dance. It is written by former resident theater artists Mike Lew and Rehana Lew Mirza, with music and lyrics by Sam Willmott, additional music by Deep Singh, and choreography by Rujuta Vaidya. Amy Anders Corcoran directs at the Mandell Weiss Theater.
“Choose me last”: Now available for streaming, the play from the playhouse’s POP 2021 tour for young audiences was written by Idris Goodwin and directed by Jacole Kitchen. It’s the story of schoolgirl Chavonne, who hatches a plan to help her best friend, Wes, who is always chosen last for playtime. Instead of a school tour this year, the play was filmed and is offered free to school groups and families. Online registration is required on pop-tour-lajollaplayhouse.com.
Fully digital WOW Fest: Over the past 14 months, the theater has presented 14 virtual shows without walls online. Nine of these programs are still available for free on the Playhouse website. Other virtual shows are planned in the coming months. To watch, visit lajollaplayhouse.org/wow-goes-digital. ◆