Playwrights Horizons launches anthological scripted fiction podcast Soundstage, featuring new works from acclaimed playwrights
PRESS RELEASE — April 10, 2020
Playwrights Horizons Moves up Launch of Podcast, Originally Slated for Later This Year, to Engage Audiences Worldwide in a Time of Social Distancing and Quarantine—and Beyond
Soundstage Season One Launches with First Four Episodes, Featuring Works by Heather Christian, Robert O’Hara, Jordan Harrison, and Qui Nguyen
Additional Playwrights Currently Creating Works for Soundstage Include Kirsten Childs, Milo Cramer, Jeremy O. Harris, Lucas Hnath, Carlos Murillo, Jenny Schwartz, and Kate Tarker
Playwrights Horizons today launches Soundstage, an original anthological series of scripted short fiction works commissioned from a wide range of America’s most adventurous playwrights. Playwrights Horizons had been developing this podcast with the intention to release its first episodes later this year but has decided to launch it sooner to serve its audience, as New Yorkers and people around the globe continue prolonged periods of social distancing. With Soundstage, the institution that The Los Angeles Times recently called “quite simply the most important crucible for contemporary playwriting in America” delivers plays written specifically for the audio format, not translated or recorded live from the stage. Episode 1, by Heather Christian, is out today, Episode 2, by Robert O’Hara, is out next Thursday, April 16, and subsequent episodes will be released biweekly thereafter, with Jordan Harrison’s on Thursday, April 30, and Qui Nguyen’s on Thursday, May 14. Playwrights creating later episodes include Kirsten Childs, Milo Cramer, Jeremy O. Harris, Lucas Hnath, Carlos Murillo, Jenny Schwartz, and Kate Tarker. Acclaimed actors and award-winning directors, sound designers, and composers realize rich audio experiences in episodes 15-40 minutes in length. These works are available for free to listeners on all major podcasting platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.
Playwrights Horizons began production on Soundstage in 2019, motivated by the belief that playwrights are the great storytellers of our time, and inspired by the prospect of unleashing America’s playwrights onto the fertile terrain of scripted content podcasting: a medium available to everyone, anywhere. The company received seed funding for this initiative through a generous, multi-year grant from the Scherman Foundation’s Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund. Now, as so many aspects of daily life are crucially put “on pause” to combat COVID-19, initiatives like Soundstage allow audiences everywhere to continue to have access to groundbreaking new writing.
Playwrights Horizons Associate Artistic Director Adam Greenfield (who in July 2020 will be stepping into the role of Artistic Director) said, “We’ve been working on this series for some time, but in this moment where storytelling can help us get through weeks or months of life in isolation, we felt called to share these with the world prior to our intended distribution date. With Soundstage, audiences will continue to have access to innovative new work. This series doesn’t propose a substitution for in-person performance – nothing can replace the experience and electricity of live theater – but rather seeks to employ the theatrical imagination of playwrights to navigate the dimensions and boundaries of audio. When Playwrights Horizons is able to safely reopen its doors, Soundstage will continue to be an integral addition to the artistic life of our theater, a platform giving people everywhere access to work by theater’s most compelling, rule-breaking voices, writing work meant solely to be heard. We’re particularly delighted to launch this series with Heather Christian’s PRIME: A Practical Breviary, offering audiences a chance to engage with her work after her recent run of her Oratorio For Living Things at Ars Nova was halted prematurely due to COVID-19.”
The first four episodes of Soundstage include:
PRIME: A Practical Breviary by Heather Christian (OBIE Award-winner; Animal Wisdom, Mission Drift, Oratorio for Living Things). Inspired by breviary masses performed by cloistered monks at specific hours of the day, PRIME is a ten-song cycle that employs modern prose and lush composition to write a prayer for 6 AM, as we negotiate the brutal daily task of waking up and facing the morning.
GATHER by Robert O’Hara (OBIE Award-winner; Bootycandy at Playwrights Horizons, Barbecue). Using the high-stakes drama of a spy thriller format, GATHER is a suspenseful and hilarious tale of a series of mysterious disappearances.
PLAY FOR ANY TWO PEOPLE**,** by Jordan Harrison (Pulitzer Prize finalist; Marjorie Prime, Maple & Vine Playwrights Horizons; The Amateurs; “Orange is the New Black”). A masterful feat of timing and sound design. You and a fellow listener become actors in a head-trippy psychological drama. Your apartment becomes the stage, and your listening companion becomes a mysterious stranger. Are they there to help you or hurt you? Press play.
OUTTAKES by Qui Nguyen (Vietgone). A son keeps trying to get his charming (if frustrating) immigrant parents to tell him a true war story from their lives in Vietnam to help him write a new play. Imagined as edited found interview tapes, OUTTAKES is both funny and heartfelt, drawn from the playwright’s real-life experiences.
Additional commissioned writers for this season include Jeremy O. Harris (upcoming at Playwrights Horizons: A Boy’s Company Presents: “Tell Me If I’m Hurting You”; Slave Play on Broadway), Lucas Hnath (The Thin Place, The Christians at Playwrights Horizons; A Doll’s House, Part 2 and Hillary and Clinton on Broadway; Dana H.), Carlos Murillo (Dark Play or Stories for Boys), Jenny Schwartz (Iowa, God’s Ear), and Kate Tarker (Thunderbodies).
For more information, visit the podcast’s official website at soundstagepodcast.org. Follow Soundstage on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Playwrights Horizons is supported in part by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. In addition, Playwrights Horizons receives major support from the Howard Gilman Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, and The Shubert Foundation.
About Playwrights Horizons
Playwrights Horizons is dedicated to cultivating the most important American playwrights, composers, and lyricists, as well as developing and producing their bold new plays and musicals. Tim Sanford became Artistic Director in 1996 and Leslie Marcus has been Managing Director since 1993. Under their decades of leadership, Playwrights builds upon its diverse and renowned body of work, counting 400 writers among its artistic roster. In addition to its onstage work each season, Playwrights’ singular commitment to nurturing American theater artists guides all of the institution’s multifaceted initiatives: our acclaimed New Works Lab, a robust commissioning program, an innovative curriculum at its Theater School, and more. Robert Moss founded Playwrights in 1971 and cemented the mission that continues to guide the institution today. André Bishop served as Artistic Director from 1981-1992. Don Scardino succeeded him and served until 1996. Over its 49-year history, Playwrights has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including six Pulitzer Prizes, 13 Tony Awards, and 40 Obie Awards.
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By Playwrights Horizons