I’m exhausted.

I’m sure you are too.

It’s impossible to keep up with the 24-hour news cycle, social media, hyper-partisan politics and the ever-diminishing line between church and state. On Saturday alone, the federal SCOTUS appointment dovetailed with local opposition to same-sex marriage, trans* rights and even science.

It’s maddening to witness people talk about women rather than listen to women.

It’s maddening to witness the normalization of racism.

It’s maddening to witness the normalization of homophobia.

It’s almost impossible to feel powerless as the abhorent becomes the norm.

We feel a responsibilty as a company to reflect the community in which we live. And yet I’ve been asking myself: with all that is happening, does attending the theatre even matter?

I say yes.

Maybe more than ever.

Because we are your people. And being with your people is sometimes the only way to catch your breath, slow your heart rate and clear your head.

The connection between the audience and what unfolds onstage in a darkened theatre is indescribable.

But you know what I mean.

You’ve felt it.

And if you’re like me, you chase it.

Time spent with us should be the beginning of an experience, not the end of one.

When the houselights come up, our hope is that you feel seen and heard.

Let’s sit in the darkened theatre together and maybe, just maybe, we’ll figure out a way to move forward, together.

Jerry Rapier
Artistic Director
Plan-B Theatre

The playwrights of the 2018/19 Subscription Season, Free Elementary School Tour, Script-In-Hand Series and Radio Hourshare their thoughts below on how their work connects to the reality of living in America in 2018.

GOOD STANDING, October 18-28
Playwright Matthew Greene: We’re living in a divided, maddening, terrifying world right now and the theatre might be the only safe space left where we gather together with a bunch of strangers and collectively decide to empathize. GOOD STANDING is play that’s literally about the act of stepping into someone else’s place, feeling what they feel, and hopefully coming out the other side as a better human, a better neighbor, a better citizen. That’s what I think this country needs right now.

Playwright Elaine Jarvik: I set out to write a play about two men – one who is considered the worst American president (no, not that one), and the other an American villain. It was a whimsical history play. But I discovered that I was really writing about now – about our country’s on-going discomfort with race.

 …OF COLOR, March 28-April 7
Playwright Olivia Custodio, “Driver’s License, Please”: I was inspired to write “Driver’s License, Please” because of how I was treated by a roomful of men at a car rental agency. The way I had to pretend to know a lot about cars and insurance so that they wouldn’t take advantage of me. The way I had to ignore the fact that the redneck guy next to me was staring at my body the entire time. “Driver’s License, Please” is a metaphor for the state of our union, dramatized to the highest degree, and yet perhaps not too far off.

Playwright Bijan Hosseini, “The Frailest Thing”: A mirror is a hell of a thing.

Playwright Iris Salazar, “American Pride”As an Immigrant Female in America, I felt welcomed and empowered when I became an American citizen but now I find myself concerned and can feel powerless. I’d like to believe we haven’t given up, that we have something that still empowers us or that we are working to find something that does. For me, theatre has been just that, whether I am behind the scenes or sitting in the audience watching life played out on the stage. “American Pride” has been, for me, one way to cope with America right now. As playwrights of color, we have all come together and voiced ourselves through these plays. I hope that as you see this production you will cry a little, laugh often, get a glimpse of who we are as people of color, and most importantly, of who you are. This production is just the beginning. Great things will come as Artists of Color continue to unite and do what we are doing with …OF COLOR. I believe theatre is that powerful; we make it that powerful.

Playwright Darryl Stamp “Roar”: It’s only natural that the intersection of race, gender, family and culture would be explored in plays about people of color, written by people of color. “Roar” reminds us that the past is inescapable and that hope, forgiveness, and justice for all is needed to heal.

FREE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TOUR: ZOMBIE THOUGHTS, currently touring to 50 elementary schools; public performances October 8, 13 and 25
Playwright Jennifer A. Kokai & Oliver Kokai-Means: We think ZOMBIE THOUGHTS is important right now for two reasons. One, the world seems especially full of scary things right now. With 24-hour news and social media we are barraged with scary stories of statistically unlikely nightmares. It would be good for us all to take some deep breaths and work harder to evaluate what is a real concern and what is a Zombie Thought anxiety. The other is that ZOMBIE THOUGHTS is about empathy for others and their struggles, whether visible (hooves) or invisible (anxiety). It would be good for us all to not assume we know what the people around us are struggling with and to work harder to be kind even to people who seem unlike us or difficult at first.

SCRIPT-IN-HAND SERIES, free readings of plays-in-progress October 24, February 10 & April 3
Playwright Jenifer Nii: DONNA is a modern-day reimagining of Don Quixote, Cervantes’s fantastical critique of hyper-masculinity. DONNA is about what it’s like to be a woman in America today. It’s about the battles we face, the weapons and armor we wield, and why we fight.

The short pieces from the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop that will be read as part of the Series on February 10 are TBD.

Playwright Debora Threedy: In BALTHAZAR, I borrow Portia, the hero of Shakespeare’s THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, to imagine a Renaissance woman  pushing back against the repressive gender roles of her time. My Portia offers a “long-view” perspective on our times, when women are yet again refusing to be silent and invisible.

RADIO HOUR EPISODE 13: TROLL, airing live on KUER’s RadioWest on December 13 at 9am
Playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett: For last season’s episode, I wrote a dystopian thriller to hash through my fears for our country. This season, with “Troll,” I’m using magical realism and [dark] comedy to grapple with the way women are being held back by – and even hostage to – men. It’s a fractured fairy tale drawing on “Beauty and the Beast” that refuses to romanticize the latter, but deals with him as a fool. The Beast, of course, was a man made ugly because he was ugly inside. Using comedy, “Troll” focuses tightly on that aspect of the classic story and pits the troll against a woman who could kick the ass of any Disney princess.

Tickets to all the the things are available here, including the $59 Season Subscription that includes GOOD STANDING, AN EVENING WITH TWO AWFUL MEN and …OF COLOR (as well as single tickets to each production), the October 8 performance of ZOMBIE THOUGHTS at Weber State University and free-but-required tickets to the Script-In-Hand Series readings. Free City Library performances of ZOMBIE THOUGHTS and RADIO HOUR are non-ticketed events.

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