What an exciting and bittersweet moment. On the one hand, the 2023/24 Season is truly surprising and bold and we want to shout about it from the (cantilevered) rooftops, but on the other hand, it’s the last season Molly Smith will have planned for Arena.
She has set us all up for success, though, with a season that is music- and laughter-filled! She lovingly called it “full of bells and whistles” when announcing the shows to staff.
The 2023/24 Season includes two musicals, one play with music, a comedy, a Power Play, and a project with Step Afrika!. It’s an electrifying season chock-full of dance, heart, and hope.
Without further ado, Arena Stage’s incredible line-up for the 2023/24 Season includes:
Cambodian Rock Band
July 18 – August 27, 2023
By Lauren Yee
Featuring Songs by Dengue Fever
Directed by Chay Yew
A Signature Theatre Production
In Association with Alley Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre/5th Avenue, and Center Theatre Group
"Good old rock ’n’ roll, Cambodian-style. Clap your hands, everybody, and sing along!"
It’s 2008 and a father-daughter duo are heading to Phnom Penh; she to prosecute a notorious Cambodian war criminal, he 30 years after escaping then-Communist rule. In a psychedelic theatrical extravaganza set to some of the country’s most popular rock music, including from Dengue Fever, Cambodian Rock Band shines a light on the country’s vibrant ’70s rock scene and how an entire generation of musicians was purged by the Khmer Rouge, as it brings long-buried family secrets back to life.
Watch a trailer for Cambodian Rock Band from the Alley Theatre.
POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive
October 13 – November 12, 2023
By Selina Fillinger
Directed by Margot Bordelon
"Grade A! You will laugh until your face hurts."
When the Commander-in-Chief publicly calls his wife a “See You Next Tuesday,” all H-E-Double Hockey Sticks breaks loose. In this searingly funny Broadway hit, POTUS follows how seven women of dramatically different backgrounds minimize the damage done by male arrogance and political posturing, in an endearing homage to the women who keep things running behind the scenes.
November 25 – December 30, 2023
By Special Arrangement with Matthew Masten, Sean Hudock, and Madison Wells Live
Book by John Logan
Music and Lyrics by The Avett Brothers
Directed by Michael Mayer
"It is ultimately about redemption, but they’re not afraid to get into the sticky bits of what it means to be alive."
When a violent storm sinks their whaling ship off the coast of New Bedford, Mass., the four survivors face a reckoning: how far will they go to stay alive? And can they live with the consequences? With music and lyrics from The Avett Brothers (“America’s Biggest Roots Band,” Rolling Stone), whose 2004 “Mignonette” was inspired by an 1884 shipwreck and the struggle of four men to survive, Swept Away is an electrifying, soul-stirring exploration of how facing tragedy can open the door to forgiveness… if only we’ll let it.
Hear The Avett Brothers perform an acoustic version of the title song, Swept Away.
February 16 – March 17, 2024
By Kia Corthron
Directed by Psalmayene 24
"A big chunk of hidden history…and hidden D.C. history"
Born into slavery in North Carolina, Anna Julia Cooper was a visionary Black feminist and educator in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, and only the fourth African American woman to earn a doctoral degree. Tempestuous Elements—the 11th in Arena Stage’s Power Play cycle—shines a light on Cooper’s tumultuous tenure as Principal of Washington, D.C.’s historic M Street School where she fought to keep Black education alive, despite the racism, gossip, and sexism that threatened to consign her efforts to obscurity.
March 29 – May 5, 2024
By Special Arrangement with Hunter Arnold
Book by Daniel Goldstein
Music by Michael Friedman
Lyrics by Michael Friedman and Daniel Goldstein
Directed by Trip Cullman
"Celebrates the urge to fully know other people — in the present as well as in the past."
Cleaning out her grandmother’s home, Ellen Rabinowitz discovers the photograph of an anonymous soldier tucked away in a box of keepsakes. And so begins Unknown Soldier, a sweeping, elegiac musical from Daniel Goldstein and the late Michael Friedman on a woman’s journey to unearth the secrets of her family’s past… and which will chart her future.
Listen to Daniel Goldstein pull back the curtain on Unknown Soldier.
The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence
June 6 – July 14, 2024
By Step Afrika!
"A show that needs to be experienced: a blend of incredible movement, rhythms and singing."
Using its hallmark style of percussive dance-theater, Step Afrika!’s The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence tells the story of one of the largest movements of people in United States history, when millions of African American migrants moved from the rural South to the industrial North in the 1900s to escape Jim Crow, racial oppression, and lynchings. Inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s iconic 60-panel “The Migration Series” (1940-41), this signature work from the award-winning dance company uses the images, color palette, and motifs in the painting series to tell this astonishing story through pulsating rhythms and visually stunning movement.
Cambodian Rock Band illustration by Owen Smith.
Swept Away photo courtesy of Crackerfarm.
The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence photo by William Perrigen.
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