From world premieres and anticipated revivals, to acclaimed international productions debuting in the U.S. for the first time the fall 2019 Off-Broadway season is shaping up to be an exciting one.
Among the slew of offerings are: two more plays from Mfoniso Udofia's sweeping nine-part saga; Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking work, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, directed by Leah C. Gardiner with choreography by Camille A. Brown; the world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter's Greater Clements; a new (and bloody) Adam Gwon musical; a revival of María Irene Fornés' Fefu and Her Friends, helmed by Lileana Blain-Cruz; a spooky new piece from Tony-nominated playwright Lucas Hnath; a New York City story from Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis; and an intimate new play from Sugar in Our Wounds playwright Donja R. Love.
Check out the full fall preview below.
September 3: Ma-Yi celebrates the world-premiere opening of Felix Starro at Theatre Row. The new musical about a young, undocumented immigrant in San Francisco and his famous faith healer grandfather, marks the first time ever a musical created by Filipino-Americans has been presented Off-Broadway. Alan Ariano and Nacho Tambunting star in a run scheduled through September 15.
September 4: Playwright Mfoniso Udofia returns to New York Theatre Workshop with the Off-Broadway premieres of runboyrun and In Old Age, two chapters from her nine-part saga, The Ufot Cycle (Sojourners and Her Portmanteau from the cycle were seen at NYTW in 2017). The two dramas are performed as a single evening of work, directed by Loretta Greco and Awoye Timpo, respectively.
September 4: In Sunday, a new play by Tony winner Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2), directed by Obie winner Lee Sunday Evans, friends gather for an evening book group. Anxious to prove their intellectual worth, emotional truths come pouring out. The world premiere officially opens September 23 at Atlantic Theater Company and runs through October 13.
September 5: Rattlestick Playwrights Theater launches its new season with Cusi Cram's Novenas for a Lost Hospital, a communal theatrical experience celebrating the life and legacy of the now-closed St. Vincent's Hospital. The traveling production, helmed by artistic director Daniella Topol and starring Kathleen Chalfant, takes a 60-person audience on a journey from an enclosed West Village garden to Rattlestick’s intimate theatre and the NYC AIDS Memorial Park. Performances continue through October 13.
September 7: The Flea Theater continues its celebration of one of its original co-founders, three-time Obie Award winner Mac Wellman. Beginning September 7, the downtown theatre welcomes The Invention of Tragedy, directed by Meghan Finn. Wellman’s examination of the post-9/11 world and America’s acceptance of the Iraq war is told through a chorus of students; the work plays through October 14. Other plays on offer are Wellman’s Sincerity Forever and Bad Penny (August 24–October 7), and The Sandalwood Box and The Fez (September 26–November 1).
September 8: Red Bull Theater’s production of American Moor officially opens at Cherry Lane. Written and performed by Keith Hamilton Cobb, with direction by Kim Weild, the monologue play takes us behind the scenes as an African-American actor responds to the demands of a white director during an audition of Othello.
September 11: WP Theater and Second Stage join forces to present the world premiere of Alexis Scheer’s Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, in which a gang of teenage girls gathers in an abandoned treehouse to summon the ghost of Pablo Escobar. Whitney White directs the new comedy at WP’s McGinn/Cazale Theater; performances continue through October 20.
September 13: The Playwrights Realm premieres Anna Moench’s Mothers, about a group of competitive mothers at a mommy-baby meetup. A play about “motherhood, fatherhood, gender, and race through the unifying thesis that the tug-of-war between fear and power is what drives us to create systems of inequality that replicate themselves over and over throughout human history,” says playwright Moench. The run is scheduled through October 12 at The Duke.
September 14: Roundabout welcomes the return of composer-lyricist Adam Gwon for the world premiere of Scotland, PA, a dark musical comedy about an ambitious—and blood-thirsty—couple running a burger joint in a sleepy Pennsylvania town. The musical is adapted from Billy Morrissette’s film and inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth), with direction by Lonny Price.
September 13: On its Mainstage, Playwrights Horizons ushers in the world premiere of Heroes of the Fourth Turning by Will Arbery. Set in Wyoming a week after the deadly 2017 Charlottesville riot, the new play sees four young conservatives reunite for a backyard gathering. Danya Taymor directs, for a run scheduled through October 27.
September 16: Men on Boats playwright Jaclyn Backhaus returns to Playwrights Horizons with her new play Wives, directed by Margot Bordelon. From the brawny castles of 16th-century France to the strapping fortresses of 1920s India, we’re introduced to the wives and paramours of Great Men, and shown what happens once the crushing weight of their Greatness has been lifted. A comedy about subverting patriarchal narrative tropes throughout the ages, the world premiere began August 23 ahead of a September 16 opening and runs through October 6.
September 17: Manhattan Theatre Club continues its fall programming with the world premiere of The New Englanders by Jeff Augustin. The story of a mixed race family living in a sleepy New England town, the play follows a daughter and her two fathers as they grapple with their conflicting ambitions. Saheem Ali directs a cast that includes Teagle F. Bougere, Patrick Breen, Javier Muñoz, and Kara Young. An official opening is set for October 3.
September 17: Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s Little Shop of Horrors returns to New York City under the direction of Tony winner Michael Mayer. The cast is led by Tony nominee Jonathan Groff, Emmy Award winner Tammy Blanchard, and Tony Award winner Christian Borle. Performances are at the Westside Theatre; opening is October 17.
September 18: MCC Theater kicks off its new season with the world premiere of Ross Golan’s musical, The Wrong Man. Set in Reno, Nevada, the story follows Duran, a man scraping by who is framed for a murder he didn’t commit. Tony winner Thomas Kail (Hamilton) directs and Travis Wall choreographs the new musical starring Tony nominee Joshua Henry and Ciara Rene.
September 20: Irish Rep launches its 2019–2020 season with Dublin Carol, Conor McPherson’s Christmas tale of salvation and redemption. Ciarán O’Reilly directs the revival, starring Jeffrey Bean as John Plunkett, a man haunted by memories of a shattered life, until a visit from his estranged daughter forces an uncomfortable confrontation. Performances continue through November 10.
September 24: David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori's new musical-within-a-play, Soft Power, begins previews at the Public Theater. Directed by Leigh Silverman with choreography by Sam Pinkleton, the show rewinds recent political history and plays it back, a century later, through the Chinese lens of a future, East-meets-West musical.
September 25: Japanese director Satoshi Miyagi creates a new version of Sophocles’ Antigone that looks at the ancient play through the prism of Japanese culture. The production, which premieres at the Park Avenue Armory, weaves the principles of Greek tragedy, Japanese Noh theatre, Indonesian shadow play, and Buddhist philosophy. The run continues through October 6.
September 27: In Barbara Hammond’s Terra Firma, a tiny kingdom wrestles with the problems of running a nation and spars with different concepts of what makes a citizen, a country, and a civilization. The play, the inaugural production from The COOP, takes place in a not-so-distant Beckettian future, years after a conflict known as The Big War. Performances are in the Rose Nagelberg Theatre at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. Shana Cooper directs. Performances through November 10.
Also in September: Irish Rep presents the world premiere of Robin Glendinning’s Kingfishers Catch Fire in its downstairs theatre; Milly Thomas’ monologue play Dust, previously seen in London, plays at NYTW’s Fourth Street Theatre; Bess Wohl’s Make Believe continues its extended run at Second Stage; the HERE Arts Center premieres Looking at You, an immersive techno-noir opera about privacy by Kamala Sankaram, Rob Handel and Kristin Marting; The Gingold Theatrical Group revives George Bernard Shaw’s rarely seen Caesar and Cleopatra; Beth Ann Hopkins’ Lear: That Old Man I Used to Know, in which the Shakespearean tragedy is retold through the eyes of a child, plays at A.R.T/New York Theatres; WaxFactory’s LULU XX debuts at the Connelly Theater; Jaqueline Novak continues her show Get On Your Knees at the Lucille Lortel Theatre; the Barrow Group revives Martin Moran’s All The Rage, and Theatre for a New Audience welcomes back Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne with the U.S. premiere of Why?, starring Kathryn Hunter.
October 1: Four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein stars in his new monologue play, Bella Bella at New York City Center. Set in 1976 on the eve of Bella Abzug’s bid to become New York State's first female Senator, the play finds the larger-than-life icon squirreled away in the bathroom of a midtown hotel awaiting the election results. Kimberly Senior directs the world premiere from Manhattan Theatre Club. An official opening is marked for October 22.
October 2: Ensemble Studio Theatre will kick off its 2019–2020 season with the world premiere of GEORGIA MERTCHING IS DEAD, a new play by Agnes playwright Catya McMullen. Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, the new play sees three women, friends since adolescence, set off on a road trip to celebrate and mourn a figure from their past. Quincy Dunn-Baker, Layla Khoshnoudi, Diana Oh, Claire Siebers, and JD Taylor make up the cast.
October 2: When It Happens to You, a theatrical memoir about the aftermath of sexual assault by best-selling author Tawni O'Dell, premieres at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture. The world-premiere production is directed and co-conceived by two-time Tony-nominee Lynne Taylor-Corbett. Performances continue through November 10.
October 3: Tina Satter’s Is This a Room premieres at the Vineyard Theatre. The play is based on the real-life transcript of the June 2017 FBI interrogation that found former Air Force linguist named Reality Winner guilty of leaking evidence of Russian interference in the U.S. voting system. The show’s original cast (the play was seen Off Off-Broadway last year), including Emily C. Davis as Winner, returns. Through November 10.
October 3: MCC reunites playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck with Bernard/Hamlet director Moritz von Stuelpnagel for the Off-Broadway premiere of Seared. Staged around a working kitchen in the Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater, the new comedy pits art against commerce by taking an up-close look at the restaurant world. Raúl Esparza stars alongside Krysta Rodriguez, W. Tré Davis, and David Mason. Performances continue through November 10.
October 3: Normal Ave presents the world premiere of Lily Houghton’s Of the woman came the beginning of sin and through her we all die in the Medicine Show Theatre. The play follows Bluebell, Sweet Pea, Pumpkin, and Bleeding Heart, four femmes bound together by their workplace—the windowless basement of a Free People retail store. Directed by Kylie M. Brown, the run continues through October 20.
October 5: LCT3 presents the world premiere of Sylvia Khoury’s Power Strip, about a young Syrian woman who spends her days dependent on an electric power strip in a Greek refugee camp. Dina Shihabi plays Yasmin in the Tyne Rafaeli-helmed production.
October 6: The Play Company teams up with Andy Bragen Theatre Projects to present Andy Bragen's autobiographical two-hander Notes on My Mother's Decline, directed by Knud Adams. Set in the writer’s native East Village, the new play is the story of a mother and son, exploring the ways we care for those we love, and what it takes to live with—and without—them. Performances run through October 27 as part of NYTW’s Next Door series.
October 8: The Public Theater revives Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking work, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, in a new version directed by Leah C. Gardiner, with choreography by Tony nominee Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy). Inspired by personal events—including Shange's multiple attempts to take her own life—the choreopoem weaves poetry, song, and movement to tell the story of seven Black women, each identified solely by a color. Performances continue through November 17.
October 10: Real-life acting spouses Corey Stoll and Nadia Bowers take on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, respectively, in Classic Stage Company's production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, helmed by artistic director John Doyle. The bloody tale of revenge, murder, and madness continues through December 15.
October 11: The New Group launches its new season with Erica Schmidt’s musical adaptation of Cyrano starring Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage in the title role, alongside Hamilton’s Jasmine Cephas Jones as Roxanne. The musical, which plays the Daryl Roth Theatre, has music by Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner of the Grammy-winning band The National and lyrics by Matt Berninger (also from The National) and Carin Besser.
October 15: The Brooklyn Academy of Music kicks off its 2019 Next Wave festival with an all-new interpretation of Swan Lake from one of Ireland’s most imaginative theatremakers, Michael Keegan-Dolan. With his company Teac Damsa, transport audiences to a magical realist otherworld of light and dark, ecstasy and catharsis, pain and reconciliation. Performances continue through October 20.
October 15: Soho Rep. launches its 2019–2020 season with the American premiere of for all the women who thought they were Mad, a new play by writer-actor Zawe Ashton, currently starring on Broadway in Harold Pinter's Betrayal. Directed by Whitney White, the new play explores the impact of work, expectations around childlessness and motherhood, and the chasm between the healthcare system and the mental wellness of women of color. Featuring an intergenerational cast of women from ages 8–65, as well as interludes of Lugandan song.
October 18: In an epic feat of endurance theatre, an actor performs the same scene—inspired by Cassavetes’ meta-theatrical 1977 film Opening Night—100 times, with 100 different men. Stay for 24 minutes, or the full 24 hours. Nat Randall and Anna Breckon’s The Second Woman is a one-day only theatrical event at BAM.
October 21: Ars Nova kicks off its new season with the world premiere of Liza Birkenmeier's Doctor Ride’s American Beach House, directed by Katie Brook. Set in Missouri on the night before Dr. Sally Ride’s historic launch into space, the new play by the Ars Nova Playgroup alum explores sexual politics, power, and repression between three friends in 1983. Performances are in the Greenwich House Theater through November 23.
October 22: Signature Theatre revives Anna Deavere Smith’s landmark documentary play, Fires in the Mirror, written in response to the 1991 Crown Heights riots. Saheem Ali helms the production. Performances continue through November 24.
October 24: 59E59 Theaters heads into the fall with the world premiere of A Woman of the World, the story of Emily Dickinson's posthumous editor, Mabel Loomis Todd. Kathleen Chalfant stars as Mabel in the new play by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rebecca Gilman, directed by Valentina Fratti. A Woman of the World runs through November 17.
October 29: In a time when borders feel more defined than ever, Clarence Coo captures a transient moment of magic in On That Day in Amsterdam. The new play, presented by Primary Stages, follows two young men on a romantic journey through the Dutch city. One is a refugee from the Middle East, the other an American backpacker who is himself the son of immigrants. Kareem Fahmy directs the world premiere in association with Ted Snowdon at the Cherry Lane. Through December 18.
October 30: Also part of the Next Wave festival, BAM welcomes Irish theatre group Dead Centre with its production of Hamnet, a new play examining the historical connection between Shakespeare's Hamlet and a real-life 11-year-old boy named Hamnet, who died in the U.K. in 1596. Performances continue through November 3.
Also in October: The Public welcomes back writer-director Richard Nelson for the world premiere of The Michaels, beginning October 19, while artistic director Oskar Eustis revisits Tony Kushner’s first play, A Bright Room Called Day (October 29–December 8). Repertorio Español premieres a Spanish-language stage adaptation of Junot Díaz’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, written and directed by Marco Antonio Rodríguez (beginning October 12). Jaymes Jorsling’s (A)loft Modulation, set in the heyday of Manhattan’s jazz scene and featuring a live band, continues at A.R.T/New York Theatres (September 26–October 26). Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated actor Gary Busey stars as God (in a suit) in the new pop rock office musical Only Human at Theatre St. Clements (October 8–January, 2020). La Mama presents the world premiere of All My Fathers, a partly autobiographical play by Paul David Young, directed by Evan Yionoulis; and at 59E59, Michael Tucker’s Fern Hill, about a group of friends in their golden years whose friendship is put to the test, runs through October 20 (beginning September 10); the worlds of romance novels and LARPing collide in Liba Vaynberg’s Round Table (September 27–October 20); and Sean Daniels’ The White Chip, details a writer's journey from first sip to rock bottom and his unusual path to sobriety (October 4–26).
November 1: Zoey Martinson transforms the HERE Arts Center—the dressing rooms, hallways, lounge, sidewalk space outdoors, and theatre spaces—with The Black History Museum... According to the United States of America. Part installation, part durational performance, the show invites audiences to experience brave, inclusive narratives about the creation of America, and its re-telling in our schools, media, and communities. A co-production with Smoke & Mirrors Collaborative.
November 1: Boundless Theatre Company presents Migdalia Cruz's Fur, directed by Elena Araoz, at NYTW’s Fourth Street Theatre. An intense and primal exploration of unconventional desire, the play details the love story between Citrona, a young woman whose body is covered in fur, the man who purchases and cages her, and the woman hired to hunt for Citrona's food. Performances run through November 24.
November 13: Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis returns to Atlantic Theater with Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, a world-premiere play about the harrowing, humorous, and heartbreaking inner workings of a women’s halfway house in New York City, helmed by John Ortiz (LAByrinth Artistic Director). Through December 22.
November 13: Director Thomas Ostermeier and Schaubühne Berlin return to St. Ann’s Warehouse with History of Violence, a theatrical interpretation of renowned French author Édouard Louis’ memoir of the same name. As devastating as it is funny, the retelling uncovers the deeply rooted societal racism, homophobia, and rage explored in the book. Through December 1. The production is part of a series of events celebrating Louis in collaboration with BAM, which will present The End of Eddy (the author’s internationally acclaimed autobiographical novel written when he was just 21) as part of Next Wave, beginning November 14.
November 14: Lincoln Center Theater present premieres Greater Clements, a new play MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner Samuel D. Hunter set in the rapidly disintegrating town of Clements, Idaho. Judith Ivey stars as Maggie, who, for the first time in 50 years, is forced to consider if the life she envisioned for herself at 17 might still be possible today. Davis McCallum directs.
November 14: Composer Philip Glass returns to La MaMa with his Days and Nights Festival, a four-day event featuring music, theatre, dance, poetry, and film with workshops and forums that focus on science and our environment. Highlights of the festival include a tribute to playwright María Irene Fornés, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis, with music by Glass; and spoken word by Jerry Quickley and Arturo Bejar, performed live with Glass at the piano.
November 15: The masked mimics of Switzerland's MUMMENSCHANZ (seen on Broadway in the 1980s) make their New Victory debut with RE:PLAY, a wordless and quirky collection of vignettes for everyone 6 and up. Performances continue through December 1.
November 16: Theatre for a New Audience revives María Irene Fornés' singular play, Fefu and Her Friends, directed by Obie winner Lileana Blain-Cruz. Seen through multiple perspectives and featuring numerous scenes that are staged simultaneously in different locations, the play follows a group of intelligent, outgoing women who gather in a New England country house in 1935. Performances are in the Polonsky Shakespeare Center through December 8.
November 19: Fireflies playwright Donja R. Love turns his lyrical voice to an intimate that is shared by many in one in two. Stevie Walker-Webb (Ain’t No Mo’) directs the world premiere from The New Group at the Pershing Square Signature Center.
November 22: Tony-nominated playwright Lucas Hnath transforms Playwrights Horizons into an intimate séance with his play The Thin Place, named after the fragile boundary between our world and the one beyond. A testament to the power of the mind, the New York premiere is directed by Les Waters.
November 25: Tony Award winners Rebecca Taichman (Indecent) and Enda Walsh (Once) bring John Carney’s indie hit film Sing Street, to the New York Theatre Workshop stage. Set in Dublin in 1985, in the midst of the recession, a group of teenagers start a band and chase love. With a new wave sound, the world premiere features a book by Walsh, music and lyrics by Carney and Gary Clark, direction by Taichman, and choreography by Sonya Tayeh (Moulin Rouge!).
Also in November: Signature Theatre presents Horton Foote’s The Young Man From Atlanta, directed by Michael Wilson (November 5–December 8); Bedlam Theatre presents Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at the Connelly Theater (November 8–December 29); the New Victory Theater welcomes back Cape Town's Isango Ensemble with their production of Aesop's Fables (November 1–3); and Ken Jennings performs The Gospel of John at the Sheen Center (November 30–December 29).