Arena Stage will welcome the return of in-person audiences during its 2021–2022 season, which will feature many works that had been postponed from the 2019-2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The season kicks off September 3 in the Kreeger Theater with Lydia R. Diamond’s Toni Stone, based on the real-life woman who became the first female to play professional baseball in the Negro Leagues. Pam MacKinnon directs the production, which continues through October 3 and will be simulcast to the video board in Nationals Park one night in September for up to 12,000 people to experience.
Eduardo Machado's Celia and Fidel will make its return to the Kogod Cradle October 8–November 21. Helmed by Artistic Director Molly Smith, the production follows Fidel Castro’s rise to power, his political partner and closest confidant, Celia Sánchez, who inspired a revolution, and their fight over the children of the revolution. Originally produced in March 2020, Celia and Fidel opened and closed on the same day due to the pandemic.
Tazewell Thompson will then direct the late August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, which begins November 26 and continues through December 26 on the Fichandler Stage. Wilson’s fifth of his 10-play American Century Cycle (Arena has produced nine thus far) concerns blues singer Floyd Barton, who vows to turn his life around after a surprise windfall leaves him hopeful for a second chance.
Craig Lucas' Change Agent will make its premiere in the new year, playing January 21–March 6, 2022, in the Kogod Cradle. The drama conjures celebrated, controversial, and unsung figures in American history surrounding pivotal events in the 1960s.
In March 2022 Corbin Bleu, the High School Musical star seen on Broadway in In the Heights, Godspell, Holiday Inn, and Kiss Me, Kate, will play con man Frank Abagnale Jr. in the Terrence McNally-Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman musical Catch Me If You Can. Directed by Molly Smith, performances are set for March 4–April 17 on the Fichandler Stage.
Arena will also kick off the North American tour of New York’s Signature Theatre production of Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band. Chay Yew directs the story of a Khmer Rouge survivor returning to Cambodia for the first time in 30 years, as his daughter prepares to prosecute one of Cambodia's most infamous war criminals. Performances are April 12–May 15 in the Kreeger.
Step Afrika!’s Drumfolk, a rhythmic storytelling of the history of African-American percussive traditions inspired by the Stono Rebellon of 1739—when Africans lost the right to use their drums, but the beats found their way into the bodies of the people—will follow. The limited engagement plays May 31–June 26 on the Fichandler Stage. The immersive production is the first of a three-year collaborative partnership between Arena and Step Afrika!.
The season will conclude July 15-August 28 with the world premiere of American Prophet: Frederick Douglass In His Own Words. Featuring a book by Charles Randolph-Wright (Motown), who also directs, and music by Grammy winner Marcus Hummon (who also co-wrote the book), the musical chronicles the life and legacy of human rights leader Frederick Douglass. Known as one of the greatest leaders of the abolitionist movement, Douglass was a prominent activist, author, orator, and statesman.
Arena Stage will require all patrons, staff, and volunteers to wear masks inside the Mead Center. Enhanced cleaning and sanitization will take place throughout the building. The venue has also updated its ventilation/filtration systems and implemented a digital ticketing system that includes contactless ticket scanning. For more information click here.