Johanna Day, Michael Shannon, Heather Alicia Simms, More to Star in TFANA's Des Moines | Playbill

Off-Broadway News Johanna Day, Michael Shannon, Heather Alicia Simms, More to Star in TFANA's Des Moines

The Off-Broadway production of Denis Johnson's dark comedy has announced its cast and creative team.

Johanna Day, Michael Shannon, and Heather Alicia Simms

Cast and creative team members have been announced for Theatre for a New Audience’s production of Des Moines. Written by Denis Johnson, the play will begin previews November 29 ahead of a December 9 opening. Performances are set through January 1, 2023 at Polonsky Shakespeare Center.

The cast will star two-time Tony nominee Johanna Day (Sweat, Proof), Oscar, Golden Globe, and Tony nominee Michael Shannon (Knives Out, Long Day’s Journey into Night), Heather Alicia Simms (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, A Raisin in the Sun), Arliss Howard (Mank, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone), and Hari Nef (“Daddy”, Transparent). 

Chance events—including a plane crash, a rescued wedding ring, and a frightening diagnosis—bring five characters together in Des Moines, Iowa. The dark comedy, complete with karaoke, liquor, and sex, "confronts death, mortality, and the stubborn pursuit of grace among those who barely believe in it."

Director Arin Arbus said, “Denis Johnson was a keen and loving observer of life. He wrote about what’s holy and hilarious and hard in our daily lives, and was interested in the eternal human struggle to be awake to life in an uncontrollable and incomprehensible universe.”

Arbus helms the Off-Broadway production, joined on the creative team by scenic designer Riccardo Hernández (Jagged Little Pill), costume designer Qween Jean (Wedding Band), lighting designer Scott Zielinski, sound designer Mikaal Sulaiman (Macbeth), and choreographer Byron Easley (Slave Play).

The director first explored Des Moines with Johnson in a 2015 TFANA workshop. It originally made its world premiere  in 2007 at San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts, following which it was further developed by Johnson until completing Des Moines 2013.

For tickets and more information, visit


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