Palm Beach Dramaworks
World Premiere: The People Downstairs
Almost, Maine; Trying; Intimate Apparel
A Second World Premiere TBA
Opening Night October 15
April 7, 2021 – Palm Beach Dramaworks is elated to announce that it will be reopening its doors for the 2021-2022 season with a full slate of five plays at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre. Opening night is set for Friday, October 15, and new health and safety protocols will be in place.
In this special season of renewal and new beginnings, PBD has chosen to focus, for the first time in its history, solely on plays written in the 21st century. These are plays that ruminate on universal themes and subjects that seem to have a special urgency at this moment in time: love, longing, politics, race and racism, anti-Semitism, art, morality, aging, determination, resiliency and courage.
The season begins with John Cariani’s Almost, Maine (2006), which is made up of nine vignettes about falling in and out of love and the desire to connect – the ideal piece to mark PBD’s re-opening and the chance to reconnect with theatre and with each other. Next up, on December 10, is the world premiere of Michael McKeever’s The People Downstairs, commissioned by PBD and developed by The Dramaworkshop, which explores the challenges faced by the brave individuals who hid and took care of Anne Frank and seven others during the Holocaust. That’s followed on February 4, 2022 by Joanna McClelland Glass’s Trying (2004), a memory play based on the playwright’s stint as secretary to Francis Biddle, who served as FDR’s attorney general and later was a judge at the Nuremberg trials. The fourth production, opening April 1, is Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel (2003), set at the turn of the 20th century, which tells the story of a 35-year-old African-American seamstress who enters into a correspondence with a man she’s never met in the hope of finding love. The final production of the season, opening on May 27, will be another world premiere, TBA.
To ensure the safety and well-being of everyone who steps foot into the theatre, PBD is installing a new HVAC system throughout the building that complies with all the latest safety guidelines recommended by the CDC and the company’s consultant engineers. Facility and ticketing procedures will be upgraded to allow for as much of a touch-free patron experience as possible. The theatre will also be cleaned more frequently, and numerous hand sanitization stations will be easily accessible.
“We’re hoping these new protocols will put everyone’s mind at ease so that they can just delight in being back in the theatre and enjoy this great lineup of plays, without worrying about the air they breathe,” said Producing Artistic Director William Hayes. “However, we also recognize that a segment of our patrons might be wary about sitting in a full theatre and won’t be quite ready to return. If that’s the case, we may have to reduce the run of each play this coming season by a week. But we’re keeping the closing date flexible, depending on the response.”
“Of the four plays that we’ve announced, three already have a history with PBD. The People Downstairs was presented as a staged reading during our second annual New Year/New Plays Festival, and also received a Zoom reading last June. It was on the schedule for the 2020-2021 season, and we’re excited that we will finally have the opportunity to produce the world premiere. Intimate Apparel was also scheduled for our 20th anniversary season; instead, it was given a virtual reading as part of our Contemporary Voices series. We’re so pleased that we can finally bring it to you onstage. Trying was first produced by PBD 15 years ago, and it’s a play many longtime patrons speak of with great affection. That leaves Almost, Maine as the work that is brand new to us. If you’re unfamiliar with it, suffice it to say that it’s one of the most produced plays in the country.”
By John Cariani
Opening October 15
Love – old and new, heart-stopping and weak-kneed, unexpected and unrequited, lost and found – is in the air in the fictional, remote town of Almost, Maine. This wildly popular play takes place on a Friday night in winter, and is made up of nine mostly joyful yet poignant vignettes connected by time and place, the beauty of the aurora borealis, a touch of magic, and a spirit of hope.
THE PEOPLE DOWNSTAIRS
By Michael McKeever
Opening December 10
For two years and one month, Anne Frank and seven others hid in four small rooms concealed behind a bookcase in the building where her father worked. Her diary revealed their ordeal to the world. But what of the people who hid them, got them food, and kept them informed? This play explores the complex challenges faced by these brave individuals on their journey of rebellious morality during the horrors of the Holocaust.
By Joanna McClelland Glass
Opening February 4
In 1967, feisty Sarah Schorr, a 25-year-old from rural Canada, goes to work as secretary for 81-year-old Francis Biddle, the patrician former US Attorney General. The brilliant Biddle is now frail, sometimes befuddled, always irascible, and facing his own mortality. Inspired by the playwright’s experiences as Biddle’s secretary, the piece is a tender yet unsentimental portrait of two disparate people navigating their vast differences to form a bond of mutual admiration, consideration, and respect.
By Lynn Nottage
Opening April 1
In this heartfelt and heartbreaking work set at the turn of the 20th century, Esther is a 35-year-old African-American seamstress of exquisite intimate apparel who aches to love and be loved. An unlikely opportunity arises when she enters into a correspondence with a man she’s never met. The play is a lyrical exploration of loneliness and longing, sweet dreams and bitter truths, determination and resiliency.
Opening May 27
Subscriptions are on sale now by calling the box office (561) 514-4042 ext 2.
About Palm Beach Dramaworks:
Palm Beach Dramaworks is a professional, nonprofit theatre company founded in 2000 and located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach. Each season, the award-winning company produces five mainstage shows and offers a wide variety of programs for students at the theatre, in schools, and online. Committed to fostering the future of theatre, PBD has become a hub for playwrights in Florida and around the country to nurture their work through initiatives including Drama(in the)works and the annual New Year/New Plays Festival. PBD is a member of Theatre Communications Group, Florida Professional Theatres Association, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. www.palmbeachdramaworks.org
Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30PM, Friday and Saturday at 8PM, and select Sundays at 7PM. Matinee performances are on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2PM. Post-performance discussions follow Wednesday matinee and Sunday evening performances.
The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information contact the box office at (561) 514-4042, or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.