We’ve got a lot to share with you today.
Contemporary Voices, our free, online series featuring live readings and discussions of plays by a cross-section of some of the finest American playwrights working in theatre today, resumes on April 12 with the spotlight on Pulitzer Prize-winner Nilo Cruz. PBD will present three of his plays on three consecutive Monday evenings, followed each Wednesday with a discussion of the work by theatre professionals and community leaders.
The readings are sponsored by Holland & Knight, a global law firm with more than 1,400 lawyers and other professionals in 27 offices throughout the world.
The series opens with Two Sisters and a Piano (1999) on April 12, followed by Sotto Voce (2014) on April 19, and concluding with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics (2002) on April 26. The Wednesday evening discussions are on April 14, 21, and 28. All readings and discussions begin at 7:30pm. Tickets are free, but reservations are required.
Contemporary Voices premiered in October with three plays by Lynn Nottage.
Cruz, who was born in Cuba in 1960 and arrived in Miami with his family a decade later on a Freedom Flight, is acclaimed for his broad exploration of the Latino experience. He is often referred to as a “lyrical” writer, and his plays, he has said, are more character-driven than plot-driven. These qualities are evident in the three plays being we’re presenting, as is a belief that arts and language can have a powerful effect on people’s lives.
TWO SISTERS AND A PIANO (April 12, 7:30pm; Discussion April 14, 7:30pm)
Maria Celia, a celebrated novelist, and her sister, Sofia, a pianist, are under house arrest in Havana, Cuba after serving two years in jail for expressing pro-freedom sentiments. The women are watched closely by Lieutenant Portuondo, who becomes infatuated by Maria Celia. When he reveals he has letters from her husband, who is crusading abroad for the sisters’ release, Maria Celia strikes a bargain with Portuondo which could have consequences for all their futures.
SOTTO VOCE (April 19, 7:30pm; Discussion April 21, 7:30pm)
German-born, 80-year-old novelist Bemadette Kahn lives a life of self-imposed seclusion in her New York City apartment, where she tries to shut out the memories of her long-lost love, Ariel Strauss, one of the 900-plus Jewish refugees who set sail from Nazi Germany aboard the St. Louis in 1939, only to be turned away by Cuba and the US. But Saquiel Rafaeli, a 28-year-old Jewish-Cuban student, is determined to convince Bemadette to resurrect the past.
ANNA IN THE TROPICS (April 26, 7:30pm; Discussion April 28, 7:30pm)
This Pulitzer Prize-winning play is set in a cigar factory in Tampa’s Cuban-American community in 1929, when cigars are still rolled by hand and “lectors” are hired to read aloud, helping the workers not just to get through the tedium of their jobs, but to engage their minds. Juan Julian, a new lector, reads to them from Anna Karenina, and as Tolstoy’s characters come alive, their yearnings ignite the workers’ own passions to life-changing effect.
We’ve got one other reading for you before Contemporary Voices begins, and it’s a fitting conclusion to Women’s History Month. Our next Drama(in the)works reading, on Monday, March 29 at 7:30pm, is Here Comes the Night by Lisa Kenner Grissom. When Olivia invites her old friend, Maggie, to spend the weekend and provide support through a difficult event, the women’s opposing worldviews lead to unexpected ramifications for both of them. What happens when a woman’s right to choose becomes a litmus test for all of her life choices? Kim Wuan plays Olivia, Nadita Shenoy portrays Maggie. Vanessa Morosco directs.
We’re in the editing stage of our coproduction of William Luce’s The Belle of Amherst, starring Margery Lowe, which streams online from April 2-6. As you all know, this is our first theatrical production – albeit online – since February 2020, which means we’ve had no ticket revenue since then. All proceeds from this production will benefit PBD and Actors’ Playhouse, so your support is crucial. Tickets are $30. You can learn more about The Belle of Amherst on March 26, when Dramawise takes you inside the play and behind the scenes. Tickets for Dramawise are $15. Those of you who are already subscribed to the 2021-2022 season receive complimentary tickets to both events; it’s our way of saying thank you for your belief in us.