Highlights include Jouska PlayWorks’ Virtual New Play Showcase, a Co-Produced Reading of ESTHER CHOI AND THE FISH THAT DROWNED, plus a series of artist-driven digital projects that celebrate collaboration and community.
Philadelphia’s Simpatico Theatre is planting seeds for the future and examining questions of how a community can grow with their newly announced “Season of Seeds.” The series of digital events slated throughout the remainder of 2020 and 2021 feature a strong emphasis on collaboration with artists and other theatre companies throughout the United States. Additionally, Simpatico’s leadership is actively engaged with their own transformation by establishing their Rotating Artistic Director (RAD) program, and collaboratively creating an anti-racism action plan for the organization.
“I wanted to take time this season to reinvest in the process of our theatre-making. This moment is an opportunity to dig deeper into our work, artistically and administratively,” said Artistic Director Allison Heishman. “Some of the questions driving our work this year are: ‘Where are we investing our time and money, and in whom? How can we be actively anti-racist in our process and product? What do we want to keep about our pre-pandemic process? What can we repurpose, and what needs to be tossed away?’ In addition to the artistic work we are developing, we will be investing in ourselves and undergoing a facilitator led anti-racism training program.”
Jouska PlayWorks Virtual New Play Showcase
Simpatico is proud to collaborate with Jouska PlayWorks, an assembly of Black playwrights, all of whom are committed to creating theatre to enrich, entertain, empower, and awaken the moral conscience. Together with Simpatico, the organization will present the Jouska PlayWorks Virtual New Play Showcase, featuring excerpts from seven new plays created by Jouska artists. These pieces will be presented as Pay What You Decide (PWYD) digital readings with donations going to organizations designated by the playwrights. The project will employ 26 actors, 3 directors and a project stage manager, all while providing the opportunity for Black artists to lead the development of their own work.
The showcase will feature 45-minute excerpts of the following plays: 504 or the SAVIOR PLAY by Josh A. Campbell, and TWENTY-SIX by Ang Bey, directed by Katrina Shobe; SIXTEEN by Megan Schumacher, FREUD AND HIS NEGRO by Teresa Miller, and THE RETURN OF THE SHO-GUN by Keenya Jackson, directed by Victoria Goins; GTFOH by Nikki Brake-Sillá, and IF & WHEN by Quinn D. Eli, directed by Alexandra Espinoza. The stage-manager for the project is Noelle Diane Johnson. The estimated date for the showcase is Winter 2021.
Revisiting ESTHER CHOI THE FISH THAT DROWNED
In Spring 2020, Simpatico’s highly anticipated world premiere production of Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters’ ESTHER CHOI AND THE FISH THAT DROWNED was postponed due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Since that time, Walters has revisited the work, which tells the story of the title character’s grapple with grief, loneliness, and the ghost of her best friend. Simpatico will partner with The Phoenix Theatre in Indiana to present a developmental Zoom reading of the newly-revised script on November 18, 2020. For more information on how to register for this reading please email Simpatico at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simpatico SEED Projects
Simpatico is dedicated to providing artists with a variety of developmental opportunities for new work this season with an emphasis on process over product. They are pleased to announce a series of “Simpatico SEED Projects,” where lead artists will be empowered to create new works of art that celebrate the power of collaboration.
The SEED Projects (Simpatico Engages Everyone Digitally) will work to create an environment for the artists involved that deepens their connection to the work and creates unique opportunities to share those experiences with Simpatico audiences. “Each SEED Project will ultimately receive a fully staged live production with Simpatico at some point in the future when it is safe for all our artists and audiences to gather together again,” adds Heishman. “We are keeping that timeline open in order to best accommodate the artists involved in each creative process.”
The exact path of these SEED Projects will be determined by the lead artists involved: Malika Oyetimein, Tamanya Garza, and Adam and Charlie DelMarcelle. As always, it is Simpatico’s goal to make all projects financially accessible via PWYD ticketing, and the company will be exploring new avenues of digital accessibility this season as well.
The season will begin with A SHADOW THAT BROKE THE LIGHT, a one-man show written by Adam and Charlie DelMarcelle and performed by multi-Barrymore Award-winning actor Charlie DelMarcelle. This project will release a series of short videos, vignettes of the full-length play, on the loss of Charlie and Adam’s younger brother Joey, to a heroin overdose in 2014. Adam and Charlie have been on the front lines addressing this epidemic in a variety of ways and A SHADOW THAT BROKE THE LIGHT serves as a living memorial for those who have gone, those who have been left behind, and those who we may never know. This virtual production will be co-presented with Troy Foundry Theatre in New York. Each new chapter will be accompanied by a community event designed to shed light on the isolation and fear that is coming to define the opioid epidemic in 2020. This project runs October 29 through December 3. Details at https://www.simpaticotheatre.org/astbtl-events
In 2021 we will continue our work with (S)LAUGHTER: A PLAY ON PAIN. When a pregnant community activist is thrown in prison for “standing her ground” she goes into labor and is forced to give birth in solitary confinement, shackled to a bed. Alone and afraid, she cries out and her epigenetic memory answers the call, bringing help she never envisioned. (S)LAUGHTER: A PLAY ON PAIN written by Malika Oyetimein, is a poetic and painful look at the intersections of the racial injustices of the American healthcare system and prison system. This work will be produced in conjunction with Oyetimein and Brennie Tellu’s company unBossed Productions.
Based on playwright Isaac Gomez’s intimate interviews, THE WAY SHE SPOKE is a raw and riveting exploration of responsibility that follows one playwright’s journey to give voice to a city of women on the Mexican border silenced by violence, fear, and a world that has turned a deaf ear to their stories. Director Tamanya M. M. Garza (CRY IT OUT) will investigate the setting of the play, the city where she and the playwright both grew up, and explore the places where their experiences mirror, and intersect with, the women whose worlds are shattered in the play. Garza will use this time to collect artifacts and documentation of these women, the brutal world they were forced to inhabit, and the families who went searching for them on both sides of the border.
For more information on all of these projects, please visit simpaticotheatre.org and follow Simpatico on social media for the most up to date information.
Integrating Organizational Change
During the fall of 2020, Simpatico Theatre will partner with Hindsight Consulting to integrate and collaborate on a comprehensive anti-racism action plan and anti-racism training program that will build on the self-evaluation work the company has been undergoing for the past few months. This living, breathing plan will help solidify the ongoing commitment of Simpatico to celebrate, challenge, and expand their definitions of community and compassion by demonstrating values grounded in social justice, civil rights, and community service.
Additionally, the company plans to launch their Rotating Artistic Director (RAD) program in Spring 2021. Designed to provide opportunities for community-focused artistic leaders to develop their administrative capabilities, the program will search for a season-long Artistic Director and Associate Artistic Director, with the goal to have two year commitment of planning and execution for each new RAD. Current Artistic Director Allison Heishman will become the company’s Managing Director, providing a foundation of support and ensuring the day-to-day operations run smoothly for Simpatico and the incoming RADs. To nominate a Philly-based artist or artistic administrator for this program, the public can fill out the form here: https://forms.gle/7zzHGVT9p3t5BnTi7.
Simpatico Theatre is grateful for the ongoing support of The Wyncote Foundation, The MKM Foundation, The Independence Foundation, The Lida Foundation, and The Philadelphia Cultural Foundation.
A SHADOW THAT BROKE THE LIGHT
By Adam and Charlie DelMarcelle
ESTHER CHOI AND THE FISH THAT DROWNED: A Reading
By Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters
Jouska PlayWorks Virtual New Play Showcase
504 or the SAVIOR PLAY
By Josh A. Campbell
TWENTY-SIX by Ang Bey
SIXTEEN by Megan Schumacher
FREUD AND HIS NEGRO by Teresa Miller
THE RETURN OF THE SHO-GUN by Keenya Jackson
GTFOH by Nikki Brake-Sillá
IF & WHEN by Quinn D. Eli
Dates in Winter TBA
(S)LAUGHTER: A PLAY ON PAIN
By Malika Oyetimein
Dates in 2021 TBA
THE WAY SHE SPOKE
By Issac Gomez
Dates in 2021 TBA