mostly plays, mostly new york city & only $50 (or under)
LAST UPDATED: 11/28/2023
HUGE NEWS! THE UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL IS BACK!!!!
Friends always ask me how I see so many plays that they’ve never even heard of. The long answer is, “I get recommendations, pay attention to playwrights whose work I’ve liked in the past and most crucially, I also subscribe to (and skim) many, many individual theater’s newsletters.” The short answer is, “It’s weirdly hard and annoying!” And EXPENSIVE.1
This is a free newsletter, but it’s also an ever-updating landing page and a list of what I’m seeing, as well as what I’d like to see in-theater. But I am not a theater critic! Just a fan. And I’ll annotate when it feels right: a star* means I liked it! (Or, sometimes, it means someone else I trust liked it.) …If something disappears from this list, wellllllll, it wasn’t that good (Or, sometimes, I heard it wasn’t that good.) This letter will appear in your inbox when there’s enough worthy of an update. Otherwise, please check back!
currently running (and about to run)
UNITED STATES V. GUPTA by Deepali Gupta (Nov 10 — 28, JACK)
United States v. Gupta is a musical tragedy that attempts to tell the story of Rajat Gupta. In the summer of 2012, Gupta—a former head of McKinsey—was tried, convicted, and incarcerated for insider trading. More than a decade removed from the events of his trial, his youngest daughter, Deepali Gupta, is presenting her own version.
Covenant by York Walker (Oct 5 — Dec 3, Roundabout Theatre Company)
When a struggling guitarist returns to his small Georgia town a blues star, rumors begin swirling that he may have made a deal with the devil to attain his musical genius.
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (Nov 4 – Dec 3, TFANA)
Godot will be directed by Arin Arbus (Resident Director, TFANA) and actors Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks.
Jane’s struggle to reconcile her new life with the expectations and traditions of her family and Nation are powerfully interwoven with the heartbreaking history of the Delaware Nation's expulsion from their land.
SchmidtSchmidtSchmidt by Leonie Bell and LOCAL GRANDMA (Dec 7 — 17, The Brick)
A matrilineal, dark humor landscape where, amongst other occurrences, a group of witches convene at the last sacred grove in the neighborhood to prepare a death party, a mother-daughter duo seek to find each other again amidst a long-kept secret, and an ancestral forest awaits a return.
SASHA VELOUR: THE BIG REVEAL LIVE SHOW! (Dec 15 — 20, LaMaMa)*
Sasha’s performances take on different forms over the course of the evening—classic drag, storytelling, video experimentation, and more.
Life & Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee (Nov 29 — Dec 23, St Ann’s Warehouse)
Handspring Puppet Company, who stunned us with War Horse and stole our hearts with Little Amal, joins Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre to transform J.M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize-winning novel into exquisite puppet theater.
festivals & series
THE UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL** IS BACK! AND IT ALREADY HAS AN AMAZING LINE-UP. I’ll probably try and see:
The First Bad Man: A Book Club Based on the Novel by Miranda July @ LCT (Jan 5 — 13, 2024)* — The First Bad Man is an immersive, comedic, and occasionally combative exploration of the intersections between the play’s characters and its inspirations.
William Shakespeare’s As You Like It — A Radical Retelling by Cliff Cardinal @ Skirball (Jan 12 & 13, 2024) — Born on a South Dakota American Indian reservation, Cardinal’s Cree and Lakota heritage deeply informs his take on the play, which centers on the relationships between Indigenous communities and colonial settlers, where both sides continue to struggle to be clearly heard.
Inua Ellams’ Search Party @ LCT (Jan 5 — 13, 2024)* — Search Party is an act of call and response that hearkens back to the birth of storytelling. At this uniquely futuristic and puckishly chaotic interactive event, the artist couldn’t be more present.
Luke Murphy’s Volcano @ St Ann’s Warehouse (Jan 10 — 21, 2024)* — Volcano spins the story of two men thrust into a social experiment in outer space.
Peter Mills Weiss & Julia Mounsey’s Open Mic Night @ Mabou Mines (Jan 5 — 18, 2024)* — An experimental theater piece about the end of an experimental theater.
BAM Next Wave Festival by Various (Oct 19 — Jan 2024)**
theater over $50 & probably worth it
Scene Partners by John J. Caswell, Jr. (Oct 26 — Dec 3, Vineyard Theatre)
Starring two-time Academy Award winner Dianne Wiest as Meryl, and directed by Tony Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), John J. Caswell, Jr.’s (Wet Brain).
Sabbath’s Theater, adapted from the novel by Philip Roth by Ariel Levy and John Turturro (Oct 10 — Dec 3, The New Group)
When his secret life of debauchery comes to a heartbreaking end, disgraced puppet maker Mickey Sabbath plunges into increasingly mad and maddening encounters with people from his wild and wicked past.
Spain by Jen Silverman (Nov 8 — Dec 17, Second Stage)
It's 1936, and a pair of passionate filmmakers have landed their next big project: a sweeping Spanish Civil War film with the potential to change American hearts and minds. It just happens to be bankrolled by the KGB.
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by John Patrick Shanley (October 30 — Jan 7, 2024, Lucille Lortel Theatre)
Aubrey Plaza and Christopher Abbott star in John Patrick Shanley’s breakthrough play Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, a searing portrayal of the imperceptible space between joy and pain.
Quite a few theater companies have “Under 35” OR student discounts. I won’t be noting them here, but you should check for them when you’re buying tickets and you happen to be blessed with the gift of youth. (Or you have an active student ID.) Other ways to get cheaper tickets: sign up for the theater’s newsletter (they’ll often send out codes for discounts) or check TodayTix.
$50 if you have an AMEX! (Otherwise, $60.)