The Public Theater announces 2022-23 season

The season includes eight productions.

Public Theater

The Public Theater has set the productions for its 2022-23 season, which begins in September. The season includes eight shows, including a renowned classic, two New York premieres, and five world-premiere plays.

The season kicks off with Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge, which is conceived by Greig Sargeant with Elevator Repair Service. The show restages a historic debate between writer James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Jr., known as the "father of American conservatism," and also depicts an imagined conversation between Baldwin and playwright Lorraine Hansberry in the aftermath. The show is directed by John Collins and runs from September 24 to October 16.

The cast includes Daphne Gaines as Hansberry, Gavin Price as Mr. Heycock, Greig Sargeant as Baldwin, Christopher-Rashee Stevenson as Mr. Burford, and Ben Williams as Buckley. 

Following this production will be a revival of Hansberry's own most famous play, A Raisin in the Sun. Tony Award nominee Robert O'Hara will direct this show about a Black family experiencing housing discrimination in mid-20th-century Chicago. This show, running from September 27 to November 6, will mark the first time Hansberry's work has been produced at the Public.

Mei Ann Teo directs the next production in the Public's season: the New York premiere of Madeline Sayet's Where We Belong. Sayet herself performs this one-woman show based on her own experiences studying in London and visiting multiple nations that have perpetuated colonialism, and finding comfort in the fact that her Native ancestors made similar journeys. The show will run from October 28 to November 27.

Next is Suzan-Lori Parks's Plays for a Plague Year, making its world premiere from November 4 to November 27. Beginning on March 13, 2020, Parks began to write a play every day, and the stories she created are the basis of Plague Year, which chronicles the communal experience of living through the pandemic through the lens of one family and their daily activities. Niegel Smith directs.

Parks is also a creator of the Public's next show in the season, the new musical The Harder They Come. She has written the book for the adaptation of the 1972 movie of the same name, and Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jimmy Cliff's catalogue forms the musical basis. The show tells the story of Ivan, a young singer who moves to Jamaica to become a star and makes strides, but also learns about the secrets behind the scenes. As he rebels against the rigged industry, his life and Jamaican society at large are threatened.

Tony winner Sergio Trujillo co-directs with Tony Taccone, and Edgar Godineaux choreographs. The show will open in winter 2023.

Also in winter 2023 is the newest solo play by Ryan J. Haddad, Dark Disabled Stories. Haddad, who has cerebral palsy and uses a walker, shares a series of autobiographical stories about navigating a world that wasn't built for his disability. Jordan Fein directs this production, which integrates American Sign Language, open captions, and audio description into all performances.

Kicking off spring 2023 will be Good Bones by James Ijames, who won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Fat Ham, currently at the Public through July 17. Good Bones explores gentrification through the lens of a couple, Aisha and Travis, who get to renovate a house in Aisha's old neighborhood. However, they must reckon with the cost of creating their dream home — not only monetarily, but on the surrounding community. Fat Ham director Saheem Ali returns to direct Ijames's latest work.

The final production in the Public's season, also in spring 2023, is shadow/land, written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones. The two reunite following the 2021 premiere of Dickerson-Despenza's play Cullud Wattah at the Public. shadow/land was first presented as an audio drama in 2021 and is now being mounted as a live production, telling the story of Magalee, a woman who is convinced to sell her historic family-owned business in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The show is the first of 10 plays of Dickerson-Despenza's that explores the lasting toll of the 2005 hurricane in and around New Orleans.

In addition to its full in-house productions, The Public Theater's 2022-23 season will also include a tour of The Comedy of Errors with the Public's Mobile Unit — which brings free Shakespeare performances to community hubs around the city — and the Under the Radar Festival for new work from January 4-22.

Details on casting for all productions following Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge, and exact performance dates for the winter and spring 2023 programming, have yet to be announced.

Photo credit: Aislinn Weidele