Philly Theatre Week returns April 22nd to May 2nd with 64 companies and 72 events

-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events
-Feature photo: People’s Light Theatre, courtesy of Deja Morgan

Theatre Philadelphia proudly announces the return of Philly Theatre Week from April 22 to May 2, 2021. After a year of dark stages, millions in lost ticket sales and thousands of lost jobs, the Philadelphia theatre scene will rise again after the pandemic shut-downs with 11 days, 64 organizations, 72 events, and hundreds of performances. This fourth year celebration will showcase the strength, resilience, talent and diversity of the tri-state region’s theatre scene through virtual and in-person shows that will be hosted in every corner of Philadelphia, and in the Philadelphia suburbs, Delaware and South Jersey. Events will include a variety of live and pre-recorded virtual performances, panels, workshops, theatre-by-mail, audio plays and in-person outdoor events. All tickets for participating shows are specially priced to be accessible to all, with tickets being free, $15 or $30 each. Philly Theatre Week tickets are officially on sale now at www.phillytheatreweek.org.

“Theatre Philadelphia is so excited to showcase the amazing ways that the Philadelphia region’s theatre community has continued to create work and look forward during the global pandemic,” said Theatre Philadelphia’s new Executive Director LaNeshe Miller-White. “The 4th annual Philly Theatre Week gives producers and artists an opportunity to connect and/or reconnect with audiences as they begin their journey on the long-road to recovery that lies ahead.”

Miller-White continued, “Philly Theatre Week was designed as an exciting annual celebration for arts, culture and theatre audiences. It grew into one of the most anticipated festival-style events to take place in Philadelphia, joining the ranks of Philly Beer Week, Philly Tech Week and Center City Restaurant Week. Now, after the struggles our artistic community has endured over the last 12 months, this event means more than ever as it’s the first big step to seeing artists back at work, audiences fill seats and curtains rise again. We brought it back to give our community hope and show that better days are ahead – and that our industry needs positive news and momentum to get through these next few months as we sort out what theatre looks like the fall and next season – and what it looks like for years to come.”

For its fourth outing, Philly Theatre Week will have an entirely new audience. “All eyes of the country can and will be on us as virtual theatre has opened up amazing new opportunities to bring in theatre lovers from across the country – and across the world,” said Miller-White. “Some of our region’s theatres have been making national and international headlines during the pandemic. Some have perfected the unique and new art of virtual online performance. We are so excited to introduce our world-class theatre scene to these brand new audiences. When the time comes for audiences to come back inside to take their seat, we hope that the lasting impact of virtual theatre will be even more tourists and visitors coming to Philadelphia to fill our houses.”

Starting April 22nd, Theatre Philadelphia will give local, national and global audiences shows and events for every taste and demographic – with a wide ranging collection of cherished classics, experimental theatre, low-budget readings, panels, improv, physical theatre, workshops, in-depth discussions, local voices and so much more. Audiences are encouraged to support companies they may have missed over the past year, or explore new theatre they haven’t seen before. Participating organizations include a range of professional theatres, academic institutions, community theatres, self-producing artists and small-budget companies. Theatres range in size from large regional companies like Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Arden and The Wilma, to small and up-and-coming theatres like The Hum’n’bards Theater Troupe, Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Collective and Wings of Paper. Originating companies hail from every corner of Philadelphia, from Center City to the suburbs, from Chester County to Wilmington, and from South Jersey to the Main Line.

While the website for Philly Theatre Week has a full rundown of organizations, events and performances, below find twenty early highlights for Philly Theatre Week.

1) Philly Theatre Week Opening Night Celebration
Thursday, April 22, 6pm
Live Virtual Event
Pay What You Can
Join the theatre community for a Philly Theatre Week kick-off celebration. Toast to the beginning of the fourth annual Philly Theatre Week and see previews from participating theatre companies.

2) Laurel Tree Theater
A Doll’s House 20/20
April 22 – May 2
Pre-Recorded Theatre Event
$30
Ibsen’s classic adapted to 2020. Nora Helmer has a beautiful life and a dreadful secret: She’s $300,000 in debt, possibly going to jail and being blackmailed by one of her husband’s subordinates. On top of it all, she’s quarantined alone at home where her only human interaction comes from friends who drop by on Bubble Chat throughout the day. As Nora’s story unfolds, so do the lives of the people around her: COVID19, desperation, unemployment and power struggles interweave over Bubble a Zoom-like environment created specifically for this independently funded film which brings Henrik Ibsen’s Victorian masterpiece to lockdown.

3) Inis Nua Theatre Company
How To Be Brave
April 22 – April 25
Pre-recorded Theatre Event
Pay What You Can
Single-parent Katie is having a terrible morning: her mom is yelling, her daughter is bleeding, and the smoke alarm just went off. Overwhelmed, Katie runs out the door and on a wild ride through Newport, Wales. Featuring a stolen BMX bike, a quick dip in the River Usk, and an impromptu public dance number, How To Be Brave is an uplifting reminder of how our hometowns shape who we are.

4) Theatre Exile
Zoo Motel
April 22-May 2
Live Virtual Theatre Event
Theatre Exile invites you to check into ZOO MOTEL, devised by director, designer, and performer and Philadelphia Fringe Festival favorite Thaddeus Phillips in 2020 as a quarantine experiment that offers a window into what’s possible for live performance — a world where audiences from around the globe can share a mind-bending adventure in the comfort of their own home. Broadcast live and online from one room in a South American village, ZOO MOTEL takes audiences on a journey to Spain, Japan, the Mojave Desert, and around the world alongside fellow motel guests in a family friendly performance that showcases how connected we are even in a digital world.

5) InterAct Theatre Company
The Niceties – A Virtual Presentation
Thursday, April 22 – Sunday, May 2
Pre-Recorded Theatre Event
Free
A “blisteringly smart” (Boston Globe) drama in which Zoe, a brilliant Black college student, and her white history professor Janine square off over the role slavery played in the American Revolution. Heightened by protests and a social media frenzy, their taut and timely debate careens out of control and threatens to derail their careers and their lives. Directed by Kathryn MacMillan. Starring Angela Bey & Janis Dardaris. Audiences register in advance and receive the streaming link on April 22nd. Register after April 22nd, and you’ll receive the link directly from InterAct Theatre Company within 24 hours!

6) Mallbodies
Mallbodies, A Performative Elegy to the American Shopping Mall
Thursday, April 22 – Sunday, May 2
Audio Performance
Pay What You Can
Shopping malls hold a strong place in American culture as well as personal culture. Mallbodies, is a soundwalk performance dedicated to – and in critique of – our experience and memory of the American shopping mall. This project is designed to be listened to by individual audience members using headphones while exploring a shopping mall of their choosing. Mallbodies explores the origins of the shopping mall, our attraction to it, our histories within it, and how malls could function today and into the future. Mallbodies is performed for an audience of one (or do it with a friend!) as they stream the series of tracks on a playlist on the Mallbodies website: www.mallbodies.biz.  

7) Hella Fresh Theater
Frauenschlläechterei
Thursday, April 22- Sunday, May 2
Theatre By Mail
A German lawyer attempts to make Brigette Helm an American movie star in 1933 Hollywood. A play told in mailed installments sent to you in the mail culminating in a performance in your home.

8) People’s Light
Spiritual Uprising
April 22 – May 2
Pre-Recorded Theatre Event
$15
Zonya Love (Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole, Broadway’s The Color Purple) brings her forthcoming collection of reimagined Negro Spirituals to the People’s Light stage in this filmed concert event. The nationally acclaimed actor-musician leads a full band through evocative new renditions of songs like “My Way’s Cloudy” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”  while illustrating the music’s deep cultural and historical significance.

9) Philadelphia Young Playwrights
Pandemic!
Thursday, April 22 – Sunday, May 2
Audio Performance
Pay What You Can
Pandemic! By: Katie Lu. Directed by: Cat Ramierez. A professional production of a first-place winning play. From the Playwright: “Pandemic is a politically charged piece that explores racism, both externalized and internalized, through the eyes of two starkly different generations–the 1930s and modern day 2020. It portrays how racism exists today in subtlest ways that are easily missed but also in violent, hateful ways like that of a hundred years ago. It also sheds important light on the Chinese Exclusion Act, an often overlooked part of our history that is not taught in schools, and draws a parallel between those acts and the rise of anti-Asian-American sentiment with the COVID-19 crisis. However, in such a bleak story, I see my play as a sense of hope. The younger generations are turning over the world and sparking change.”

10) The Phoenix Theatre
The Second Annual Surprise Birthday Party for William Shakespeare
Friday, April 23 from 7pm – 9pm
Love Virtual Theatre
Pay What You Can
Don’t tell Shakespeare, but we’re throwing him another surprise birthday party! This year the bard is turning 457 so we’re all getting together again to perform some more of his work! It’ll be a night of scenes, monologues, songs, sonnets, and of course…CAKE!

11) Die-Cast
Dispatches From Gloria
April 23 – May 1
Live Virtual Theatre Event
Pay What You Can
What do you do after an insurrection? Search through the detritus of characters, images, music, games, imposters, hip hop, zines, and nook miles in an episodic collage that is the quiet after The Storm. How far would you go? Who can you save? Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?

12) 11th Hour Theatre Company
Quarantine Cabaret: Elena Camp & Rajeer Alford
Saturday, April 24th from 7:30pm-8:30pm
Recording will be available for 2 weeks after the original air date.
Live Virtual Theatre Event
Adorable real-life couple, Elena Camp & Rajeer Alford, will serenade audiences with moving duets, unique interpretations of classical musical theatre pieces, and more as part of 11th Hour’s spring Cabaret Series. Event will be streamed live on April 24th, and available for replay up to two weeks after original air date.

13) August Wilson Consortium
Celebrating August Wilson!
April 27
Facebook Live
Free
Artists and community members will join the August Wilson Consortium in celebrating the birth anniversary of August Wilson.

14) EgoPo Classic Theater
Nocturne
April 28 – May 2
Live Drive-In Outdoor Event
$15
“Fifteen years ago, I killed my sister”.  Thus begins this haunting story of pain and isolation. Before the event, you receive directions to a remote abandoned parking lot in Philadelphia.  You arrive in the night, your vehicle illuminating the empty landscape.  A man appears out of the darkness, blinded by your headlights. Through your FM radio, he begins to share the story of his journey to redemption.  You, and your car, become essential players in this theatrical nightmare as his life (re)emerges out of the darkness and silence.

15) Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Collective
First Cousins
April 29 – May 2
Pre-Recorded Theatre Event
$15
After the funeral of a beloved cousin, the first cousins are left to deal with a family secret that has haunted them since childhood. Through tears, anger, and humor, they stumble forward to healing.

16) Philadelphia Theatre Company
The McNally Award Moment
April 30
Virtual Discussion
Free
Join Philadelphia Theatre Company as they announce the recipient of the 2021 Terrence McNally Award, which honors the magic and transformative power of theater as a way to reach into the hearts and minds of audiences. This award will celebrate socially responsible art and civically engaged playwrights who aim to dismantle systems of racism and oppression through fearless and audacious art.

The Philadelphia-based playwright selected for the McNally Award will receive a cash award of $5,000 and development guidance at PTC, including administrative and dramaturgical support. We will also facilitate access to professional connections for the future of the playwright and their work following the exploration at PTC.”

17) Cirque du Nuit
Thickett / Quest 2
Friday, April 30 from 8:30pm – 10:15pm EST
Saturday, May 1 from 2:30pm – 4:15pm EST
Live Virtual Theatre Event
Pay What You Can
THICKETT is a virtual immersive quest, where the world may turn on the stories you tell. Dive into a digital adventure with live actors, hidden mysteries, fairy tales and corporate espionage. THICKETT is a corporation in charge of gathering the lost pages of an ancient, powerful book of tales. You have just been hired as an employee, otherwise known as a “seeker”. The CEO has a hidden past, the three departments are in competition, and everyone is waiting to see how you will play.

18) Crossroads Comedy Theater
The Future
Friday, April 30th from 9:30pm-10:15pm
Live Virtual Theatre Event
Pay What You Can
Doing whatever it takes to make audiences laugh since 2013, this improv team has built a reputation domestically and abroad as a group of weirdos who create comedy that is always more than the sum of their parts. Give them a suggestion and watch as it gets turned into a recreation of the past, a twisted sci-fi dystopia, or possibly a feat of physical strength. The pandemic has grounded their festival performances, so don’t miss this opportunity to watch them from your couch! The Future is: Fred Brown, Caitlin Corkery, David Donnella, Rob O’Neill, Kristen Schier, and Molly Scullion.

19) The Hum’n’bards Theater Troupe
The #Knightlife Renaissance Faire
Saturday, May 1 from 5:00pm-9:00pm
Live Virtual Theatre Event
Pay What You Can
Hear ye, hear ye! #KnightlifeRenFaire returns to the digital realm! Join in the spring-time merriment from the comfort of your home as entertainers dazzle with music, art, dance, combat, and beyond streaming from The Hum’n’bards Theater Troupe Facebook page. Beginning at 5pm, we will feature artisans to demonstrate their craft. You will have the chance to win their wares in an online raffle, with proceeds going to Black Theatre Alliance of Philadelphia! Then, join us at 7pm for some #Knightlife entertainment: singing, magic, drag, stage combat, Shakespeare, and so much more!

20) Without A Cue Productions, LLC
Murder By Gaslight
Saturday, April 24 from 7:00pm-8:00pm
Saturday, April 24 from 8:00pm-9:00pm
Sunday, April 25 from 7:00pm-8:00pm
Sunday, April 25 from 8:00pm-9:00pm
Live Outdoor Event
Murder By Gaslight – Are you prepared for a touch of the eccentric, and steeled against a chill up your corset? Are you yearning to add an experience at once fantastical while also unnerving? Then join us for a historical walking tour with a murderous twist! There’s been a very Victorian murder in Philadelphia. Enter a world of stodgy alienists and charismatic charlatans, saucy painted ladies and tweedy robber barons, steam powered engines and horse drawn carriages. Stroll the byways and shadowy corners of Old City, led by your guide – who just happens to be the victim of a 130 year old murder! You will be tasked with inspecting the crime scene, gathering the clues, and questioning the suspects you meet along the way. And perhaps, just perhaps, you can stay one step ahead of a wily murderer, avoid a similar fate, and have a chance to solve a – MURDER BY GASLIGHT!

Without A Cue Productions is thrilled to take its interactive mystery theater on the road – literally.  During this hour long walking tour, our guests will not only learn some of the more interesting tid bits about our city, but will also solve a murder – all outdoors and on the move! This show represents a major pivot for the company known for employing professional actors in murder mystery-style theatre at Peddler’s Village in Buck’s County and at the Shore in Cape May, New Jersey. Now, after a major pivot for the female-led company, Without a Cue Productions makes its first major debut in the Philadelphia market.  


PHILLY THEATRE WEEK AT A GLANCE 
Participation in Philly Theatre Week was free for the above and other participating organizations, artists and businesses. Enrollment was open to independent artists, organizations, theatres or establishments within a 35-mile radius of Philadelphia’s City Hall. Extensive outreach efforts included theatres, galleries, schools, artists, screening rooms, and all theatre-supporting restaurants and businesses.  

While exploring the variety of work in Philadelphia’s theatre community, audiences will also have the opportunity to make a donation to Theatre Philadelphia’s Emergency Relief program, designed to provide financial support for theatre workers and artists whose jobs and opportunities were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philly Theatre Week is presented by Theatre Philadelphia. Additional Theatre Philadelphia funding and support is provided by the William Penn Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. 2021 Philly Theatre Week partners include Ticketleap, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and Yelp.

Philly Theatre Week tickets are on sale on April 5th, 2021 at www.phillytheatreweek.com.

Philly Theatre Week Opening Night will take place virtually on Thursday, April 22nd at 6pm, offering previews of events that will take place during the celebration.

Connect with Theatre Philadelphia on social media at Facebook.com/TheatrePhiladelphia, Twitter.com/TheatrePhilly and Instagram.com/theatrephiladelphia. #PhillyTheatreWeek

NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR LEADS THE CHARGE
LaNeshe Miller-White took over the reigns for Theatre Philadelphia just seven months ago – and several months into the pandemic. Not only was this a sensitive time for the organization bringing on a new director after its founding director had left, but the new director would need to lead the organization to a new chapter and out of the pandemic crisis.

Miller-White started in late summer of 2020 and has hit the ground running. While many assumed Philly Theater Week was on hold for 2021, Miller-White (and her team and board) had other plans. “For me it wasn’t a question of if we had Philly Theatre Week – it was a question of how, when and how big,” she said. “We really wanted to get our community energized. We set a goal of 40 organizations and we didn’t know what to expect – and we are over the moon to mobilize over 60 groups in just a few short weeks. I am really excited to see theatres buzzing again with activity and I can’t wait to see some of my favorite local faces back performing again.”

Miller-White is a cultural producer, actress, and marketer. She is a graduate of Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater. She believes in using art for social change and is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Theatre in the X, a West Philadelphia based theater company that produces accessible theater productions for Black audiences and provides opportunities for Black artists. She became the new Executive Director of Theatre Philadelphia in August 2020.  

ABOUT THEATRE PHILADELPHIA
Theatre Philadelphia is dedicated to bringing together and celebrating Philadelphia’s diverse and growing theatre community. Founded in 2012, the organization is committed to leading efforts that grow audiences and promote the public’s participation in the community’s work. Theatre Philadelphia envisions a region that celebrates this growing and ever-changing theatre community – nurturing local theatre artists, fostering the creation of extraordinary work, forging stronger connections between art and audiences – recognizing that a diverse, robust, and thriving theatre community can play a pivotal role in making Philadelphia a world-class city. Current programs include the Theatre Philadelphia website (www.theatrephiladelphia.org), The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philly Theatre Week, and strategies and events empowering artists and organizations to increase audience participation.

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