Diversionary bursts back into action in Season 36 with the opening of our newly renovated theatre complex, adding a third performance venue with The Austin & Joann Clark Cabaret, and four new works on our Mainstage exploring how our LGBTQ community defines home.
Season 36 features two World Premieres and two West Coast Premieres that take an uncompromising look at where we’ve been and where we are now, blazing a trail towards a brave new future. These ambitious new works penned by emergent and daring LGBTQ theatre makers spin stories with love, rage, honesty, humor, and hope to discover how we find home in others and ourselves.
by Donja R. Love
Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg
Three men wait. When one is chosen, the trio must embark on telling a story of life inside a long-ignored epidemic. With joy, humor, and unbridled truth, Donja Love’s urgent and spontaneous new work drills through the statistics to give voice to what it means to be black, queer, and HIV positive in a way only a live theatrical experience can deliver.
Donja R. Love (he/him/his) is an Afro-Queer playwright, poet, and filmmaker from Philadelphia. He writes specifically about Black and Queer folx for Black and Queer folx. He is the recipient of the 2018 Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award, the 2017 Princess Grace Playwriting Award. He’s also the Lark’s 2016 Van Lier New Voices Playwriting Fellow, The Playwrights Realm’s 2016/2017 Writing Fellow, and the 2011 Philadelphia Adult Grand Slam Poetry Champion. He’s had productions at Manhattan Theatre Club (Sugar in Our Wounds) and Atlantic Theater Company (Fireflies). He’s the co-host of Off Book, a podcast on Black theatre; and the co-founder of The Each-Other Project, an organization that helps build community and provide visibility, through art and advocacy, for LGBTQ People of Color. Training: Juilliard’s Playwrights Program.
by C. Quintana
Directed by Maria Patrice Amon
Memories of Yadra’s childhood in Castro’s Cuba come flooding back as Alzheimer’s sets in, inspiring her daughter Zelia to connect with her heritage. With her wife by her side, Zelia sets out on a journey to excavate family secrets and discover a love that led her mother’s beloved tía-abuela to remain in Cuba. Spanning two countries and three generations, Azul fuses music and memory to explore a romance for the ages and the true language of love.
C. QUINTANA, or CQ (she/her, any) is a queer writer with Cuban and Louisiana roots. There is “other” and “in-between” in all of us; CQ tells stories that mine the misconception of dissimilarity and proclaim, “You are not alone.” Her plays and musicals have been developed and produced with companies including Barrington Stage Company, Southern Rep, INTAR, Lark Play Development Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Astoria Performing Arts Center, and more. Her play Scissoring is published and available for licensing via Dramatists Play Service and a monologue from AZUL, which was featured on the 2017 Kilroys List and had its world premiere at Southern Rep as part of the 2019 Tennessee Williams/Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, is published in The Kilroys List: Volume 2. She is the recipient of fellowships and residencies from WP Theater, MacDowell (Ernest and Red Heller Fellow), Playwrights Realm, Van Lier/New Voices at The Lark, CubaOne, Queer/Art, and Lambda Literary, as well as commissions from Audible, The Civilians, Palo Alto Playhouse, EST/Alfred P. Sloan Project, Peppercorn Theatre Company, and more. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University.
Book by Jeremy J. King
Music and Lyrics by Sam Salmond
Based on the novel by David B. Feinberg
Directed by Kevin Newbury
Choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly
New York City used to be a party town, but 1986 finds everyone paralyzed with fear of AIDS. Everyone, that is, except BJ Rosenthal, who’s determined to keep the party going. When an ex-lover becomes ill, BJ is forced to face the nightmare enveloping him and redefine his life. Based on the celebrated novel of its time and set to a soaring pop score pulsating with joy and heart wrenching melodies, Eighty-Sixed unearths an epidemic that shook the world to reveal a community’s ferocious fight to reclaim its future.
Sam Salmond (he/him/his) is a Jonathan Larson Award-winning composer, lyricist, and bookwriter. Among many projects in development, Sam has written music and lyrics for an adaptation of Eighty-Sixed. His musical Mother, Me and the Monsters (a Boston Globe Critic’s Pick) was produced at Barrington Stage. His children’s show, The Dot, is currently on a Multi-Year national tour. He wrote book and lyrics for Cage Match, created Uncool: the Party, an immersive night of rock ‘n roll, games, stories, and dancing, is currently working on an original musical, The Homefront, the score to Creature, and an original musical for Penn State’s Musical Theater BFA program. Sam’s work has been featured at Lincoln Center, Ars Nova, Symphony Space, and venues all around the country. He has been a resident writer at Goodspeed Opera House, the Johny Mercer Colony, and more. He is a 2017 Dramatists Guild Fellow, a 2018 SPACE on Ryder Farm resident, and an alumnus of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.
Jeremy J. King (he/him/his) grew up on the Jersey Shore and graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a degree in Theatre Arts. He lived an actor’s life for several years before transitioning to writing. As a novelist, Jeremy has released three young adult titles with Bold Strokes Books (In Stone, Night Creatures, and Dark Rites), which have been listed in Advocate’s “Top 10 Books for Young LGBT Folks and Anyone Who Wants to Understand Them,” recommended by the American Library Association’s GLBT Round Table, and nominated for the Rainbow Award in fantasy. His dramatic work includes the librettos for Eighty-Sixed and Creature, as well as other works for the stage and screen. Jeremy is a 2018 Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow, Affiliated Artist with Musical Theatre Factory, and a 2018 Resident at SPACE on Ryder Farm.
Kevin Newbury (he/him/his) has directed over 70 original theatre, opera, and film projects. Recent world premiere highlights include Fellow Travelers (“One of the Best Classical Music Events of 2016” by The New York Times), The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (2019 GRAMMY Award Winner), Kansas City Choir Boy (starring Courtney Love: NYC, Boston, LA and Miami), Doubt (Minnesota Opera, PBS’ Great Performances), Bel Canto (Lyric Opera of Chicago, PBS’ Great Performances), Oscar (Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia), the Pulitzer Prize-winning Life Is A Dream (Santa Fe Opera), The Good Swimmer (BAM Next Wave Festival), and The Ninth Hour at Met Live Arts. Kevin’s production of Virginia for the Wexford Opera Festival won the 2010 Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Opera Production. His long association with the work of Leonard Bernstein includes directing Candide with the Philadelphia Orchestra (starring Bradley Cooper) and Bernstein’s MASS 6 times.
Raja Feather Kelly is an Obie-winning choreographer, a director, the artistic director of the feath3r theory, and a Creative Associate at The Juilliard School. In 2020, Kelly made his directorial debut at New York City’s Second Stage Theatre with We’re Gonna Die. Since 2016, Raja has choreographed extensively for Off-Broadway theatre in New York City, most notably for Signature Theatre, Soho Rep, New York Theatre Workshop, and Playwrights Horizons Frequent collaborators include: Lileana Blain-Cruz, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Sarah Benson, and Lila Neugebauer. Other theatre credits include choreography for Skittles Commercial: The Musical (Town Hall), The Chronicles of Cardigan and Khente (SohoRep), Everyday Afroplay (JACK), GURLS (Princeton University, Yale Repertory Theatre), Electric Lucifer (The Kitchen), Lempicka (Williamstown Theatre Festival), The House That Will Not Stand (New York Theatre Workshop), Fireflies (Atlantic Theatre Company), If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons, nominated for the 2019 Lucille Lortel Award and the 2019 Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Choreography), The Good Swimmer (BAM), and Faust (Opera Omaha). Most recent work: Fairview (SDCF Joe A. Callaway Award finalist for choreography; Soho Rep, Berkeley Rep, TFANA, and winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), A Strange Loop (Obie Award winner and SDCF Callaway finalist for choreography; Playwrights Horizons, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama).