Three theater companies in the District are offering distinctly different events now through Feb. 4. Mosaic Theater rolls out its inaugural Catalyst New Play Festival from Jan. 19-22. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company presents a one-day showcase on Jan. 29 with works from Native artists. A Legacy Commissions Festival occurs at Ford’s Theatre from Feb. 2-4.
The Catalyst New Play Festival consists of several components. There are plays in development, allowing audiences to see productions in a workshop performance. The experience includes panels, workshops, readings from high school playwrights, and local and national writers’ public presentations of works in progress.
Mosaic’s newly appointed artistic director, Reginald L. Douglas, oversees the festival.
“This inaugural weekend has new work that is diverse in form, full of curiosity, and wonderfully still in the development process,” Douglas said.
On Jan, 21-22, a series of events and performances are scheduled for Atlas Performing Arts Center at 1333 H Street NE, Washington, D.C., 20002.
A play reading for a High School Playwriting Contest is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at 2 p.m. Later on Saturday at 7 p.m., the play in development is “The Invention of Seeds” by Annalisa Dias. This is a multidisciplinary performance work of puppetry, sculpture, and theater that follows the battle of small farmers against giant seed corporations.
On Sunday at 3 p.m., a session will take place called “Artists-in-Conversation: Reflections on Craft and Creativity,” a panel featuring local playwrights Allyson Currin, Tuyet Thi Pham, and Nikkole Salter.
Wrapping up the festival on Sunday at 7 p.m. is “Between/Time: A Baltimore Cycle Play” by Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi. The height of the pandemic is the setting for this play about an artist and a CEO in Baltimore who are falling in love but can communicate only via their windows.
“Each of the artists explores both the deeply personal and the politically relevant,” said Mosaic Artistic Producer Chelsea Radigan. “Mosaic is thrilled to have a hand in shaping the realization of their fresh and galvanizing work.”
Free ticket information, the full schedule, and event descriptions for the inaugural Catalyst New Play Festival are on the Mosaic Theater website https://mosaictheater.org/new-plays
Woolly Mammoth hosts “A Mammoth Showcase: An Interdisciplinary Gathering of Native Artists” on Jan. 29 from 6-10 p.m. This free event is part of a national tour of Madeline Sayet’s “Where We Belong.” This one-day event aims to have each producing partner create and sustain long-term relationships with local Indigenous artists and communities.
The evening will include:
• D.C.-based intertribal Native American Northern drum group Uptown Singerz, will perform Native American pow wow drumming that includes both traditional and intertribal songs.
• A conversation with Rose Powhatan, a local Pamunkey Indian Tribe mixed-media artist whose work spans written pieces and visual art.
• A reading of “Ady” by Rhiana Yazzie and joined by Regina Victor. Yazzie’s two-person play explores the collision of Navajo life and sexuality in this play about the real-life muse, Ady Fidelin. Fidelin was a Caribbean dancer and the only Black woman living among the artists of the surrealist movement in France. Angelisa Gillyard will direct this reading.
• A livestream conversation with Anthony Hudson, the Portland-based artist and writer, who is sometimes better known as Portland’s premier1 drag clown Carla Rossi. Two of Hudson’s digital performances will be displayed in the Woolly Mammoth lobby.
“A Mammoth Showcase: An Interdisciplinary Gathering of Native Artists” is a free, ticketed event. Tickets can be reserved online at https://www.woollymammoth.net, by phone at (202) 393-3939, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Feb. 2-4, the “Ford’s Theatre Legacy Commissions Festival: A First Look” presents workshops and staged readings from playwrights Pearl Cleage, Dominic Taylor and Rickerby Hinds. Ford’s Theatre commissioned each play.
“Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard” by Pearl Cleage explores the legacy and election of Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first Black mayor. The story of that 1973 landmark election is remembered by everyday-life citizens of Atlanta as they remember the election’s significance approaching its 50th anniversary in 2024. Seema Sueko is the director. The play is presented on Feb. 2 and 4 at 7:30 pm.
“Young and Just” is by playwright Dominic Taylor and is directed by Donald Douglass. Dominic Taylor’s commission explores the life and work of African American pioneer biologist Dr. Ernest Everett Just and his lead researcher Dr. Roger Arliner Young. The playwright’s investigation into Dr. Young’s life and scientific achievements, known as the Black Apollo of Science, led him to Dr. Young’s association with another scientist, Dr. Just. Insightful storytelling is at the heart of Taylor’s storytelling. This reading is on Friday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m.
“Blackbox” is the commissioned work by Rickerby Hinds and will be directed by Thomas F. DeFrantz. Magic, music and movement shine through this play, exploring the remarkable life of abolitionist Henry Box Brown, who was also a magician and an illusionist. In 1849, he arranged to mail himself in a wooden crate from Virginia to abolitionist contacts in Philadelphia. Later in his life, Henry Brown became a noted abolitionist speaker and went on to earn a living as a touring magician. Considered a pioneer in merging hip-hop and theatre, Hinds transforms his story into an epic poem with hip-hop influences and magic highlighting the astounding nature of Brown’s journey to freedom. This workshop is on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 2:30 p.m.
Free tickets can be reserved for all readings and workshops at https://fords.org