Soho Rep Returns With Job Initiative and New Plays

It has been practically two years since Soho Rep has staged a present in its 65-seat theater at 46 Walker Street. And Sarah Benson, the theater’s creative director since 2007, is in disbelief.

“It’s wild that it’s been that long,” mentioned Benson, who leads the theater with the creative improvement and producing director Meropi Peponides and the manager director Cynthia Flowers.

But when performances return to the Lower Manhattan house for the corporate’s 46th season in September, will probably be alongside the second yr of a brand new initiative: Soho Rep Project Number One, a job creation program developed in response to the pandemic that brings artists into the group as salaried employees members with advantages.

The inaugural 2020-21 class included eight artists, who every acquired a weekly wage of $1,250, a yr of medical health insurance protection and a $10,000 price range to create a brand new work in any format, to be introduced to an viewers on the theater through the upcoming season. The subsequent part of the undertaking so far consists of two artists for the 2021-22 season: The director and author Abigail Jean-Baptiste and the scenic designer Kimie Nishikawa.

“It’s an exciting moment as we continue to evolve,” Benson mentioned. “And we hope to expand it in the future.”

Soho Rep, an audacious residence for brand new performs, has kick-started the careers of writers together with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (“Gloria,” “An Octoroon”), Lucas Hnath (“A Doll’s House Part 2,” “Dana H.”) and Young Jean Lee (“Straight White Men,” “We’re Gonna Die”), whereas additionally offering a house for modern designers and administrators, lots of whom participated within the theater’s storied author/director lab.

So it’s solely applicable, Benson mentioned, that the 2021-22 season begins with 4 weekends of free shows of works-in-progress developed in that very same lab, which is led by the playwrights William Burke and Jackie Sibblies Drury. The productions, which is able to run from Sept. 24 by way of Oct. 17, embrace “Blush” (Keenan Hurley and Kedian Keohan), “A Map to Nowhere (things are)” (Nia Farrell and Talia Paulette Oliveras), “Speak American” (Kate Moore Heaney and Divya Mangwani), and “Bust” (Jeesun Choi and Bryn Herdrich).

They will likely be adopted in November by the world premiere of “while you were partying,” a comedy by Peter Mills Weiss and Julia Mounsey with the actor and comic Brian Fiddyment that explores poisonous masculinity (Nov. Three-28).

“I can’t remember the last time I was truly terrified in a theater before this,” Benson mentioned. “I was frightened in a very strange and unsettling, but kind of joyous, way.”

Next up is the New York premiere of the South Korean playwright Hansol Jung’s “Wolf Play,” which explores alienation and the that means of household by way of the lens of queer parenting and adoption (Feb. 2-March 6, 2022). The play, which takes its identify from a Korean boy adopted off the web who simply needs to seek out his “wolf pack” and was initially slated to open in March 2020, is directed by Dustin Wills and introduced in affiliation with Ma-Yi Theater Company.

Closing out the lineup is the world premiere of the Puerto Rican playwright Omar Vélez Meléndez’s “Notes on Killing Seven Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board Members” (May 17-June 19, 2022). Directed by David Mendizábal, one of many eight artists within the inaugural Project Number One cohort, and produced in partnership with The Sol Project, the work is billed as a drag present that explores decolonization.

“I fell off my chair when I first read that piece,” Benson mentioned, “And it’s only continued to evolve as they worked on it together.”

Soho Rep and the National Asian American Theater Company have additionally commissioned one other inaugural Project Number One artist, Shayok Misha Chowdhury, to complete his bilingual play “Public Obscenities,” in Bengali and English.

Benson mentioned she hopes that the productions at Soho Rep this season will reply to a transformative second in theater.

“I hope it’s not just like getting back into a warm bath,” she mentioned. “I hope people get excited about seeing work that’s destabilizing, and challenging, and recognizing the exhilaration that comes with that.”