Watch New and Exciting Works in BARD AT THE GATE Series

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Paula Vogel | Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty

Dan Meyer
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July 5, 2022 3:15 PM

Broadway houses have been buzzing with in-person audiences for over a year now, but there’s still plenty of theatre to check out from the comfort of home. Enter Bard at the Gate, a streaming presentation series of new works, founded and co-curated by Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel.

Created at the height of the pandemic, Bard at the Gate aims to respond to the lack of representation of diverse voices within the American theatrical canon. It serves as a platform for new and exciting works by BIPOC, female, LGBTQIA+, and disabled artists.

Then, last year, Vogel teamed up with McCarter Theatre Center to give Bard a home, providing greater accessibility and larger pursestrings. “Bard began as a very personal effort to give marginalized playwrights a voice, especially during the historic times we are living through,” said Vogel at the time. “Partnering with McCarter will give Bard a national impact with brilliant plays that belong in the curriculum and in the seasons of theatres worldwide. I am grateful to everyone who likewise sees this vital opportunity to redefine what we consider to be the best American plays.”

“For so long, theater has peered through an ‘only if it’s a premiere’ or ‘only if it’s proven’ lens,” added McCarter Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen. “With BARD, we are discovering stunning plays and giving them new life, as well as breaking down barriers of who has access.”

Now, fans can check out several plays presented in a partnership with McCarter Theatre Center. For more information about the works, click here or read on below. In addition to the readings, all four plays feature free post-show discussions with the creatives and several cast members.

Passing by Dipika Guha

Set on a British colony in the 1950’s, an English couple kidnap a child who is indigenous to the island. When the child is asked to participate in the proceedings where “both sides” peaceably reconcile—on On National Sorry Day, no less—they must confront a violent history. Nicole A. Watson directs the reading, which stars Andy Gaukel, Kelley Curran, K.K. Moggie, Max Gordon Moore, Rachel Spencer Hewitt, and Zachary Fine.

Charles Francis Chan Jr.'s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery by Lloyd Suh

If you saw The Chinese Lady, you know that Suh is a playwright who knows exactly how to combine witticism, satire, and historical trauma. Perhaps that’s why this new work is billed as a “harmless sing-song orientalist minstrel show that ends in a grotesque carnival of murder!” Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement, the work follows Berkeley grad student Frank Chan and his artist-activist girlfriend Kathy Ching as they decide to stage a revolution. Together, they craft a story of Asians in America, from forced railroad labor to stereotypes in film, creating a new identity they call “Asian America.” Directed by frequent collaborator Ralph B. Peña, the cast features Eric Sharp, Karoline, Jeena Yi, Jeff Biehl, Mia Katigbak, and Peter Kim. 

How to Raise a Freeman by Zakiyyah Alexander

This dark comedy asks how a middle-class, African American family can keep their son alive in a world where, statistically, a black man is killed by law enforcement every 28 hours. It follows Denise and Keith, who put their son into private school, but there are some things that can’t be taught. Much like the authors of Between the World and Me, American Son, and even A Raisin in the Sun, Alexander explores the need for other knowledge required to survive: Black history, interracial conversations, life on the streets, and more. Directed by Reginald L. Douglas, the case includes Aric Floyd, Ben Horwitz, Veanne Cox, Francois Battiste, Jamie Lincoln Smith, Malcolm Barrett, and Michelle Wilson. 

Sonnets for an Old Century by José Rivera

An exploration of death and legacy, and a snapshot of the turn of the 20th century, Rivera’s play sends up 18 recently deceased people as they look back on their life and offer statements that will be recycled back on Earth by those still alive. The playwright directs his own piece with cast members Isabel Arraiza, Danielle Davenport, Sara Koviak, Joél Pérez, Felix Angel Solis, MichaelJohn McGann all playing multiple roles. Vogel herself appears in the monologue entitled “Greetings.”

In addition to these four titles, a previously streamed play will get a full production next year. Eisa Davis’ Bulrusher, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama in 2007, will be produced by MTC May 6-28, 2023, on the main stage of the Roger S. Berlind Theater in Princeton, NJ. Casting will be announced later, with Nicole A. Watson set to direct.

This article was written in sponsorship by McCarter Theatre Center

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Dan Meyer

After 4 years in the biz, Dan swapped out theatre for sports and is now a researcher at NBC Olympics. Spectacle remains a key passion and is dedicated to building bridges between different forms of entertainment. He has worked as a writer and editor at Theatrely and Playbill, covering Broadway and beyond. In addition, he has been published in Rolling Stone, Spy, and others.