The first complete season under the artistic leadership of Raymond O. Caldwell, Theater Alliance’s Season 17 offers a lineup of bold plays never before produced in DC, celebrating works that center people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and other underrepresented communities.

With a specific focus on the Black American experience, Theater Alliance interrogates a range of revelatory moments of all shapes and size, as well as the resilience needed to achieve them. Day of Absence by Douglas Turner Ward inverts and subverts the conventions of early American theater in a comedic and pointed commentary on racial issues. Harrison David Rivers’ This Bitter Earth explores the complexities and nuances of a gay, interracial relationship where political stance proves the largest difference. And The Blackest Battle, a world premiere commission from renowned DC theater artist Psalmayene 24, imagines a future that centers Black communities, Black love, and Black music as it grapples with an epidemic of Black-on-Black violence.

In addition to exploring these three acclaimed plays, Season 17 will feature numerous short and full-length works as part of the expanded, season-long Hothouse New Play Development Series.

Word Becomes Action Festival III: Everyday Revolutions

August 5 – 18, 2019

The third annual Word Becomes Action Festival launches the season, with six new works that ask us to confront the revolutions and moments of resilience within our daily lives. Shining the spotlight on local theater artists, Word Becomes Action offers a dynamic glimpse into the themes and topics explored throughout our main-stage season. Featuring the world premiere of Diagnosed by Iyona Blake.

Day of Absence

by Douglas Turner Ward

October 5, 2019 – November 3, 2019

Directed by Raymond O. Caldwell and Angelisa Gillyard

It’s another morning in another country fried southern town. As citizens begin to stir, they are forced to deal with a shocking discovery that sends the town topsy turvy. Reclaiming the complexity and depth of the African-American population, Ward’s 1965 script and this imaginative retelling is a comedic and pointed commentary on systemic racism that still bears relevance today. Douglas Turner Ward’s Day of Absence caps off an evening of song, dance, and other performative delights that are sure to tickle and titillate the senses.

This Bitter Earth

by Harrison David Rivers

February 22, 2020 – March 22, 2020

Directed by Otis Ramsay-Zöe

Jesse, an introspective black playwright, finds his lack of activism questioned by his white boyfriend, Neil, an impassioned member of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Tensions between them continue to grow with each headline announcing another extrajudicial killing. But the human heart can hold complex and often contradictory things, and the two men find themselves at a crossroads. This Bitter Earth explores the quiet revolutions of normalcy, reminding us of the intractable bind between the personal and political and the strength of love in today’s turbulent world.  

The Blackest Battle

by Psalmayene 24

May 16, 2020 – June 14, 2020

Directed by Raymond O. Caldwell and Manna-Symone Middlebrooks

It’s the Fourth of July in the not too distant future. Reparations have been paid to the African-Americans of Chief County—yet Black on Black violence rains down like a fiery storm. In this revolutionary hip-hop musical, Bliss and Dream, members of warring rap factions, fall in love while wrestling with making sense of their turbulent lives. Written by acclaimed DC theatre artist Psalmayene 24,  The Blackest Battle fuses the known and the new for an entirely original spin on urban conflict.

Hothouse New Play Development Series

Our commitment to new plays continues through the Hothouse New Play Development Series – which gives local playwrights a chance to respond to our season with short works, and fosters the growth and development of new plays over longer periods of time.


Hothouse: Short Plays, Big Conversations

New 10-minute plays by DC-area playwrights, inspired by, and in conversation with, our main-stage productions: Day of Absence, This Bitter Earth, and The Blackest Battle.


Hothouse: Full-Length Plays, Full Throttle Development

Thanks to the generous support of the Revada Foundation, Theater Alliance is taking an active role in fostering the DC region as a hotbed for new plays from varied voices and perspectives. Over the course of Season 17, we will be working on several full-length plays that will receive public readings at dates to be announced.

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