A Week Until Election Day! Political Theater Every Night, from Verdi to Wallace Shawn.

In the week until Election Day, there are overtly political plays, musicals, and operas opening every day, listed below.

Also check out political shows that have already opened and are available at least until the end of the month, especially Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy (my review) and What The Constitution Means to Me on Amazon Prime (my review), as well as Conflict at the
Mint Theater  and Broadway for Biden’s Star-Studded Concert for the Soul of a Nation

For other, non-political openings in October, check out my monthly calendar. (But there’s no real escape from politics until after November 3rd.)

Tuesday, October 27

George Street Playhouse
Available through October 30
In this play by Joe DiPietro, Harriet Harris portrays Margaret Chase Smith, the Senator from Maine who spoke out against Joseph McCarthy in “Declaration of Conscience” on the Senate floor. A virtual version of the pre-pandemic production.


The Other Other
Ars Nova
7 p.m. Available through November 3
Created by Shayok Misha Chowdhury and Kameron Neal
In the wake of Kamala Harris’ vice presidential nomination, and counting down to the 2020 Election, a queer interracial couple attempt to situate their relationship in a larger constellation of Black and Desi encounters. THE OTHER OTHER is the third installment of VICHITRA, an ongoing experiment in queer South Asian imagination.

Hold On Freedom is Coming
Metropolitan Museum of Art
7 p.m.
Inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s painting series “Struggle: From the History of the American People” (1954–56), countertenor John Holiday creates a half-hour concert that juxtaposes selections from classical Italian opera with songs by African American composers from the era of the American civil rights movement.

Handel’s Agrippina
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. available for 23 hours
The Met continues its political operas with this wryly satirical look at the political maneuverings and personal entanglements of the Roman emperor Claudius, his cadre of advisers and hangers-on, and his cunning wife, Agrippina. Starring Brenda Rae, Joyce DiDonato, Kate Lindsey, Iestyn Davies, Duncan Rock, and Matthew Rose, conducted by Harry Bicket. Originally broadcast February 29, 2020.

Lessons in Survival
Episode 7: Lie to Me
Vineyard Theater
8 p.m.

In part one of this celebrated 1971 interview, Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin talk about their generational approaches to the movement for Black liberation, and the responsibility of Black men and women to each other. Featuring: Kalyne Coleman, Crystal Dickinson, Reggie White. Part 2 is on November 1 with a different cast.

4 Your Information
The Tank
9 p.m.
Presentations from Carinn Candelaria, David Lawson, Landry Levine, Mike Fracentese, Abby Mahler, and more “on all sorts of politicsy things.”

Wednesday, October 28

It Can’t Happen Here, 1936 production

It Can’t Happen Here
National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene + 8
1 p.m. available through November 1
A free reading of the 1936 play adapted from Sinclair Lewis’ novel about the election of a fascist demagogue as president of the United States. Dozens 60 actors perform the text in six languages (with English subtitles): English, Yiddish, Spanish, Italian, Turkish and Hebrew

Matthew Broderick and Wallace Shawn in Shawn’s Evening at the Talk House, 2017

Evening at the Talk House
The New Group
7 p.m.. available through November 29
A reunion reading of the 2017 production of the chilling comedy by Wallace Shawn (my review) about a gathering of old friends, once theater artists, in a dark, dystopian society where their day job is likely to be paid assassin. The starry cast features Matthew Broderick, Jill Eikenberry, John Epperson, Larry Pine, Wallace Shawn, Claudia Shear, Annapurna Sriram and Michael Tucker

Unbought and Unbossed:Reclaiming Our Vote
National Black Theatre
A continuation of the “micro commissions,”  grounded in the legacy of Shirley Chisholm, written by Ngozi Anyanwu, Hope Boykin, Mahogany L. Browne, Dane Figueroa Edidi, Candice Hoyes, Val Jeanty, and Dianne Smith. A new multidisciplinary work will be presented every Wednesday through October (leading up to Election Day) and  remain online.

Political Idol 2020
7 p.m.
A political revue with 16 lyrically altered songs including “I Really Need Your Vote” (“I Hope I Get It “A Chorus Line) “Strangers on the Right” (Strangers in the Night”),

Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. available for 23 hours
The story of a 14th-century Doge of Genoa, beset on all sides, juggling political adversaries bent on murder with his love for his long-lost daughter Amelia. In addition to Boccanegra’s searing internal conflict between public duty and private grief, the story offers cloak-and-dagger intrigue, passionate young love, and noble sacrifice. Starring Adrianne Pieczonka, Marcello Giordani, Plácido Domingo, and James Morris, conducted by James Levine. Originally broadcast February 6, 2010.


Aunt Dan and Lemon
7 p.m. available through November 29
A reunion reading of Wallace Shawn’s political horror story, in which Lemon looks back on her relationship with her captivating Aunt Dan, and conjures for us, in a most personal way, the terrifying allure of cruelty, and the enduring appeal of political strongmen. The cast features Kristen Johnston as “Aunt Dan” and Lili Taylor as “Lemon,” with Marcia Stephanie Blake, Liam Craig, Isaach De Bankole, Melissa Errico, Carlos Leon, Emily Cass McDonnell, Brooke Sunny Moriber, Maulik Pancholy, Stephen Park and Bill Sage,

John Adams’ Nixon in China
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. available for 23 hours
President Nixon’s controversial 1972 visit with Chairman Mao in Beijing.
Starring Kathleen Kim, Janis Kelly, Robert Brubaker, Russell Braun, James Maddalena, and Richard Paul Fink, conducted by John Adams. Originally broadcast February 12, 2011.

Act Out: Vote 2020

Danai Gurira, Stephen Daldry, and Lynn Nottage present a series of short, all new monologues and songs making up an hour-long video encouraging audiences to vote.

Friday, October 30

The High Captain
The Tank
7 p.m., repeated Nov 1 and 2
In this political satire, several shipwrecked barge workers attempt to set up a government on their new island home, although they’re high on petroleum. When challenges such as racism, civil liberties, and religious freedom arise, an election is held to determine the new captain of the island.

Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. available for 23 hours
This historical opera covers the turbulent interregnum period of early 17th-century Russia, when the title tsar, his son, and a Polish pretender to the throne were all jockeying for power.Starring Ekaterina Semenchuk, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Oleg Balashov, Evgeny Nikitin, René Pape, Mikhail Petrenko, and Vladimir Ognovenko, conducted by Valery Gergiev. Originally broadcast October 23, 2010.

Saturday, October 31

John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 Available for 23 hours
Commissioned by the Met in 1980, this opera is an otherworldly version of Louis XVI’s court, populated by the ghosts of familiar figures such as Marie Antoinette, Count Almaviva, Figaro and Susanna, and Beaumarchais himself. Starring Teresa Stratas, Håkan Hagegård, Gino Quilico, Graham Clark, Marilyn Horne, and Renée Fleming, conducted by James Levine. Originally broadcast January 10, 1992.


Sunday, November 1

Belly of the Beast
New York Theatre Workshop
7 p.m.Available for 24 hours
In Margaret Vandenburg’s new nightmare scenario of a play, two campaign officials try to manipulate the outcome of the presidential election through disinformation and fake news. The cast features Daniel Dae Kim, Joel de la Fuente, Carrie Preston, Antonia Thomas, Tamlyn Tomita

Philip Glass’s Satyagraha
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. available for 23 hours
With a libretto assembled using text from the Bhagavad-Gita, sung in the original Sanskrit, this opera is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his ideology of achieving change through peaceful protest and civil disobedience. Starring Rachelle Durkin, Richard Croft, Kim Josephson, and Alfred Walker, conducted by Dante Anzolini. Originally broadcast November 19, 2011.

Monday, November 2

What The Hell Is A Republic Anyway? Episode 4: The Election
New York Theatre Workshop
7 p.m.
“An interactive examination of community, democracy and what made the Roman Republic fall. ”
Guest Jeffery Robinson of the American Civil Liberties Union

We The People
New York Public Theater
Adrienne Warren, Brandon Victor Dixon, and Jomama Jones lead a pre-election celebration, with testimony, video postcards, music, and poetry.

Election Day, Tuesday November 3

Election Day Vote-athon
Stars in the House
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A full day of stars such as Annette Bening, Jeremy Jordan, Kelli O’Hara, Jessie Mueller, Megan Hilty, Marc Shaiman, Vanessa Williams, Adam Pascal, Peri Gilpin, Anika Larsen, Judy Kuhn, Marilu Henner, and Celia Keenan-Bolger and Lauren Patten from Poll Hero., which has been recruiting people to be poll workers on Election Day. They’re offering fans a chance to appear in the show by submitting “I voted” selfies.

Fast and Furious Election Day Special
The Tank
7 p.m.

Wednesday, November 4

Toshi Reagon’s Post Election Concert
Joe’s Pub
7 p.m.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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