Below is a selection of theater opening in June, presented in a day-by-day calendar and featuring several festivals, mostly outdoors and mostly free, as well as an usual number of hybrid productions (meaning both on stage and online), including “Circle Jerk,” the first-ever digital production to become a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and one of several queer-oriented works marking LGBTQ Pride Month. There’s a new play by Will Arbery starring Deirdre O’Connell, and lots of Shakespeare..
This calendar is organized chronologically by opening date*, but we must consider the dates tentative (likely to change), because the pandemic is ongoing and unpredictable.
Global Forms Theater Festival (Rattlestick)
This 12-day festival, in its third year, focuses on works by immigrant artists, with offerings both in person and online. There will be staged performances at Rattlestick starting June 2 of “All the Lonely Women” by playwright Inez Braun of Argentina, described as a queer fairytale about the strangeness of looking for love during the pandemic.
A Kid Like Rishi (Cell Theater)
A play by Dutch playwright Kees Roorda based on the true story of the killing of an unarmed 17-year-old, Rishi Chandrikasing, in a train station in The Hague in 2012.
Mr. Parker (Penguin Rep at Theatre Row)
Terry Parker- gay, middle-aged, suddenly single and not yet acclimated to a world that has moved on without him – begins a journey of self-realization.
…what the end will be (Roundabout’s Laura Pels)
In this play by Mansa Ra, three generations of Black gay men under the same roof struggle in conflicts with one another and with themselves.
Quince (The Bushwick Starr)
A 15 year-old wrestles with her queerness, her family and her religion on the day of her quinceañera
B-Boy Blues the play (Theatre Row)
A play by James Earl Hardy based on his series of novels about Black gay men in New York, begun almost thirty years ago, that focuses on the tumultuous relations between a 27 year old journalist and a 21-year old bicycle messenger
The Refugees (Adjusted Realists at ART/NY)
In this play written and directed by Stephen Kaliski, a jaded queen and her activist children debate who they should let into their country among the masses of people displaced by climate change.
Buggy Baby (Astoria Performing Arts Center)
In what’s described as a surreal horror comedy by London-based Jewish writer Josh Azouz, Jaden (Hadi Tabbal) and Nur (Rana Roy) have escaped another country and ended up in a rotting room in London with Baby Aya (Erin Neufer). While Nur is at college, Jaden chews leaves and has visions of giant rabbits with burning red eyes. He thinks Aya is someone else, someone dangerous. But she’s just a baby. Isn’t she?
The Bedwetter (Atlantic)
Based on the bestselling memoir by comedian Sarah Silverman. Meet Sarah. She’s funny. She’s dirty. She’s 10. And she’s got a secret that you’ll never guess (unless you read the title). The show is written by Silverman and Joshua Harmon (“Bad Jews”) with a score by the late Adam Schlesinger. The cast features such luminaries as Bebe Neuwirth and Caissie Levy– Silverman not among them. The character of Sarah will be played by Zoe Glick. (Originally scheduled to open in May, it was delayed because of positive COVID-19 tests in the company.)
Downtown Stories (En Garde Arts)
From the grandmama of immersive and site-specific theater companies, three free outdoor theatrical adventures of series of three theatrical adventures — two “fictional walking tours” and a theater piece called “Sidewalk Echoes” by Rogelio Martinez, with music drawn from interviews with small business owners– that “bring to life the secrets and stories of Lower Manhattan, both real and imagined.”
Lessons in Survival 1971 (Vineyard Theater)
Carl Clemons-Hopkins as novelist James Baldwin and Crystal Dickinson as poet Nikki Giovanni in a recreation of their dialogue during a talk show 51 years ago on race and liberation in America.
Gratitude (Urban Stages)
In Oren Safdie’s play, fifteen-year-old Najaf attends an exclusive private high school where she becomes infatuated with Drew, the class stud. Torn between her traditional upbringing and family expectations and her new sexual awakening, Najaf, finds herself caught in a web of her own making
A dance theater piece conceived and directed by Martha Clarke, with text by poet Fanny Howe, God’s Fool interprets the ancient story of St. Francis of Assisi: a man of privilege who chose community over self and lived among the poor, lepers, and others disenfranchised by society. An a cappella score, derived from music spanning a period of 800 years, is incorporated into an impressionistic narrative
Circle Jerk (Connelly and online)
A Pulitzer finalist last year, the first-ever digital theater production to be so honored, returns now both online and on stage. “it’s winter on Gaymen Island, a summer retreat for the homosexual rich and fame-ish. This off-season, two White Gay internet trolls hatch a plot to take back what’s wrongfully theirs. Cancellations, meme schemes, and political and erotically flip flops abound as three actors playing nine parts play out this chaotic live-streamed descent into the high-energy, quick-change, low-brow shitpit of the internet.”
Queen (NAATCO at ART/NY)
In this play by Madhuri Shekar, PhD candidates Sanam and Ariel have spent years intensely researching the diminishing bee populations throughout the world. When they are getting ready to publish a career-defining paper, however, Sanam finds an error in their research, which could cause immense damage to their reputations, careers, and their friendship.
Queerly Festival (FRIGID New York at The Kraine Theater)
The 8th Annual celebration of LGBTQ+ artists will present some 17 theater pieces through July 3, including “Big Gay Love Story: The Musical,” “Come What May: An Evening with Lena Horné,” described as part comedy, part cabaret, all drag, and “As You Will,” an improv show described thus: “If there’s one problem with the 884,647 words William Shakespeare wrote, it’s that they’ve all been performed already. What about the virtually infinite number of words he hasn’t written… yet? The players of As You Will take your suggestions to create the plays the immortal bard would’ve written if he hadn’t gone and died.
The Orchard (Baryshnikov Arts Center and online)
An adaptation of The Cherry Orchard from the innovative digitally-minded Boston-based Arlekin Players Theater, starring Jessica Hecht and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Corsicana (Playwrights Horizons)
This new play by Will Arbery (Heroes of the Fourth Turning), is directed by Sam Gold, and features a four-member cast that includes Jamie Brewer (groundbreaking star of “Amy and the Orphans”) and Deirdre O’Connell (a longtime favorite of mine, who is Tony nominate for Dana H.) In Corsicana, a small city in Texas, a woman with Down syndrome named Ginny and her half-brother Christopher are unmoored in the wake of their mother’s death. Their close family friend, Justice, introduces them to a local artist named Lot, a recluse and outsider, hoping that he and Ginny can make a song together
Chains (Mint Theater at Theatre Row)
The 1909 play by Elizabeth Baker focuses on working class people in London’s suburbs, such as Charley who works in London and lives with his wife in a cramped house with a boarder. Begins performances June 7.
White on White (Hot Polloi at Jack)
A peek inside the meeting of a white anti-racist group. As the members reckon with sacrifices they must make to live up to their principles, other forces begin to disrupt and unsettle their efforts.
Between the Lines (Second Stage Theater)
A musical based on the novel by Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha Van Leer about a loner who spends her time in the school library reading her favorite book, until the character in it, Prince Oliver, starts speaking to her. It begins June 14. Update: Due to delays caused by positive tests for COVID-19, “Between the Lines” has moved its opening night to July 11.
Hamlet (Park Avenue Armory)
The first of the two productions by the British director Robert Icke (who presented a quirky and memorable adaptation of An Enemy of The People at the armory last year.) The second, “Oresteia,” has been pushed to July.
53% OF (Second Stage)
Steph Del Rosso’s play was inspired by a statistic: In 2016, 53 percent of white women voted for the man who became the 45th president. The president is coming to town, and the good ladies of Bethlehem, PA are beside themselves planning to give him a hero’s welcome. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, a group of 20-something white women gather to plan . . . a revolution?
Richard III (Shakespeare in the Park)
The 60th season of Free Shakespeare in the Park begins with this production by Robert O’Hara (Slave Play, Barbecue) Danai Gurira starring as one of Shakespeare’s most indelible villains. It starts performances June 17. (Update: The press opening has been delayed to July 10, with performances beginning June 21.)
*Opening night is usually not the same as the first performance on Broadway and frequently Off-Broadway. There is usually a preview period, where the creative team tries out the show before an audience, and opening night is when the reviews appear. (Off-Off Broadway shows often have no preview period or official opening night; they just start.) I organize this calendar by opening night (when such exists), rather than first preview, as an act of resistance against the effort to make theater reviews irrelevant. Check out my essay: Broadway Opening Night. What It Means. How It’s Changed. 7 Facts to Clear Up The Confusion and Crystallize the Outrage.