Hear short, contemporary stage plays with first-rate casts. Playing on Air brings together award winners and emerging young talent, and each play is followed by a conversation with the playwrights and cast. Tune in for great American plays with great American actors, hosted and produced by Claudia Catania.
BIRD by Rachel Bonds
The year is 2030. On the snowy outskirts of DC, an underground musician (Tony winner Julie White) and her pragmatic teenage daughter (Erin Wilhelmi) battle the forces, seen and unseen, that threaten their survival.
Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt (Colt Coeur, PoA’s 52nd to Bowery…), Bird is a world-premiere recording and, in partnership with the Axe-Houghton Foundation, a Wordsmith Duo commission.
After their previous run as mother and daughter in Broadway’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, White (Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, “Alpha House”) and Wilhelmi (To Kill A Mockingbird, The Crucible) reunite in this final episode of the 2020 Fall Season. After the play, they join Bonds, Campbell-Holt, and host Claudia Catania for a behind-the-mic interview.
THIRD GRADE by Dominique Morisseau
THIRD GRADE continues Playing on Air’s yearlong celebration of MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ winner Dominique Morisseau (The Detroit Project, Pipeline, Ain't Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations).
Elementary school teacher Kai is dedicated to helping her students thrive. But when one of her third-graders is brutally bullied, Kai must unexpectedly go to battle with the boy’s father over how best to protect his son.
J. Alphonse Nicholson (Starz’s “P-Valley”, A Soldier’s Play) stars alongside playwright-performer Morisseau. Directed by Stori Ayers ("The Last O.G.," Chautauqua Theater Company), THIRD GRADE is a searing look at the impossible choices that parents and public school educators are making to protect America’s kids. Later in the episode, the artists join host Claudia Catania to discuss their own third grade experiences and the need to ”go deep.”
THE THOMPSONS by Andrew Massey
Ah, the holiday season! The wine is flowing. In-laws are gossiping in the kitchen. And the Thompson family is indulging in their most bizarre Thanksgiving ritual: the Turkey Trot. Mischievous and tender, THE THOMPSONS by Andrew Massey (EST’s Youngblood) is a comedy about the wacky families we love, break, and remake.
Arin Arbus (TFANA, Broadway’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune) directs an all-star cast of PoA regulars: William Jackson Harper (“The Good Place,” PoA’s 2B Or Not 2B), Sue Jean Kim (Office Hour, PoA’s 52nd to Bowery…), April Matthis (Toni Stone, PoA’s G.O.A.T.), and Amy Ryan (“The Office,” PoA’s Clean Slate). After the play, host Claudia Catania joins the cast, director, and playwright to discuss Thanksgiving traditions and family dynamics.
THANKSGIVING FOR ONE by Hamish Linklater
After his hit Nudity Rider, OBIE winner Hamish Linklater returns for another helping of irresistible comedy: the world-premiere commission THANKSGIVING FOR ONE. Marjorie Mumms (Jean Smart) would rather not be eating her holiday turkey alone at the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. She can’t get a decent gin & tonic, her daughter is spending Thanksgiving in another state, and her crazed waiter has cast her in a festive audio play. It might just be time to flip the table – and the script.
With direction by Tony winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Paradise Blue, Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine), THANKSGIVING FOR ONE unites actor-writer Linklater (“Legion,” "The Big Short," The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park) with Emmy winner Jean Smart (HBO's “Watchmen”, “Fargo,” “Frasier”). After the play, join host Claudia Catania for a behind-the-mic chat with the artists.
SCRAPS AND THINGS by Melis Aker
At a laundromat in Istanbul, a chatty seamstress (Carol Kane) and a guarded, young academic (Melis Aker) discover that they're linked, and haunted, by the myth of the same man.
Written by, starring, and featuring original music by Melis Aker (Kilroys List, Ars Nova Play Group), SCRAPS AND THINGS also marks the PoA return of legendary Oscar nominee Carol Kane (The Princess Bride, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” PoA’s Hedgehog Years) and is directed by Neil Pepe, Artistic Director of the Atlantic Theater Company. After the play, host Claudia Catania joins the artistic team to discuss personal legacies and how artists divulge their deepest secrets through their work.
SCRAPS AND THINGS was originally commissioned by Atlantic Theater Company as part of their 2018 Middle Eastern MixFest.
HOW TO BE A WIDOW by Tori Keenan-Zelt
On a sweltering afternoon in 1864, two Civil War widows meet in a graveyard. Mirabelle is trying to paint a pineapple; Annaleigh needs to make sure that her husband hasn’t turned into a vampire. Together, the women begin to imagine the futures that might await them beyond corsets, lockets, and bullets.
HOW TO BE A WIDOW by Emmy nominee Tori Keenan-Zelt (Kilroys List, Bay Area Playwrights Festival) features Mary Bacon (Lost Girls, Coal Country) and Naomi Lorrain (“Orange is the New Black,” Behind the Sheet). Lucie Tiberghien (Molière in the Park) directs. After the play, Tiberghien joins the cast, the playwright, and host Claudia Catania to discuss how the rules of womanhood and widowhood have — and haven’t — changed from the Civil War to today.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I love the short plays. I listen to them while cooking and doing household chores, as well as walking around my home just to get some extra steps on for the day. I find myself looking for more to do in the kitchen or more cleaning and walking just so I can continue and listen to more. This is wonderful and I love the talkbacks.
BEST introduction to theatre for us newbies!!!!
I didn't grow up attending plays, or know anyone who did, so theatre always felt very unaccessible...until now! Playing on Air not only provides entertainment, but also allows anyone and everyone to access remarkable theater in the comfort of their home. THANK YOU and keep up the good work!!! The new season is fantastic!!!!
Just discovered this and already am addicted. Thank you so much for allowing me another way to exercise my mind during this bizarre time spent in isolation.