Mosaic Theater Company’s 2023/24 season reexamines, reinvestigates, and reframes our shared history through striking productions by some of the country’s most exciting and formidable contemporary playwrights. At the core of the 2023/24 season are four mainstage productions, including three world premieres, two of which received support from Mosaic’s Catalyst new play development incubator—an illustration of the Theater’s commitment to elevating new work and providing a pathway from concept to stage. With a diverse slate of exclusively BIPOC writers and directors, Mosaic’s ninth season is as much a declaration of its belief in new work as it is a testament to the Theater’s unwavering commitment to creating an affirming, equitable, and productive space for artists of all backgrounds. In addition to main stage productions, Mosaic will continue to enrich the arts landscape of Washington, DC through new play workshops and commissioning activities as part of its Catalyst Series, robust community and audience engagement activities via the innovative Reflection Series, and the culminating festival of its visionary H Street Oral History Project. Subscriptions and more information are available at mosaictheater.org.
“It is an honor to share the 2023/24 season with our audience. This year’s lineup includes bold new work at all stages of development—from exciting commissions to world premiere productions—that explores what it means to be American today and how history can provide insight into the hope-filled future that we can and must build together,” said Mosaic Artistic Director Reginald L. Douglas. “I am especially inspired by the diversity of form, content, and cultures that will grace our stage and help us to live up to our name by creating a true artistic mosaic of diverse new work next year.”
“I am incredibly proud of how Mosaic has tenaciously centered new work as integral to our identity and to our field. To have been in the room when two of our 2023/24 season productions, Monumental Travesties and Mexodus, were being workshopped, and to now see them receive fully developed productions, is profoundly rewarding,” said Mosaic Managing Director Serge Seiden. “Commissioning is important, but theaters also have to create a viable pathway for it to reach the stage—that’s what we have done. I hope it’s a signal to contemporary playwrights that they have a home in the nation’s capital for their new work, their ideas, their creative storytelling, and it is Mosaic.”
The season begins with the world premiere of Monumental Travesties by Mosaic’s Andrew W. Mellon Playwright-in-Residence Psalmayene 24 and directed by Mosaic Artistic Director Reginald L. Douglas. The Helen Hayes Award-winning theater innovator shines a light on his hometown with this absurdist comedy inspired by the Emancipation Memorial, a landmark in Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill neighborhood that depicts President Abraham Lincoln standing over a formerly enslaved man, one hand outstretched, the other holding the Emancipation Proclamation. The play channels the complicated history of the statue, which has become the subject of local controversy for how it commemorates a pivotal moment in American history. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton recently introduced a bill to remove the statue from its home in Lincoln Park.
A highlight of the 2023-2024 Season is MacArthur Fellow and Tony Award nominee Dominique Morisseau’s Confederates, the first time Mosaic has produced a work by this singular, celebrated American playwright. After helming the inaugural production at New York’s Signature Theatre, director and Washington, DC native Stori Ayers is reunited with the project for its DC premiere, bringing her deep knowledge of Morisseau’s work to Mosaic’s production. Told with honesty and humor, Confederates is a time-shifting new play that celebrates the Black women on the frontlines of change throughout history and today.
The season continues with two adventurous world premieres. First, Rhiana Yazzie makes her East Coast premiere with Nancy, an exploration of the interplay of ancestry and ambition through an unexpected piece of history—Nancy Reagan’s direct genealogical connection to Pocahontas. In her sweeping epic, Yazzie and director Ken-Matt Martin take audiences back to the Washington, DC of 1985—replete with shoulder pads, neon tracksuits, and even Van Halen—to explore the parallel trajectories of the First Lady and Navajo activist Esmeralda in a powerful new play that asks poignant questions about identity and motherhood.
“What a thrill and an honor it is to be producing Nancy. I’ve been a fan of Rhiana’s since I first read a very early draft of the play years ago, and even those first few pages had it all: an audacity of style, a delightfully irreverent sense of humor, and a depth of heart that we don’t often get to see onstage,” said Mosaic Artistic Producer Chelsea Radigan. “I’m incredibly proud of Mosaic for saying ‘yes’ to this kaleidoscopic and crucial new work, and for celebrating Rhiana and director Ken-Matt Martin, two artists who continue to make invaluable contributions to our field.”
Mosaic concludes its 2023/24 season with the world premiere of rousing hip-hop musical Mexodus, written and performed by Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson, and directed by David Mendizábal. Inspired by a lesser-told story of the Underground Railroad, this world premiere co-production with Baltimore Center Stage shares the history of the approximately 400,000 enslaved people who sought freedom south in Mexico and reflects on the ongoing fight for racial justice across Black and Latinx cultures. Mosaic developed the inventive new musical that features a live-looped score through its Catalyst New Play program in December 2022.
Authors of the 2023/24 Mosaic season (left to right from top): Monumental Travesties by Psalmayene24 (photo by Darrow Montgomery), Confederates by Dominique Morisseau (photo by Damu Malik), Nancy by Rhiana Yazzie (photo by Rhiana Yazzie), Mexodus by and featuring Brian Quijada (photo by Joel Maisonet) and Nygel D. Robinson. Reginald L. Douglas, artistic director (photo by Chris Banks).
Accompanying all of these productions will be Mosaic’s landmark Reflection Series programming—a series of special events, panels, and conversations that highlight the themes of Mosaic’s plays, build innovative partnerships with local and national organizations, and engage diverse audiences in dialogue with one another. Partners include Busboys and Poets, the Morris Cafritz Center for Social Responsibility, DC Public Library, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Georgetown University Racial Justice Institute, Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, Howard University, the Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics at Georgetown University, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Team Rayceen, and more (to be announced).
CATALYST SERIES WORKSHOPS, COMMISSIONS, EVENTS
The season will be punctuated throughout with Catalyst Series new play development activities. Dates for Catalyst readings and workshop events will be announced at a later date.
Mosaic is proud to support new creative voices through commissioning initiatives like the Trish Vradenburg New Play Commission. The cohort of artists supported by this program to advance the work of women writers grows with the announcement of 2023/24 recipient Paige Hernandez, acclaimed DC-based playwright, performer, and director and winner of the inaugural Victor Shargai Leadership Award. Through the commission, Hernandez will begin the development of a new theater piece that will bring her unique perspective and array of talents to the Mosaic stage.
Additionally, with support from the MAP Fund, Mosaic has commissioned acclaimed Palestinian artist Amer Hlehel to create AMERICAN/PALESTINIAN, a solo performance piece inspired by the universal struggle for belonging that will be directed by award-winning new play director Chay Yew. Using interviews with Americans of different races as a foundation, Hlehel’s new play approaches identity through the eyes of an outsider and encourages thoughtful conversation about American race relations, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and an urgent need for greater understanding.
Mosaic expands its legacy of providing a platform for international voices with the 2023/24 season’s Catalyst New Play Festival, Reflections on Home: A Celebration of Immigrant Voices. In partnership with Restless Books Immigrant Writing Lab, Mosaic will convene a diverse group of writers to reflect on what home means to immigrant communities. Reflections on Home will feature a series of panels, public presentations of works-in-progress, and playwriting workshops, offering audiences global perspectives on what it means to be an American today and deepening Mosaic’s commitment to building cross-cultural connection through theater.
The 2023/24 season will conclude the multi-year arc of Mosaic’s H Street Oral History Project with the H Street Oral History Project Festival. Using Washington, DC’s H Street corridor as a source of inspiration and preservation, local Black playwrights Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, Gethsemane Herron-Coward, and J.J. Johnson have written new plays inspired by interviews with residents past and present about living in this changing, historic neighborhood. Staged readings of these new works will be the focal point of the festival, which will also include music and food, H Street NE neighborhood walking tours led by Justice Walks, and panel discussions curated in collaboration with the DC History Center. The H Street Oral History Project is generously underwritten by Humanities DC and the Eugene M. Lang Foundation.
Mosaic continues its work to uplift and inspire the next generation of great playwrights through its High School Playwriting Contest. Open to 9th-12th grade students in the Washington, DC metro area, including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Northern Virginia, the contest culminates in a public reading of the winning submissions held at a branch of the DC Public Library and led by a director and working actors.
2023-2024 SEASON PRODUCTIONS
By Psalmayene 24
Directed by Reginald L. Douglas
September 7 – October 1, 2023
Abraham Lincoln’s head is missing. Chance, a Black performance artist, has surreptitiously removed it from the Emancipation Memorial—a Capitol Hill statue of Lincoln standing over a formerly enslaved man—and now it’s in his white liberal neighbor Adam’s shrubbery. This act of protest unleashes an absurdist chain of events when Adam knocks on Chance’s door, leading the two men and Chance’s wife, Brenda, down a path that questions how the symbols of our past impact our present. With sharp humor, hijinks, and a palpable love for DC, Helen Hayes Award-winning playwright Psalmayene 24’s searing new comedy explores race, memory, and the often privileged act of forgetting.
By Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Stori Ayers
October 26 – November 19, 2023
Sara is an enslaved rebel turned Union spy. Sandra is a tenured professor at a modern-day university. Despite living 160 years apart, their parallel struggles unite them across time.
Celebrated American playwright, MacArthur Fellow, and two-time Tony Award nominee Dominique Morisseau (Ain’t Too Proud, Skeleton Crew) forges into brand new modes of storytelling in this breathtakingly fierce examination of history, race, and the women who stand on the frontlines of freedom, no matter the cost.
By Rhiana Yazzie
Directed by Ken-Matt Martin
March 28 – April 21, 2024
Developed in partnership with Theater Squared’s Arkansas New Play Festival
It’s 1985 in Washington, DC and two women are trying to steer their futures—Nancy Reagan from the White House, orchestrating her husband “Ronnie’s” political career according to daily astrological trends, and Esmeralda, a Navajo mother advocating for her community. Their worlds converge over an unbelievable discovery—Nancy has a direct familial connection to Pocahontas. Strange history collides with ’80s nostalgia in this epic story that cuts through the veneer of shoulder pads, neon, and Van Halen with irreverent heart and deep empathy.
Award-winning playwright Rhiana Yazzie makes her East Coast premiere with a very DC play about ancestry and ambition.
By and Featuring Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson
Directed by David Mendizábal
May 16 – June 9, 2024
A World Premiere Co-Production with Baltimore Center Stage
History meets hip-hop in this groundbreaking theatrical experience that explores the often-untold stories of enslaved people in the United States who sought freedom in Mexico, rather than looking north. Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson use live-looping to create a musical in real-time, telling a unique story of the Underground Railroad that led south, highlighting the power of Black and Brown unity.
ABOUT MOSAIC THEATER COMPANY OF DC
Mosaic Theater Company of DC produces bold, culturally diverse theater that illuminates critical issues, elevates fresh voices, and sparks connection among communities throughout our region and beyond. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Reginald L. Douglas and Managing Director Serge Seiden, Mosaic produces plays that both entertain and enlighten, using art to build empathy amongst diverse people united by the magic of theater, and hopes to build community by reflecting the many cultures that call DC home.