Mosaic Theater Company presents the world premiere of Monumental Travesties, a searing new comedy written by Mosaic’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence Psalmayene 24 and directed by Mosaic Artistic Director Reginald L. Douglas. Inspired by the Emancipation Memorial in DC’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, the play runs September 7 – October 1, 2023, and opens Mosaic’s 2023/24 season.
ABOUT MONUMENTAL TRAVESTIES
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.
The play also reflects on the history of the Emancipation Memorial, which was the site of protests calling for its removal in 2020. In February 2023, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), arguing that the monument “fails to depict how enslaved African Americans pressed for their own emancipation,” reintroduced a bill calling for its relocation to a museum.
“This play takes place right in our own backyard,” Douglas said. “It channels the complicated history of the memorial to explore monumental themes, but with wit and satire. The play also highlights the inherent complexities and contradictions of Washington, DC, both the power and powerlessness of its residents. That Psalm achieves this with such laugh-out-loud humor and thoughtful provocation is truly a gift, and I can’t wait for audiences to experience this new work with us.”
“Monumental Travesties is my first foray into comedy,” Psalmayene 24 said. “After weathering the ruthless ravages of a pandemic, we all could use the healing balm of laughter to soothe our souls. While the troublesome and polarizing statue at the heart of this play is no laughing matter, comedy—ironically—felt like the right genre to use as a means of animating the serious themes being explored. And with Reg’s deft directorial touch and knack for comedy, I’m hopeful that this Mosaic world premiere will leave audiences delighted, reflective, and inspired.”
Part of Mosaic’s Catalyst new play development incubator, Monumental Travesties has been supported by Mosaic since the play’s beginning. Mosaic commissioned the play as part of Psalmayene’s role as Playwright-in-Residence. Mosaic then hosted a workshop at the Capitol Hill branch of the DC Public Library in August 2022 and at the Kennedy Center in June of 2023 through their Local Theater Residency program.
ABOUT PSALMAYENE 24
Psalmayene 24 (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright, director, and actor. Playwriting credits include Dear Mapel and Les Deux Noirs at Mosaic Theater Company, Free Jujube Brown! at The African Continuum Theatre Company, and Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth at Imagination Stage. Directing credits include Native Son at Mosaic Theater, Flow and Pass Over at Studio Theatre, Necessary Sacrifices: A Radio Play at Ford’s Theatre, Word Becomes Flesh at Theater Alliance, Cinderella: The Remix at Imagination Stage, and Not Enuf Lifetimes at The Welders. His play, Les Deux Noirs, is published by TRW Plays. Acting credits include Ruined at Arena Stage, Dear Mapel at Mosaic Theater, and HBO’s The Wire. Psalm, as his colleagues call him, is the writer/director of the short film, The Freewheelin’Insurgents, presented by Arena Stage. He is the recipient of a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play and has received the Imagination Award from Imagination Stage. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and Actors’ Equity Association. He is the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Mosaic Theater. On social media at @psalmayene24 (Instagram).
ABOUT REGINALD L. DOUGLAS
Artistic Director Reginald L. Douglas is dedicated to creating new work and supporting new voices. He has directed at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Round House Theatre, TheaterWorks Hartford, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Everyman Theatre, Weston Theater Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Audible, Bard at the Gate, Profile Theatre, Playwrights Realm, The Kennedy Center, Pittsburgh CLO, Arizona Theatre Company, Barrington Stage, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Negro Ensemble Company, TheatreSquared, Playwrights’ Center, McCarter Theatre Center, Florida Rep, The Lark, New York Theatre Workshop, City Theatre (where he served as Artistic Producer), Studio Theatre (where he served as Associate Artistic Director), and many other national companies. Reginald has developed and directed work by nationally recognized writers including Dominique Morisseau, Idris Goodwin, Suzan-Lori Parks, Cori Thomas, Angelica Chéri, Lynn Nottage, Nikkole Salter, Dael Orlandersmith, Kemp Powers, Jen Silverman, Ngozi Anyanwu, R. Eric Thomas, Brian Quijada, Matt Schatz, Amy Evans, Zakiyyah Alexander, Imani Uzuri, Dave Harris, Francisca Da Silveira, Khalil Kain, Chisa Hutchinson, Tearrance Chisholm, Josh Wilder, Larry Powell, Kareem Fahmy, Harrison David Rivers, Donja R. Love, and August Wilson. A member of the Board of Directors of Theatre Washington and of the National New Play Network, Reginald received the National Theatre Conference’s Emerging Professional Award in 2020 and is a proud graduate of Georgetown University.
ABOUT THE CAST AND PRODUCTION TEAM
Louis E. Davis plays Chance. Previous credits include Bars and Measures (Bilal) and Charm (Donnie) at Mosaic Theater Company; Dance Nation (Luke) at Olney Theatre Center; Topdog/Underdog (Booth; 2020 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Performer in a Play – Helen) at WSC Avant Bard; Word Becomes Flesh (Ensemble) and Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea (Robby) at Theater Alliance; The Merry Wives of Windsor (Host) and The Second Shepherd’s Play (Ensemble) at Folger Theatre; The Frederick Douglass Project (Ensemble) at Solas Nua; and The Freshest Snow Whyte (Pop Lock) at Imagination Stage. TV credits: We Own This City (HBO). @thekid_kinglou
Renee Elizabeth Wilson plays Brenda. Previous Mosaic Theater credits include Native Son and Milk Like Sugar. DC credits include Intimate Apparel at Theater J; Moon Man Walk at Constellation Theatre Company; Radio Golf and Nollywood Dreams at Round House Theatre; The Hula Hoopin Queen at Imagination Stage; Ain’t No Mo’ (U/S) at Woolly Mammoth Theatre; and Skeleton Crew (U/S) at Studio Theatre. Renee is an American actress and a NASM-certified personal trainer. She is a graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and has a BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. @actpoetic88
Jonathan Feuer plays Adam. He returns to Mosaic Theater Company after appearing in the final two weeks of Charm in 2017. He collaborated with Psalmayene 24 on several projects, including The Freshest Snow Whyte at Imagination Stage. Other local credits include Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Rep Stage, Theater J, The Kennedy Center TYA, Solas Nua, Spooky Action Theater, Prologue Theatre, The Hub Theatre, Forum Theatre, The Keegan Theatre, Adventure Theatre-MTC, and Quotidian Theatre Company. Jonathan is an MFA graduate of the Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University.
The production team for Monumental Travesties includes Andrew J. Cohen (Scenic), Moyenda Kulemeka (Costumes), Alberto Segarra (Lighting), Nick tha 1da Hernandez (Sound), Deborah Thomas (Properties), Sierra Young (Fights & Intimacy Choreographer), and Chelsea Radigan (Dramaturgy & Casting Director). Claire Fogle is the Production Stage Manager.
THE REFLECTION SERIES
Mosaic expands the concept of its Reflection Series, started in 2022 in conjunction with The Till Trilogy, to year-round programming that provides inroads for deep engagement with the themes of our plays. Through cross-disciplinary, citywide partnerships, Mosaic will produce an innovative series of concerts, readings, panels, and symposiums that spark meaningful reflection and foster conversation about our work. Events for Monumental Travesties include:
Memorializing Living History | September 6 from 6-7:30 PM
Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC
1529 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
Join the Edlavitch DCJCC’s Center for Social Responsibility and Mosaic Theater for a conversation about both the importance of memorializing history and remaining open to its changing significance. Every culture finds value in honoring the past, but sometimes this stands in the way of re-examining it with a more critical eye and a desire to learn lessons for the future. What can history teach us about who we are and who we may become? This program will feature excerpts read from Monumental Travesties by playwright Psalmayene 24 and a panel conversation moderated by Mosaic Theater Artistic Director Reginald L. Douglas with Psalmayene 24 and Executive Director of the new Capital Jewish Museum, Ivy Barsky. Audience participation in the panel discussion is invited and encouraged. Tickets are $15.50 and available on Mosaic’s website mosaictheater.org.
The Monument: History, Controversy, Strategy | September 9 at 10:30 AM
Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park
East Capitol and 11th Streets, Washington, DC 20003
Mosaic Theater and the Hill Center present a walking tour and discussion at the Emancipation Memorial featuring Playwright Psalmayene 24, Mosaic Artistic Director Reginald L. Douglas, and Dr. Kay Wright Lewis, Associate Professor of History and Interim Dept. Chair at Howard University. Dr. Lewis will facilitate a collective in-person discussion at the site of the Emancipation Memorial to probe its historical significance, philosophical debates, and contemporary politics. Participants will gather in Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill to discuss the interlocking roles of race, place, memory, and power in memorializing our collective past. Dr. Lewis’s research focuses on slavery and abolition, African American intellectual history and the history of violence. Tickets are $10 and available at hillcenterdc.org.
Race, Memory, Monuments, and Forgetting | September 12 from 6-7:30 PM
Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital
921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003
Mosaic and the Hill Center present Dr. Edna Greene Medford, former Chair of the Department of History at Howard University, in conversation with Reginald L. Douglas and Psalmayene 24. The in-depth conversation will explore the history of The Emancipation Memorial—a statue that Charlotte Scott, a recently freed woman in 1865, donated her first $5 to build—as a vital site for both commemoration and critique, and pose the question: What is the proper monument to liberation? Dr. Medford specializes in 19th-century US history, with an emphasis on slavery. She is the author of the highly acclaimed history Lincoln and Emancipation. Howard University alum Tamika Smith, the local host of All Things Considered on WAMU 88.5 and Consider This from WAMU, will moderate. Tickets are $10 and available at hillcenterdc.org.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mosaic Theater aligns its safety protocols with those of the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Masking is recommended, however it is no longer mandatory—masks in theaters and public spaces at the Atlas Performing Arts Center are now optional. For the latest information, visit mosaictheater.org/health-and-safety.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
Tickets: $42-$70; available at mosaictheater.org
Location: Sprenger Theater at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
Performances: Thursday at 11 AM; Thursday–Saturday at 8 PM; Saturday and Sunday at 3 PM
Box Office: The Box Office can be reached at (202) 399-7993 or email@example.com from 11 AM–5 PM Monday through Friday, or two hours prior to a performance.
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.