59E59 Theaters’ New Season: Finding Laughs in Death and Sexism


“The Undertaking,” which played at the BAM Next Wave Festival in 2016, comes to 59E59 Theaters in 2018.

Joshua Bright for The New York Times

For its spring 2018 season, 59E59 Theaters aims to imbue heavy topics with a touch of humor, with a critically acclaimed project about death from the Civilians theater company and a recreation of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

The season starts on Jan. 11 with the Civilians’ “The Undertaking,” a play by Steve Cosson that explores mortality. The play is constructed from interviews with real people, including a nurse practitioner, a cancer patient and an Iraq War veteran, who talk about their anxieties over dying. It ran at the BAM Next Wave Festival last year; Charles Isherwood called it “morbidly funny, and sometimes just plain morbid,” and named it an NYT Critic’s Pick.

“Balls,” written by Kevin Armento and Bryony Lavery, will follow the recent film “Battle of the Sexes” in depicting the highly scrutinized King-Riggs matchup. The play, which runs from Jan. 16 to Feb. 25, features a shot-by-shot reimagining of the entire match.

From Feb. 8 to March 4, Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”) and Roger Robinson (a Tony winner for “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”) will play son and father in “Some Old Black Man,” written by James Anthony Tyler. The two-hander focuses on the generational and cultural gap between a worldly college professor (Pierce) who moves his ailing, blue-collar father from Mississippi (Robinson) into his Harlem penthouse.

The season also includes Max Baker’s “Hal & Bee,” starring John Glover and running March 10-31, and Adam Rapp’s “The Edge of Our Bodies,” running April 4-22. A full lineup can be found at 59e59.org.

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