Professor Lynn Nottage Launches Several Plays in Broadway's Anticipated Reopening

Angeline Dimambro
June 03, 2021

Among several showings, Associate Professor Lynn Nottage’s new play Clyde’s will make its New York premiere in Fall 2021 when Second Stage's Hayes Theater reopens.

Clyde’s is one of the three Broadway productions confirmed for the upcoming return season. The production is a creative reunion for Nottage and her frequent collaborator director Kate Whoriskey, who also directed Ruined and Sweat, both of which earned Nottage a Pulitzer Prize in Drama—first Ruined in 2009, and later, Sweat in 2017.

In Clyde’s, audiences will find a truck stop sandwich shop that offers its formerly incarcerated kitchen staff a shot at reclaiming their lives. Even as the shop’s callous owner tries to keep them under her thumb, the staff members are given purpose and permission to dream by their shared quest to create the perfect sandwich. Second Stage calls the new work “funny, moving, and urgent.” The creative team includes scenic design by Takeshi Kata, costume design by Jennifer Moeller, lighting design by Christopher Akerlind, sound design by Justin Ellington, as well as original compositions by Justin Hicks.

“When I thought about what our reopening should look like, I realized I wanted and needed our audiences to feel joy and hope walking into our theaters once again,” said Second Stage President & Artistic Director Carole Rothman in a statement to the press.

Central to the anticipation of Broadway’s reopening has been the demand for more inclusive productions and equity within the industry. The renewed calls for systemic change build on years of critiques against the industry’s embedded racism.

“My hope is that when theater reopens, Broadway is going to look very different than it did when it closed in March,” said Nottage in an article from the New York Times. “It would be very exciting for me to return to a space that felt more like the world that I want to live in, and less like the world that I’m living in now.”

While Clyde’s won’t premiere until New York’s Fall 2021 Broadway season, audiences can catch Nottage’s Mlima’s Tale now through July 11, 2021 at the mainstage Berges Theatre at Coca, produced by The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Tickets are on sale now for the play, which tells the story of Mlima, a majestic and powerful African elephant who is murdered for his tusks. The play is a “lyrical journey through the dark world of the international ivory trade.”

The Watering Hole, an immersive installation co-created by Nottage in partnership with alumnus Matt Barbot ’17, will be open June 22 - July 25, 2021. Presented by Signature Theatre, the installation will consist of an in-person, physically distanced environment where audiences will move through a series of installations entirely curated by creatives of color. 

Additionally, Nottage is penning the new Broadway musical MJ, which will premiere December 2021. Featuring over 25 of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, MJ will allow audiences to rediscover the man in the mirror, with an explosion of music and theatricality as unforgettable as the artist himself. Previews of Nottage’s Intimate Apparel will also resume in January 2022. The opera is set in 1905 New York and tells the story of a lonely African-American seamstress who sews ladies’ undergarments and, who, in a series of letters, courts a mysterious suitor working on the Panama Canal. Based on Nottage’s 2004 play of the same name, Intimate Apparel marked the Lincoln Center Theater’s first opera and features a libretto written by Nottage and music composed by Ricky Ian Gordon.

Nottage was also recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree from SUNY during her 2021 commencement address to the Conservatory of Theatre Arts, available to view here

Lynn Nottage is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and a screenwriter. Her plays have been produced widely in the US and throughout the world. They include, Sweat (Pulitzer Prize, Obie Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), By The Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lilly Award, Drama Desk Nomination), Ruined (Pulitzer Prize, OBIE, Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Audelco, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award), Intimate Apparel (American Theatre Critics and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Play), Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (OBIE Award), Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Las Meninas, Mud, River, Stone, Por’knockers and POOF! Her musical credits include the book for the upcoming musical MJ and the book for The Secret Life of Bees with lyrics by Susan Birkenhead and music by Duncan Sheik, which premiered at Atlantic Theater Company. She produced and conceived of This is Reading, a performance installation based on two years of interviews at the Franklin Street Reading Railroad Station in Reading, PA. Nottage is also the co-founder of the production company Market Road Films, whose most recent projects include Unfinished/Deep South (Podcast) and is developing the documentary Takeover, about the Young Lords takeover of Lincoln Hospital, as well as A Girl Stands at the Door, a multi-part series on the history of school desegregation.