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La Jolla Playhouse to host comedian Hasan Minhaj and four new plays

TV comedian and writer/producer Hasan Minhaj
TV comedian and writer-producer Hasan Minhaj will try out his new one-man stage show in four performances July 30-31 at La Jolla Playhouse.
(Eric Hobbs)

Comedian Hasan Minhaj, host and writer-producer of Netflix’s “Patriot Act” series, will test scenes for an upcoming stage show in four performances titled “Experiment Time” on July 30 and 31 at La Jolla Playhouse.

Minhaj became known in 2014 with his satirical interviews as a senior correspondent for “The Daily Show” TV series, and he won Peabody Awards for his Netflix comedy special “Homecoming King” and his talk show “Patriot Act.” Minhaj is a first-generation American born to Indian Muslim parents who immigrated from Northern India.

La Jolla Playhouse has long been a proving ground for new shows developed by comedians, including Billy Crystal, John Leguizamo and Darrel Hammond.

“Hasan Minhaj’s inimitable brand of comedy has its finger squarely on the pulse of our national zeitgeist,” Christopher Ashley, La Jolla Playhouse’s artistic director, said in a statement.

The shows will begin at 7 and 9:30 p.m. both days and are priced from $39 to $59. Tickets are on sale at lajollaplayhouse.org/show/hasan-minhaj-experiment-time.

DNA New Work Series to feature four plays in development

DNA New Work Series playwrights: Lisa Sanaye Dring, Noah Diaz, Francisca Da Silveira and Andrew Rosendorf
The four featured playwrights in La Jolla Playhouse’s DNA New Work Series from July 22 to Aug. 1 are Lisa Sanaye Dring, Noah Diaz, Francisca Da Silveira and Andrew Rosendorf.
(La Jolla Playhouse)

La Jolla Playhouse will present its eighth DNA New Work Series festival of play readings July 22 through Aug. 1.

Longtime festival curator and director Gabriel Greene said this year’s four plays don’t have a unifying theme but all center on how we see ourselves and our place in the world.

“It’s how we occupy our bodies and how those bodies occupy the spaces we inhabit, physically, emotionally, socially and politically,” said Greene, the playhouse’s director of artistic development.

Greene said the series was created in 2013 to give playwrights a place to test new scripts for a live audience. It also creates a way for the playhouse’s artistic staff to forge relationships with playwrights they admire. Three of the four featured playwrights this year, and all four play directors, are new to the playhouse.

The series also demystifies the play-creation process for playhouse audiences, who Greene said develop a sense of connection with the material when it returns in full production years later, such as the DNA-born “The Who & The What” and the musical “Miss You Like Hell.” Greene said the post-show talkbacks with the audience and playwright are invaluable to the development process.

“As people are exposed to it more and more, they become more savvy to what it means to witness the birth of a play,” Greene said. “I think they really feel proud of the fact that they get to be among the first to see it and help shape it.”

Gabriel Greene (right) leads a past DNA New Work Series audience talkback with playwright Guillermo Calderón.
La Jolla Playhouse’s Gabriel Greene (right) leads a past DNA New Work Series audience talkback with playwright Guillermo Calderón.
(La Jolla Playhouse)

Here are the four plays featured in the 2021 DNA New Work Series:

“Sumo” by Lisa Sanaye Dring: Six men at a sumo wrestling training facility eat, love, play and ultimately fight in the divine ritual of ancient combat. Greene said Dring’s play subverts the notions of bodies and size, where here the bigger you become, the better your chances of honor and success. 7:30 p.m. July 22 and 24.

“All the Men Who’ve Frightened Me” by Noah Diaz: When his wife can’t get pregnant, a transgender man stops taking hormones so he can conceive, but the experience brings back haunting memories of men from his past. Greene said La Jolla Playhouse commissioned this piece because Diaz’s unique plays have an untethered theatricality. “He creates these worlds and gleefully breaks them down to captivating effect,” Greene said. 7:30 p.m. July 23 and 2 p.m. July 25.

“Not-for-Profit (Or the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Play)” by Francisca Da Silveira: Scandal rocks an education nonprofit that’s riddled with well-meaning but overworked junior employees, out-of-touch board members, micro-aggressive co-workers and unqualified consultants. Greene said Da Silveira’s plays “occupy a space that’s mostly naturalism with the occasional sly detour into a more playful absurdity.” He called “Not-for-Profit” a play about sociopolitical racial dynamics with sharp satire. 7:30 p.m. July 29 and 31.

“One-Shot” by Andrew Rosendorf: From the author of the 2014 DNA reading “Tranquil,” this play, set in 1999 Virginia, features two gay video rental store workers who dream of film careers at a time of great change for the video industry, LGBTQ rights and more. “It’s a really smart, moving piece that’s concerned with identity and the power of storytelling in creating ourselves,” Greene said. 7:30 p.m. July 30 and 2 p.m. Aug. 1.

All performances will take place at La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance due to limited capacity. (858) 550-1010, lajollaplayhouse.org

— Pam Kragen is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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