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Arena Stage opens Fall/Winter season with Release of third World-Premiere Film, The 51st State

2 min read

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s latest world premiere docudrama, The 51st State, will receive its world premiere through Arena Stage’s Supper Club on September 16 at 7 p.m. Following the premiere, viewers can join artists and creatives for a post-film discussion and after-party on Zoom. The film will be available online to the general public on Thursday, September 17. Patrons will be able to view the film on both the Arena Stage and WTOP.com websites by searching for Arena Stage.

The hyper local 60-minute film created by Washington, D.C. artists through the voices of 11 residents was inspired by protests and the reignition of a movement after the murder of George Floyd and the quest for creating the 51st state and sovereignty in Washington, D.C. From a first-time protestor to a fourth-generation Washingtonian political scientist, to artists, an attorney, people of faith, and a retired couple moved to take part in the movement despite the COVID-19 risks, these diverse perspectives and real-life stories are vividly told and transformed into affecting narratives by 10 local playwrights.

“This is a hyper-local docudrama about a city in transition. What an amazing and overwhelming time to live in, in the midst of a pandemic with tragedy after tragedy and yet people coming together for positive change,” shares Artistic Director Molly Smith.

Featured playwrights in the docudrama include Dane Figueroa Edidi, Farah Lawal Harris, Caleen Sinnette Jennings, Teshonne Nicole Powell, Otis Cortez Ramsey-Zöe, Gregory Keng Strasser, Deb Sivigny, Mary Hall Surface, Aria Velz and Karen Zacarías.

“This is a docudrama about Washingtonians taking action and voicing their divergent points of view,” continued Smith.

Filmed in different locations around D.C., the story of each citizen is portrayed by 11 actors well known to the Washington theater scene. The 51st State cast includes Sherri L. Edelen, Michael Glenn, James J. Johnson, Joy Jones, Jason B. McIntosh, Gary L. Perkins III, Todd Scofield, Thomas Adrian Simpson, Dani Stoller, Justin Weaks and Jacob Yeh.

Arena’s artistic leader and the film’s director Molly Smith along with Deputy Artistic Director Seema Sueko, Director of Community Engagement/Senior Artistic Advisor Anita Maynard-Losh, Everyman Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director and artist Paige Hernandez and Arena’s Master Teaching Artist Psalmayene 24 directed the monologues. Original music is composed by DJ and sound designer Nick “tha 1da” Hernandez.

As of September 17, The 51st State can be streamed on WTOP.com and arenastage.org/The51stState