With this world premiere, we proudly welcome Jenny Rachel Weiner to the Roundabout family and add her to the extraordinary list of playwrights to be produced through this program. We started Roundabout Underground as a launchpad for emerging writers, and as the subsequent successes of our first ten playwrights demonstrates, it is doing exactly that. I can say with confidence that, with this sensitive, funny, and fearless debut, Jenny is a fitting addition to this wonderful group.
In Kingdom Come, Jenny takes us on a deep dive into online relationships and the ways in which our screens allow us to grow close to people while keeping reality at a distance. There are two fascinating women at the center of this play, and each of them has reasons to hide behind a false identity in the online world. This is a relatively new phenomenon but one with deep roots. The term “catfishing” only came into the popular lexicon in the last few years (thanks to the documentary Catfish and the media coverage of stories like the Manti Te’o scandal), but the concept of deceiving someone into having real feelings through the use of a false identity goes much further back. Think of Cyrano writing love letters to Roxanne in the guise of another man or Twelfth Night’s Malvolio being tricked by a missive from people pretending to be the object of his affection. We may have new terminology to describe such deceptions in our digital world, but this action and its use in drama goes back centuries.
Despite the artifice at the heart of this play, Kingdom Come feels anything but artificial.
Jenny writes all of her characters with both humor and heart, and she shines a spotlight on people of great complexity who deserve to have their stories told. I love how flawed everyone in this world is. Jenny isn’t concerned with a character coming off as “likable” – she just wants to put interesting people onstage and allow their innate flaws to bring them happiness, pain, laughter, and everything in between.
As we enter this remarkable tenth season at Roundabout Underground, I know that Jenny Rachel Weiner will continue the great tradition of this initiative. I am so proud of the achievements of the artists who have come before her, who not only brought their brilliance to the Black Box Theatre, but who have also gone on to make some of the best work in theatres across the country and around the world. I can’t help but marvel at the ever-growing list of playwrights, directors, actors, and designers who found an early home with us. From a two-time Pulitzer finalist, to five recent Tony-winners, to more Broadway debuts than I can count, it’s been hugely gratifying to watch these artists attain such success.
I hope that you enjoy Kingdom Come, and I am eager to hear your thoughts on this world premiere play. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your response to this stunning new work.
I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!
2016-2017 Season, From Todd Haimes, Kingdom Come