Syracuse Stage begins the year with the East Coast premiere of ‘Yoga Play’


Syracuse, NY – Syracuse Stage starts the New Year with an invitation to laugh with the East Coast premiere of Dipika Guha’s delightfully satirical comedy “Yoga Play.” Under the direction of Stage’s new associate artistic director Melissa Crespo, “Yoga Play” runs Jan. 19 – Feb. 6. Tickets are on sale now at www.syracusestage.org or through the Box Office (315-443-3275).

For the safety of everyone, Syracuse Stage will require proof of Covid-19 vaccination for all patrons 5 and older. Proof must be shown at the door prior to entry to the theater. Unvaccinated patrons will be required to show proof of a negative Covid test from a healthcare provider. Masks must be worn at all times by everyone entering the building. Full details are available at syracusestage.org/covid.php.

“Yoga Play” is the third of six shows in Stage’s 2021/2022 season. Originally performed at South Coast Repertory in 2017, the comedy skewers the multi-billion-dollar athleisure wear industry (resemblances to certain well-known companies intentional) and the quest to ring big profits from the physical and spiritual practice of yoga. Playwright Guha, who is based in Los Angeles, said she had been thinking specifically about California when she wrote “Yoga Play,” especially as a place where the desire for wealth and authenticity are seemingly equally important. “Yoga,” she said, “seemed to be at the nexus of that.”

Much of “Yoga Play” takes place in the corporate headquarters of Jojomon, an athleisure wear giant with popular products such as lavender scented yoga pants. It is the kind of place where employees sit on exercise balls while meeting and are encouraged to regularly share their dreams with colleagues. New CEO Joan and her top executives face a crisis when they learn a BBC investigation has identified one of Jojomon’s overseas manufacturers as using child labor. Their woefully misguided attempt to reverse the damage by enlisting the aid of a famed and reclusive yogi to help restore the company’s “authenticity” provides the comedic through line of the play.

Director Crespo said she is happy to be directing such a funny play “because we all need to laugh right now. ‘Yoga Play’ mirrors what we feel when we work too much and prioritize greed over humanity. It encourages us to slow down, to meditate and have more empathy for each other.”

Guha was born in Calcutta, grew up in Russia and the United Kingdom and came to the United States to study playwriting, eventually earning an M.F.A. at Yale. She has had numerous plays produced at theaters across the country and has written for the television shows “Black Monday,” “Sneaky Pete” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

In interviews, Guha explained that most of her plays deal with displacement and the language of displacement. “As someone who’s adapted to new places so many times, I’ve seen how much of my identity I’ve either adopted or dropped for survival reasons,” she said in an interview with the Playwrights Center. “If this is true for all of us, then how do we really know who we are? This question gains political heft in a time when our sense of who we are is dividing us more than uniting us. I find myself returning to this question urgently in my work, whether it’s through comedy or through a more serious or lyrical lens.

“‘Yoga Play,’” she added, “is about yoga, Capitalism and what it means to be yourself.”

Robert Hupp

Syracuse Stage Artistic Director Robert Hupp said he believes “Yoga Play” should prove just the right antidote for a cold Syracuse winter made more challenging by continued concerns about Covid.

“These days tend to leave us feeling isolated and uncertain. Now, more than ever, we need the opportunity to share the joy of common experiences,” he said.

While a Covid outbreak in the company forced the early closure of “Matilda the Musical” in December, Hupp said he believes it is important for Syracuse Stage to continue with the 2021/2022 season as planned.

“We’ll continue to produce work in the context of the safety guidelines and best practices outlined by our unions, Syracuse University, Onondaga County and the CDC,” Hupp said. “Provided we can do so in a manner that is safe for our audience, staff and artists, we will do our best to offer relief and refuge and provide a ray of optimism and a sense of community for all.”

Hupp also said that “Yoga Play” will be available as a video on demand Jan. 31 – Feb. 20. Information about accessing the video may be found at www.syracusestage.org.

Syracuse Stage Covid-19 Safety Guidelines

 At the door, audience members five years old and older will be required to show proof of full vaccination, or for those not vaccinated, a negative Covid-19 test result. For children under five, proof of negative test is strongly encouraged but not required for entry to the theatre.

A valid negative Covid-19 test must meet the following conditions: A negative PCR test from a healthcare provider within 72 hours of entry for the event you are attending or a negative Antigen test from a healthcare provider within 6 hours of entry for the event you are attending.

Vaccination verification accepted in any of the following forms: physical vaccination card, New York State Excelsior Pass, digital vaccination cards through your home Health Department or photo of vaccination card. Full vaccination means that either 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose of FDA or WHO authorized double-dose vaccines or that 14 days have passed since receiving the sole dose of FDA or WHO authorized single-dose vaccines.

Without vaccination proof or a negative Covid-19 test, patrons will not be allowed into the building.

Masks are required at all times by everyone regardless of vaccination status, except while eating or drinking in designated areas. Food and drink will not be permitted in the auditorium.

“Yoga Play”

By Dipika Guha
Directed by Melissa Crespo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Events

January 19     M&T Bank Pay-What-You-Will Performance @ 7:30 p.m.

There will be 76 tickets available for whatever price patrons wish to pay. Pay-what-you-will tickets must be claimed in person at the Box Office or by phone on the day of the performance, subject to availability. The Box Office opens at 10 a.m. and will remain open until the start of the show. There is a limit of four tickets per person.

January 23     Prologue at 1 p.m. (free for ticket holders at 2 p.m. performance)

A pre-show discussion with Syracuse Stage artistic director Robert Hupp one hour prior to curtain. Prologues will be held in the Archbold Theatre.

January 23     Actor Talkback (free for ticket holders at 7:30 p.m. performance)

A Q&A session with the actors following the 7:30 p.m. performance. The talkback will be held in the Archbold Theatre.

January 26     Virtual Wednesday @ 1

Enjoy a virtual lecture “Truth, Authenticity and Yoga” from Christian DuComb, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the theater department at Colgate University, and author of the book “Haunted City: Three Centuries of Racial Impersonation in Philadelphia.” The talk offers a brief history of how yoga became so popular in the U.S. as a way to contextualize the ethical questions about truth and authenticity at the heart of “Yoga Play.” The lecture is hosted by Resident Playwright Kyle Bass.

The Wednesday @ 1 lecture will premiere on Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. online at www.SyracuseStage.org, where it will remain available for viewing through Feb. 20.

January 26     Open Captioning at 2 p.m. Performance for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

January 26     Inside the Kilroys List, free virtual event at 7 p.m.

Dedicated to addressing gender inequity in American theater, the Kilroys theater collective has generated more than 100 professional productions of works by female, transgender and/or non-binary playwrights since 2014. Kelundra Smith moderates a panel with “Yoga Play” playwright Dipika Guha, “Yoga Play” director Melissa Crespo and Kilroys co-founder Joy Meads. Pre-registration is required and can be found at www.SyracuseStage.org. The event is co-hosted by the Newhouse Goldring Arts Journalism Program, Syracuse University Humanities Center and Syracuse Stage.

January 29      Prologue at 1 p.m. (free for ticket holders)

A pre-show discussion with Syracuse Stage artistic director Robert Hupp one hour prior to curtain. Prologues will be held in the Archbold Theatre.

January 29     ASL Interpreted Performance at 2 p.m. for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

February 3     Prologue at 6:30 p.m. (free for ticket holders)

A pre-show discussion with Syracuse Stage artistic director Robert Hupp one hour prior to curtain. Prologues will be held in the Archbold Theatre.

February 5     Audio Described Performance at 2 p.m. for patrons who are blind or visually impaired.

February 5     Open Captioning at 7:30 p.m. performance for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

February 6     Open Captioning at 2 p.m. performance for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing.