Geva Theatre


Diplomat. Soldier. Polo player. Treasure hunter. Race-car driver. Jet-setting international playboy. The FBI suspected he was an assassin working for the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.

But you know him as the real-life inspiration for James Bond.

“It’s kind of astonishing that one person can be in so many places at once,” Christopher Rivas says.

Yet why do you not know Porfirio Rubirosa?

“Is there really more of an international man of mystery?” Rivas asks.

Geva Theatre Center is kicking off its new season with what it's calling an innovative and unconventional production. "Recognition Radio" is a series of audio plays celebrating Black voices. The plays were written and directed by Black artists.

Creative producer Esther Winter wrote, "American theatre has historically compartmentalized the roles Blacks have played within its structures. But the reckoning this country is experiencing is changing that. Our writing, acting, singing, and creating are receiving a different level of recognition. We are now seen as more than a footnote or a stereotype. We are not a chapter. We are the book."

This hour, talk to the artists involved in the productions about what they hope audiences will learn from their stories, and about producing audio plays during a pandemic. Our guests:

  • Esther Winter, creative producer for “Recognition Radio: An Audio Play Festival Celebrating Black Voices”
  • Pirronne Yousefzadeh, associate artistic director, and director of engagement for Geva Theatre Center 
  • Kirsten Greenidge, playwright for “Feeding Beatrice: A Gothic Tale” 
  • Daniel Bryant, director of “Feeding Beatrice” 
  • Theresa M. Davis, dramaturg for “The Bleeding Class” 
  • Otis Ramsey Zoe, dramaturg for “we are continuous”
  • Christina Anderson, playwright for “The Resurrection of Michelle Morgan” 
  • Pascale Florestal, dramaturg for “The Resurrection of Michelle Morgan” 

Geva Theatre Center announced its 2020-21 season in March, although Artistic Director Mark Cuddy added the caveat that those plans could be challenged by the coronavirus pandemic.

That caveat landed this week, as Geva released plans for its “Reimagined” upcoming season, with four audio shows by Black writers and directors starting in October.

With its upcoming season in doubt because of the coronavirus pandemic, Geva Theatre Center laid off a handful of employees on Thursday.

Artistic Director Mark Cuddy, who did not say exactly how many employees had been let go, said Geva would probably know by next week when the regional theater will announce when shows would resume and what that season would look like.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stood with operators of small businesses and Geva Theatre Wednesday calling for more help for those businesses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, said that Congress has already passed a five-week, short-term extension for the original Paycheck Protection Program. Now, he is proposing legislation that would extend the loan program to the end of the year and provide the option for a second loan for eligible small businesses, the so-called, Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program Act or P4.

Geva Theatre Center has decided to postpone its major fundraiser, its ‘Curtain Call Virtual Gala,’ because of what the organization calls the serious nature of events unfolding around the country. The organization says that while the theater may be facing challenges, "there are other needs to be attended to in the face of multiple national crises."

A statement from Geva released this week said that:

In one fell swoop, Geva Theatre Center on Monday announced it is postponing, canceling or re-platforming the remainder of this season’s events. 

And anticipating an end to the coronavirus pandemic that is shuttering the arts, it also announced on Monday its productions for the upcoming 2020-21 season, beginning with a Sept. 1 show about air guitars, and the people who love them.

In theater, you improvise when something unexpected happens, and that's exactly what Geva Theatre is doing in response to the coronavirus crisis.

A few days ago, even before Monroe County confirmed its first case of COVID-19, Geva was scrambling to offer an alternative for patrons who have tickets for the current shows, "Once," and “Cry It Out.” Now, all live performances will be canceled as of 5 p.m. Friday.

If the unions representing actors, directors, and set designers agree to it, a digital screening of the shows will be available soon.

A new play on stage at Geva Theatre Center explores the history and current state of race relations in America through the perspectives of two very different women. “The Niceties” is an explosive and provocative look at the relationship between a white history professor and a driven black student as they discuss who controls the narrative in American history, and how that narrative has shaped their experiences.

We sit down with the cast and members of the production team to talk about the play, and the role of discomfort when it comes to examining our own lives and privilege. In studio:

Geva Theatre Center has announced its 2019-2020  season. It begins in September and includes 10 major productions and two festivals.

The non-profit organization says it is committed to serving diverse artists and communities. More than half of the season’s productions are written and directed by women, and three of the plays featured in the next season are written by playwrights of color and five plays will be directed by people of color.