(Jennifer Schuessler’s article appeared in The New York Times, 6/15; via Pam Green.)
In 2019, Will Arbery scored
Arbery, a Pulitzer finalist in 2020, is back with a play inspired by his relationship with his sister. But don’t call it an “issue” play.
In 2019, Will Arbery scored an unlikely hit with “Heroes of the Fourth Turning,” his darkly comic, boundary-pushing play about young Catholic conservatives debating God, love, friendship and Donald Trump at a late-night party in a Wyoming backyard. A finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, it won praise both from the heavily liberal New York theater world and from traditionalist Christians who often feel caricatured by it, if they are depicted at all.
“Heroes” was a play that, for all the idiosyncrasies of its characters, was hailed as being very much About Something. But on a recent morning, Arbery, 32, was sitting outside a cafe near his apartment in Brooklyn, alternately wrestling with and resisting the question of just what his new play, “Corsicana,” was about.
Most simply, “Corsicana,” which runs until July 10 at Playwrights Horizons, is about four people in that small city in Texas, including a young woman with Down syndrome, her aspiring filmmaker brother and a reclusive self-taught artist who comes into their orbit. Inspired by Arbery’s relationship with his older sister Julia, it’s the rare play to feature both a lead character — and a lead actor — with Down syndrome.
But it’s also, Arbery said, a play that “very stubbornly defies about-ness.”