Play by Play, Stage East’s theater appreciation course, concludes with two final readings: Topdog/Underdog by Suzan Lori-Parks on March 31st and Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu on April 7th. 

Topdog/Underdog revolves around the relationship between two brothers, Lincoln and Booth, whose names—given to them as a joke—exemplify their lifelong sibling rivalry. A story that explores family identity, deception, and poverty, this pulitzer-winning work has received productions across the world. Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote that the play “considers nothing less than the existential traps of being African-American and male in the United States, the mask that wear the men as well as vice versa.” 

 Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, photographed by Eric Schwabel at Schwabel Studio in Venice, California, 2006. 

Antoinette Nwandu has described her play Pass Over as “a meditation on the biblical Exodus and Waiting for Godot …” In the story, we follow Moses and Kitch, two friends, who pass their time on the street corner dreaming of the promised land only to be interrupted by an odd stranger. This poetic, humorous, and provocative work was the subject of a 2018 Spike Lee film. 

Play by Play, which focuses on the Theatre of the Absurd and its continued impact, has covered the works of seven prominent playwrights from across the 20th and 21st centuries. The course is still open for enrollment. Interested parties may email for more information.

Namir Smallwood (prone) and Jon Michael Hill in Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over, directed by Danya Taymor, at Lincoln Center Theater at the Claire Tow. Photo by Jeremy Daniel