Jens Rasmussen, Ali Andre Ali, Imran Sheikh, Andrew Aaron Valdez and Leila Buck in a Zoom performance of “American Dreams.” Photo by Cherie B. Tay courtesy MTC.
In a year in which the COVID-19 crisis has forced a Cirque du Soleil-level of flexibility upon arts organizations, the Marin Theatre Company has been at the forefront of adaptability, unveiling its 54th season’s slate of productions last month that span a lineup of creative productions via Zoom and – fingers crossed – in person productions by late 2021. 

“Our team of artists have put in an enormous amount of dreaming, research and theorizing to create a season that launches with three thrilling productions in the digital and virtual realms,” MTC Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis said in unveiling the slate. “I am so proud of the effort that everyone has made to think outside the box, inside the box, through the box and down the rabbit hole to create pieces with visionary formats that match their unique voices and stories.”

The first play of the new season is American Dreams, a digital co-production with the Working Theater, by Lebanese American playwright and actor Leila Buck. Directed by Tamilla Woodard, the play, live via Zoom, is an interactive game show in which the audience helps to decide who wins citizenship to the U.S. The participatory play seeks to define online theater and changes every night while exploring “how we navigate between fear, security, and freedom; who and what we choose to believe—and how those choices come to shape who we are as citizens, and as a nation.”

Buck, who also co-stars as one of the game show hosts along with Jens Rasmussen, has created “a tone (that) is doggedly upbeat, with bombastic music” and “hopeful contestants all eager and pleasant and just plain nice,” writes Marin Independent Journal Theater Critic Sam Hurwitt. “It’s apparent that there’s no good reason why all three shouldn’t be fine candidates for citizenship, were it not for the fact that all three represent nationalities that the current administration has targeted as people that it wants less of.

Hurwitt writes that director Tamilla Woodard and video designer Katherine Freer have created “a slick production but not too slick, with enough roughness around the edges to produce a nagging undercurrent of unease. Created amid a political environment in which anti-immigrant hysteria is continually whipped up from the highest levels of government, a play like this is guaranteed to take a grim turn eventually.”

“It’s a thoroughly engaging play that pays tribute to the ideals that attract so many to this country while also reminding us how far short of those ideals we sometimes fall in the name of somehow “protecting” ourselves from new arrivals who want only to be Americans, too,” he adds

The 411: American Dreams opens Nov. 10 and runs online via Zoom through Nov. 15. Tix $25-$30. MORE INFO & TIX