The return of Shakespeare in the Park to New York’s Central Park last summer was a first sign of the city’s slow and long-in-coming reopening, and now the entire, difficult 12-week journey to the stage of the acclaimed Merry Wives is chronicled in the HBO documentary Reopening Night.
HBO released a trailer for the film today. Watch it above.
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The film, directed by Rudy Valdez (HBO’s The Sentence), follows the cast, crew and staff of the Public Theater production as they ready their return to the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Among the obstacles: Covid, of course, along with the rainiest July on New York City’s records. All this as the theater industry reckoned with issues of racism both within its own history and society at large following the police murder of George Floyd.
Merry Wives, adapted by playwright Jocelyn Bioh from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, featured an all-Black cast led by Jacob Ming-Trent in a modern retelling of the play set in South Harlem’s community of West African immigrants.
Through Merry Wives, Valdez’s documentary will examine the Black experience in theater, and includes interviews with the cast, the playwright, stage director Saheem Ali, the Public’s artistic director Oskar Eustis, set designer Beowulf Boritt, musician Farai Malianga, assistant director Abigail Jean-Baptiste and others.
The documentary is executive produced by Matthew O’Neill and Perri Peltz; produced by Meghan Schale; and co-produced by Sasha Gay-Lewis, and, for HBO, senior producer, Sara Rodriguez; and executive producers, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.
Reopening Night debuts Monday, Dec. 20, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.
Watch the trailer above.
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