|With live theatrical performances closed due to the coronavirus, public media outlet WGBH has collaborated with Huntington Theatre Company and ArtsEmerson to bring live theater to the living room. WGBH will present a special broadcast of Mala, a poignant drama written and performed by local playwright and performer Melinda Lopez. This award-winning play will air on WGBH 2 and YouTube TV on Thursday, April 9 at 10 p.m.
“Theater is a powerful medium to process challenging times. So with our Boston theaters dark, we are thrilled to be able to bring this important work to local audiences in partnership with ArtsEmerson and Huntington Theatre Company,” says Jon Abbott, president and CEO of WGBH. “ Our shared commitment to the arts strengthens us as a community.”
Set during a winter of epic snowfall in 2015, Mala is inspired by notes Lopez frantically typed to herself on an iPhone while she cared for her increasingly frail and consistently fierce mother. These short missives ultimately create a moving and generous portrait of the way taking care of family tests, deepens, and changes our bonds to the ones we love. Lopez, a regular on Boston stages, also performs the play, directed by ArtsEmerson’s artistic director, David Dower. Although the performance was taped in 2018, it will be broadcast for the first time on April 9. WGBH viewers will be able to experience the humor, honesty, and ultimately cathartic experience of this award-winning play by a celebrated local artist.
“At the time this was filmed, we were so grateful to the Huntington and to WGBH for their interest in capturing this show during its return to Boston,” says Dower. “But we had no idea how urgent and moving it would become to have it available to air in the middle of this moment. It seems now like a bit of a miracle that it exists to be shown in this way. The WGBH team has brought such love and care to the making of this broadcast, and Melinda’s performance is indelible. We are so proud to have been a part of making this possible and relieved to be able to still connect with our city in this time of standing together by standing apart.”
After performing to sold-out houses during its 2016 world premiere engagement at ArtsEmerson, Mala won the 2017 Elliot Norton Award for Best New Script. Huntington Theatre Company presented a return engagement of the ArtsEmerson production at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA in January 2018, where WGBH recorded and produced the broadcast. Mala went on to play a successful run at Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater.
“Each time I have seen Melinda Lopez’s stirring play Mala, I leave the theater with a sense of breathless joy and optimism, marveling at Melinda’s ability to draw everyone in as if they were family,” says Peter DuBois, artistic director of the Huntington Theatre Company. “Melinda’s message of resilience seems especially relevant now, when so many of us feel isolated as caregivers who are worried about a parent or mentor. Melinda’s play has warmth, laughter, and beauty — things I know we all need. I am looking forward to sharing it with new audiences through WGBH!”
Following the broadcast, ArtsEmerson will host a pre-recorded online conversation between playwright/performer Melinda Lopez and director David Dower at ArtsEmersonBlog.org.
For more information, visit wgbh.org.
Courtesy of WGBH